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?

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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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Tacoma RainDutton says the Mariners expect Choi to miss at least 4 to 6 months... thus this is a lost year for Choi. And unfortunately for Choi, he will have a tough time getting attention with all the others coming behind him. I was really hoping for better things for Choi.3 hours 44 min ago
Gordon GrossVery true bat. I meant that it didn't affect Choi at all, but it is the smarter roster move for staying alert and able to be active in Spring Training.3 hours 54 min ago
Bat571But it does give the Ms a 40-man spot. The 60-day would also, but it doesn't start until ~ the week before Opening Day. But if Olmos is back, that's the roster spot they need for him until he officially clears waivers and can be outrighted to Tacoma. At that point the Ms would have a spot for Baker or a pitcher if they need it.4 hours 6 min ago
Gordon GrossChoi is not out of options, so it's effectively nothing. They designated him to go to the minors, using an option year they would have had to use anyway, and that way he's not clogging the roster. No big.4 hours 36 min ago
GLSWhat is the significance of the DFA move in this situation?4 hours 42 min ago
Bat571Apparently the Mariners have DFA'd Choi rather than wait to 60-day DL him.4 hours 47 min ago
Bat571Montero has 1 option left of 3. Ackley and Hultzen, who signed MLB/40-man contracts have a 4th option each. Erasmo is the only one out of options.5 hours 14 min ago
MtGrizzlyThe sports writers have all been talking about how Montero is headed to Tacoma. I guess they could be wrong.7 hours 34 min ago
moethedogKiv-le-mashing-han! Dustin whom?8 hours 1 min ago
mojicianOn further review, I think that restricted list time does not affect option years as long as the player actually spent 20 days in the minors while on the 40 man roster.8 hours 50 min ago
mojicianI don't think that Montero's 2012 option year counts because he never went to the minors during that year. I'm not sure how the 2014 restricted list stint factors into option years as well. Montero should be protected for 2015.9 hours 7 min ago
SpectatorStill with the M's from Bravai drafts? Mark Lowe ... ha! full circle, but he's not on the roster yet. Forrest Snow was drafted by both Bavasi out of HS and Jack out of UW. Didn't know that. Nate Tenbrink maybe still holding on by his fingernails. Everyone else has been flushed I think.9 hours 36 min ago
Gordon GrossAssuming we can get Montero there. He's out of options.9 hours 44 min ago
SpectatorAll coming off of Shawn Kelley. Amazingly, with Kelley, Morrow and Maurer, I think the Pods have more Bavasi draftees than the M's. In fact, that might be half of the Bavasi draftees left in the majors. (Though I think there was a Anthony Varvaro sighting recently ...) (Aumont maybe?) (OK Tillman, Fister and Josh Fields I guess + Condor of course.)9 hours 44 min ago
MtGrizzlyKivlehan, DJ and Montero in middle of that Tacoma lineup aught to be something.9 hours 48 min ago
Gordon GrossRomero walked! That's about as impressive for him as a HR would be. Do more of that, son.9 hours 53 min ago
Gordon GrossDJ grabs a single up the middle, much like Kivlehan was doing yesterday - seriously, with one of Taylor/Miller relegated to the Rainiers, and the returning Blash to join DJ, Kivlehan, Marte, Hicks, possibly Pizzano or Paolini... that lineup should hit. Whoever has Tacoma tickets might wanna go take a peek. Dunno how their starting pitching will be (depending on who makes the Ms rotation), but the offense shouldn't let you down.9 hours 55 min ago
Gordon GrossGlad you're on board, Matt. Kivlehan and DJ are both verrry good prospects. They just need to separate them positionally so that both of em can stick around. Kivlehan can replace Seth Smith shortly, and DJ can be in line to take over for LoMo. And if LoMo steps into being a full-time stud, then either of the two prospects can be traded. We'll see where that goes - but man, Tacoma should be an interesting lineup.9 hours 59 min ago
okdanHa, how did you beat me to that G? I came here to post the same thing :P10 hours 1 min ago
Gordon GrossKivlehan blasts one out. Because it's Spring and he wants to lift my spirits. I do love that dude.10 hours 1 min ago