Raul Ibanez isn’t the only player in the Yankees lineup who’s been productive this month. It only seems that way.
Ibanez is hitting .308/.379/.731 in May. Robinson Cano is hitting .361/.410/.597. Alex Rodriguez has a .387 on-base percentage, but he’s hitting for no power. Curtis Granderson has five home runs, but he’s struck out 21 times. Derek Jeter is hitting for average but not much else.
There are bits and pieces that have gone according to plan, but as a team, the Yankees rank 22nd in baseball in runs scored this month. They’ve scored one more run than the Twins. If they hadn’t, the Yankees would be this month’s lowest-scoring team in the American League.
“There’s a lot of great hitters in this lineup,” Ibanez said. “We’re going to hit.”
The Yankees players and coaches have been saying that for a while now.
Out of this ugly stretch of games, Ibanez has emerged. In the month of April, he hit more or less the way he did last season. Didn’t get on base much, but he showed decent power against right-handers. This month he’s been one of the driving forces in a malfunctioning lineup. Playing time might have helped. Because the Yankees have faced a lot of right-handers, Ibanez has been in the lineup more regularly and is just six at-bats shy of last month’s total.
“That definitely helps,” Ibanez said. “Being in the lineup a lot, we’ve had a string of a lot of righties in a row and that’s definitely nice, but either way you’ve got to be ready and try to be productive when you’re in there.” Associated Press photo
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Wanted to post positive on Ibanez without seeming to gloat. I was very excited when the Yanks signed him (his swing always reminded me of a David Justice/Darryl Stawberry combo) and I thought he'd be a perfect fit for this club. I had to fend off a lot of naysayers (who wanted Damon, Matsui, or the Yanks just to go with youngsters like Laird or Vazquez), particularly after Ibanez' awful start to spring training. One of you wanted to put a trampoline next to his locker so he could break his leg a la Joba. I was ripped when I praised Ibanez' final week of spring training and suggested that all those that defamed him come forth and apologize.
Well.....look where we stand now. As of May 21st, Ibanez is arguably the Yanks MVP. His numbers also add up to, dare I suggest it, borderline All-Star. Not only does he lead the team with 27 RBI (despite WAY fewer at-bats because he has yet to start a game vs. a lefty), but he's 2nd in homers (9), way up there in slugging pct., OPS, on-base pct, etc. He's also our BEST clutch hitter (RISP, 2-out RISP) with runners on base by far.
That doesn't even begin to tell the story. He's the one who gets the key hits in the key at-bats to either win games or put the Yankees ahead. Almost every home run, double, clutch hit has come in a big spot. The Yanks are 21-20. Dare I say, we'd likely be something like 15-26 without him.
Finally, his level of productivity for the $1.1 million he's getting as compared to say, A-Rod or Tex, is astonishing. The difference in value is obscene. A-Rod make almost 30 times what Ibanez makes. Teixeira makes about 25 times more. Even Swisher makes 10 times more. Yet their productivity is basically HALF of what Ibanez produces with FEWER at bats. Obviously, you can't reward Raul with more money to close the embarassing disparity.....but you can entertain the thought of bringing him back next season.