Raul Ibanez is 40 years old, scuffles against soft stuff and covers ground like Kirk Gibson might have if the Dodgers had let him limp around the outfield during the '88 World Series. But whatever limitations Ibanez might have, he can still kill fastballs. Ibanez displayed his heater prowess last night against the Orioles, belting a game-tying home run in the 9th inning after pinch-hitting for A-Rod (I don't believe what I just saw!) and then handing the Yankees a walk-off win by going deep again in the 12th. Now, he's being compared to Gibson for all the right reasons.
Ibanez capitalized when Jim Johnson left a 94 MPH sinker over the heart of the plate in the 9th. In the 12th, Ibanez turned on a high 91 MPH fastball from lefty Brian Matusz:
Location of Ibanez's home runs vs. Baltimore, 10/10/12
Both pitches were located in Ibanez's hot spots against fastballs and sinkers:
Ibanez vs. fastballs and sinkers, 2012
Ibanez is slugging .555 overall against fastballs and sinkers this season, far above the .460 MLB average. Blowing a fastball by Raul, even when he's coming in cold off the bench, is no simple task. It's a different story against breaking and off-speed pitches, though:
Ibanez vs. breaking and off-speed stuff, 2012
Ibanez is slugging .331 against curveballs, sliders and changeups, which is over 40 points below the big league average (.374).
Raul's ridiculous night ranks as one of the most clutch hitting performances in postseason history. Judging by Win Probability Added, Ibanez places behind just David Freese, Gibson, Steve Garvey and Lance Berkman when it comes to clubbing his club to playoff glory:
Highest single-game WPA total in playoff history
Not bad for a guy who started the night as a spectator.