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Friday, April 8, 2011

Baseball's Greatest Players: Manny Ramirez

Height: 6′0″; Weight: 200; Bats: right; Throws: right
First game: September 2, 1993; Final game: still active
Team(s): Cleveland Indians (1993–2000); Boston Red Sox (2001–present)
MVP: never won; 2.75 career shares (through '06 voting)
Hall of Fame: imminent
162-game avg.: .313 batting, .409 on-base, .593 slugging, 41 home runs, 348 total bases, 111 runs scored, 133 runs batted in, 184 hits, 81 extra-base hits, 93 BB, 128 K, 3 SB
Career P/E: 1.234; Postseason P/E: 1.028

The Good. Manny Ramirez is an RBI machine, plain and simple. Beginning in 1995 Manny has topped the century mark for runs batted in every season except two. In 1998 and 1999 the Dominican outfielder drove home 310 runs in 297 combined games. He has knocked in more than 120 runs six times, and he averages 133 per 162 games for his career. His ability to bring runners around is largely responsible for his gaudy average of 1.26 net runs per game. That is a figure that tops every right fielder in this section not named Ruth. He's been one of the leading offensive players in the sport for many years and doesn't seem to be slowing down very much.

Ramirez combines amazing run production with great power and the ability to hit for high averages and reach base often. Five times he has hit more than 40 homers in a season, and he has hit more than 30 in 11 of the past 13. A .313 career batter, Ramirez has hit as high as .351, a mark he posted in 2000, his last season with the Indians.

In terms of P/E Average, Manny is superb. His 1.234 lifetime mark is better than those of Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle. In 1999 and 2000 the slugger finished with P/Es above 1.400 in back-to-back seasons, a rare and significant accomplishment. The 252 net runs his bat produced in 1999 helped push his season P/E to 1.495, the highest mark of his Hall of Fame career.

Manny was named MVP of the 2004 World Series after his Boston squad swept the Cardinals. He hit .412, reached base safely in half of his plate appearances, and drove in four runs as the Red Sox finally broke the curse to win it all.

The Bad. Ramirez's World Series MVP notwithstanding, his postseason numbers pale in comparison with his regular-season stats. His 1.028 P/E in October is more than 200 points lower than his number from April through September, and he has driven in just 64 runs in 95 playoff games. Furthermore, Manny has been unable to win an MVP in the regular season, never having finished better than third on the American League ballot. Finally, Manny is not a very good fielder or base runner.

The Verdict. While he currently plays left field in front of the Green Monster at Fenway Park, Manny still has more career games played in right, so he's included here rather than . Forget about Ramirez's quirky personality or the fact that he isn't a model team-mate at all times. The guy can hit, driving in runs at a tremendous pace and owning a career slugging percentage of .593. His lethal bat qualifies him for Category 5 and a top-five spot. Cooperstown awaits him.

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