There was a time when Hanley Ramirez was among the elite players in the game and, if he lasted past the third or fourth selection, it was a shocking development.

But after a 2011 filled with injuries and controversy, he suddenly looks like a potential second round bargain. There’s no arguing that he’s a highly risky selection, but the reward is quite hefty as well.

So now the question facing fantasy owners is what to expect from him in 2012. Is he going to rebound or should we bypass him in the second round, opting for a safer selection? Before we answer that question we need to look at the numbers he actually produced last season:

338 At Bats
.243 Batting Average (82 Hits)
10 Home Runs
45 RBI
55 Runs
20 Stolen Bases
.333 On Base Percentage
.379 Slugging Percentage
.275 BABIP

There were countless issues, but it would be a significant mistake to harp on the details. It was a down season and there isn’t going to be one simple explanation for why the poor performance. You can point to the injury, a lack of effort, or a number of other issues.

Some will want to say that we should simply expect those things to continue. Others will say that Hanley’s move to third base will cause controversy, something that will lead to a repeat of last season’s effort deficit and overall struggles. 

It’s impossible to know how the position switch will influence him for sure, but adding 3B eligibility will obviously add to his fantasy appeal.  We all know that the position is generally the weakest in the game, so adding another potential stud is certainly not going to hurt anything.

You also have to look at the additions of both Ozzie Guillen and Jose Reyes. I know Reyes spurred the position change, but he also helps to significantly upgrade a lineup that now should look like this:

  • Jose Reyes
  • Emilio Bonifacio
  • Hanley Ramirez
  • Mike Stanton
  • Gaby Sanchez
  • Logan Morrison

How can you not like someone hitting in the middle of that lineup? It should provide both opportunities to drive in and score a ton of runs, assuming his bat comes back to him.

The one thing we never have to worry about with Ramirez is the ability to steal a base. There’s always the concern that when someone moves lower in the order that they aren’t going to get as many opportunities to run. Last season Ramirez stole 20 bases, 16 of which came with him hitting either third or fourth. He may not be the 50 SB threat he was earlier in his career, but he’s stolen at least 27 bases every year he’s reached the 500 AB plateau (2011 was the first time he didn’t).

Last season there were two 3B to steal at least 15 bases, Eduardo Nunez and Ryan Roberts. Right away, Ramirez gives any owner who gets him an advantage on that part of the stat sheet.

The power, however, has become a major concern. While we don’t know how the new ballpark will play, we have seen a disturbing shift in his groundball rate in recent years.  From 2006-2009 his high was at 45.8%, but also posted years of 40.1% and 38.6%. That meant more line drives and more fly balls, which obviously helped to lead to more home runs.

Over the past two seasons he’s posted groundball rates of 51.0% and 50.9%. If it was just in 2011 we could probably come up with a few excuses to help explain the problem. However, with Ramirez’ ground ball issues stretching back to 2010, there’s no way to deny that there is an issue here. Unless he can reverse that trend, his power is going to take a serious hit. Seeing him exceed 18-22 HR may be a stretch.

Obviously if he adds 25 SB no one will care. Just keep in mind that we are not talking about a 30/30 threat, but more of a 15/25 type player.

You put it all together and you get the following projection:

.292 (146-500), 18 HR, 95 RBI, 85 R, 30 SB, .325 BABIP, .368 OBP, .478 SLG

I don’t think anyone would complain about a player posting that type of line, especially since you could argue that it’s more of a floor than a ceiling and comes from a player who will quickly gain 3B eligibility.  We’ve seen what Ramirez is capable of when he puts it all together and you could definitely think that he is going to be motivated to show everyone that 2011 was an aberration, not the new rule.

You couple that with the new position eligibility and I would say Ramirez is worth the risk in the second round in all drafts.

Make sure to check out our 2012 projections:

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