Raul Ibanez is old. He’s really old. I didn’t get my degree in mathematics, but I think, at last count, Raul Ibanez was 184 years old. In fact, I know a guy who knows a guy who is the sister of Raul Ibanez’ lawnmower’s brother and I have an inside scoop on what Raul Ibanez does when he’s not playing baseball. I will title the list:
Things Old Ass Raul Ibanez Does Every Day in the Offseason:
1) Raul Ibanez wakes up at early every morning to watch Regis
2) Raul Ibanez rekindles his flame for his “timeless” Englebert Humperdinck records
3) Raul Ibanez watches the KTLA 5 news for 7 hours straight
4) Raul Ibanez watches the previous night’s DVRed “Dancing with the Stars” because “that Tom Bergeron is just the cat’s pajamas.”
5) Raul Ibanez orders just soup for dinner…at Denny’s…at 4pm
6) Raul Ibanez soaks his dentures
7) Raul Ibanez sits in a rocking chair, begins to stand up, farts, and then tries to sit back down on his fart as if to pretend it never happened
When the Angels awoke from their slumber on the morning of December 18, 2013, they thought to themselves, “How can we make our team even OLDER?” Insert Raul Balding Ibanez. Or RBI for short.
The Angels signed Ibanez to a one year deal that can be worth up to five million dollars if he can, miraculously, repeat his power-binged 2013 season in Seattle. He won’t, as evidenced by his extremely fluky 20.7% overall HR/FB rate, and his even flukier 23% at Safeco. Furthermore, Ibanez already played in Safeco for five years in the mid 2000s, and averaged around a 12% HR/FB ratio. Angels stadium played even more pitcher friendly than Safeco did in 2013, and Ibanez’ ever increasing age will not be able to overcome both the marine layer and his inevitable regression.
It’s usually wise to take into account a large sample size when drawing conclusions about a player, but given Ibanez’ AARP status, one cannot assume he is the same player now that he was in 2006. For his career, Ibanez is a .276/.338/.471 player. Respectable, useable, above average. However, his last three years, a nearly 1500 plate appearance span, he’s slashed .243/.300/.451. He also spent two of those three years while playing half of his games in the hitter’s havens in Philadelphia and The Bronx. Overall, for the last three years, he’s been a slightly above average hitter, as shown by his 105 OPS+. While OPS+ adjusts for player’s ballparks, it doesn’t adjust for his fluky batted ball ratios.
I’ll be the first one to tell you that there is more to baseball than just hitting homeruns. But, at this point in his career, that’s all that Raul Ibanez can be considered remotely adequate in. His 8.5% walk rate resembles a certain discipline-challenged former Angel-turned-Diamondback. That walk rate would be serviceable, had it not been accompanied by a ghastly 25.8% strikeout rate. Furthermore, for the last three years, Ibanez has had a .262 BABIP, well below his career line of .298. This can be attributed to his increased propensity to hit fly balls that hit a zenith last year when 43% of his batted balls were in the air. His GB/FB ratio has become more and more fly ball prone the last three years, and if this trend continues, he won’t be able to hit for a high enough to average to offset his fringe average walk rate. While Ibanez has the track record of having enough power to be a decent one way player, his on base skills are not good enough to warrant an everyday designated hitter role.
So, the obvious plan of action would be to pair Ibanez up with a right-handed-lefty-killing platoon partner. And sure, through his career, Ibanez has out OPSed righty pitching by 94 points (.834 versus righties against .740 versus lefties). However, just because you’re better versus one side, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good. For example, during the 2011/2012/2013, Ibanez has sported a .232/.246/.313 on base percentage. He doesn’t really have to do much to be better versus righties. In fact, he’s not THAT much better versus righties (.307/.319/.303). That Ibanez as a platoon thing might not be all that good of an idea.
I get it, it’s only a 2.75 million dollar base deal for a year. But, why? I just don’t see what the Angels are signing him to do. His fly ball tendencies won’t play well in Anaheim, which will sap his power. This would be fine if he could do other things well as hitter, but he doesn’t—and hasn’t for the last three seasons. Ibanez has to reach a 0.6 WAR to be worth 2.75 million, and I would bet against him reaching that. Raul Ibanez is old. May he continue sitting on his farts from his rocking chair for years to come.