Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Raul Ibanez, Jarrod Dyson, & Ignoring the Obvious

The Royals can be a confusing baseball club at times. One of the things they’ve constantly talked about is building this team with pitching and defense, and they’ve done a solid job of that. Their pitching is good, and their defense makes their pitching look even better. The overall defense is arguably the best in the league, and the outfield defense is arguably the best the league has seen in a very long time.

All of the praise for the defense makes one wonder, then, why the Royals have been playing a 42-year old Raul Ibanez in right field on a regular basis, instead of using Jarrod Dyson in center field and Lorenzo Cain in right.

If the defense is so important, why is Ibanez seeing more playing time in the field than one of the best defenders in baseball?

We know how much the Royals’ pitching staff relies on the outfield defense, and we know the Royals’ offense doesn’t always pull its own weight, which makes the run prevention side of things all the more crucial. Rather than using the best defensive lineup to maintain their excellent level, the team is opting for an inferior defensive alternative.

Oh, and did I mention that Dyson is a better hitter than Ibanez, too?

Dyson’s current wRC+ is 98, which is more than twice as high as Ibanez’s 48. Dyson has an on-base percentage of .354, which is over 100 points higher than Ibanez’s .245. The one edge Ibanez has on Dyson is in the power department, but the former doesn’t put enough balls in play for that to really matter, and his .113 isolated slugging percentage this year doesn’t exactly scream “power hitter.” Besides, Dyson can make up for his lack of power by turning most singles into doubles just a pitch or two later.

Dyson is better against righties. He’s better against lefties. He’s better defensively. He’s better on the basepaths.

Dyson provides more value than Ibanez in every facet of the game, and yet, he has remained on the bench for much of Ibanez’s time in Kansas City. Why?

According to this article from Andy McCullough, the Royals would like to see what they have in Ibanez. I would point out that they have a 42-year old player who doesn’t move well in the field or hit well at the plate, but then again, they didn’t ask me.

I can understand hoping to squeeze a little more production out of a player who was successful as recently as last year, but when he’s taking time away from a superior player, it makes no sense. I would love for Ibanez to start hitting dingers left and right, but that simply doesn’t seem to be on the horizon. His bat looks slow, and he’s yet to draw a walk since joining the team. He looks like he’s 42.

Dyson has proven he can handle regular playing time, particularly against right-handed pitching, so taking him out of the lineup for Ibanez is an immediate downgrade. It would be another thing if Ibanez, like Nori Aoki, had a reverse platoon split and only played against lefties, but that’s not the case. Until Aoki returns from the disabled list (likely after the All Star break) Ibanez appears to be the Royals’ regular right fielder.

Not only that, but it sounds like once Aoki comes back, the Royals will keep Ibanez on the roster, in place of Christian Colon, who is the only true utility player with the big league club. Doing so would only compound matters, as it would once again create a situation in which the roster would be without enough versatility. It would be foolish.

For a team that values defense, Ibanez in right field is a poor choice.

For a team that needs offense, Ibanez in the starting lineup is an even worse choice.

When the Royals signed Ibanez, it was a confusing move because it seemed that his career was at its end, but that confusion has turned into complete befuddlement with the amount of playing time he’s received in Dyson’s place. I am, and always will be, a fan of Ibanez, but he’s had his moment to shine, and now is clearly the time for the Royals to move him back to the bench.

As Ned Yost mentioned in that previous article, he does have the ability to play first base (and stuff!), so perhaps he could provide a tiny bit of value if needed in a different role. As things stand now, though, Ibanez is only taking away playing time from a better player, and the Royals can’t afford to allow that for much longer.

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Tags: Jarrod Dyson Kansas City Royals Raul Ibanez

  • Ryan Caltrider

    The only role Ibanez should fill for the Royals, if any, is as a left handed bat to pinch hit and maybe an occasional (once every couple of weeks) start to rest a regular. He should not take place of Dyson, Aoki, Colon, or any other position player on the roster. I would be fine with keeping him as a bench bat when Aoki comes back and carrying only 6 relievers. But we all know that will probably never happen because Ned likes to have 7 or 8 relievers in the pen even though it is excessive and unnecessary.

  • unclejesse40

    I know this is an incredibly small sample size but Ibanez has until the All-Star break for me. I am going to want to see his OBP with the Royals to be somewhere around .300 and a couple more homers. If not then his lesser defense in RF does not make up for it. The truth is, right now Ibanez is giving you less value than Maxwell was.

  • Geogman

    Ibanez was brought in be to the grownup in the clubhouse and fill a leadership void. I also think he was brought in to shake things up a bit because this group seems to be to comfortable in roles they have not necessarily earned. In Ned’s own words this team is immature and I suspect the front office felt this gamble was worth it. I think if Dyson were to become an everyday player his weaknesses would be exposed. I don’t think he is a great offensive player. As the saying goes you can’t steal first base.Whether the experiment works out is an open question and obviously depends on getting something offensively out of Ibanez.

    • jessanders

      I keep hearing everyone saying Dyson would be “exposed”, but he hasn’t been.

      He was playing regularly last season until he was injured climbing the wall, and he’s played regularly for the past month+, and he’s been great.

      He’ll never be a monster with the bat, but with the defensive value and speed when he gets on, being an average hitter at the plate (currently wRC+ of 98, which is about as average as a person can be) makes him a positive value player.

      Ibanez is sucking all around.

      This isn’t an argument between the best of two evils. This is an argument between an above average major league player, and a significantly below average major league player.

      It shouldn’t even be a question.

      • Geogman

        Again, I think Ibanez was brought in for more than just his bat but it only works if he can recapture some of his bat. I like his intangibles but he is going to have to hit better than .160. I will grant you that Dyson has played well this season but he is 29 and before last year he barely hit his weight. This club needs some leadership and after 2 and 1/2 up and down seasons it is not going to come from within. I think these next five games are pretty important. How long the Ibanez experiment continues will depend on where we are at All Star break. And bottom line unless Hosmer and Butler start to hit and drive in runs it’s not going to matter who’s the third outfielder.

  • goatlockerlifer

    Hunter is right. Aoki and Ibanez are both suspect with the glove, and mediocre — if we’re being generous — at the plate (Aoki, anyway). Dyson is getting much better reads and jumps on hard hit balls this year, and Cain is probably the best in the league. With Gordon, they’re by far the best defensive outfield trio in the business. Why not be the best at something? Defense of that caliber is a difference maker. And Dyson’s speed puts pressure and stress on the opposing pitchers and defenses. Everybody knows speed don’t slump.

    To summarize – Dyson is by far the best option defensively and offensively, so by all means sit him in favor of a lesser producer. Hard to argue with that degree of reasoning, Frank.

  • flan50

    If Ibanez is there to be some type of Father Figure or clubhouse mentor, put him in the coaching box. If he’s there to be a cheerleader, get him a skirt and pom poms. But, no, with DM and Yostie, he’s there to drag his 42 year old bones around the field for no positive purpose whatsoever. It is SO Royals under this management. Hey, I have always liked Raul, a gentleman and, at one time, a helluva player. But this is just another sad commentary on the management of a team that Detroit is allowing to stay in the race. What do they bring in, Ibanez and Scott Downs? Really? They’re nearly on Social Security and were total failures this season before arriving in KC! I guarantee if I were a player on the Royals and saw these moves made to “help” push the team over the playoff hump, I’d be p*%#ed! But, it’s simply typical. What’s next, bringing Hudler and Montgomery out of retirement?


    Let’s face it, we’re following an organization that frankly doesn’t use logic…or not consistent logic at least. Yost is a poor judge of talent, and lacks justification for many of his personnel choices. Same with Moore though, so it starts at the top. Dyson may not be an every day starter, but he deserves to be in there now and we need him.

    I too am shocked they would consider carrying 5 outfielders again, and not a utility guy. I think we need to trade or release Ibanez or Aoki if we’re serious about contending in the second half. They should keep Colon around as a utility infielder and a pinch runner, which would take the place of Dyson late in games if he’s starting in CF. But alas, this is the reality of the organization and shortsighted moves like this will ultimately cost us a handful of games and a wildcard spot by the end of the year.

  • Stan Colbert

    This article is plagiarism. You read my mind!!! All they can seem to think about is having someone in RF who hits homeruns so Hos-baby and Moosey-poo don’t have to grow up and do their jobs! Sending Colon down is stupid also. I’d start him tonight for Esky. After last night’s gaffe it is obvious he needs a rest! Play him for Infante once a week until Infante hurts himself again. Pinch hit, even DH.

  • catfishjohn

    All right. So Gordon is hurt. He might be out a very short while, maybe a 15 day stint on the DL–hopefully nothing worse. Who replaces him? Do you want Aoki, Cain, Dyson? Maxwell, Cain, Dyson? Or, let’s says Cain follows past trends and gets hurt and both he and Alex are on the DL. What now? Ibanez is not going to propel anyone into the playoffs at this point in his career…but he does have a role for a team that is trying to get there. Who else do you want?


      I don’t think Maxwell is worth having on the roster, but Ibanez is no improvement. I would let Cain, Dyson and Aoki start until Gordon comes back (assuming Aoki isn’t still hurt) and only use Ibanez in the field if desperate. BUT…this is the Royals and Ned Yost we’re talking about so expect Ibanez to keep starting.


    How could you even justify starting Ibanez with the way he’s been hitting? The sad thing is that the organization can’t, but they won’t have to in a town like KC where there’s no real media pressure or fan outcry.