A large part of the Yankees’ recent struggle has been the complete disappearance of Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez. After being solid at the plate throughout most of the season, both have been close to automatic outs since the calendar flipped to August. Has time run out on their major league careers? First we’ll examine Ibanez. Here’s what his offensive production has looked like since August 1st:
That’s pretty bad all around. His K%, BB%, and ISO certainly aren’t terrible. The one number that stands out her is his BABIP which sits at .198. So has Raul just hit a patch of bad luck? Let’s look at his batted ball numbers to try and get a better idea:
His batted ball rates over this time are practically identical to his career rates, but his BABIP is still way below his career number of .300. Obviously, it’s hard to draw a definitive conclusion over such a small sample of plate appearances, but there’s nothing that indicates that Raul Ibanez has fallen off the cliff as a hitter. When a player as old as Ibanez (40) goes into a slump like he has, it’s easy to declare him done as a major leaguer. But all indicators show that Ibanez may still have something left in the tank. That being said, Ibanez certainly isn’t a great hitter anymore and Chris Dickerson (who can actually play the field) should continue to get playing time.
Now let’s look at Andruw. His situation gets a little more interesting. Here’s his line:
The good news is that his strikeout rate has been very low during this time period. His 18% is below what he’s posted in recent years. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. He’s been completely powerless at the plate. His .066 ISO matches Juan Pierre’s career mark. It’s been that bad. His BABIP is also pretty terrible. So has Andruw completely stopped hitting the ball with any authority?
Similarly, it doesn’t look like too much has changed fundamentally. He may be replacing a few line drives with fly balls, but the sample is way too small to make any conclusions. As bad as Andruw’s been, it’s probably too soon to write him off completely. Still, the complete loss of power is concerning. Considering he’s never really shown a giant platoon split, I’m not sure he should continue to see regular playing time against lefties. It’s also not clear Jones is any better than Steve Pearce who raked in AAA for the Yankees earlier this year. In fact, ZiPS pegs them both for a .325 wOBA the rest of the way. At this point, the Yankees best bet is probably to have them share playing time against lefties and hope one of them gets hot.
Both of these veterans appear to still be capable of being acceptable at the plate and have just been hitting balls to the wrong spots. However, their production as of late has been downright terrible. Given their struggles, its time to give unproven guys like Pearce and Dickerson a shot. Even on days where these guys aren’t in the lineup though, they will undoubtedly be called upon to pinch hit in some big spots. So with any luck, they start producing like they were earlier in the season.
Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, and is an occasional user of the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell