136 of you have weighed in so far with projections for our favorite Mariner4Life!! Here's what you think is going to happen:
BA: .280 (.014)
OBP: .350 (.015)
SLG: .466 (.032)
IsoPa: .071 (.008)
IsoPo: .186 (.021)
(Note: "IsoPa" refers to "Isolated Patience", or OBP - BA, while "IsoPo" refers to "Isolated Power, or SLG - BA. For the rate stats, the propagated error is listed in parentheses. Thanks a million to reader Bryan McCulloch for helping out with the calculations.)
Now a picture:
Nothing earth-shattering; the community sees Raul putting up a similar performance as last year's, only with a moderate power regression. His .186 projected Isolated Power is down 18% from 2006's .227, which is a significant drop, but then again 2006 sort of came out of nowhere, and .186 is right in line with the rest of Raul's career. So it makes sense. Basically, while people don't foresee any real change in Raul's hit, walk, or strikeout rates, they don't think last year's pop was for real, as only 16 of 136 participants projected a .500+ SLG. Consensus seems to be that he'll stave off further development of old player skills for at least another season. These community projections are nothing if not reliably conservative.
...you know, just glancing at Raul's Baseball-Reference page, check out his last six seasons:
BA: .280, .294, .294, .304, .280, .289
OBP: .353, .346, .345, .353, .355, .353
SLG: .495, .537, .454, .472, .436, .516
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more consistent player year-to-year than Raul Ibanez. Yeah, he'll turn 35 this June, and you can only perform at your peak for so long, but man, that's dependability right there. You know pretty much exactly what you're going to get from the guy ahead of time, and that has more value than most people tend to give it. It's nice not having to worry about a contingency plan.
Assuming Raul doesn't get hurt or fall off the map - which he better not, because there's not much behind him - the only question is how much of his 2006 power is going to return for another go-round. If he regresses to the community's projected line, he'll be about 10 runs worse than he was a year ago. If he regresses back to his 2005 performance, the difference'll be closer to 20. He'd still be a fine player, but that just goes to show how underratedly awesome he was last season when he would've been a borderline (albeit undeserving) MVP candidate on a better team.
Raul Ibanez isn't going to make or break 2007's Mariner offense, but how much power he flashes from the left side will go a long way towards determining whether this is just a good lineup, or the kind of lineup that can win a flag on its own. It's taken a while, but I've finally gotten to the point at which I'm comfortable relying on Raul to supply a lot of punch from the middle of the order. Watch him swing and you'll agree that he has a rather peculiar way of going about it, but you can't argue with results, and Raul's been a damn good player six years running. Making it seven gives the Mariners a reasonable shot of being a team to be reckoned with in September. At last.