Born: December 23, 1983 in Samana, Domincan Republic
Bats: Right Throws: Right 6’2″ 230 lbs.
Today marks the 29th birthday of Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers’ starting shortstop for 2013. Hanley Ramirez was one of those ball players who was born to be on the diamond and full of birth given athleticism. Even at the tender age of five-years old, Hanley led his little league team in homeruns. Hanley excelled at baseball while at Adbentista High School in the Dominican Republic, and the scouts were already touting him as a top prospect at fifteen.
The Boston Red Sox signed Hanley to a minor league contract for $55,000 as an amateur free agent in 2000. He played in the Boston minor league system from 2002-2005 where he got as high as their AA affiliate team from 2004-2005. Hanley made his MLB debut with the Red Sox on September 20, 2005. He would only appear in two games for Boston, and in his two at-bats he struck out both times. Han-Ram was then traded to the Florida Marlins on November 24, 2005 along with Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia, and Anibal Sanchez in exchange for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota. Interestingly, Ramirez and Beckett would be eventually traded to the Dodgers in 2012. Thus would begin his breakout stint with the Florida Marlins which eventually established him as their franchise player only to be traded away to the Dodgers after suffering a disappointing couple of seasons.
2006 was his first full year with the Marlins and in the Majors, and El Nino had a stellar
season which led to him winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award. He finished the season with a line of .292/.353/.480 with 17 homeruns and 59 RBIs in 158 games. He led all rookies with 185 hits, 119 runs, 11 triples, 46 doubles, and 51 stolen bases. The Red Sox must have felt foolish for trading him away at the time. He did strike out a lot though, whiffing 128 times while walking 56 times. During the next four season, Ramirez would hit over .300 in each of them. In 2009, Hanley earned the batting title by having a league best .342 average. In 2008, he hit a career best 33 homeruns and led the league with 125 hits. From 2008-2010, Hanley represented Florida at the All-Star Game as a starter for three consecutive seasons. He also won the Silver Slugger Award in 2008 and 2009, and he finished second in the M.V.P vote in 2009 behind Albert Pujols. Hanley was one of the best hitters in the league for awhile, and he was the Marlins’ golden boy.He was golden until 2011 that is. That’s when his fall from grace happened. Hanley disappointed many by finishing the season with a career worst .243 batting average. He played in just 92 games after aggravating a previous shoulder injury, and only hit 10 homeruns and 45 RBIs. He would undergo shoulder surgery in the offseason.
Before the 2012 season, the now Miami Marlins signed reigning NL batting champion Jose Reyes. The Marlins and Hanley Ramirez were coming to odds. Hanley was rumored to be disgruntled that he was moved to third base since Reyes was to play shortstop. Hanley hit just .246 with 14 homeruns and 48 RBIs in the 93 games with the Marlins before his trade to Los Angeles. Both the Marlins and Ramirez were looking for a fresh start.The Dodgers took advantage of Miami’s displeasure with Hanley at the time, and they swooped in and agreed on a trade for the talented infielder. Ramirez was traded along with left-handed reliever Randy Choate in exchange for minor leaguer Scott McGough and right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi on July 25, 2012. Dee Gordon was recovering from a torn ligament in his thumb at the time, and the Dodgers were quick to grab a gifted player like Hanley to play third base and eventually shortstop while Gordon was out. Gordon hadn’t met the Dodgers expectations as their starting shortstop in 2012 anyways, so picking up Hanley was a needed move.
In his 64 games with the Dodgers, Hanley hit 10 homeruns, 44 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, and he had a .271 batting average. He quickly gained fans in L.A. as his trademark “I See You” sign language during games became a fun way to pump up both the players on the field but also the crowd watching alongside.
Hanley has been playing in the Dominican Winter League with the Tigres del Licey. He finished with a .277 batting average and 3 homeruns, 16 RBIs, and 3 stolen bases in 21 games.
Ramirez is signed through 2014, and he will make $15.5 million in 2013 and $16 million in 2014. Hanley is slated to be the Dodgers’ starting shortstop in 2013.
Hanley and his wife Sanoe have two sons Hanley Ramirez Jr. and Hansel. On Hanley’s personal website it includes videos, photos, and a Q&A section. According to the official site, Hanley’s favorite musical artist is Don Omar and his favorite actor is Denzel Washington.
Hanley will no doubt be trying to reestablish himself as a formidable player next season with the Dodgers. Hanley has the talent, and he has said that he is in the best shape of his life during this offseason. Although he is still a little hesitant at shortstop sometimes, Hanley could be that all-around five-tool player which he was born to be. I’m looking forward to many more “I See You” moments in 2013.