Monday, October 29, 2012
2012 In Review - Raul Ibanez
I wasn’t a huge fan of the Raul Ibanez signing at the time it was announced. I figured he was too old and was in steep decline and would end up getting released by the All Star break. Ibanez ended up having a better year than I expected, although it was not so much in his overall performance as in his penchant for coming through in more important situations. That is not necessarily a skill, but it allowed Ibanez to provide value than you’d expect out of a LF/DH with an OBP of .308. Here is a look at Ibanez’s projections compared to his actual 2012 performance.
|2012 League Avg||425||382||50||98||19||2||12||48||7||2||34||82||9||4||.255||.320||.411||.311||49||75|
The second set of projections, league average and 2011 stats are pro-rated to 2012 PA to allow a direct comparison. League average is not adjusted for DNYS so mentally account for that.
Ibanez ended up playing more LF than DH due to Brett Gardner’s injury. That made his offense a bit more valuable than it would have been as a pure DH. Still, a .308 OBP from a LF/DH is underwhelming. But of Ibanez’s 19 regular season home runs, 3 tied the game and 7 put the Yankees ahead. Some of the highlights were:
June 23 vs. the Mets, where Ibanez hit a three run homer in the seventh inning to tie the game at 3 in a game the Yankees would eventually win 4-3.
July 16 vs. the Blue Jays, where Ibanez hit a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth to break a 2-2 tie in a game the Yankees won 6-3.
September 22 vs. the A’s, a game that Ibanez entered as a pinch-hitter in the fifth. He hit a tie-breaking homer in that plate appearance, although the A’s eventually tied the game. It went into the 13th at which point the A’s scored 4 runs to ice the game, or so they thought. The Yankees got three singles to lead off their half of the 13th and a wild pitch scored Ichiro to pull them within one. With 1B open the A’s didn’t want to put the tying run on base so they had Pat Neshek try to pitch to Ibanez again. Bad move. His three-run homer tied the game and sent it to the 14th, and an Eduardo Nunez grounder that was booted won the game for the Yankees in the bottom of the 14th.
October 2 vs. Boston, on a day where the Orioles won 1-0 and where a loss would have dropped the Yankees into a tie for first place in the AL East with Baltimore, Ibanez came through again. Facing a putrid version of the Red Sox the Yankees trailed 3-1 entering the bottom of the ninth. Curtis Granderson singled then Ibanez pinch-hit for Nun-E and homered off Andrew Bailey to tie the game at 3. Neither team scored again until the bottom of the 12th. After two quick outs Francisco Cervelli and Granderson drew walks at then Ibanez grounded a single through the SS hole against lefty Andrew Miller to drive in the winning run. It was the first time in 2012 the Yankees won a game they trailed entering the ninth, and it was probably the most important regular season win of the year.
October 10 vs. Baltimore in Game 3 of the ALDS. Joe Girardi shocked the world by pinch-hitting for Alex Rodriguez with one out in the bottom of the ninth, and the Shockmaster™ shocked the world by homering against Jim Johnson to tie the game at 2. Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix and Ichiro proceeded to make outs in the next eight Yankee PAs which brought up Ibanez again and he shocked the world again by homering off Brian Matusz leading off the 12th and give the Yankees a 2-1 series lead instead of a 1-2 series deficit.
Ibanez’s ALDS Game 3 performance will go down in history as one of the greatest performances ever in the postseason and it was probably my favorite game of the 2012 season.
October 13 vs. Detroit in Game of the ALCS. Ibanez tied the game with a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth. Unfortunately, it was all for naught as the Yankees ended up losing the game on their way to getting swept. Kind of like how Detroit just got swept. Ha ha.
Memorable moments aside, Ibanez had a really long stretch of terrible play (263 PA of .198/.274/.338 between May 21 through September 19) and that cost the team games. He also took particularly good advantage of his disgraceful bandbox (.273/.349/.545 with 14 HRs in 209 home PA vs. .208/.269/.365 in 216 road PA) and vs. RHP(.248/.319/.492 in 360 PA compared to .197/.246/.246 in 65 PA). Despite that, I’ll look back mostly fondly on Ibanez’s 2012 season because of the times he came through when the team needed him most.
While I wouldn’t be opposed to an Ibanez return in 2013, provided he’s restricted to DH against RHP, I’m not sure that’s an optimal use of a roster spot for a team that is going to be old and is going to need some flexibility to account for that age.
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