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Entries in raul ibanez (4)

Saturday
Jul132013

Raul Ibanez Destined for Old Dude HR History

When the Seattle Mariners originally drafted Raul Ibanez, Bill Clinton was the sax-playing governor of Arkansas, Sir-Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" topped the charts and cell phones were bigger than Jose Altuve. Much has changed since 1992, but Ibanez is still slugging. The 41-year-old has already clubbed 24 home runs this season, a mark bested by only Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Gonzalez among MLB hitters.

Ibanez's power display is impressive for a batter at any age, but it's nearly unprecedented for a guy who's closer to AARP eligibility than the beginning of his career. Even if he cools off in the second half, Ibanez looks primed to break the single-season home run record for a player in his forties:

Highest single-season HR totals for 40+ year-old hitters

 Source: Baseball-Reference.com

Ibanez's plate approach at this advanced stage of his career can be summed up as, "swing hard in case you hit it." Here's a closer look at how Ibanez is on pace for forty-plus homers in his forties.

He's whiffing often...

Ibanez is coming up empty about 26% that he swings, up from 23% last season and well north of the 21% big league average. That, in turn, has led to a career-high 24.3% punch out rate.

But when he connects...

He's ripping the ball down the right field line. Ibanez has pulled about 48% of pitches put in play, compared to 43% in 2012 and the 33% average for left-handed hitters. No one has been more pull-happy than Ibanez, who trails just Domonic Brown among lefties in pull-side homers (18) and ranks seventh in slugging percentage (1.042) on balls hit to right field.

Ibanez's HR in 2013

 

He can still handle the heat, too

While he might lose a foot race to manager and fellow forty-something Eric Wedge, Ibanez has plenty of bat speed left. He has 15 home runs against "hard" pitches, meaning fastballs, cutters and splitters. Ibanez's fresh-faced, flame-throwing victims include Justin Wilson (96 MPH), Garrett Richards and Jarrod Parker (95 MPH).

Thursday
Oct112012

Raul Ibanez Still Slugging Fastballs

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

Rk Player Date Series Gm# Tm Opp WPA
1 David Freese 10/27/2011 WS 6 STL TEX 0.969
2 Kirk Gibson 10/15/1988 WS 1 LAD OAK 0.87
3 Steve Garvey 10/6/1984 NLCS 4 SDP CHC 0.854
4 Lance Berkman 10/27/2011 WS 6 STL TEX 0.832
5 Raul Ibanez 10/10/2012 ALDS 3 NYY BAL 0.828
6 Charlie Keller 10/5/1941 WS 4 NYY BRO 0.826
7 Cookie Lavagetto 10/3/1947 WS 4 BRO NYY 0.822
8 Michael Tucker 10/12/1998 NLCS 5 ATL SDP 0.812
9 Brian Jordan 10/8/1999 NLDS 3 ATL HOU 0.806
10 Stan Hack 10/8/1945 WS 6 CHC DET 0.806

 

Not bad for a guy who started the night as a spectator.

Monday
Feb202012

Can Ibanez Lay Off Soft Stuff in Pinstripes?

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 Type2009201020113-Yr. MLB Avg. for LHB vs. RHP
Curveball 23 18 32 27
Slider 30 28 39 31
Changeup 33 34 43 35

 

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:

Ibanez's swing rate by pitch location vs. soft stuff from right-handed pitchers, 2009-10

Ibanez's swing rate by pitch location vs. soft stuff from right-handed pitchers, 2011If 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.