First, Happy Postseason everybody! Now that we got that out of the way; what an up-and-down season for the Yankees, even more so for Raul Ibanez. In spring training many fans (including myself) wanted Ibanez gone. Now, I’m gladly eating crow. He hasn’t had the greatest season by any stretch of the imagination (.239/.306/.454), but he’s solidified himself in Yankee lore for coming up big in key spots. Most notably, his two-run game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth against Boston two days ago, and then three innings later hitting the game-winning RBI single.
So with that, let’s take a quick look at some numbers. First, here’s how Ibanez hit overall this season broken up by month:
No one expected him to come in and hit .300/.400/.500, but considering what he looked like in Spring Training, I’ll take his season totals as is. He needed to play in the field more than what was expected of him after Brett Gardner went down with an injury that would rob him of most of the 2012 season. From the table, Ibanez had a great May even with a BABIP at an abnormally low level. However, after the All-Star Break, Ibanez seemed to slow down and didn’t see as much time as he did in the first 80+ games.
But, Ibanez shows an affinity for the dramatic, especially in a pinch hitting role:
|as PH for DH||5||5||2||4||1||1||3||0||0||.800||.800||1.600||8||0||.750|
Very small sample size (as are many pinch hitting numbers), but Ibanez has straight mashed in those situations. A nice and shiny .320 batting average with an amazing .640 slugging percentage is stuff of video games. What’s more, the Yankees weren’t very good in games that they were losing going into the eighth inning. But, it’s nice knowing there’s a guy off the bench who has ice running through his veins.
Again, digging in a little deeper we can look at what point of the game Ibanez is hitting well. An astonishing seven home runs were hit in high leverage situations. Even more, he’s driven in 34 runners in those situations, all while almost posting a .600 slugging percentage. Need more evidence? In “late & close” situations, as outlined by Baseball-Reference, Ibanez has hit five home runs and recorded a .286/.367/.571 slash line. If there was a clear definition of “clutch,” I think Ibanez’s 2012 numbers should be considered.
Who knows if the Yankees invite him back next season to mash righties. Outside his late-inning heroics, Ibanez has been pretty much awful. He’s a liability in the field, as noted earlier, and he seemed to tire down the stretch before his huge game against the Red Sox. Many scenarios await the Yankees brass in the offseason and Ibanez’s future with the team will certainly be on the docket.