3 Veteran Corner Infielders Worth Targeting in Fantasy Baseball
Hanley Ramirez, 1B, Boston Red Sox
Nearly a decade after trading him away, the Boston Red Sox reunited with former top prospect Hanley Ramirez through a large free-agent contract for the 2015 season. During his first month back in Boston, Ramirez immediately delivered with 10 home runs across a .293 batting average and impressive .999 OPS.
Then Hanley literally hit the wall, injuring this shoulder while playing a disastrous brand of left field defense. From that fateful outfield wall collision in May through the end of the season, Ramirez only managed nine more home runs with a loafing .238 batting average, ending 2015 on a sour note.
Last year not only marked a successful transition to first base, Ramirez also stayed healthy and demolished at the plate in the second half. He finished with 30 homers and a career-high 111 RBI's. The homers were his most since 2008, and it was his first year with at least 600 plate appearances since 2012.
After posting a walk rate of only 4.9 percent during the struggles of 2015, his walk rate strongly rebounded to 9.7 percent, 4 percentage points above his career rate. Ramirez struck out at the second-highest rate of his career (19.4 percent), but he was trading some whiffs for power. The only other season in which Hanley struck out in more than 19 percent of his plate appearances was 2012, his last year mashing more than 20 home runs.
Sitting on single-digit home runs and an .801 OPS at the All-Star break, Ramirez went on a second-half surge highlighted by 22 home runs. If you don't mind some cherry picking with arbitrary endpoints, Hanley's game logs from August 11th to October 2nd feature a sizzling 1.074 OPS, .329 batting average, 16 home runs and 49 RBI's in 44 games.
After turning 33 in December, Ramirez is now projected to serve as a designated hitter against right-handed starters while seeing time at first base against lefties in place of Mitch Moreland. Hanley is currently ranked 11th among first basemen in FantasyPros consensus ranks, but early average draft position data from National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) drafts have him going 10th at the position.
With David Ortiz retiring, Ramirez may move up in the batting order after occupying the five spot nearly all of last year, which could help him pick up extra RBI and run-scoring opportunities. Assuming he stays healthy, Hanley can deliver value at a first base position that quickly thins after the top 15 or so players.