Raul Ibanez is ridiculous. I have experienced the following emotions as the season as progressed, culminating in last night's two home run performance.
3) Maniacal laughter.
The first two are basically the same, but there's a subtle difference. Over the course of this run, we went from "he can't keep this up" to "he's not really keeping this up, is he?" to the third point, which is now my stupid, smug grin.
Ibanez is 41. This doesn't happen. There's a reason he's going to pass records (home runs at age 41) set by two of the greatest baseball players of all time in Ted Williams and Barry Bonds. One was aided by something illegal, and the other was basically Jesus Christ in a baseball uniform. Now, Raul Ibanez is just five homers away from breaking that record. Ibanez has more home runs in his 40s than in his 20s.
Ibanez's signing was confusing to many of us. It seemed like perhaps the Mariners were pandering to nostalgia yet again, or maybe they were putting too much weight on that veteran presence which didn't seem to do a thing for young Mariner hitters in years past. Ibanez hit .208/.269/.365 away from Yankee Stadium last season, and was worth about a win after costing his team a win and a half for Philly in 2011. He joined a team full of 1B/DH types, and we were going to be subjected to a year's worth of Raul Ibanez takes pride in his defense gifs, which would provide some laughter. Ibanez would hit some dingers, he'd continue to be in decline, and he could ride off into the sunset, ending his career where it began.
Instead, Ibanez has been one of baseball's best hitters. He's 20th in wOBA. He's 16th in wRC+. He's 4th in ISO. Put this into perspective - Miguel Cabrera has an ISO of .314. Ibanez is at .312.
Ibanez is hitting a home run every 12 PA. When Roger Maris hit 61 home runs, he averaged a home run every 11.44 PA. When Ken Griffey Jr. hit 56 home runs and won MVP in 1997, he averaged a home run every 12.57 PA.
Let this sink in. Ibanez's total home run number could be even higher if he had equal PA to the others on the leaderboard. He'd be on pace for over 50. His dinger frequency is up there with some of the greatest home run seasons in MLB history.
Mariner fans are familiar with how streaky Ibanez can be, but his hot streaks usually lasted a month, not over half a season. Nobody know if this will continue, and nobody knows how this will continue.
I'm ready to let go of all rational thoughts and analysis. He probably won't keep this up, but I don't care. This is one of the most improbable, miraculous runs from a Mariner we've seen in years. Forget his shortcomings and don't try to make sense of it.
The Mariners aren't making the postseason in 2013. Ibanez is a free agent, the trade deadline is approaching, and nobody knows what the Mariners are going to do. It could be awesome, it could be disappointing, it could be nothing at all. Right now, all I want to do is close my eyes and enjoy the ride. I suggest you do the same, because this is really, really fun.