After a disappointing 2007 season, Manny Ramirez was a big question mark coming into 2008. However, Manny hit more or less like the Manny of past for the Red Sox before having an interesting run of events with them. After being traded to the Dodgers, he had one of the hottest stretches in recent memory, helping lead the Dodgers to the playoffs. Manny will be a tough player to evaluate for teams and fantasy owners alike. Fantasy owners will have a little easier time since they don’t have to worry about defense, but he still remains a difficult player to value.
YEAR AGE TEAM PA CT% UBB% ISO GB% FB% LD% HR/FB% 2006 34 BOS 558 81.8 15.1 0.298 35.2 35.2 23.1 23.9 2007 35 BOS 569 83.8 10.2 0.197 30.6 30.6 24.8 12.9 2008 36 BOS 425 79.8 10.4 0.230 31.9 31.9 20.8 18.8 2008 36 LAD 229 83.4 8.3 0.347 35.3 36.6 24.8 30.6
Most of Manny’s skill indicators remained the same during his ridiculous run with the Dodgers. However, he was doing incredible damage when he made contact with the ball, including a .373 BABIP and 30.6% HR/FB with the Dodgers. Manny hasn’t really shown an ability to sustain a BABIP this high and that should obviously regress. While Manny’s skills haven’t really shown any growth, they haven’t shown any serious decline either, which is a good thing when you’re talking about a 36 year-old player.
If Manny stays healthy, you should be able to expect 25-30 HR and 100+ RBI from him. However, given his age, there is the chance of a sudden and sharp decline, which we’ll talk about a little later. The problem with Manny is that other owners are going to be expecting something similar to his 2008 season. Manny is a great hitter but that might be expecting a little too much. Manny’s 2008 season would probably be a better estimate of his upside rather than his mean expectation.
Manny’s risk lies mainly in two areas: age and burnout.
Experience: Very low risk. We don’t really need to worry about this with Manny.
Playing time: Very low risk. If Manny stays healthy, he will get almost all of the at-bats at his position with the occasional day off to rest.
Skill risk: Low risk. As mentioned before, there haven’t really been any indicators in his skill set that suggest Manny might drop off.
Age: Very high risk. While Manny hasn’t really shown any signs of aging, he will still be 37 next year. As he continues to age into his late thirties, the chances of a performance or health collapse will continue to grow higher and higher.
Burnout: High risk. Manny’s age contributes to his burnout risk. While Manny seems like a guy who coasts at times (okay a lot of the time), this is a guy who has been bothered by nagging injuries in the past. Manny did manage to come to the plate 654 times last year but let’s not forget 2006 and 2007, when he averaged only 564 plate appearances.
Overall risk: Medium. I wouldn’t be too worried about Manny’s skill set. However, I would worry about Manny’s age and the chances of a burnout, which might be too much risk for someone to take Manny early, depending on their risk aversion. There is also the “Manny being Manny” risk. We really don’t know what attitude Manny will bring next year when he’s no longer playing for a new contract.
Manny still, obviously, has very good skills. He does, though, have some risk to him. Ramirez is a guy who will probably garner some first round consideration next year, depending on how many teams you have in your league. I would be wary of going too high for him, however. Manny is the kind of guy I don’t like to take too early. If everything goes right, you get what you paid for; however, there is a lot of downside risk and not that great an upside.