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Monday, September 19, 2016

Hanley Ramirez aims to bring second World Series to Red Sox (Nope, that's not a misprint)

Brothers in Arms: More celebrating to come?

David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia may be the only everyday players on the Red Sox who also played for Boston's 2007 World Series champions, but there is another guy in the lineup whose performance was a major factor in that title.

No use scouring the '07 lineup on baseballreference,com, you won't find him there.

American League Co-Player of the Week Hanley Ramirez has emerged as the hottest hitter in baseball, with 4 home runs and 9 RBI during a four-game sweep of the Yankees at Fenway this past weekend and 12 homers overall in his last 21 contests. Ramirez is finally fulfilling the expectations that former GM Ben Cherington was hoping for when he signed the free agent in the winter of 2014-15, and his surge has helped Boston to a 3.5-game lead over the second-place Orioles in the tight AL East race entering tonight's showdown in Baltimore,

If Ramirez is able to keep it up, and the Red Sox reach the postseason, it will be the second time he's paid big dividends on Yawkey Way. Back in 2005, after an excellent season in Class AA Portland, he was the key to a trade with the Florida Marlins that brought big right-handed pitcher Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell to Boston.

Beckett took a season to acclimate to the American League, but in 2007 he was 20-7 and the ace of a World Series championship Red Sox staff. Lowell, considered a throw-in from Florida in the original trade, was a quiet leader on and off the field whose unexpected offensive resurgence (.324 with 121 RBI) was also central to the '07 title. In fact, Lowell was MVP of that October's World Series, to which Beckett contributed a Game 1 victory.

Lowell delivered in '07 -- now it's Hanley's turn.

So while Cherington may have been forced to resign last summer after the poor performance of Ramirez (a .249 average and brutal defense in left field) and fellow free agent washout Pablo Sandoval, the signing isn't looking quite so bad now, In fact, Ramirez's booming bat and solid work at a new position of first base has been one of this season's greatest surprises.

If Hanley can keep it up for another month, there will be a lot more to celebrate than just a sweep of the Yankees.

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