Aside from Raul Ibanez‘ robust offensive output thus far for Philadelphia ( 17 HR’s, 1.019 OPS), old pal Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times notes Ibanez’ solid glovework in left field (“imagine how shocking it is to look at Ultimate Zone Ratings stats this morning and see that Ibanez is actually on the plus-side of the runs saved equation for the first time since 2004. As of today, Ibanez has a +4.6 score in UZR and is projected to finish with a +9.8…with his offensive numbers thrown in, he’s arguably an MVP candidate”) and concludes the former Mariner is a great fit at his new home venue.
I think the ballpark in Philadelphia plays to his strengths. If you know he can cover ground running back to the wall and you know there is less distance to cover in left field there compared to at Safeco Field, it makes sense that Ibanez could be cheating further up towards the infield.
By doing so, he can cut down the number of blooped hits that drop in front of him and penalize him on the UZR front. At the same time, he can still track down balls he runs back on because there is less ground to cover before he gets to the wall. And, he has the skills to make the tougher plays when he’s running back.
For me, that’s the easiest explanation for why he’s gone from very good player to superstar in the span of a season. Sounds like the Phillies knew what they were doing when they went out and got Ibanez. They looked at his skillset and saw a guy who could fit into their home park pretty well.
And now, instead of being penalized for skills that did not fit Safeco very well, he is maximizing what he does have at a home park that plays to his stengths.