Today’s point is simply that Raul Ibanez is absolutely crushing relief pitching this season. The numbers are silly. In 59 plate appearances against relievers, Ibanez has gone 24-for-51 with seven of his 13 home runs. He is hitting 471/542/961 against relief pitchers, which is a 1.503 OPS.
To the surprise of a whole bunch of people, Ibanez is leading both leagues so far with a 1.139 OPS. So there are a lot of his numbers that stick out.
One thing that hasn’t contributed to his early success is how often he is facing lefties and righties. He is actually facing right-handed pitching less regularly than he has over his career. 109 of his 160 plate appearances this season, about 68.1%, have come against righties. Over his career he’s gotten about 73.6% of his plate appearances against righties. He doesn’t have good career numbers against lefties (270/325/421), but Ibanez hit them hard last year (305/368/497) and is pounding away at them in 2009. His 349/412/721 (1.133 OPS) line against lefties is very similar to his line against righties (361/431/711 (1.143 OPS)).
He is hitting better at Citizens Bank Park than he is away from it. But he’s been great away from it, too.
The home numbers are much better, but the numbers away from home are very good as well. Ibanez has a career 288/349/479 line, so his .990 OPS away from Citizens Bank Park is .163 higher than his .827 career mark.
Still, the difference between his home and road splits aren’t as dramatic as the difference between what he’s doing against starting and relief pitching. Here are Ibanez’s career OPS numbers against the starting pitcher for the first, second and third or more times he has faced him in a game and what he has done against relief pitchers:
As you would expect, over his career he gets better against the starting pitcher the more he has faced him in the game. And then his numbers against relief pitchers take a dive, worse than his career .827 OPS overall.
This season it has been almost exactly the opposite:
Not a whole lot of data there, he has faced the opposing starting pitcher for the first time in the game 36 times this year, for example, but, in addition to the fact that he has hammered relief pitching the numbers against starting pitching are flipped. By OPS, he has been better the first time he faced them and worse after that.
Cairo will go to the minors. The Phillies signed Paul Bako.