Hanley Ramirez is one of the more aggravating players in fantasy baseball. Players see his tantalizing ceiling, then heave exasperated sighs when he fails to reach it. However, on draft day, players take this frustration and make the crucial mistake of avoiding Hanley. The sentence “Hanley is a headache so I won’t draft him” has a true premise (Hanley IS a headache) but a false conclusion -- you absolutely SHOULD draft him.
Look, the potential is huge. We know this; there was a time when fantasy players considered taking Hanley #1 overall. So up front, we know the ceiling is there, but that’s the last I’ll mention of it. The potential is a bonus; I’m saying I’ll draft Hanley regardless of if he hits it or not.
I say this because I believe Hanley brings huge value even in a down year. Ask anyone, and they will say Hanley’s 2012 was a disappointment. And yet, he was still fantasy-dominant at his positions. Qualifying at SS/3B, Hanley posts value among his peers at either position. His 24 HR was second among SS, and his 92 RBI was way ahead of the pack (next closest was Starlin Castro at 78). Meanwhile, his 21 steals led all 3B, a position among which he ranked 7th.
And all of that was in a “bad” year.
Fantasy teams need to evolve throughout the season. Champion GMs will adapt to the trends in baseball, the trends in their fantasy leagues, and available opportunities to add players. With that in mind, you can’t win your league on draft day; what you can do is position your team to pounce on opportunities.
And that’s what makes Hanley so valuable. Based on how your team shapes up, he could range from A) the best power-production shortstop in the game to B) the best base-stealing third baseman in the game. He’s adaptable. If you have the opportunity to buy low on Adrian Beltre mid-season, you can pull the trigger and move Hanley to SS. If a sweet SS prospect comes up and you grab him first, Hanley can shift to 3B accordingly. And this isn’t just one of those utility players with position flexibility; this is a guy who will be elite at either position you put him at.
With that in mind, I have Hanley as a top-20 player on my draft radar. I’ve already told you I don’t like the idea of drafting SP early, and given what I said above, I don’t plan to draft a guy like Justin Upton, Jason Heyward or Edwin Encarnacion ahead of Hanley for one simple reason: I believe I can find high-producing OF or 1B later in the draft, or on waivers, or via trade. I don’t think elite SS/3B combos are quite as easy to find. And that’s why I want Hanley Ramirez on my team this year.