In the first series of the season, the Mets, at least, are taking a new approach to Hanley Ramirez.
Opposing pitchers appear to be walking a fine line when dealing with Hanley Ramirez.
On Tuesday night, the Mets clearly approached the Marlins shortstop with caution, and their strategy may ultimately be picked up by other teams.
Batting in the leadoff spot, Ramirez was intentionally walked twice in the Marlins' 5-4 win in 10 innings. A year ago, when Miguel Cabrera was anchored in the heart of Florida's order, Ramirez drew just three intentional passes all season.
I'm not concerned at all if other teams start adopting this strategy (Disclaimer: Hanley is not on my fantasy team). Sure if there are men on second and third in a run one game with two outs in the late innings and Hanley comes to plate: they are going to walk him. It happens to Ichiro all the time. The opposing team will choose to walk the better contact hitter in order to face one who is less likely to get a hit. It makes, on the surface, sense.
However if clubs employ intentionally walking Hanley to get to Uggla in the early to middle innings with two outs (I can't imagine they would do it with less than two outs), they will eventually pay. With Uggla's power and propensity to hit doubles, Ramirez is in scoring position standing on first and it won't matter if runners are ahead of him. The other thing is that if they give Hanley a free pass with no one on second, he will soon be standing there and a single will easily do the trick.
Intentionally walking Ramirez will work from time to time, but in the long run, given what Danny can do with bat, it should prove to be a losing gamble.