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Introducing the Real Raul Ibanez

Posted by Corey Seidman, Sun, August 30, 2009 10:30 AM | Comments: 45
Analysis, Posts, Statistical Analysis

The old saying goes, “first impressions are lasting impressions.” So naturally, falling out of love with a player who had such an immediate impact as Raul Ibanez is extremely difficult, since he excelled instantly after becoming a Phillie.

But, all fondness and “homerism” aside, the time has come to realize that Ibanez is neither “Pujols-ian” nor “Bruntlett-ish,” but somewhere in between.

On June 13, after playing sixty games as a Phillie, Ibanez was hitting .322/.380/.678, with a 1.058 OPS, 22 homers, 59 RBI, and 51 runs scored. As of that same date, Albert Pujols had the same amount of home runs, two fewer RBI, one less run scored, two fewer doubles, a .329 batting average, and a slugging percentage only 21 points above Ibanez. With 40% of the season complete, the two had nearly identical numbers, and were the frontrunners in the race for NL MVP.

I picked the date of June 13 because it was the very last day Ibanez was being somewhat productive, and playing with a healthy left groin. However, he began regressing to his true talent level ten days earlier, in the final game of a series in San Diego, before the Phils traveled to Dodger Stadium. Sure, Ibanez hit safely in every game from June 3-June 13, but he had one hit in each game, allowing him to ride a meaningless hit streak. From that date until he went on the DL, Ibanez went 11-for-53, a .208 batting average, and raked only six extra-base hits in twelve games.

The point of my inclusion of this period? To show you that it wasn’t merely a trip to the DL that derailed Ibanez’ terrific 2009 season. The real Raul Ibanez had showed up two weeks earlier.

The next question would naturally be, “Who is the Raul Ibanez?” Well, that would be a .286/.346/.479 hitter, not a .322/.380/.678 hitter. A guy, who, according to Dave Cameron of the extremely popular Seattle blog, USS Mariner, can look incredible one month and dreadful the next. Like most of you, I found this hard to believe when I was informed of it, but the stats don’t lie.

Sure, certain elements made Ibanez a much better hitter during the first four-tenths of the season. He had a positive change of scenery – went from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park, and was batting in the middle of a powerful, multifaceted lineup. But it would have been unrealistic to expect a player who hit one homer every 25 at-bats to turn into a guy who hits one every 11 at-bats, and be able to SUSTAIN it.

Since the all-important date of June 13, Ibanez has been, well, pitiful.

  • 60 games ending June 13: .322/.380/.678/1.058, 22 HR, 59 RBI, 51 R, 44 K in 242 AB.
  • 41 games since: .216/.294/.399/.693, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 20 R, 47 K in 153 AB.

He has been dropped from fifth in the order to sixth, and has been given numerous days off to keep him fresh, in hopes of allowing the left-handed power bat to reemerge.

The reason that many of you will disagree with this assessment of Ibanez is highlighted in the first sentence of the article. Call it love at first sight, call it a lasting impression Ibanez made on all of us, or call it the “Brad Lidge Effect.” Like Ibanez, the Brad Lidge we fell in love with last season was an apparition – a player performing at a gaudy, unsustainable, unreal rate.

While the decreased line-drives and increased GIDP’s have been an area of concern, neither stat is as alarming as Raul’s strikeout rate, which has climbed consistently as the year has gone on. His current K-rate is 23%, a career high, well above the previous mark of 16.9%. In August, that rate has gone into red-alert territory, at around 31%. The plate discipline that made us all deem him a “professional hitter” during the inaugural months is gone. He is swinging at many pitches out of the zone, and not making contact. In fact, the percentage of balls he makes contact on is a whopping 8% lower this year than it was during his time in Seattle.

Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler have noted lately that Ibanez has been “looking his age.” But maybe he’s not just looking like a 37-year old player in the dog days of August. Maybe he’s looking like the real Raul Ibanez.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 rhymingMetsfan

    Hello I’m sitting here eating my jello.

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    The “real” Raul Ibanez hits above .290. This current slumping version of him is just that, a slumping Raul.

    Let him get his mojo back and he could still have a career year.

     
  • Posts: 0 Mike

    welcome to the game of baseball. you get hot, you get cold, and you grind it out.

     
  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Agreed, this is not the real Raul. The real one is a consistent contact hitter. He probably got too HR-Happy like many do when theyre new at CBP and he needs to readjust and slow the game down again.

    I was there last night, and Im not upset about Lee – eventually that was going to happen, his history shows that. Every once in a while he gets rocked but hes mostly good. He was being insane though lately so I expected a rough start. But other than that hell get back to form I think.

    I was more upset that the offense did absolutely nothing last night. That was disgraceful.

     
  • Posts: 0 karen

    As hard as it would be to say, Raul is probably the player he is showing us now. It is difficult to believe but sadly, he is an average player who played incredibly well in his first few months in a new team.

     
  • Posts: 0 joedad

    It can’t be a coincidence that he fell off the face of the baseball planet when he was hurt. He is either hurt or had to chance something in his mechanics after he was hurt that changed his swing. Let’s hope he finds his swing before the end of the year.

     
  • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

    The first concern everyone had after Ibanez signed was his age, so this isn’t exactly a surprise. This highlights the importance of Amaro not caving in to Toronto’s demands of Taylor & Brown in a Halladay deal, because it’s easy to project Ibanez as a “rich man’s Matt Stairs” by the final year of his deal.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chris

    By this logic, the “real” Jimmy Rollins played for us until June. Some superhero impostor lookalike must have taken his place!

     
  • Posts: 0 PhxPhilly

    Ibanez has basically zero rest to start the season. He’s played in 155+ games the last three years or so. But now Charlie thinks he needs to rest often, because he is still hurt. Hopefully he can get a few good at-bats at key times the rest of the year.

     
  • Posts: 0 KnownComic

    Excellent analysis. But it may indeed be too early to judge Ibanez so harshly. Granted the start to the season was meteoric for him, and the past 60 days have been a crash. Rollins has been the moved in the opposite direction (although his career, albeit shorter than Ibanez’s has been more productive). I’d like to reserve judgment on Ibanez and wait until the end of September before writing him off as a has-been/never-was.

     
  • Posts: 0 bigbobster

    Corey, you’ve made a few generalizations here that are slightly off base. Do Phils fans, generally, “fall in love” with a guy who starts off hot? Wow, I’d say that most of us are the opposite, and assess a guy as he plays within stretches. In May, did we ever lump Raul in with Pujols? No way, like the other folks who have posted here, I never saw a Pujols-type HOF player…I just saw a quality hitter who was facing less quality pitchers than he saw in Seattle in 08, was enticed by a “homer-friendly” stadium, on a team with a homer first mindset. So he swung for the fences a little more than usual. A good idea that worked out well.

    If you look historically at Raul, and his HR/RBI numbers since 2002, you’d see that this six-week slump and injury haven’t diminished what will be a “real” reflection of his production:
    02: 24, 103
    03: 18, 90
    04: 16, 62
    05: 20, 89
    06: 33, 123
    07: 21, 105
    08: 23, 110

    Corey, this is either a “stir ‘em up so they’ll phone in” Eskin-eque piece or you have fallen into the same trap that many of us bloggers did with Jimmy and Ryan Howard’s prolonged slumps last year.

    During the long 162-game grind very player makes adjustments. There’s no doubt in my mind that Raul will make his. I was there when he come off the DL and smoked a hit over the centerfielder’s head against Capps in the stunning 9th inning comeback against the Pirates. That was the “real” Raul. But I do admit he should take a few days off against lefties.

     
  • Posts: 0 timb

    if I remember correctly, right after there were steriod allegations, Raul’s performance began to drop. Coincidence? I miss 1st half Raul…

     
  • Posts: 0 Craig

    Looking forward to a Real Ryan Howard post.

    Obviously the Howard that is tearing up MLB pitching is just an aberration and the Howard that struggles for the first two or three months of the year is the REAL Howard.

     
  • Posts: 0 ryan

    Raul will bounce back with a big September. If Raul, Chase, Jimmy, and Ryan are all hot going down the stretch, we will be unbeatable.

     
  • Posts: 580 Brian Michael

    Avatar of Brian Michael

    A preview of the Real Ryan Howard post came yesterday…

    http://www.philliesnation.com/archives/2009/08/fyi-ryan-howard-is-good/

     
  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    Sorry I must agree this really is not a true testement to “the Real Raul Ibanez”. You even said yourself…”His current K-rate is 23%, a career high, well above the previous mark of 16.9%. In August, that rate has gone into red-alert territory, at around 31%. The plate discipline that made us all deem him a “professional hitter” during the inaugural months is gone. He is swinging at many pitches out of the zone, and not making contact. In fact, the percentage of balls he makes contact on is a whopping 8% lower this year than it was during his time in Seattle.” So if he is hitting career high’s in SO’s, and near career low in BA, and makes contact “8% lower” this is NOT the “Real Raul Ibanez” The Real Raul Ibanez has a career BA above .290, with quite a few SO’s less. The only thing in here that I agree with is stat’s dont lie. If you are going to say “the Real Raul Ibanez” meaning he is normally a pretty piss poor hitter career wise, don’t ignore ALL the stats. In fact I recall just as we signed him, most people expected about 30 HR’s total, where his original career high I believe was 25, but many people added 5 homers for the hitter park, and most expected a .290-.300 hitter. I dont think anyone expected .324, nor did anyone expect .216 since. We expected somewhere in the middle. We just so happen to see an EXTRAODINARY effort by Raul, followed by a poor effort. It does seem to me, that the ENTIRE team has problems swinging at junk and sometime has bad streaks of not making contact. Seeing how he is having career highs and lows in not good ways, and the rest of the team has the same problems at times, could Milt not be doing his job?

     
  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Corey who? Oh.. that one who “..stir ‘em up so they’ll phone in” Eskin-eque piece”..blogger. (chuckles)

    Corey says~ “To show you that it wasn’t merely a trip to the DL that derailed Ibanez’ terrific 2009 season. The real Raul Ibanez had showed up two weeks earlier.”

    Huh? Did it occurred to you that Ibanez may have been nursing a groin injury and playing through some pain until the manager said no more despite protest from the player? After the lengthy stay on the DL, did it occurred to you that Ibanez’s mechanics/timing in his swings may have been slightly off?

    Peaks and valleys in hitting is a natural part of baseball. As one poster pointed out, Ibanez’s career record (especially the last 3 seasons) suggests strongly his consistency as a .290+ hitter; 20+ HRs; 100+ RBIs.

    This season, he was sidetracked by the injury that has limited his number of ABs (399) but still managed outstanding statistics in HRs, RBIs, SLG (.564) and OPS (.908). With a month to go and a chance to regain his stroke, he may still have one of his best season for a such a limited number of ABs.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Ibanez got hurt and sat out a long time. He’ll be OK.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 george55

    c’mon guys, layoff my man Ibanez. there’s nothing wrong with him, it’s all in your heads. he’s fine…i don’t know what your talking about. Keep him in the line up…sign him up for 10 years..

     
  • Posts: 0 Raul Ibanez

    I don’t wanna grow up. I am a PED kid……I trying to layoff of them…But this is one hell of a skid…….

     
  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    george55, nice try, but we all already know you hate Ibanez and want him gone.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    george55? Oh you’re the one who misplaced his senseless rant in another thread (should be in “gamesday”). ;-)

     
  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    nonrhymingmuttsfan… How is that jello? haha… Just joking about RA-ohhhh….nooooooooooo!……… The Phils win tonite and order will be restored………

     
  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    I wish I had the same feeling about tonight.

     
  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    To clarify, I was NOT saying the current, slumping version of Raul Ibanez is what we should expect from him.

    As I stated several times within the article, the REAL Raul Ibanez is the product of everything he has done this year. A player who goes through scorching stretches, but can look as bad as he does right now.

    The Real Ibanez has THESE numbers, .280 hitter with an OPS in the upper .800-low .900′s…not a .330 hitter with a 1.000+ OPS.

    As I said, he is neither Pujolsian nor Bruntlettish.

     
  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    The Phils O will make a statement under the bright lights… I can feel it… You know their po’d about the rain shortened embrass.. I still think we could’ve came back last nite to win it 9-8. We wazz robbed! Then again I’m off my meds so………

     
  • Baseballbriefs.com tracking back Introducing the Real Raul Ibanez…

    Baseballbriefs.com tracking back Introducing the Real Raul Ibanez…

     
  • Posts: 0 Greg V.

    I think his stint on the DL hurt him. I mean if he’s injured, he’s injured but I think that messed with his rhythm and he’s had a hard time adjusting since. I’d have a hard time believing that the gas won’t come back on eventually. I say he’ll have a killer game soon in which we all see the Rauuuuuul we know and love.

     
  • Posts: 0 j reed

    I am not suprised to see where he is right now in terms of tradional stats. But a cursory glane of these stats over the years suggest a bit more consistency then this level of streakiness that David Cameron, not only a Marniers bloggers but sabrmetrician who also writes for many sabr sites, alluded to. To watch the law of averages and the league catch up to him in such a concentrated amount of time perhaps exaggerates the streakiness evident by Cameron’s more indepth sabrmetric analysis.

     
  • Posts: 0 Evan

    I want Tim back I’m sorry for being blunt but these writers have been really bad. :\

     
  • Posts: 0 mike

    i agree – most of the articles they write suck. this must be the REAL cory seidman. or amanda orr. or whoever they get to whip up some drivel. i doubt that any of them have played serious baseball — JV in high school doesn’t count, sorry. they lack an appreciation for the game that is clearly evident in their garbage that they post on this site — a site that has definitely gone the way of the mets – straight down the shitter.

     
  • Posts: 0 mike

    in fact, i would give these “bloggers” the STEVE JELTZ AWARD for sucking. please put a bag over your head before you type your next entry — ill bet it turns out a hell of a lot better! (and certainly more interesting!)

     
  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    I played four years of baseball in HS — not that it should matter, nor should I be defending myself…

    I’m curious as to what you have a problem with, Mike and Evan. The writing style? Please, by all means, proofread and point out what you dislike.

    The content? Please, by all means, tell me why the subject matter in which I choose for my articles isn’t topical, or why any of this was wrong. I’m not going to get on here and wax poetic about baseball.

    I write detailed statistical analyses and draw conclusions from them. Not really sure where the problem lies.

    Sorry that you two believe I “suck,” though, and I apologize that you don’t think the competitive baseball I played from a very young age until this very day, along with the extreme passion I have for this game and research I put into each piece, show through in my work. You’re 100% entitled to think that.

    I also apologize that my article don’t read “Jimmy Rollins is good, Raul Ibanez is good, Ryan Howard is good.” I enjoy objectively analyzing the Phillies, maybe you don’t appreciate that. Oh well…

     
  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    Corey – great article and right on. Ibanez is obviously showing his age and will probably be a bust over the next 2 years, similar to Lidge.

    Mike – get a life. If you don’t like the writing on this site, then go somewhere else. The writing here is significantly better than anything you might find on philly.com or other sites that use professional journalists. your comment just demonstrates your own insecurities.

     
  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Appreciate it Jeff, although I don’t think Ibanez is/will be a bust. He won’t stink, he won’t hit .206 next year with 9 homers…he’ll hit around .286 with some power, and he’ll be aided by the confines of Citizens Bank Park, a stadium which has allowed him hit 5 “cheap” homers, according to Hittrackeronline.com, a site that analyzes every single home-run hit by every single major league player.

    A cheap homer is one that wouldn’t be out in most other parks.

    And to clarify what seems to be an area of confusion, my point that we’re seeing the REAL Raul Ibanez means that the REAL Raul is a culmination of all of this. If we had all been asleep from opening day until now and looked at Ibanez season totals RIGHT THIS MINUTE, none of us would be surprised, because they are right in line with his career numbers, aside from a higher strikeout rate.

    That doesn’t mean that the scorching Ryan Howard is an apparition, or Jimmy Rollins is really the unproductive player he was early on. The Jimmy we’re seeing now is the real Jimmy, based on his career numbers. Same with Howard.

    If anything, Jimmy was performing at an unsustainably LOW pace earlier this season. If anyone remembers, my very first article here pleaded many of you to get off Jimmy’s back, and I explained why he would get back on track. Remember that?

     
  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Corey, excellent article.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Corey, the “real” Ibanez the Phillies will gladly accept. For his 14 seasons (didn’t actually play full time until his 7th season), his 162 game average would be .285 BA; 23 HRs and 95 RBIs. An all star type numbers. If he regains his timing and stroke, he will more than match his average this season.

    By the way, during tonight’s ESPN telecast of the game, HOF Joe Morgan revealed that he had a conversation with Charlie Manuel and was told by the manager that Ibanez was having a problem seeing and identfying the type of pitch released by the pitcher. He was late in opening up his stance (putting his foot down) upon release of pitch. His lengthy stay on the DL can contribute to that problem. Morgan suggest that when Ibanez has batting practice, he should not swing until he sees the release point of the pitch. Of course, it’s more difficult in an actual game where some pitchers are able to hide the ball at the last second before release. It’s something that Raul needs to work on to get his timing back.

     
  • Posts: 0 Repeat!

    Some of you are kinda cruel. If you depend on sports articles to complete your life you have major problems. Phil win just I like said they would.

    Wayne’s World. Party time! Excellent… The Braves loose… Their fans are fools….Bobby Cox is such a tool… Carlos Ruiz bleeping rules….

    -Good nite….

     
  • Posts: 0 Monica

    Great article Corey. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

     
  • Posts: 0 mike

    dude, you and jeff both get the steve jeltz award. objectively is one thing, stomping on ballplayers because theyre in a slump is another. get a clue.

     
  • Posts: 0 Argive

    Mike:

    Corey was not “stomping” on Ibanez. He was pointing out that over his career, Ibanez has put up a certain average offensive line. The absolute tear he was on earlier in the season was way out of line with his career average numbers, and now he’s coming back to earth. Yeah, he’s in a slump, but that’s just accentuating the fact that while he’s a very good hitter, he couldn’t keep up the pace he was on. He’s cooling off. Look, I love the guy, but did you really think he was goning to hit 50+ homers this year or something?

     
  • Posts: 0 Evan

    The tone of this blog just seems a lot more dismal than when Tim was around. I just like how Tim put his heart and soul into his writing, and he was generally writing almost all positive articles.

    The Phillies are 8 games up in the division and are arguably almost just as good as last year’s club, and it just seems like we’re picking apart every fault on the team.

    I just don’t think a post like this was necessary for someone that carried the team on his back in the early months of the season. We may not be in the position we’re in now if Raul didn’t put up those numbers.

    We can’t be quick to forget how many games he won for us in April-June, 3 months where the Phillies usually play less than desirable baseball.

    Corey it’s not that your writing is bad in particular, I don’t think you’re the one that insists on spelling Jamie Moyer’s first name as “Jaime,” I just think your tone is generally negative… and I don’t really think it’s appropriate, even if your articles are factual in nature.

     
  • Posts: 0 Seriously?

    Evan, are you really complaining about the tone of a blog? The comments here are dismal. A well researched piece gets ridiculed because you don’t like the tone?

    I appreciate the fact that Corey doesn’t constantly look through rose colored glasses and think that the phillies shit don’t stink. And if the article was actually read I didn’t find the theme hard to find. He isn’t ripping into Raul, don’t be such a negative Nancy.

     
  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    I appreciate the last comment. Because, in all honesty, I find it ridiculous to think that the above article was ridiculed for its “negativity.”

    Objective journalism is objective journalism. There are 100,000 other writers who are choosing to cover Ryan Howard’s hot streak right now, or the Phillies dominance.

    I don’t know about most of you, but I would rather read about the topics that AREN’T being written about heavily, and gather new, relevant information about the team I love, rather than read about the Phillies that play in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.

     
  • Posts: 0 Evan

    Any way you look at it, Ibanez has been a significant upgrade over Burrell both offensively and defensively.

    Sure he’s had some issues this year but I hardly think it is case for alarm.

     
 
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