Raul Ibanez, OF (LHB)
Age: 36 (37, June 2)
2008: 635 AB / 85 R / 23 HR / 110 RBI / 64 BB / 110 SO / 2 SB / .293 AVG / .358 OBP / .479 SLG
Summary: Raul Ibanez remained somewhat consistent over his career averages, hitting 23 home runs and driving in 110, numbers around which he’s familiar. His strikeouts rose, however, to the second-largest total of his career. He did hit more doubles than ever (43, six more than his past career high), and even had a career high in hits. This might be due to rich plate vision — he raised his swing and contact percentages outside the strike zone to career-high levels while remaining a strong hitter (87 percent) in the strike zone. His fielding was arguably the worst of all major league left fielders in 2008.
Career Level: Descent (Year 1)
Green Flags: There’s no reason to believe Ibanez’s hitting and on-base abilities will decline in 2009, considering his average and on-base percentage remained higher than his career norms. … Ibanez’s walk rates have been much higher in the past four seasons, and have remained steady in the 9 percent range. … Ibanez is seeing even more of the plate, as his outside-the-plate swinging and contact has risen with each season. … He has grown as a breaking-ball and off-speed hitter, as more of his hits have come from cutters, sliders and changeups than usual.
Red Flags: Yet Ibanez’s fastball hits have dropped a bit, indicating his swing may be slowing. … Comparitively, his strikeout rates were at some of their highest levels since his earliest days. … Wear may become a factor for Ibanez as he approaches his 40s.
Prognostication: Don’t be fooled — Ibanez can stroke. And if the spring is any indication, he can hit to all fields. That shows those outside-the-plate numbers are giving results. He might even raise on his homer numbers in 2009, considering the way the wind can blow out to left field at Citizens Bank Park. It’s likely, though, that some of his numbers decrease slightly. But they’ll be quite positive.
2009 Projection: 562 AB / 79 R / 26 HR / 90 RBI / 58 BB / 101 SO / 3 SB / .293 AVG / .356 OBP / .468 SLG