Hanley Ramirez Forgotten Amid Puig-ManiaHeading into the All-Star break, the recent success of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been largely attributed to Yasiel Puig, as the team has gone 24-15 since his promotion on June 3 to jump from last place to second place in the National League West.
Nobody seems to remember that on June 4 — the day after Puig's debut — shortstop Hanley Ramirez returned to the lineup after a month-long stint on the disabled list.
While Puig certainly injected life into a listless Dodgers team that was going nowhere fast, Ramirez has been just as instrumental in turning around Los Angeles' season. He batted a cool .375 with five home runs and 17 runs batted in during June and his July average is currently up to .385. Overall, the shortstop owns an impressive .386/.444/.693 slash — albeit in only 39 games played this season.
Although most Dodgers fans have understood the importance of Ramirez's contributions, the rest of the baseball world seems to have forgotten about the former batting champion's resurgence amid the fanfare surrounding Puig. When the Dodgers started winning, the majority of the highlights were focused around Puig. The big debate leading up to this week's All-Star game was whether or not Puig should participate. There was no discussion about Ramirez's chances of making the roster.
Puig has been getting all of the attention despite Ramirez putting up extremely similar numbers over the same period of time. Puig hit seven home runs and knocked in 16 runs in June. Ramirez hit five bombs and had 17 runs batted in. Puig stole four bases to Ramirez's three. Although Ramirez compiled 20 fewer hits than Puig in June, he also struck out 12 fewer times. Statistically, Ramirez has also had a far better July than Puig so far.
Even when Major League Baseball decided to include two Dodgers on the Final Vote ballot, it was Puig and Adrian Gonzalez rather than Puig and Ramirez. As it turned out, the only Dodger heading to New York this week is pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
Why so many have overlooked Ramirez is perplexing. Perhaps the way he handled his final year in Miami left a bad taste in people's mouths. Maybe baseball fans are more interested in the novelty of Puig instead of the proven capabilities of the veteran Ramirez.
Whatever the case may be, the Dodgers understood what they were getting when they traded for Ramirez a year ago. They saw that he was trapped in an unfortunate situation in Miami and they believed that a change of scenery might reveal the potential that surfaced in 2009. Similarly, with Puig, the Dodgers saw a kid with raw talent and immense potential so they decided to give him a change of scenery to the tune of $42 million and liberation from communism.
With both players now rewarding the Dodgers for taking those risks, it's a shame that only one of them is getting the recognition he deserves.