Well, it’s spring training once again and Ryan Raburn is up to his old tricks. After hitting six home runs, posting a .994 OPS, and driving in 19 last season for the Tigers, Raburn has mashed four home runs, posted a 2.067 OPS, and driven in nine runs in all of 15 at-bats this spring for the Tribe.
Sample size, schmaple size…those numbers are legit! Or are they?
Raburn turns 32 years old in April and has managed a .256/.311/.430 triple slash over parts of seven seasons and 1,719 plate appearances in the majors, including his abysmal .171/.226/.254 line over 222 plate appearances last season for the Tigers. His .224 BABIP in 2012 brought his career number to .314, but his .083 ISO was well off of his .174 career number. Is that a decline or just one bad season?
On a minor league contract, the .274/.331/.473 triple slash with 58 doubles, five triples, 45 home runs, and 156 RBI from 2009 through 2011 and 1,019 at-bats, which is what Raburn produced, is downright exciting. The fact that he can play second base and both outfield corners is additionally drool-worthy, especially with three outfielders already on the club who can play center field in Drew Stubbs, Michael Brantley, and Michael Bourn.
With Mike Aviles around, do the Indians need another utility infielder, or should Raburn be viewed as a 25th man? He is a huge upgrade over Aaron Cunningham, who has appeared to be the weakest link for most of his professional career on whatever team he was soaking up a roster space on, as Raburn’s right-handed power bat could be very valuable in a pinch-hitting or prolonged substitution role.
However, with the Indians seemingly possessing more depth than most seasons over the last decade after a very busy offseason, should they gamble on another strong spring training from Raburn and risk losing Chris McGuinness, Ezequiel Carrera, Cord Phelps or other options through waivers?
I say the Indians give Raburn another shot. At the rate that he’s going right now, he’d rip 67 home runs in 250 at-bats, and there just aren’t many players who can do that. Raburn isn’t one of those players, either, but the Tribe needs to keep him while he’s hot!