MLB: Minnesota Twins at Seattle Mariners

Baseball is a young man’s game. There aren’t many players still producing into their forties. Raul Ibanez is not “many players.” If you wondered who authored the best age-41 season in baseball history, you might be surprised to learn that Raul Ibanez is in there with a shout.

Rk Player HR Year Age Tm AB BA OBP SLG Pos
1 Raul Ibanez 29 2013 41 SEA 454 .242 .306 .487 *7D/H9
2 Barry Bonds 28 2007 42 SFG 340 .276 .480 .565 *7H/D
3 Barry Bonds 26 2006 41 SFG 367 .270 .454 .545 *7H/D
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 12/18/2013.

No other player hit more home runs at 41 than Ibanez did for the Mariners last season. Not only did Ibanez hit that well, he put up these wholly respectable numbers while spending far too much time in left field. With J.B. Shuck and Kole Calhoun ready to compete for that outfield slot, the path is clear to keep Ibanez far from the outfield. Far, far from the field. Maybe just go ahead and leave your glove at home this year, Raul.

The Angels shouldn’t ask Ibanez to play the outfield much but they will use him in as a DH, spending time there when Albert Pujols is at first base. He gives the Angels some pop from the left side of the plate, pushing marginal bats like Hank Conger and Grant Green farther down the DH depth chart.

It is hard to fault the signing of a hard-working and respected veteran to a reasonable one-year deal. Raul Ibanez isn’t the difference between the playoffs and another bust season for Anaheim but he can contribute in very real ways.

Angels fans should be excited by the addition while quietly wondering if the money going to Ibanez, insignificant as it might be, wouldn’t be better spent somewhere else. The Angels are doing whatever they can to address the glaring holes in the 2013 roster, but it remains hard to see how much better than can get without adding another good starter.

The Angels have very little wriggle room right now, thanks to the big contracts doled out to Josh Hamitlon, Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver. In a way, Jerry Dipoto deserves some credit for making the most of the limited resources available to make his team better. Hector Santiago, David Freese, Raul Ibanez, and Tyler Skaggs don’t really quicken the pulse but together it does look like an improved team.

All they need now is their injury-prone and aging superstars to resume being superstars while leaving out the aging and injured things and they’re good to go! Direct a few prayers towards the deity across the clubhouse and hope for the best, I suppose.

Comments (5)

  1. Upwards of $5M for a player who’s been worth 0.2 fWAR over the last 4 (FOUR!) seasons seems like a waste. That’s more than half of what they’re paying Howie Kendrick in 2014 who projects at roughly 3 WAR.

    Loading a crop duster with Ibanez’ salary and flying it over Angels Stadium would probably result in more added value than this contract.

    • Only 2.75 guaranteed and only needs to DH/is much better than their internal options.

      • ZiPS Angels isn’t out yet, but Steamer has Ibanez down for a 97 wRC+. Pretty sure they can find some AAA scrub for league minimum who can do better than that.

        Just looking at the Fangraphs Depth Charts and Grant Effing Green is listed at a .319 wOBA vs. Ibanez .315.

        I know: projections, but still.

        • If an AAA scrub can post league-average offense, he ain’t a minor league scrub.

          Could well be short-sighted on their behalf, but Ibanez was really good last year, though he tired as the season progressed. Keep him out of the field and he might give real pop off the bench. And if he turns into a 42-year old pumpkin, you say thanks and send him on his way.

          • With no defensive requirement? 600 DH PAs @ ~100 wRC+ isn’t much more than replacement level. Maybe 0.5 – 1 WAR. That’s scub neighbourhood.

            Ex. Adam Dunn is projected by Steamer to post a .335 wOBA in 579 PA which is good for 0.7 WAR. [http://www.fangraphs.com/projections.aspx?pos=dh&stats=bat&type=steamer&team=0&players=0&sort=19,d]

            Nitpicking, yes, but arguably a questionable move for a team with financial issues.

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