Before this offseason was dominated by big name pitchers, the Yankee fan base was most excited about the upgrade at DH. Jorge Posada and his negative WAR were about to be replaced by the future allstar, Jesus Montero. Indeed, the change would have been immense based on ZiPS’ .271/.333/.486 triple slash and an a 112 OPS+. With Andruw Jones and now Raul Ibanez signed, it looks like the team has found its replacement for Montero in 2012. The DH position might take up two roster spots, but the Ibanez/Jones platoon may perform better in 2012 than Montero would have.
The plan, of course, is to play Andruw Jones against left-handed pitchers, and Raul Ibanez against right-handed pitchers. In 2011, facing lefties, Jones hit .286/.384/.540, 144 OPS+ with eight homeruns. Facing righties, Ibanez hit .256/.307/.440, 100 OPS+ with 16 homeruns. Combined, the duo would have spotted .263/.326/.464 with 24 homeruns. While this is slightly worse than the projections for Montero, I suspect that Ibanez will have more luck hitting righties with the short leftfield porch. Yesterday, Matt wrote about a possible park factor affecting Ibanez and he found a spike of five more homeruns. In this case, we’re talking about expecting nearly 30 homeruns from this position, something that would be hard to pin on Montero in his first full season.
From the other perspective, Jones and Ibanez are aging players, with little value on the field, and declining numbers. On Monday, William talked about Ibanez’s numbers against righties, which were the lowest of his career in 2011. Such a drop in numbers is typical for a player turning 40, an age where numbers don’t typically rebound. Neither player adds much value on the field either, both are below average in the corner outfield spots.
Going into the future, Montero certainly has higher potential, but there is still reason to be excited about an Ibanez/Jones DH, especially when you compare to last year. Assuming there is a problem, Cashman has invited a plethora of backups and saved enough money to ensure that the position won’t be occupied with a negative WAR player like last year. Though it’s hard to replace a player like Montero, Ibanez and Jones could end up with better numbers in 2012 and that’s something to be excited about.
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