Ryan Raburn Makes Me Eat My Words


I’ve never been a big Ryan Raburn fan. Previously, when he came up as a topic of conversation, I was quick to scoff at his so-called “versatility” in the field, and I was quick to dismiss his 2009 campaign as a fluke.

Ryan was kind enough to prove me right for April, May, June, and July, but since August began, he’s been beating up on opposing pitching in a way that would make Chuck Norris proud.

At July’s exit, he was a middling .616 OPS hitter, but he only needed a month and a half to raised that sucker a full .200 points, to the .818 number he now enjoys.

I’m a big believer in reasonable projection systems. They’ll beat the fan’s prediction for a particular player almost as often as Vegas does. But I didn’t listen when they all said that Raburn was probably headed for a nice year.

FanGraphs lists the projections for four projection systems: Bill James, CHONE, Marcel, and ZiPS, and all four had Raburn hitting for an above average wOBA this season (average being in the .335 range). In fact, if you average the wOBA numbers (weighted by their respective plate appearance total), we come up with .354. What’s he currently hitting? I’ll give you one guess (.354).

He’s now only behind Miguel Cabrera (and Magglio Ordonez, but he’s hurt, and Capser Wells, but his sample size is tiny) in terms of wOBA.

So I think I’ve learned my lesson about projection systems and Ryan Raburn. I still don’t always love his defense, even though he has been pretty decent in the outfield this year, but I guess I don’t have to. He’s proven himself to be a reliable bat, and his ability to provide even marginal defense at several positions makes him a valuable guy to have.

I used to wish the Tigers would be able to ‘fleece’ an NL general manager into taking him, but I don’t anymore. He’s making me eat my words, but it tastes pretty good right now.