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Smell The Glove, or: Raul Ibanez, and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad (at Defense) May

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After an atrocious April where Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez looked dead in the water, posting a .161/.247/.218 line and wrapping up the month with his epic 0-for-35 slump, things quickly turned around for Ibanez in May. In the season's second month, Ibanez put up a .315/.339/.602 performance, and spent long stretches as the only Phillies batter who was doing positive things.

Despite such a terrific month, Ibanez only managed to post 0.5 (Fangraphs) WAR in May.  By contrast, Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez, whose .582 SLG in May was a full .020 lower than Ibanez's, managed 1.5 WAR in May. Curious, I flipped over the Raul Ibanez rock and was amazed by what I saw.

Never reputed to be a good fielder, Ibanez has had a truly atrocious season with the glove in 2011.  As with all advanced defensive metrics, these totals must be taken with a grain of salt, and bearing in mind that defensive stats need a great deal of time to stabilize, Ibanez's performance is something to behold.

Ibanez's Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) on the season is an astonishing -12.0, by far the worst in baseball; the next lowest player is Orioles' third baseman Mark Reynolds, at -8.3.  His UZR/150 is -38.9, also the worst in the majors; next is Astros second baseman Bill Hall at -32.7.

Despite such a tremendous May with the bat, Ibanez has managed to give back a huge portion of his batting value with his iron glove.  Again, all caveats with defensive metrics and sample sizes aside, May was truly a tale of two months for Ibanez -- a star at the plate, a butcher in the field.