Raul Ibanez Can’t Play Shortstop

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Raul Ibanez is not a good outfielder.

Raul Ibanez has no speed on the bases.

Raul Ibanez doesn’t hit lefties anymore, doesn’t get on base with the frequency he once did and has to cheat by starting his swing earlier to get around on a good fastball.

These were the issues broached by stat people looking for a reason to set the tone for the debate when the Yankees interest in Ibanez was first reported.

Propaganda is part of any “revolution” with facts secondary to steering public opinion.

But do they think the Yankees were unaware of these issues when began considering him? Before they signed him to a 1-year, $1.1 million contract?

Saying Ibanez is a bad outfielder and can’t run is like saying he’s not a good shortstop or can’t throw a good curveball on the mound. He’s not going to play shortstop; he’s not going to pitch; and the Yankees don’t need him to play the outfield. If he even brings a glove along with him to spring training, it will be a first baseman’s mitt to spell Mark Teixeira a few games so Teixeira can DH against righties.

He can’t run?

Is he supposed to bat leadoff and steal 30 bases?

He’s going to DH, play some first base and, in an absolute emergency, play the outfield. He’ll bat seventh, hit 20 homers against righties and provide some punch that the opposition has to account for—not worry about—account for.

He’s a good guy in the clubhouse, will handle New York, is well-liked by the media and has post-season experience.

Could the Yankees have done better than Ibanez? If Jim Thome had stayed on the market and taken that short salary for a chance at a ring, absolutely. But Thome signed with the Phillies early in the free agent process for slightly more than what Ibanez got from the Yankees.

What those silly statements indicate has nothing to do with analysis. They’re an attempt to say, “Because Player X doesn’t do (BLANK), he’s a bad signing.”

But what if Player X isn’t signed to do the thing he can’t do? What if he’s signed to do what he does?

Isn’t that part of the equation?

The same stat people who are invested in advanced statistics have to know that Ibanez also hit in some terrible luck last season with a BAbip of .268 when his career mark is .303; that the only numbers that declined precipitously were his walk % and pitches seen per at bat. Coincidentally (or not) these are the same numbers and eyeball judgments referenced by Joel Sherman—link—to denigrate Johnny Damon as expanding his strike zone to accumulate more hits and reach 3000 for a Hall of Fame ticket.

They’re aware of this, are they not?

There are entities trying to find reasons to criticize while simultaneously bolstering their own rickety credentials as “experts”; they feel they’re smarter than inside baseball people, but don’t have facts as a foundation, so they try to trick their readers—readers who are either too ignorant or frightened to protest.

Is this objectivity? Or is it nonsense with an agenda?

Ibanez’s days as a shortstop are over.

The problem is that he was never a shortstop in the first place.

That’s conveniently left out because it fails to suit the argument.

But I guess that doesn’t really matter, does it?

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3 thoughts on “Raul Ibanez Can’t Play Shortstop

  1. This post kind of highlights my problem with the stats people in general…and that’s this idea that the stats are the only things that matter.

    Stats are important, but they aren’t the only thing. Like you point out, if stats were the only thing and you had a whole at shortstop and tried to fill Ibanez in it, that’d be a bad idea.

    But, in the context of needing someone that has a decent bat, can play a little right field or left field once every 2-3 weeks, can play 1st, DH and pinch hit, you aren’t going to be disappointed by Ibanez, unless you expect that every position on your team should be filled by a 25 year old Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, or Ken Griffey Jr….at which point you are playing in one of those fantasy leagues with only 3 other guys so everyone has an all-star team….because the real world, that just ain’t happening.

    1. Ibanez will help the Yankees. Trust me. They make these aside comments in what appears to be an attempt to be funny, but comes out as snarky and/or are trying to make it appear as if they have a knowledge that others don’t have. Except they don’t. And they know it.

  2. I really think Ibanez would have helped a lot of teams. He’s a good, professional hitter. That’s what you need on your bench and as a fill in at multiple positions.

    If you look at teams that end up winning consistently, they all have a super sub or couple of guys that end up playing a lot more than you would want them to. Then, when injuries hit, these guys come in and fill the role, not to the standards of the everyday guy, but with enough consistency so that the team is able to tread water while the everyday player recovers.

    Stats based thinking overlooks that.

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