Raul Ibanez' Age-42 Contract

If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman

.

I took a walk around the world
To ease my troubled mind
I left my body lying somewhere
In the sands of time
But I watched the world float
To the dark side of the moon

I feel there is nothing I can do, yeah

I watched the world float
To the dark side of the moon
After all I knew it had to be
Something to do with you
I really don’t mind what happens now and then
As long as you’ll be my friend at the end

............

This one is in the free area at Bill James Online, the last 30 days' worth of Hey Bills:

...........

Supposing Raul Ibanez finished the season, hitting about the way he is now -- .250/.300/.550, or even anywhere in that vicinity. The Red Sox needed an outfielder and asked you for a projection for Raul for 2014. How would you approach such a problem, since there is so little precedent? How do you organize your thinking?
Asked by: jemanji
Answered: 7/13/2013
Aging accelerates as players age, but one assumes the same principles apply.    There is a normal relationship between what a player does ages 33-35 and what he will do at 36.   There is a normal relationship between what a player does at 34-36 and what he does at 37.   Being a year or two older than normal doesn't destroy the normal relationships.  
...........

That input comes as a pleasant surprise.  There are two basic paradigms here, each one of which has several variations:

  1. At age 40+ you can't hit, and if somebody does, you treat it as a fluke.
  2. You plot the age-arc curve normally, more or less, no matter what age a player is.

The thing that makes you lean towards (1) above is that --- > Rauullll physically looks 100.00% as quick as he did at age 41. ... some sabermetricians will not care about that, but do you think the Seattle Mariners' decision-making process includes their scouts' assessments of batspeed?

.

So When Do We Start the Schuss

After age 36, 37, you plot the age-arc decline down fairly steeply.  But Raul's age-arc plot hasn't even started down!  His OPS+ right now is 147; his previous high was 132, the World Series year with Philadelphia.

We remember having this conversation with James, back when Nolan Ryan was 40, 41, 42.  James would point out exactly that:  "Everybody is skiing down a slope.  Ryan has not started down yet."  Of course, Ryan was still a great pitcher at 42-44, still a star at 45.

.

If That's Selling Out, Gimme a Pen

Raul has reinvented himself at age 41; his EYE ratio used to be 0.50 and now it's 0.30.  His ISO used to be 170-200; now it's 300.  As Gordon noticed several weeks ago, Ibanez has a strong understanding of what he can do and what he can't.  He has evidently decided that what he can do, is stalk his pitch and do damage to it.  He has apparently chosen to move into a Gorman Thomas mode -- guess curve, get curve, and then when you get it, put an extra biscuit into the swing.  

Chad Young, who followed on Gordon's insight, called this "selling out for power."  For SURE a hitter can choose to dial up the PWR tool at the expense of the HIT tool, and vice versa.

But the 0.30 EYE does not imply, in his case, that his batspeed is down.  His EYE was 0.31 two years ago, with the Phillies, and you would have thought that was it.  But last year, his EYE bounced back up to 0.52 with the Yankees.

More compelling than the up-and-down EYE lately, is Rauuulll's splits this year vs left hand pitchers.  Do you have any idea what Rauuull's SLG is against lefties?  It's .603.  It is precisely in the LH-vs-LH (not RH-vs RH as much) that you see batspeed the most ... 

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Dr's Prognosis

Raul is year to year, obviously.  But if he has a strong second half, then in 2014 he is worth more than the $2.75M he made this year.

Assuming that he doesn't hit the end of the line here in 2H 2013, then --- > in my book he's an ideal #25 roster player for 2014.  After which point he'd probably wind up batting fourth again...

Cheers,

Dr D

Blog: 

Comments

Wound up looking at it, after this was up :- ) ... nice to see we're all on the same sheet of music as usual ...

Have all y'all been liking Grant's Shout Box digest?

1

Thanks for calling attention to the reality that there was a shout box digest, Doc. I didn't see it on the page until you made me look around intently for it. Those tabs at the top are the smallest visual features on the page so I rarely notice they're there.

Now that I know this is available, though, I'll make use of it when I want to go back and view a conversation or refer to an older conversation. Thanks for the klat team's efforts!

As for Rauuuuuuuul, statistically speaking, there are really only two things that have changed about Ibanez' game. His K rate is up a bit (and his BB rate is down a bit)...and that is partially because they're pitching around him more and, given the make-up of the team, he has been unwilling to let them get away with that (we wants to do damage because someone in the line-up has to do it and only he, Seager and Morales have proven they can consistently). The pitch-around trend has halted since he moved to the three-hole, however, and as a result, his batting average is now climbing (because he's getting more to hit).

And the second thing that's changed...his flyball rate. He used to be more of a topspin hitter...lots of grounders and line drives. Now you can tell he's trying to hit everything in the air. Note:

Career GB/FB: 1.12

Last three seasons: 1.32, 1.06, 0.82

Career HR/FB, 13.6% (the normal rate for a topspin hitter), this season: 27.6% (probably unsustainably high, but it is normal to expect an increase when you're hitting more flyballs by choice)

His ISO probably won't be .300 when the dust settles...and the choice to be a cripple hitter means his BA probably won't stay >.250 (more Ks and less speed and more flyballs in play...all of which lower BA or BABIP, one or the other)...but you could still be looking at a 42 year old who hits .230/.290/.450, which would have its uses.

2

I hadn't noticed it either, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Shout Box Digest. What an amazingly quick response to the suggestion! Thanks are due to you AND Grant!

3

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TaroMontero's 2011 line in AAA for example was projected for a .261/.312/.435 line by ZIPS. He basically hasn't improved at all since then. Given his career line is .258/.302/.396 thats pretty close regressing for Safeco.2 hours 50 min ago
TaroBasically Montero was all projection, whereas Souza is good NOW with projection beyond that.3 hours 1 sec ago
TaroI was huge on Montero's potential, and I was wrong. But to be fair Montero never put up the MLEs that Souza did. Souza projects as a 2-3 WAR player NOW based on what he did in AAA. Montero never did, he was incredible based on age related performance at his level and had massive power upside. But he never performed as well as Souza. His MLEs were in the 0-1 WAR range and he just never got better from there. Souza RIGHT NOW is above-average player. Montero never was.3 hours 2 min ago
moethedogI'm with Matt: Rios and Rasmus would be delightful! I'm with Taro: Souza will indeed be a player. But you could probably get both Rios and Rasmus for what Melky will cost per/year. 2X$8-$10M (with an option year) for Rasmus and something similar for Rios. Or just do Rasmus AND Souza, making all or us happy. You can get Souza fairly easily and sign Rasmus and have money to spend. Souza, btw, plays 1B, too. LoMo will need some breathers.3 hours 30 min ago
SABR MattHow much did you love Jesus Montero before we traded for him?3 hours 42 min ago
TaroJust think Souza is a player. I like his combination of athleticism, swing, and performance.4 hours 4 min ago
SABR MattRomero, Montero, Smoak, Peguero, Balentien, Clement...so...so many more. So many you won't possibly remember them all. And all but a scant tiny fraction of them have panned out. And that is not unique to the Mariners. There is a massive zero gravity moon step difference between an awesome AAA hitter and a proven major leaguer. All players have risks...but some are less risky than others. And for the record, Cruz's home run power transcends Safeco rather easily...and his hitter's park in Baltimore...has a mediocre at best HR factor to left. So...yeah...not worried about Cruz.4 hours 47 min ago
SABR MattTaro...love your insights and all...but how many guys have we promoted in the last 12 years who had great minor league numbers?4 hours 50 min ago
TaroEvery player you roster has some risk involved, included proven MLBers. Cruz will be a RH backspin 35 year old slugger with a career sub .330 OBP in hitters parks, and we've signed him for 4 years. I'd be more nervous about him than Souza in 2015, and especially beyond that. Souza has the performance in the high minors combined with insane athleticism. I think hes underrated due to being a football convert and a late bloomer.4 hours 59 min ago
SABR Mattyou don't take that sort of risk when this is the best chance you have of winning the WS. Souza can be a fourth outfielder option...not a starter.5 hours 23 min ago
GLSSouza is a risk, but a pretty good one.5 hours 25 min ago
SABR MattSouza is not reliable. That's not sufficient to this moment.5 hours 40 min ago
TaroI'm thinking Melky would want 'at least' 4 years gauranteed if hes looking for 5. If Ms stay hard at 3 they won't land him, vesting option for 4th or not. Just give him 5 with a lower AAV. 5/$55 or something in that range. Or deal for Souza (my favorite option).6 hours 11 min ago
SABR MattRasmus and Rios would be a fine platoon with CF helper potential and would be cheaper than Cabrera. I like Cabrera better even with more money involved, but Rios/Rasmus would also be fine with me.6 hours 17 min ago
Gordon GrossRios and Rasmus would be... extensive. By himself I'm not huge on Rios. A Rios/Rasmus platoon would be damaging. Playing with brass knuckles. I hope the Ms take the velvet gloves fully off this offseason. Zduriencik has waited half a decade to wade into the fight with fists flying - let's make it worth the wait. I'm fine with making Beane cry into his collapsing-budget cup o' coffee.6 hours 21 min ago
SABR MattRasmus. If you get Rios and Rasmus, the outfield aligns OK6 hours 58 min ago
moethedogThe Rios card might not bluff the Melky team guys: In '12 Rios was a heck of a player. In '11 he was a dud. In '13 and '14 he was basically a split heavy .280-.320-.420 guy with a pretty scraggly glove. There doesn't seem to be much Rios market out there right now, which might be a neat quality. You could probably get him for 2 years and not break the bank. Over the last two years Viciedo has hit RHP at a .738 and .689 clip. Rios has hit at .714 and .646 rate. Just saying. But he does continue to beat lefties up, so as a 4th OF-paired with Ackley, as Matt suggests, Rios would be great. He's been at .889 and .898 vL the last two years. That's rip-roaring. But it means that you need a RF who can play CF, as Rios no longer does.7 hours 55 min ago
moethedogRios and Miller would be a neat combo, perhaps. If the hint that we had interest in Seth Smith is true that might also be a place to go. Smith and Rios would be an interesting tandem. But you're still a CF short. Smith is what you hope Ackley becomes. And he's cheap for 3 years. But unless it's Jones, Miller or Endy...we need a CF glove to go with the one we've got. Bloomie? No thanks...7 hours 55 min ago
SABR MattWouldn't mind also getting Rios to pair with Ackley9 hours 53 min ago
jemanjiYep that 5.7 RC/27, delivered game-in game-out, is looking pretty sweet. Good Kendrys plus wheels9 hours 54 min ago