With Manny Ramirez’s sudden retirement from baseball, the phrase “Manny being Manny” probably ranks among the week’s most-often spoken. That just begs the question, though: what exactly is “being Manny”? Well, quite simply, it’s being one of the best right-handed hitters ever to play the game. I’ve heard some ludicrous questions about his Hall of Fame candidacy being brought up, and I want to address them here. For his career, his 162-game average line was:
.312/.411/.585 39HR 129RBI 94BB 109R 154OPS+
He hit above .300 ten times, and he had OBPs above .400 eleven times, including 3 league leads. He slugged above .600 eight times, including 3 league leads. Most impressively, he was among the 3 best hitters in the league 6 times as measured by OPS+. He made the top 10 another 6 times. Clearly, he sustained an incredible level of play for a long time. That is the first major criterion for being Hall-worthy.
His peak numbers were equally as impressive as the length of his prime. He reached 45 home runs, 165 RBIs, 100 walks, 28 intentional walks, 45 doubles, 131 runs, a .349 average, a .457 OBP, a .697 SLG%, and a 186 OPS+ at various points during his career. The RBI total is the best single season total from anyone since World War II began. In Europe. The second criterion, peak performance, is clearly met by the Man-Ram.
And I’ll even sacrifice my beliefs to expand my argument for Manny. Some people value post-season performance when looking at a player’s career, and they would be forced to acknowledge the impact Manny made when he was in the playoffs. His 2008 playoff performance with the Dodgers ranks as one of the best all-time. He had the 5th highest OBP (.667) ever, and the 8th highest SLG% (1.080) ever. For his career, he is 3rd all-time in runs and hits. He is 2nd in total bases and RBIs. Finally, he has the most post-season home runs and walks of any player in history. And even though it depends on more variables than can be imagined, two of the teams he played for won the World Series that season.
Manny Ramirez reached an elite level of play that most people can only dream of. He sustained that level for a remarkably long time, achieving dominance immediately upon arriving in 1995. And he played well…ahrm…”in the clutch,” with 2 championship rings and one of the best single post-seasons in history in 2008. The criteria most often cited in reasonable Hall of Fame debates have all been met, and I think anyone trying to argue the other side is feeding off of more emotion than evidence. Yes, he made some poor decisions on the field. Yes, he made some poor decisions off the field. We aren’t talking about the Decision-Making Hall of Fame. We’re talking about the Baseball Hall of Fame. And Manny Ramirez could play baseball.