Lengthy Cold-Spell snapped by his recent SCORRRCHING Hot-Streak aside… It seems like there is a large percentage of Phillies fans that will always think the contract Ruben Amaro Jr. gave Raul Ibanez was a “bad signing.” From what I can gather, people were most upset at his age, and the fact that he was offered a 3rd year guaranteed.
My stance has always been the same- strongly in favor of that deal, and here’s why:
When viewing the Free Agent class after the 2008 season, Ibanez was the best Left Fielder available (can we please not get into the 5,682 reasons that Bobby Abreu wasn’t ever returning to the Phillies), he was signed to a 3-year-deal, at a price that was comparable to fair market value, but would ensure that he chose to come here instead of leaving us with Milton Bradley…or the Met-killer that wore #5. A lot of fans argue that, “I would have only given him a two-year-deal.” …And as a commenter, my response has often been along the lines of, “Then Raul would’ve signed somewhere else”…or…”Yeah, and you would’ve really liked Milton Bradley as our Left Fielder.”
In my mind, Ibanez CARRIED the team in the first half of 2009 (called by many the “First-Half MVP”), with production that put us in a position to go after Cliff Lee at the deadline; a move that got us to the World Series for a second straight year, and setup the great things that followed obtaining Roy Halladay, keeping that commitment to WIN NOW, etc…
Just how does Ibanez stack-up against our other offensive weapons? Let’s take a look; Compared to Howard, Utley, Werth, and Victorino… (Rollins wasn’t close in any stats to compare)
Ibanez’s numbers in 2009 Before the All-Star Break:
259 At-Bats = (Least of all players. 48 less than Utley, 49 < Werth, 72 < Howard)
.309 Batting Average = (tied 2nd with Victorino, behind Utley’s .313)
22 Home Runs = (tied 1st with Howard, two more than Utley/Werth with 20)
60 RBI = (3rd behind Howard’s 67 RBI, and Utley’s 61 RBI)
53 Runs = (tied 4th with Howard, behind Vic- 63, Utley-62, Werth-60)
.367 On Base %
.649 Slugging %
1.015 OPS = (On Base plus Slugging %) (1st ahead of Utley-1.004, Howard- .870, Werth -.884)
Last year, after a sluggish start, he played a great second half last year after recovering from injury… combined with Werth and Howard, we helped carry us again.
2010 Post All Star Break:
269 At-Bats = (Leading all players this time, Werth was next at 260 At-bats)
.309 Batting Average = (2nd behind Werth’s .312 average)
9 Home Runs = (3rd, behind Werth and Howard, both with 14)
44 RBI = (1st, one more than Howard’s 43… Werth was next with 36 RBI)
39 Runs = (2nd in Runs behind Werth’s 54… Howard was next with 32 Runs)
.375 On Base %
.494 Slugging %
.869 OPS = (2nd behind Werth’s .966%… Howard was next with .858%)
***Stat-heads, Saber metric lovers …I know there are ways to lie with statistics (I’ve even read a book on it before), so with including the “baseball card stats” along with the sacred OPS numbers… I think we can all agree that Ibanez has been a large part of a GREAT lineup over the past two seasons.***
Maybe that 3rd-year-gaurantee wasn’t the best thing ever – but a player that’s has greatly contributed in Two-of-the-Two seasons he’s been a member of the Phillies… I think both Raul and Ruben deserve a little more credit for making that deal happen. Amaro did what he thought was necessary to land a guy that he believed would help this ballclub.
This article is not meant to have everyone searching for crazy stats for or against this argument – but to just take notice that over the past two seasons Raul Ibanez has number that match up with the Big Boys in our lineup. And while I admit Ibanez is a very streaky hitter, without his “Hot Streaks” –who knows where the Phillies would be today. I feel confident saying we would probably not be sitting at 21-9, with an All-Star Team for a starting rotation, enjoying the same success that we’ve seen over the past two seasons.
I don’t think that Ibanez’s contract has prevented the Phillies from making any moves, but has actually enabled them to be more aggressive in bringing in the talent we enjoy everyday… taking all that into account, this has been far from a “bad signing.”