Without question, Manny Ramirez put up Hall of Fame numbers. Backed by a sweet swing from the right side, Ramirez helped the Red Sox win two World Series championships.
Yet, it is clear why Ramirez again fell short in his eighth year on the Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame ballot.
Ramirez was suspended in 2009 and again two years later for violations of MLB’s performance enhancing drug policy.
The Hall of Fame has proved elusive to many stars with ties to PEDs, a list that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire among others.
Ramirez received 129 votes, which was 33.2 percent of the ballots submitted. A candidate needs to be selected on 75 percent of the ballots submitted to get elected.
Last summer, Ramirez was elected into the Red Sox Hall of Fame. In an interview on June 20, Ramirez was at peace with being unable to join David Ortiz and other teammates in the plaque gallery in Cooperstown.
“I [tell] myself it was a good thing for me, because it made me grow up,” said Ramirez. “Maybe a lot of people didn’t get caught and maybe they are doing so many crazy things and they’re not learning from it. I think everything happens for a reason and everything is happening for the good. I’m in a better place than I’ve ever been, even when I was playing. I don’t regret it, because it made me grow up.”
Ramirez will have three more chances on the BBWAA ballot.
Hall of Fame or not, Ramirez was one of the most impactful signings in Red Sox history.
After signing an eight-year, $160 million deal in December 2000, Ramirez was a perennial stud in the middle of Boston’s batting order. In 1,083 games with the Red Sox, Ramirez had a batting line of .312/.411/.588 with 274 homers and 868 RBIs. In 2004, Ramirez was named World Series MVP as Boston won it all for the first time in 86 years.
Ramirez broke into the Majors with Cleveland, where he posted eerily similar numbers as he did in Boston. Playing 967 games for Cleveland, Ramirez slashed .313/.407/.592 with 236 homers and 804 RBIs. With Ramirez a centerpiece of the lineup, the franchise got to the World Series in 1995 and ’97, but lost both of those Fall Classics.
A 12-time All-Star, Ramirez also played for the Dodgers, White Sox and Rays. He had a career average of .312 with 555 homers and 1,831 RBIs. Ramirez typically rose to the occasion in October, belting 29 homers to go with 78 RBIs and a .937 OPS in 111 postseason games.
Lefty closer Billy Wagner, who pitched 15 games for the Red Sox after a late-season trade in 2009, ranked third behind Rolen and Helton on this year’s ballot, getting votes on 265 ballots (68.1 percent).
Four other former Red Sox players -- John Lackey, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli and Bronson Arroyo -- were on the ballot for the first and last times. Lackey and Ellsbury both got one vote. Napoli and Arroyo weren’t selected on any ballots.
A player needs to appear on five percent of the ballots to remain on the BBWAA ballot the next year.
Lackey came up for the Red Sox in 2013, winning Game 6 to clinch the World Series title at Fenway Park against the Cardinals. He also won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie for the Angels.
Ellsbury, who was drafted and developed by the Red Sox, contributed to World Series-winning teams in 2007 and ’13 with Boston. He still holds the club record for most stolen bases in a season with 70 in ’09.
Just like Lackey and Ellsbury, Napoli was a key player on the ’13 title team. That was especially true in the American League Championship Series, when Napoli ripped a solo homer to account for the run that lifted Lackey in a 1-0 classic over Justin Verlander.
Arroyo was a regular in the rotation for Boston’s fabled “idiots” of 2004. He was a 148-game winner over 16 Major League seasons.