Detroit Tigers: Andy Ibáñez is capitalizing on his opportunity
By Tyler Kotila
Detroit Tigers finding production in Andy Ibáñez.
The Detroit Tigers must be happy with the production they have seen out of Andy Ibáñez to this point in 2023. The 30-year-old infielder has gotten his first opportunity to join the big league club and is surely making the most of it.
He was brought in by the Detroit Tigers this winter in a waiver claim from the Texas Rangers. He has fought for his opportunities, and at one point, it felt like he might be someone who helps create some value within the team's search for a third baseman.
Instead, his opportunity came at the end of April when Kerry Carpenter went down with an injury. The Tigers shifted Matt Manning to the 60-day Injured List (IL) and Ibáñez was able to join the team's 40-man roster and play a role with the team moving forward.
Since then, Ibáñez has played in 12 games with 35 at-bats, slashing .314/.333/.514 with four doubles and a home run, plating four runs in the process. Quite the hot start from the switch-hitter who has gotten work in all over the field. He's moved around and played wherever the Tigers have needed him, predominantly working between second and third base.
But the big thing with Ibáñez has been how he is getting it done. Now, full disclosure, the sample size is minimal, as he has just 35 at-bats, but he has shown a few things in terms of his Baseball Savant metrics that should intrigue Tigers fans.
If you have watched the Tigers, you have seen Ibáñez play and his swing in the batters' box. He works from a wider base, bent at the knees with the legs bowing inward. The hands are high with a slight barrel wrap as he gets set with the front foot tapping for rhythm.
His hands drift back ever so slightly as he loads, closing up the upper half before a quick rotation and opening up of the body through the swing. His lower half uses a quick toe-tap trigger before the stride forward, slightly toward third base, speaking to his ability to pull the ball.
It's an approach that makes it very clear that he wants to pull the ball, and the results reflect that. He's been able to work to the opposite field, speaking to his ability to control the hands and stay on the ball with his barrel, but the swing works hand-in-hand with a pull-side approach.
When he's able to get the barrel through the zone, opening up through his rotational move through the zone, the ball can jump off the barrel. He's been highly accurate with the barrel to this year, which is really accentuated with an 11.5% Barrel percentage which is nearly double what it was in the past.
Sample size plays a factor, but it's not just the Barrel % that is up. His average exit velocity is 94.0 mph, which, again, is way higher than in the past, likely due to sample size, but also shows how well he has been able to get the barrel on the ball to drive it hard.
The 46.2% sweet spot percentage to this point in 2023 speaks to the barrel accuracy even further. With a 61.5% HardHit% in 2023 during his stint with the Tigers, Ibáñez has really done an excellent job executing on his swings and doing damage.
The point is, Ibáñez is maximizing his opportunity to join the Tigers lineup. He was called up and is trying to prove he belongs in Detroit as part of the big-league club, and so far, the results would certainly support that.
The Tigers have to be happy with the results he has posted to this point; it's been impressive to see him step into the lineup and get the job done while also moving all around the field, wherever/whenever the Tigers need him to.