Andy Ibanez has caught fire again for the Detroit Tigers
Not long ago, every Detroit Tigers fan wanted Andy Ibanez gone. He wasn't striking out a whole lot, but he just wasn't hitting. Since he was playing everyday, Tigers fan had seen enough. But A.J. Hinch said the team had some data that suggested that he would turn things around. Fans were skeptical, but to the team's credit, Ibanez has turned things around.
Over the last two weeks, Ibanez is slashing .387/.441/.742 with an OPS of almost 1.200 and two home runs. The Tigers stuck with him, and he's rewarding them for it.
As far as what data the Tigers had that suggested he would eventually snap out of his slump, we don't know for sure what it was, but if we had to guess, it would be his xwOBA, which currently sits at .356. xwOBA stands for expected weighted on-base average. Here's the definition from MLB.com:
"Expected Weighted On-base Average (xwOBA) is formulated using exit velocity, launch angle and, on certain types of batted balls, Sprint Speed.- MLB.com
In the same way that each batted ball is assigned an expected batting average, every batted ball is given a single, double, triple and home run probability based on the results of comparable batted balls since Statcast was implemented Major League wide in 2015. For the majority of batted balls, this is achieved using only exit velocity and launch angle. As of 2019, "topped" or "weakly hit" balls also incorporate a batter's seasonal Sprint Speed."
xwOBA also removes defense from the equation, so this is a great stat to see how good a player truly is. You can see why the Tigers stuck with Ibanez, assuming this is the stat they were talking about.
This is a really good example of the Tigers' new analytical approach in action. They saw a stat that suggested things should be different than they actually were for a player, stuck with the player, and it's paying off. Hopefully Ibanez can keep this up, and we can see even more success stories like this in the future.