Some have suggested in recent days that Raul Ibanez is as bad or worse defensively in the outfield than Pat Burrell. That may be the case. What is hard for me to believe is that Burrell gets to as many fly balls as Ibanez does.
Here’s how many innings each of them played in left field in 2008 and how many putouts they had:
Burrell had about .17 putouts per inning in left field, Ibanez had about .23 putouts per inning while in left. If Burrell had played the same number of innings in left as Ibanez and continued to record putouts at the same rate, he would have had 226 putouts compared to 302 for Ibanez.
Ibanez led all MLB left fielders in putouts in 2008. He also played more innings in left than just about anyone — Jason Bay played about five more innings, but he was the only player in either league to spend more time in left. Ryan Braun and Delmon Young each also played at least 1,300 innings in left in ’08.
Here’s the ten players who played the most innings in left field in either league this season, how many innings they played, how many putouts they recorded and how many putouts per inning:
Of the ten players, Burrell has the worst rate of putouts per inning and Ibanez has the best.
Burrell and Ibanez weren’t fielding in the same parks or behind the same pitchers. And it is true that Phillies pitchers struck out more hitters than Mariners pitchers and got fewer fly ball outs than Seattle pitchers. But not by a huge amount:
|K||GO||AO||K+GO+AO||% K||% GO||% AO|
The number of outs you get in the air reflects, of course, not just how often your pitchers make pitches that are hit in the air but also how good the outfielders are at catching the balls after they are hit in the air.
The Mariners were 15th among the 30 teams in the number of outs they got in the air.
As a team, the Mariners got 1.039 times as many outs in the air as the Phillies did in 2008. Even if you adjust Burrell’s putouts to give him as many innings in left as Ibanez, which, again, puts him at 226, Ibanez’s total of 302 is still 1.34 times higher than Burrell’s.
Over the past two seasons, Ibanez has played 2,454 1/3 innings in left for Seattle and recorded 526 putouts. That’s .2143 putouts per inning. Eight other players have appeared in left field for Seattle and combined to play 415 1/3 innings. In their 415 1/3 innings, they recorded 85 putouts, or .2047 (less) per inning. Burrell, on the other hand, has played 2,226 2/3 innings in left and recorded 378 putouts (.1698) while other Phillies left fielders have played 681 2/3 innings and recorded 163 putouts (.2391 per inning (way more).
There were other things that Burrell did in left better than Ibanez. He made errors at a lower rate in 2008, for example, and despite playing about 140 fewer innings defensively threw more runners out on the bases. There’s a lot of bad things that can happen after you get to the ball, but I’m going to be surprised if Ibanez doesn’t prove to be much better at that that Burrell. I think we’ll be able to see it both from watching the games and in the statistics.
Lots of people seem to think Raul Ibanez is a swell fella.
The list of free agents.
Vintage Blue, a Philadelphia-based, vintage-inspired sportswear line for women that holds exclusive license to the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, would like you to know they’re out there. Here, specifically.