Did Wrist Injury In Spring Training Zap His Power?
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Ryan Raburn was in the midst of a season that far exceeded the expectations the Indians had for him when they signed him as a minor league free agent in January of 2013.
In 2013 spanning 277 plate appearances he posted a slash line of .272/.357/.543 and belted 16 homers and was an instrumental part of the teams ability to hit southpaws .
His performance led the Indians to sign him to a 2-year contract extension that will pay him $4.85MM over the 2015-2016 season and includes a club option for $3MM in 2016 ($100K buyout).
His Cactus League season off to a good start hitting 6 for 10 with two homers, two doubles, and four RBI before injuring his right wrist and bruised his knee as he slammed into the wall chasing a home run off the bat of Kris Bryant. He finished the Cactus League season hitting .353 (12 for 34) with three homers and 11 runs driven in.
Why bring this up? Honestly, it’s the only positive Raburn carried with him through the 2014 season which turned out to be an utter disaster beginning in April where he hit .166. His month by month averages were April (.166), May (.260), June (.182), July (.188), and August (.111). But it also shines light on an injury to his wrist that may have lingered through the season depleting his power and ability to drive the ball.
Not only was his hitting atrocious but his glove work in the outfield leading SBNations Kurt Mensching to coin the term:
"Raburning (n) [ray-bur-ning] — The sensation of allowing the other team to score in the most embarrassing of ways – video links here"
In September he got off to a good start (3 for 8 with a homer) before hurting his knee diving for a ball in right field which required season ending surgery for a torn meniscus.
The season ended up being a complete loss for Raburn who hit just .200 (39-for-195) with four homers and 22 RBI. He has made a career out of being reliable against left handed pitching but only hit .195 (24 for 123) against them in 2014.
After his struggles in 2014 there are many pundits that will write that the Indians erred in signing him to the contract extension. They’ll suggest that the team jumped the gun and bought high on a career season.
If his contract was representative of the Indians expecting him to continue the production showed in 2014 (see Jeff Keppinger Chicago White Sox) then those voices would have merit but his contract stayed in line with what the Indians expected moving forward.
The Indians signed him to be a weak side platoon who could provide a little power off the bench. There is no reason to believe that a 100% healthy Raburn can’t come back in 2015 and provide the Indians a season that makes them think about his 2016 option. It won’t take long in 2015 to see how much the wrist injury in spring training 2014 affected him at the plate.