Let’s go back to spring training. The Los Angeles Dodgers were going into the 2013 season as MLB’s most scrutinized team. They may not have wanted that on the field, but the front office brought that on themselves with their “win at any cost” approach to building a roster.
The blue crew were big boys, however, and they seemed to be up to the challenge. Then the WBC came up. They said goodbye—supposedly for just a couple of weeks to team spark plug Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez was hit by a pitch in an early game of the WBC and was lost for two months with a wrist injury. The Dodgers began the season with a win but went into a tailspin that lasted until the beginning of June.
Losing a player of Ramirez’ caliber is hard to replace. L.A. tried many options to do so and when that didn’t work out they rushed the former All-Star back. His wrist may have healed for the most part, but he was out of baseball shape and pulled a hamstring running to third base in his first series back.
L.A. took its time this time and allowed Ramirez to properly heal. What that has done has been the biggest part of the Dodgers’ turnaround.
Since Ramirez has returned for good, he has hit .390 with a .444 OBP and a .706 SLG percentage. Those are tremendous offensive numbers especially when you add in his 28 runs which is also how many RBI he has.
On Saturday night, en route to the Dodgers’ second consecutive win over the Washington Nationals on the east coast, No. 13 hit the game winning double in the 10th inning.
Ramirez, with his baggy, open jersey and loose, grinning style, is a powerful presence on the Los Angeles squad. And even though most of the attention for that will go to upstart Yasiel Puig, it is Ramirez who is as much responsible for the Dodgers’ turnaround as anyone.