Monday, April 13, 2009

The Top 100 Red Sox: No. 6

Let's take another glance at the Top 100 list -- it's more fun than watchin Jon Lester get knocked around by the A's, isn't it?

10. Smoky Joe Wood, P
9. Babe Ruth, P
8. Tris Speaker, OF
7. Lefty Grove, P

You knew he was going to surface around here somewhere:

6. Manny Ramirez, OF
Two players rank among the top five in Red Sox history in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and home runs: Ted Williams and Manny Ramirez. At some point, probably after he's retired and after he's been elected to the Hall of Fame, your average Red Sox fan will realize what a privilege it was to watch someone hit the way Ramirez hit.

We've all heard the Manny-being-Manny stories -- and we've all formed an opinion about whether Ramirez quit on the Red Sox or was manipulated by Scott Boras or had just reached the end of his time in Boston the way so many others have. (Baseball Prospectus does a better job than we could here of sorting through the hype and the myth -- pointing out, for example, that Ramirez hit .347 and slugged .587 in July of 2008 while playing in 22 of the Red Sox's 24 games.)

That's all in the past -- and so too are the 7 1/2 years in which Ramirez hit the ball better than anyone has hit the ball for the Red Sox since, oh, about 1960.

Just for fun, here are a few random statistics from the ongoing career of one of the best righthanded hitters the game has ever seen:

* In home games, he's hitting .315; in road games, he's hitting .314. (As an indication of how unusual this is: American Leaguers a year ago hit .276 at home and .259 on the road. Alex Rodriguez is a career .314 hitter at home and .298 hitter on the road.)

* With the bases empty, Ramirez has hit .299 and slugged .567. With runners on base, he's hit .330 and slugged .619.

* With a runner on third and less than two outs, he's hit .393 and slugged .693. That's getting the run home.

* When swinging at the first pitch, Ramirez has hit .376 and slugged .756; he's hit 94 of his career home runs on the first pitch -- including this home run.

* His career slugging percentage before the All-Star Game is .581; his career slugging percentage after the All-Star Game is .607.

* As a pinch-hitter, he's a .115 career hitter.

* His worst inning, by far, is the ninth inning; he's hit .267 and slugged .480 in the ninth inning in his career. That's the only inning in which he has a sub-.500 slugging percentage. Then again, if his team is hitting in the ninth inning, he's generally facing closers. That might have something to do with it. (He has a .265 batting average against power pitchers versus .342 against finesse pitchers.)

* He's hit his old team, the Cleveland Indians, harder than any other American League team -- he's got a .352 batting average against Cleveland. He hit just .269 against the Red Sox before Dan Duquette lured him to Boston before the 2001 season; the Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers are the only American League teams against whom he's hitting below .300.

* He has better career numbers in Yankee Stadium (.321 batting average, .605 slugging) than at Fenway Park (.315 batting, .583 slugging).

* And one more: The Red Sox have seen 33 occasions in which players have compiled an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 1.000 of better. Ted Williams has 13 of those seasons. No one else has more than three -- except Manny Ramirez, who did it from 2001-2004 and then again in 2006.

Coming up: One of the two all-time leaders in wins in Red Sox history.

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