The eternal question in fantasy ball remains the same.
No, not why anyone still believes in Carlos Pena, but how long you can hold on to those underperforming stars who you drafted before the season began. There are a litany of players who fit these criteria each season, but perhaps this season none are struggling as much as Hanley Ramirez. So how long to you keep the faith? And how long can you afford to?
There are tons of reasons to suspect that Ramirez may not come out of it anytime soon and that ring of gut hanging around his waist isn't the whole cause, but is more likely a symptom of the problem.
The most obvious reason to bet against Ramirez is that he's got to be unhappy. He's been stuck for his entire career with a losing team which doesn't seem to have either the direction or financial wherewithal to transform themselves into legitimate contenders, and his role over the past few years has become a muddled one. Gone are the days when you mentioned Ramirez's name and thought of him as one of the premier leadoff hitters in the game, a sure thing to steal 40-50 bags, score 100 runs and knock in 20 or so homers.
When the Marlins asked him to change his role and to take that power, average and OBP to the middle of the lineup it should have been an honor. After all the No. 3 hitter on the team is usually the best hitter on that team. But it wasn't the role that Ramirez thrived in, and it is a role where big shoulders and big muscles, or more concretely more power, is valued far more than speed and good base running ability.
And while Ramirez's done very well in the role, he's not the kind of power threat that the premier cleanup hitters in the game are. But he's been trying to be, maybe even trying too hard. He's added weight in the last couple of seasons, not all of it good as those 10-15 extra pounds he's carrying now shows.
On his side are age and a track record that says that he's a better player than this, and while fantasy players do occasionally drop off the proverbial cliff, he's never been the kind of low average, low OBP kind of player who usually does that. If Ramirez is still inspired to play ball and isn't depressed, apathetic or unhappy, better days are certainly ahead of him the rest of the way. Maybe not enough to justify what you paid for him in March, but certainly better than what he showed us in the first 40 days of the season.
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