Coming off of a 2014 season in which he posted a .200/250/.297 batting slash, Ryan Raburn had a lot to prove to the Tribe fans who wondered why he was even on the team. And after a small sample slow start to his 2015 season, Raburn did just that.
Raburn was hitless in his first nine plate appearances (9!) and on April 19, was well on his way to repeating that slash, with a .250/.235/.438 line. Those numbers never looked back, though. Raburn’s batting average was at or above .269 every day the rest of the season, peaking at .400 on May 3.
His final line of .301/.393/.543 ended up looking a lot like his awesome 2013 season. In some ways, identically. (.272/.367/.543)
The problem with Raburn’s 2015 season was that his manager felt that he absolutely could not stand in the batters box against an RHP without melting. This led to a player with a .936 OPS, 149 OPS+, 155 wRC+ and .397 wOBA only getting 173 ABs. Those are 2015 numbers! 2015! A pitching-dominated year!
In that 2013 season, Raburn was allowed to bat 70 more times. And he OPSed .806 against right-handed pitching. In 2015, that OPS was .467—IN TWENTY-TWO AT-BATS! 22! Know how many games he started against a righty? Zero. Instead, those ABs went to Mike Aviles, Chris Johnson, Jerry Sands, Nick Swisher and Michael Martinez.
|AB vs RHP||OPS vs RHP|
That’s 335 ABs total right there. Wasted. If you missed the portion of the season where "Michael Martinez" was a thing, know that he’s the owner of a career OPS+ of 35 and has hit 31 home runs in his nine years in the minor leagues.
But back to Raburn. His awesome production peaked on September 7 in Chicago against the White Sox. He hit two homers that day and OPSed 1.006 against the White Sox on the season. Oh, did I mention that those homers were both off of Chris Sale? Or that he got pinch hit for in the 8th inning because… nevermind—you know why if you have read this far. My hero Lonnie flied out in Ryan’s place.
Raburn’s unbelievable production against the **ite Sox is hardly new. In 2013, he tormented them with four homers, five doubles, 18 RBI and a 1.132 OPS.
Did Raburn do anything else in 2015? Yes, he did.
On June 17, he made his second pitching appearance in a Tribe uniform. It did not go as well as his first one. He did get to be one of the very first Major Leaguers to face Kyle Schwarber, though! Schwarber singled, advancing the batter Raburn walked to second. Then Raburn got a second out but was clearly fatigued, so David Murphy replaced him on the mound. And oh boy. Murphy would allow both of Raburn’s runners to score before giving up a grand slam to Kris Bryant. In yet another way, David Murphy was no Ryan Raburn.
Raburn has a $3 million team option for 2016, and it’s my opinion that this is a no-brainer: You pick it up, happily. But his name isn’t "Mike Aviles," so who knows what’ll happen.