Hanley Ramirez Needs to Return to the Dodgers

Ooof. My heart. Doesn’t it feel like he’s breaking up with us, but thanking us for the great memories?

Yesterday, we found out that the Orioles and JJ Hardy agreed to a three year, $40 million dollar extension. That includes a $14 million team option or a $2 million buyout in 2018. Breaking down the year-to-year salary, Hardy will $11.5 million in 2015, $12.5 million in 2016, and $14 million in 2017. This extension is a bump up from his first, three year extension in which he earned $22.5 million. Why the hell am I writing about JJ Hardy? Because this extension will more than likely dictate how Hanley will approach the Dodgers.

JJ Hardy Offense: 2011-2014

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Season wOBA wRC+ BABIP
2011 .344 113 .273
2012 .290 78 .253
2013 .322 100 .263
2014 .303 90 .317

By looking at the chart above, you can see that the Orioles did not offer an extension based off his offense. The only time Hardy posted an above average wOBA was in 2011, his first year with the Orioles.

In fact, his wOBA have hovered around the league average since 2011 and has been on a gradual decline since then. So then why would the Orioles extend Hardy’s contract?

JJ Hardy Defense at SS: 2011-2014

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Season Inn DRS UZR
2011 1133 8 8.8
2012 1439 18 12.4
2013 1417 8 6.0
2014 1257 10 13.9

JJ Hardy has logged over 1000 innings per season at shortstop while on the Orioles. In each of those seasons, he has been above average in Defensive Runs Saved. Likewise, he has posted an above average UZR while on the Orioles. In fact, if we look at the span of Hardy’s entire career, the only year in which he posted a UZR that was slightly below average was his rookie year. It’s quite clear that the Orioles are investing in a defensive shortstop rather than an offensive one.

Of course, it’s not like the Orioles had many options. The free agent market for short stops is sparse. What’s the point of all this? Well with Hardy off the market thanks to his three year, $40 million dollar contract, the Dodgers do not have much of a choice and Hanley knows this.

Hanley Ramirez Offense: 2011-2014

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Season wOBA wRC+ BABIP
2011 .317 97 .275
2012 .328 106 .290
2013 .442 191 .363
2014 .362 135 .323

Hanley Ramirez Defense at SS: 2011-2014

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Season Inn DRS UZR
2011 754.2 -13 -12
2012 503.1 -7 -5.1
2013 651 3 0.5
2014 919 -9 -15.6

By comparison, Hanley is just god awful at shortstop. This has been known even before he landed with the Dodgers. The guy has absolutely no range. His offense, however, is his saving grace. What the Orioles gained in defense with Hardy, the Dodgers would be gaining in offense with Ramirez.

With Uribe most likely playing his last season on the club next year, if the Dodgers decide to extend Hanley, they could slide him over to third following the 2015 season. It is pretty clear he wants to stay with the team, though he will only do so if the price is right. Given that there is no one else on the free agent market worth signing and that no one in the Dodgers farm system is ready, it is in the Dodgers best interest to extend Hanley’s contract and basically give him a contract similar to Hardy’s. Unless of course you would rather see Justin Turner roll the dice with a .404 BABIP. I didn’t think so.

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