Earlier this season, we were asking ourselves whether Raul Ibanez could keep up his torrid start to the season. He made Ruben Amaro look like a genius, as he was performing at an MVP-caliber level. Yet, close analysis of Ibanez's long and streaky career showed that he had excelled like that before. In fact, he has had several streaks during his career when he's looked like Albert Pujols.
So now, people are naturally wondering the same thing about Ibanez's cold streak. Is this the sign that the 37-year-old right fielder has grown too old? Is he still injured? Has he just lost it?
I vote none of the above. Rather, this is just another one of Ibanez's cold streaks. Just like the hot streaks I detailed in the two above-linked posts, Ibanez's career has seen a fair share of cold streaks, streaks much worse than his current situation.
Ibanez's current cold streak can be traced back to a home game against the Cubs on July 21. Since then (and including that game), Ibanez has played in 36 games. Over that stretch of baseball, he has a horrible .194/.293/.318 triple slash line. His OPS is .610, and he has hit only 2 home runs and 11 RBIs.
But we've seen this before from Ibanez in his career. In the 36 games ending July 28, 2007, while Ibanez was playing for the Mariners, he hit .178/.228/.296 for a .524 OPS. And yet, by the end of that year, he was on fire once again -- hitting .366/.432/.655 for a 1.087 OPS with 11 home runs and 30 RBI -- for the 36 games ending September 9.
He did this in Kansas City as well. For the 36 games ending May 15, 2002, Ibanez was atrocious -- .193/.224/.330 for a .554 OPS. He hit 1 home run and had only 14 RBI. This cold streak was sandwiched by two of Ibanez's hottest streaks in his career, which I discussed earlier this year -- his 36 games ending August 11, 2001 (.358/.475/.663 for a 1.138 OPS) and his 36 games ending July 19, 2002 (.364/.422/.803(!!) for a 1.225 OPS).
In fact, the worst 36-game streak of Ibanez's career came at the end of the 2000 season into the start of the 2001 season. In only 50 at-bats, he put up a .200/.226/.220 line for a .446 OPS. Despite that cold streak, he produced later in 2001 and 2002.
Barring a trade or some other unforeseen circumstance, Raul Ibanez is going to be a Phillie for the next two years and a month. As fans, we have to get used to the fact that he is an incredibly streaky player. Right now, he's in one of his typical cold streaks. History shows he'll snap out of it. Let's just hope that happens before October.