"We're just going to go and play the game, like I've said, and move on. If it doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year. It's not like the end of the world or something. Why should we panic?" Ramirez wondered.
But last year, the Red Sox had Ramirez to help swing them out of that deficit against the Indians, and he did just that. The question now is: Can the Red Sox come back from the brink against the Tampa Bay Rays without their erstwhile slugger, who was traded to the Dodgers on July 31?
In other words, this would seem a most appropriate time to measure the Red Sox with and without Ramirez. What is clear is that David Ortiz -- who tormented postseason opponents along with Ramirez in years past -- is struggling mightily.
Ortiz is batting .161, with just five hits in 31 at-bats. That includes his 1-for-14 effort vs. the Rays. He has no homers, and one RBI, that against the Angels in the AL Division Series.
However, there's no way to tell if that dropoff in production by Big Papi is a direct correlation to Ramirez not being around or if it's simply a product of Ortiz already having a difficult year (.264, 23 homers, 89 RBIs in the regular season) thanks in large part to a left wrist injury that limited him to 109 games.
There is plenty of data that suggests Ramirez's departure has had marginal impact on the Red Sox. In some ways, the team improved after his absence.
Ortiz's regular-season stats
|Slugger David Ortiz, who missed several weeks with a left wrist injury, posted a .264 average with with 23 homers and 89 RBIS in 109 games.|
|After Ramirez trade||49||.262||9||42|
For example, the Red Sox went 61-48 with Ramirez this season for a .560 winning percentage. They were three games out of first place when he was traded. Without him, they were 34-19 for a .642 winning percentage and finished two games behind Tampa Bay in the American League East.
And if you wish to use October as barometer, the Red Sox were 4-3 up to this point of the postseason last year and are 4-4 this year. The only difference is that the Red Sox swept the Angels in the ALDS and beat them in four games this year.
Though the Boston bats have struggled to find their way in the ALCS, the regular season suggests that is not necessarily a product of Ramirez.
|While designated hitter David Ortiz struggles this postseason, former teammate Manny Ramirez continues to rake with the Dodgers.|
In the 109 games before the trade of Ramirez, the Red Sox scored 4.9 runs per game. In the 53 games after the trade, they scored 5.7 runs per game.
Moreover, Jason Bay, the man who Ramirez was traded for, is having a terrific postseason, batting .406 with three homers, nine RBIs and a .781 slugging percentage.
Whether it was the presence of Ramirez or not, the Red Sox were a better offensive team at this point last year in the playoffs, averaging 5.7 runs a game through Game 4 of the ALCS. This postseason, they've averaged 4.1 runs per game heading into Thursday night's Game 5.
Much like the Red Sox as a team, Ortiz -- at least according to the numbers -- has missed Ramirez more in October than during the regular season.
Prior to Ramirez's July 31 trade to the Dodgers, Ortiz batted .266 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs in 60 games. Following the trade of Ramirez, Ortiz batted .262 in 49 games, with nine homers and 42 RBIs.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less