Raul Things Considered: Raul Ibanez's Philadelphia Tenure

(Ed. Note: I hereby acknowledge @LoganDobson for the headline suggestion.)

One of the real perks (or drawbacks, depending on how much you like your stupid statements dredged up from the past... yeah really, Adam Dunn) of writing for an older, more established site like ours is the ability to look back and get an in-the-moment look at how certain players did throughout their tenure in Philadelphia.

At the start, I'm not conceding that Raul Ibanez is finished in Philadelphia; in light of the corner outfield and Ryan Howard situations, it's not inconceivable that the team could bring him back on a one year deal to platoon or be a bench bat of sorts.  I don't like the idea, but it's possible.

Raul Ibanez and The Good Phight had a funny history.  If you look at that first link, the signing was almost universally reviled, and for reasons that mostly came to fruition -- if you sign a guy in his mid 30s to multi-year deal, he'll be in his late 30s at the end of the deal, and will be extremely unlikely to be very productive. And that happened.

But as we all remember, Ibanez busted out of the gates in 2009 like a maniac, immediately became RAUUUULLLLL and was a folk hero of sorts.  We had a little egg on our faces and responded accordingly.

Then the stupid, baseless, borderline defamatory steroid accusations started to fly.  As our own Mr. Cohen correctly pointed out, that early 2009 hot streak was not out of the ordinary for Ibanez, and he had in fact had more productive streaks throughout his career.

After his early 2009 hot streak came to an end with an injury, Ibanez settled into his weird pattern of blazing hot and Arctic cold streaks, despite having been brought in to be a more "consistent" hitter than the abandoned Pat Burrell. Overall, though, Ibanez became the player that most analysts expected him to be in light of his contract and age -- a late bloomer in a notable decline.

Per Fangraphs, Ibanez provided $18.1 million in "value" over the life of his $31.5 million contract. Not great, but not a disaster.

It is hard to analyze Ibanez in context because there have really been very few players like him -- late bloomers who play regularly despite overall weak offensive output.  In the post-Intergration (1947) era, there was been just 31 players who have accumulated 502 or more plate appearances in a single season at age 39. Ibanez is one of them.

Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age Tm Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Barry Bonds 263 617 2004 39 SFG NL 147 373 129 135 27 3 45 101 232 120 41 5 6 1 .362 .609 .812 1.422
2 Ted Williams 179 517 1958 39 BOS AL 129 411 81 135 23 2 26 85 98 12 49 19 1 0 .328 .458 .584 1.042
3 Willie Mays 139 566 1970 39 SFG NL 139 478 94 139 15 2 28 83 79 3 90 7 5 0 .291 .390 .506 .897
4 Willie McCovey 132 548 1977 39 SFG NL 141 478 54 134 21 0 28 86 67 16 106 16 3 0 .280 .367 .500 .867
5 Reggie Jackson 130 541 1985 39 CAL AL 143 460 64 116 27 0 27 85 78 12 138 16 1 2 .252 .360 .487 .847
6 Frank Thomas 125 624 2007 39 TOR AL 155 531 63 147 30 0 26 95 81 3 94 14 0 0 .277 .377 .480 .857
7 Chipper Jones 123 512 2011 39 ATL NL 126 455 56 125 33 1 18 70 51 10 80 10 2 2 .275 .344 .470 .814
8 Jeff Kent 123 562 2007 39 LAD NL 136 494 78 149 36 1 20 79 57 4 61 17 1 3 .302 .375 .500 .875
9 Andres Galarraga 122 548 2000 39 ATL NL 141 494 67 149 25 1 28 100 36 5 126 15 3 5 .302 .369 .526 .895
10 Dave Winfield 120 633 1991 39 CAL AL 150 568 75 149 27 4 28 86 56 4 109 21 7 2 .262 .326 .472 .798
11 Dave Parker 118 669 1990 39 MIL AL 157 610 71 176 30 3 21 92 41 11 102 18 4 7 .289 .330 .451 .781
12 Paul Molitor 116 728 1996 39 MIN AL 161 660 99 225 41 8 9 113 56 10 72 21 18 6 .341 .390 .468 .858
13 Darrell Evans 116 601 1986 39 DET AL 151 507 78 122 15 0 29 85 91 5 105 6 3 2 .241 .356 .442 .798
14 Joe Morgan 116 504 1983 39 PHI NL 123 404 72 93 20 1 16 59 89 1 54 13 18 2 .230 .370 .403 .773
15 Steve Finley 109 706 2004 39 TOT NL 162 628 92 170 28 1 36 94 61 1 82 14 9 7 .271 .333 .490 .823
16 Rafael Palmeiro 108 651 2004 39 BAL AL 154 550 68 142 29 0 23 88 86 15 61 15 2 1 .258 .359 .436 .796
17 Chili Davis 108 554 1999 39 NYY AL 146 476 59 128 25 1 19 78 73 7 100 12 4 1 .269 .366 .445 .812
18 Carl Yastrzemski 108 590 1979 39 BOS AL 147 518 69 140 28 1 21 87 62 8 46 12 3 3 .270 .346 .450 .796
19 Al Kaline 107 630 1974 39 DET AL 147 558 71 146 28 2 13 64 65 2 75 12 2 2 .262 .337 .389 .726
20 Luis Gonzalez 104 526 2007 39 LAD NL 139 464 70 129 23 2 15 68 56 4 56 11 6 2 .278 .359 .433 .793
21 Craig Biggio 104 651 2005 39 HOU NL 155 590 94 156 40 1 26 69 37 2 90 10 11 1 .264 .325 .468 .792
22 George Brett 102 637 1992 39 KCR AL 152 592 55 169 35 5 7 61 35 6 69 15 8 6 .285 .330 .397 .727
23 Carlton Fisk 102 508 1987 39 CHW AL 135 454 68 116 22 1 23 71 39 8 72 9 1 4 .256 .321 .460 .782
24 Rod Carew 99 518 1985 39 CAL AL 127 443 69 124 17 3 2 39 64 9 47 8 5 5 .280 .371 .345 .717
25 Kenny Lofton 95 522 2006 39 LAD NL 129 469 79 141 15 12 3 41 45 1 42 16 32 5 .301 .360 .403 .763
Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Age Tm Lg G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS
26 Rickey Henderson 94 670 1998 39 OAK AL 152 542 101 128 16 1 14 57 118 0 114 5 66 13 .236 .376 .347 .723
27 Pete Rose 94 735 1980 39 PHI NL 162 655 95 185 42 1 1 64 66 5 33 13 12 8 .282 .352 .354 .706
28 Omar Vizquel 93 659 2006 39 SFG NL 153 579 88 171 22 10 4 58 56 3 51 13 24 7 .295 .361 .389 .749
29 Rico Carty 92 512 1979 39 TOR AL 132 461 48 118 26 0 12 55 46 4 45 21 3 1 .256 .322 .390 .713
30 Raul Ibanez 91 575 2011 39 PHI NL 144 535 65 131 31 1 20 84 33 3 106 13 2 0 .245 .289 .419 .707
31 Luis Aparicio 75 561 1973 39 BOS AL 132 499 56 135 17 1 0 49 43 1 33 12 13 1 .271 .324 .309 .633
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/18/2011.

 

A couple things about this list (sorted by adjusted OPS+):

1. Holy crap Hall of Famers. I count no fewer than 20 players who are already in the Hall, will be in the Hall, or would be in the Hall but for PED abuse and/or gambling shenanigans, and about four or five borderline cases. It's not that hard to figure out: Hall of Famers have other-worldly peaks, so good that their decline seasons are still very productive.

2.  Barry Bonds' 2004 obviously sticks out, and there are a few other "Steroid Era" seasons on the list, but I don't see a strong spike in "Steroid Era" seasons on this list.  Although there is Rafael Palmeiro...

We also see just how unproductive Ibanez was compared to his fellow 39 year olds; the only lower OPS+ on the list belonged to defensive specialist and shortstop Luis Aparicio, whose career OPS+ was 82. 

Also hey, Pete Rose in 1980, although Rose would rebound to a fine 119 OPS+ in the strike-shortened 1981 season.

I'm not totally sure where I'm going with this, other than that 39 year old starting positions players are generally really special, and Ibanez just wasn't.  On the other hand, it's pretty remarkable that he was almost able to hang with these guys, and hit 20 home runs.

Who knows what Ibanez would have done with regular playing time early in his career?

On a subjective note, despite my ambivalence about his arrival in Philadelphia, I really came to admire and respect Ibanez as a person over the last three years, and I wish him all the best going forward.  A very hard worker and at the center of some pretty awesome Phillies memories.

Be well, Raul.


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