Could Hanley Be An MVP Candidate? The Answer Is Yes
You're not reading this wrong. I firmly believe that the Red Sox new Left Fielder will win the American League MVP this season. But that is only possible if he can miraculously stay healthy, which has not been his calling since entering the league. And that's a damn shame because he's a hell of a player.
Last season, Ramirez was limited to 128 games with the Dodgers. The hope for the Sox is that playing Left Field will e able to extend his career while taking less of a toll on his body, rather then playing the infield, diving for balls every which way, on top of playing suspect defense. This is easier said then done, but not impossible and worth the short term risk. Ryan Braun, who played the hot corner, made a successful switch to the outfield as did Chipper Jones. Ramirez is a very athletic baseball player so to me, there is little reason to believe that he won't be able to make that transition. Hopefully the added weight makes him a little more durable because he's some sort of talent.
His swing, dare I say, reminds me a lot of another Ramirez that roamed Left Field at Fenway for years. Yeah, that Ramirez. Arguably the best right handed hitter of all time. In terms of gather, swing, and follow through, his swing looks a lot like Manny's did. Now I'm not saying that Hanley will be Manny Ramirez great while wearing Red Sox again, but he has the opportunity to be close to that. He is still in the middle of his prime, the Sox signed him for the remainder of his prime at high dollars (4 years $88 million) which I do not have a problem with but only if he can stay healthy, a big if. He has always been able to hit to all sides of the field which will be big for him as he is plenty capable of hitting gaps and with that monster in left, he could potentially wreak havoc at Fenway all year.
Quite frankly, Ramirez has never been in a lineup this potent in his career. I guess if you want last year's Dodgers in that equation, you could as they were very talented. But from top to bottom, in my opinion, this is the most complete lineup he has been in and that could spell MASSIVE stats for him over the course of 162 games and potentially beyond. As I stated with his health concerns, playing 162 games is absolutely out of the equation. But if he can manage to play 145-150 games this season, another big if, there is no reason to think that he couldn't put up MVP numbers. He's projected to slot right behind David Ortiz and right in front of Pablo Sandoval and Mike Napoli, all very good hitters. Playing at Fenway will also help pad those stats a bit. Over 150 games, I see potential numbers like this:
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
MVP caliber numbers for sure.
2015 could be a special season for number 13, but if he can't stay healthy then it'll be tough to justify the commitment the Sox gave to him. But if he can stay healthy, I fully expect Hanley to be the running for MVP at seasons end.