The Yankees used some of the bucks saved in trading A.J. Burnett to the Bucs, adding Raul Ibanez Monday on a one-year, $1.1 million deal. Ibanez, 39, is expected to take on right-handers as part of a DH platoon with lefty-thrasher Andruw Jones.
Ibanez comes cheaper than Johnny Damon, who is reportedly seeking around $5 million, but he also comes with some of the same questions regarding his suddenly diminishing plate discipline. The former Phillie started lunging at breaking and off-speed stuff from righties last year, and his on-base percentage took a tumble as a result.
Check out Ibanez's chase rate against "soft" pitches -- curveballs, sliders and changeups -- thrown by right-handed pitchers in 2011 compared to 2009 and 2010. His chase percentage against breaking and off-speed pitches from righties was below the league average in '09 and 10, but it ballooned last year:
Ibanez's chase rate vs. "soft" stuff from right-handed pitching, 2009-11
|Pitch Type||2009||2010||2011||3-Yr. MLB Avg. for LHB vs. RHP|
Overall, Ibanez's chase rate against soft stuff from righties spiked from 30% in 2009 and 29% in 2010 to 39% in 2011. The average for lefty hitters versus right-handed pitchers is 32% over the past three seasons.
Ibanez went golfing last year, trying to club pitches near his ankles into the cheap seats. Take a look at his swing rate by pitch location vs. soft stuff from righties in 2009-10, and then 2011:
If Ibanez gets back to his more patient approach and posts an OBP slightly north of .350 against righties like he did in 2009-10 (.353), then the Yankees may cobble together a cheap DH platoon. If he keeps trying to club low pitches from righties and has an OBP barely above .300 like in 2011 (.307), however, there will be a blight in the juggernaut Bronx lineup.