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Despite age, Raul Ibanez still drawing lots of interest

Dec 8, 2013, 6:05 PM EST

Raul Ibanez Getty Getty Images

The list of players who are able to justify a roster spot at the age of 40 is relatively short. The list of 40-year-olds to bash 29 home runs is remarkably shorter. Maybe that’s why free agent Raul Ibanez, now 41, is still drawing interest. He finished 2013 with 29 dingers and an adjusted OPS 23 percent above average. It marked the 18th time in baseball history a player posted an adjusted OPS 20 percent higher than the league average (min. 450 plate appearances). The only other players to do it in this millennium were Barry Bonds (twice, 2006-07) and Edgar Martinez (2003).

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported on Twitter earlier that even National League teams are showing interest in Ibanez:

Ibanez will turn 42 years old on June 2, so 2014 will be viewed as his age-42 season (if he had been born on July 1 or later, it would have been his age-41 season). The last player to take enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title was Carlton Fisk in 1990. Only five other players, along with Fisk, have accomplished the feat since 1901: Pete Rose (1983), Carl Yazstrzemski (1982), Luke Appling (1949), Sam Rice (1932), and Honus Wagner (1916). With the exception of Rose, they are all Hall of Famers. Rose was also the only one of the six not to post an adjusted OPS above the league average.

Ibanez’s last home run — a solo shot against the Angels on September 21 — was the 300th of his career. Other career milestones he is likely to reach with another full, productive season:

  • 8,000 plate appearances (currently at 7,998)
  • 2,000 hits (currently at 1,993)
  • 425 doubles (currently at 416)
  • 50 triples (currently at 48)
  • 1,250 RBI (currently at 1,181)

Despite the impressive performance with the bat, Ibanez is a defensive nightmare in the outfield, so a National League team’s best bet is to use him at first base or off the bench, or otherwise let an American League team snap him up. He earned $2.75 million on a one-year deal with the Mariners last season.

  1. hittfamily - Dec 8, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    18th time*
    I have it on good authority that Albert Pujols is 49 years old.

    • aphillieated - Dec 8, 2013 at 6:37 PM

      You idiot.

      • hittfamily - Dec 8, 2013 at 7:21 PM

        Wow. A lot of people believe that I believe Albert was born in 1964. How do you turn on sarcasm font on wordpress?

  2. slaugin - Dec 8, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    Old? ✔️ Outfield? ✔️ Looks like the Yankees will be in on this one

    • johnnysoda - Dec 8, 2013 at 7:06 PM

      As much as I like Ibanez, there ain’t enough space for him on the Yankees. I figure he’ll probably be the DH for someone in 2014, then call it a career.

  3. denny65 - Dec 8, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Why shouldn’t the Mariners keep him? And bring Mr. Suzuki back, to boot?

  4. extavernmouse - Dec 8, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    Come back home to Seattle, Raul. We love you!

  5. tbk201 - Dec 8, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    He’s 40, perfect for the Yankees

    • NYTolstoy - Dec 8, 2013 at 9:13 PM

      I have been waiting for years for the Yankees to get younger but it seems not to happen. The best hope we ever see is guys age 29-30 more or less.

  6. genericcommenter - Dec 8, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    Only 18 players in history have a season with adjusted OPS better than 20% higher than average?

    I think there’s some information missing from that sentence.

  7. NYTolstoy - Dec 8, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    “an adjusted OPS 23 percent above average. It marked the 18th time in baseball history a player posted an adjusted OPS 20 percent higher than the league average” does this mean for players over 40? I would hope so other wise that’s hard to believe he was that’s good.

  8. NYTolstoy - Dec 8, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    “an adjusted OPS 23 percent above average. It marked the 18th time in baseball history a player posted an adjusted OPS 20 percent higher than the league average” does this mean for players over 40? I would hope so other wise that’s hard to believe he was that good.

  9. NYTolstoy - Dec 8, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    my apologies I don’t know how it posted twice? Odd never happened before.

  10. mmason0071 - Dec 9, 2013 at 2:10 AM

    Buyer beware on Ibanez. He’s a great guy but a klutz in the outfield and his impressive offensive numbers last year all came in one incredible burst in the 6 weeks before the All-Star break. After the break he did almost nothing with the bat – not a good sign for next year.

  11. dylanthom2013 - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:28 AM

    Think most teams for the sake of defensive versatility would want a DH that can play the field, e.g. 1B, LF, etc. The regular guy at the spot could swap spots with the DH and get a break. Guys like Morse and Hart can theoretically at least play 1B/corner OF while Ibanez is pretty brutal in the field.

  12. President Charles Logan - Dec 9, 2013 at 3:53 AM

    Retire Raul

  13. louhudson23 - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    While his continued offensive production is what the interest is based on,it does not hurt his cause that he continues to show a strong work ethic,a genuine joy at playing the game and quite .He can’t throw or catch very well,but his GAFF is through the roof.

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