RAUUUUUUUUUL! It was a name/phrase often heard throughout Citizens Bank Park in 2009. Shirts were made, children were given the name Raul at birth and the city was in a frenzy over one, Raul Ibanez.
A year later the love affair that everyone – except Nick “The Beerman” Staskin, it seems – enjoyed, ended. It was a quick courtship that ended in disappointment in 2010, with finger pointing as to why he was inked to a three-year deal at such an advanced baseball age.
For three months, Raul Ibanez looked completely lost at the plate. On June 6, Ibanez hit his lowest of lows with his batting average sinking to .229 and his OPS down to .700. On June 6, 2009, he was hitting .330 with an OPS of 1.070. Oh, the difference a year makes.
“RAUUUUUUUL’s” turned to “boo’s” and before you knew it, people were trying to figure a way to get him out of town by the deadline. He stayed and eventually turned it around, but those who had believed he was worth $31.5 million over three seasons – the deal he signed prior to the 2009 season – were hard to find. You can’t blame those people for turning on him, either. After an incredible first half last season – one in which he smacked 22 homers – Ibanez was a straight dud this past campaign.
Using a hot streak to end the season and boost his overall numbers, the left-fielder finished the season hitting .275 with 16 home runs and 83 RBI. His slugging on-base percentage of .347 was actually better than in 2009 and was right on par with his career average. However, his .444 slugging was a letdown following an ’09 of .552.
Yes, many comparisons go back to the 2009 season, but how can they not? We were spoiled by more than two incredible months from Ibanez followed by a post-all-star break that was lacking, but sufficient.
This past season, it was ugly in the beginning for Raul, then slowly trended upward until its conclusion.
In the postseason, Ibanez failed to show up when the chips were down, hitting just .222 with a terrible .563 OPS. He did not go yard in the playoffs, which highlighted his quickly-disappearing power and slowing bat.
Sadly, Raul might be even worse with the glove than the bat, as hard as that is to believe. Ibanez’s plus-minus – a defensive metric which represents the number of plays the player made above/below the number that an average fielder would make – was a -6 in 2010. Over a three-year span, Ibanez’s +/- is -33. Only two left fielders that qualify were worse. Clearly, it’s not a good sign when the glove can’t even come close to making up for the bat.
But, such is life with Raul Ibanez in left field. He’s still a fan favorite for his work ethic and stoic demeanor although it’s getting harder and harder to watch him struggle mightily, waving through fastballs and guessing wrong on breaking pitches in the dirt.
Overall, it was a telling year for Raul. It proves he is certainly on the downside of his career and is being grossly overpaid. The question is now, can the Phillies unload that money this offseason? That’s another question for another time.
PAT’S GRADE: 5/10: Raul was just kind of “there”. There were more bad times than good throughout the season and with that contract looming large, it’s hard to say he was anything but average.
NICK’S GRADE: 3.3/10 I’m giving Raul a 3.3 for the fact that he was only productive for about 33percent of the season, and the other 2/3 he was brutal. You can almost predict the six-hopper to the second baseman to end an inning when he was facing a lefty. Next year, he should be nothing more than an overpriced platoon member.