Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 3/7/13
Veteran Presence, Good Game Interesting facts about Raul Ibanez: If Ibanez plays in 53 games this season, he will have played in 2,000 major league games in his career. Last season, while playing for the Yankees, Ibanez finished 24th in the AL MVP voting. There are multiple surprises with this fact, the first is that the results are exact all the way to 24th, the second is that someone felt his lowest amount of plate appearances and lowest batting average since 2001 was worthy of a vote over every other AL candidate. 2013 will be Ibanez’s eleventh season playing for the Seattle Mariners. Let’s avoid facts as much as we can and dive into love and hate for Mr. Ibanez. Love ‘Em 1. Pop Pop In 2007 and 2008, the Seattle Mariners felt that Ibanez was beginning to lose some of his power numbers, recording 21 and 23 home runs, respectively. In hind sight and in relation to the last 4 years in Seattle, those numbers sound great, but Raul has continued to have some power in slightly more limited plate appearances. M’s fans would love to see Raul crush home runs into the Hit it here Café. 2. Veteran Confidence It might be looked at as overconfidence, maybe even cockiness. That edge is what made Ibanez who he is–someone that never let a slump drag him down and let the good times roll on. Who could use that swagger? Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and Jesus Montero need that. Maybe his presence will help. 3. Pinch Hitting This is not the role he wants, but when he was called on to do with the Yankees, he showed moderate success. He hit .320 with a couple home runs a year ago, and hopefully that success flows into this season as well. Raul Ibanez is back with the Mariners and crushing it in spring training. Hate ‘Em 1. Desire to play I love his confidence, love his desire to help the team win and get the work done himself, but I am incredibly nervous that he will need playing time or he will be annoying in the clubhouse. Ibanez should play, Ibanez should not play over young OF’s like Casper Wells, Michael Saunders, or Eric Thames on a regular basis. 2. True downslide What we thought was happening in 2008, will actually happen in 2013. The decline in average and OBP have been acceptable with the continued power, but if the power starts to go, Ibanez doesn’t have much else to contribute. 3. Run production Yes, home runs are fantastic. Seattle misses them greatly. Every season since 2008, Ibanez has seen a decrease in RBI production. Are these home runs coming without men on base? Perhaps. But the reality is that Ibanez’s production to drive the runner home from second on a single are becoming less and less frequent. In the end, I am glad he is here. Hopefully a hot spring moves into a great 2013. CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE MARINERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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