Sunday, 22 July 2007

Hanley Ramirez: Most Underrated MLB Player

I try not to get too big in the "underrated/overrated" game, because it's so subjective, and players are ranked differently by pretty much everybody. But in this case I have to make an exception, and claim Hanley Ramirez as the most underrated player in the MLB right now. I think people know he's good, but I'm not sure people realize just how good.

The biggest reason for this is that he plays in Florida in front of about 100 fans every game. The Marlins are an OK team, but they have, well, not much of a fan base. Second, everyone is so enamored with Jose Reyes they hardly have time to focus on another NL East SS. This isn't such a bad thing... Reyes is really good after all... and they're really pretty close when you compare them, but I think people tend to overlook Ramirez because they don't think he stacks up to Ramirez.

This rings true when looking at the final All-Star voting, when Jose Reyes was voted the NL Starter and Hanley Ramirez finished 8th. 8TH. Among NL Shortstops. And then he didn't even make the team as a reserve. That's a crime.

Well, as you could tell when I said Hanley Ramirez was my first-half NL MVP, I think he's a pretty special player. He is only 23 years old right now, 6 months younger than Jose Reyes. It's not very often that you see 23 year-old SS being one of the best hitters in the League, but that's the case here. He ranks 9th in the NL in OPS, and again this is especially valuable coming from a SS with lots of speed.

Ramirez was very good last year as a rookie (when he won ROY), but has bumped his performance up from being a very good player to being a star. His average is up, he is getting on base at about a .390 clip, and he is showing a lot of power. He's on pace to hit 46 doubles, 8 triples, and 27 homeruns. That's absurd.

He's also a terror on the basepaths. He's not quite the base stealer Reyes is, but he already has 27 stolen bases, which is 4th in the NL. This is following up the 51 that he had last year.

He dislocated his shoulder in Sunday's game, and hopefully it isn't too serious so that he can continue to put up fantastic numbers to hopefully get him some more recognition. There are better known SS's in the MLB, and there are a lot of better known player, but I'm not sure there's too many players that are better than Hanley Ramirez is right now, at age 23. Indeed, he currently sits 3rd in the MLB in VORP, behind only A-Rod and Magglio Ordonez.

So by that measure at least Hanley is a top 3 player in the MLB... so why doesn't he get any recognition for it?