The Rays’ $2 million investment in Manny Ramirez certainly seems like a worthwhile gamble, but there’s no denying that the 38-year-old slugger seemed washed up during his stint with the White Sox last season. He hit just .261/.420/.319 with one homer and two RBI in 69 at-bats following the August deal. On the other hand, he came in at .311/.405/.510 in 232 at-bats prior to the trade, making him one of the NL’s 10-best hitters.
In all, Ramirez hit .298/.409/.460 with nine homers in 265 at-bats last season. Since returning from his 50-game PED suspension in July 2009, he’s had 525 at-bats and hit .284/.399/.476 with 22 homers.
So, let’s look at how some similar players hit in their age-39 years. Here’s a list of all of the players since 1961 to amass a .375 OBP and a .450 slugging percentage in at least 300 at-bats at age 38 and how they followed up in their age-39 seasons.
Gene Woodling – .313/.403/.471 (1961) – .276/.379/.424 (1962) – OPS+ 138 to 116
Hank Aaron – .265/.390/.515 (1972) – .301/.402/.643 (1973) – OPS+ 147 to 177
Willie Stargell – .295/.382/.567 (1978) – .281/.352/.552 (1979) – OPS+ 158 to 139
Ron Cey – .273/.384/.508 (1986) – .221/.359/.394 (1987) – OPS+ 138 to 107
Harold Baines – .301/.375/.458 (1997) – .300/.369/.451 (1998) – OPS+ 120 to 114
Edgar Martinez – .306/.423/.543 (2001) – .277/.403/.485 (2002) – OPS+ 160 to 139
Barry Bonds – .341/.529/.749 (2003) – .362/.609/.812 (2004) – OPS+ 231 to 263
Larry Walker – .289/.384/.502 (2005) – Retired
Moises Alou – .321/.400/.518 (2005) – .301/.352/.571 (2006) – OPS+ 138 to 132
Jeff Kent – .292/.385/.477 (2006) – .302/.375/.500 (2007) – OPS+ 133 to 119
Frank Thomas – .270/.381/.545 (2006) – .277/.377/.480 (2007) – OPS+ 140 to 125
Gary Sheffield – .298/.409/.460 (2007) – .225/.326/.400 (2008) – OPS+ 119 to 89
I have to say, the list fares a whole lot better than I expected. Cey, who simply had a last hurrah at age 38, doesn’t really belong in this group. Sheffield was the only player to fall apart, but he was playing with a shoulder that required surgery and he did rebound to a 119 OPS+ at age 40.
For the record, Ramirez’s OPS+ last year was 138. I don’t think he’ll bounce back with 30 or maybe not even 25 homers this season, particularly with how Tropicana Field has played as a pitcher’s park these last few years. Still, the OBP will be there and he should slug .450 anyway. He’ll be better than at least half of the league’s DH and a big improvement over the .238/.322/.391 line the Rays received from the spot last season.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: