Which position should Hanley Ramirez play? That is one of the many questions the Dodgers will need to answer this off-season. Although it seems the Dodgers have found their answer. More than likely, Hanley will remain at shortstop, while Luis Cruz plays third.
On July 25, the Dodgers traded starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, and a minor leaguer to the Miami Marlins for Hanley Ramirez, and lefty reliever Randy Choate. For most of Hanley’s career he has been a shortstop, until last season. The Marlins had signed shortstop Jose Reyes last off-season, so Hanley was moved over to third base. After playing a half season at third with Miami, Hanley was traded to the Dodgers. When Hanley was first acquired, manager Don Mattingly wanted him to feel comfortable. So he was allowed to play third base for the first couple of weeks. Afterwards he was moved over to shortstop where he played for the rest of the season.
So the question is, which position is better suited for Hanley? When looking at Hanley’s defensive numbers it seems he has better range at shortstop. Ramirez has played 886 games at shortstop, and only 98 games at third base. According to the numbers, he has better range at shortstop, but a higher ranking at third base, although a smaller sample of games at that position. This season in 57 games at shortstop, Hanley made 6 errors. He had a fielding percentage of .974, and a total zone fielding runs above average of a -2. His range factor at shortstop this season was 3.97. At third base, Hanley played in 98 games this year. He made 9 errors at third base this season, with a .957 fielding percentage. His total zone fielding runs above average for third base this year was a -6, and his range factor was at a 2.15. His career numbers at short have him at a .968 fielding percentage, and a total zone runs above average of a negative rating of 31 (-31). Although his range factor is at 4.19, and his career range factor at third base is 2.15. This could mean he has cost his teams over 31 runs over his career at shortstop.
Dee Gordon was the Dodger’s opening day shortstop, and lead-off hitter. However Gordon struggled to hit, and get on base, and then broke his thumb sliding into third base on July 4. He never started another game afterwards. Veritable late-season hero Luis Cruz has seemingly captured third base, and the hearts of Dodger fans everywhere. Cochito hit .297 in 78 games with six home runs, and 40 RBI, while entrenching himself on the roster. The emergence of Luis Cruz this year makes this an easier choice.
We all know that Hanley Ramirez is not the greatest defensive player in the world. However the numbers show him as having more range at shortstop, yet he commits fewer errors at third base. It seems as though Hanley is more comfortable at shortstop than he is at third base. The permanent move of Hanley to short means Dee Gordon starts the season in the minors, or on the bench.
Despite Hanley Ramirez’s defensive shortcomings this season, he had a productive first year with the Dodgers. In 64 games, and 274 at-bats, Hanley put up a slash line of .271/.324./.450 with 10 home runs, and 44 RBI. All total this season, Hanley played in 157 games, and batted .257 with 24 home runs, and 92 RBI. Hanley also stole 21 bases, seven while with the Dodgers.
According to reports, Hanley will be playing in Dominican Winter league ball in order to work on his defense. It’s not open and shut, but it seems the Dodgers have found a position for Hanley. This could change of course, but as of right now, Hanley will play shortstop, Luis Cruz will play third base, and Dee Gordon will begin the year at Albuquerque.
What do you think? What position do you think Hanley should play at next season? Shortstop? Or third base? Weigh in your opinion in the comments below.