Raul Ibanez: A Top Ranking Offensive Tool But A Subject Of Unjustified Criticism

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Raul Ibanez: A Top Ranking Offensive Tool But A Subject Of Unjustified Criticism
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

When people take a look at the roster of the Philadelphia Phillies, there are certain players that are often targeted with criticism. I find that much of this criticism is unfounded against most of the players. Right now the Phillies are perhaps the strongest, or at least almost the strongest, that they have ever been.

Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge have often been the target of criticism, especially after last season. Utley and Rollins both spent a large amount of time on the disabled list, which caused them to have down years. Some of the critics claim that this trend will continue, but I would not count them out. 

One down year does not mean that the following years will be of the same caliber. I would expect both Utley and Rollins to have bounce-back years for this coming season. Lidge had a down year early in 2010 but showed strength and great improvement in the second half of the season. Lidge should be on form again come spring time.

Another subject of criticism has often been Raul Ibanez for whatever reason. Early last year, Ibanez was showing the signs of a down year, but he recovered during the second half of the season. In fact, following the All-Star break, Ibanez was second on the Phillies in on-base percentage. 

So how does Ibanez rank when compared to the rest of the Phillies?

Offense is needed in Philadelphia, although perhaps less so now that the Phillies have the best rotation, which was strengthened by the addition of Cliff Lee. That being said, Ibanez did hold his weight at the plate in 2010 to help support the seventh-best offense in the majors. 

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Besides his on-base percentage for the second half of the year, Ibanez was fourth in the number of home runs on the Phillies, and third if you remove Jayson Werth, who will be playing for the Washington Nationals for the next seven years.

Ibanez was also third with the number of runs batted in, which would be second without Werth. Ibanez also was second in doubles for the Phillies, lagging only behind Werth again. Overall, offensively, Ibanez had 16 home runs and 83 RBIs with a batting average of .275, an on-base percentage of .349 and a slugging percentage of .444.

Ibanez was also fourth in total bags, second in walks, third in hits, second in triples and fifth in runs, and he followed Werth in each of these categories except triples. 

Although analyzing these numbers shows how much production will be missed by Werth, it also shows that Ibanez produced numbers very comparable to the production of the departed outfielder.

With what the Phillies will be missing from Werth, I predict that Ben Francisco will be able to almost entirely make up for Werth’s offensive production once he wins the full-time starting position this spring (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/561129-cliff-was-werth-it-francisco-can-fill-the-hole-in-the-lineup-and-outfield).

Besides performing better than Werth with the number of triples, Ibanez was also better than Werth with the number of strikeouts, having about 40 less. Although those are impressive numbers, Ibanez also performed much better than Werth when it often counts, batting with runners in scoring position. 

Harry How/Getty Images

Ibanez’s batting average with runners in scoring position was .304, whereas Werth’s batting average with runners in scoring position was .186.

This is partially why I think that Francisco is the perfect fill for Werth. Francisco will not be able to compare to Werth’s home run production, but everything will be nearly the same production that was seen from Werth. 

Francisco had a third of the at-bats of Werth and produced exactly a third of the numbers that Werth did, excepting home runs. However, Francisco will make up for Werth’s homeruns by the fact that Francisco’s batting average with runners in scoring position was .306 (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/564556-risp-a-key-factor-in-determining-philadelphia-phillies-wins-or-losses).

This article is not about Francisco filling in for Werth. It is about Ibanez and what production he brings to the Phillies. 

In the second half of the season, Ibanez improved his batting average by .066, his on-base percentage by .049, his slugging percentage by .097, and his OPS by .146.  Although his yearly numbers for these respective categories were .275, .349, .444, and .793, those numbers were .309, .375, .494 and .869 after the All-Star break.

If Ibanez can continue to produce the numbers that he did in 2010, particularly the numbers produced in the second half of the season, he will be well worth the $11.5 million he is due by the Phillies this season. 

Ibanez is going to be turning 39-years-old in June, and this is the last year of his current contract with the Phillies. Overall, he ranks towards the top of all of the Phillies in offensive production, and any criticism that he receives is unjustified when he is compared to the rest of the team. 

His future is unknown, but if his production continues to rank towards the top of the Phillies' team overall, I would like to see him stay with the organization.

Ibanez’s numbers have consistently ranked him towards the top of the list for the Phillies' offensive production, but critics still have negative things to say. However, there seems to really be only one number that stands against Ibanez: his age.

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