Raul Ibanez’s incredible season continued last night against the Angels, as he went 3-for-4 with two home runs, a double, and three RBI as part of an 8-3 win.
Ibanez, who turned 41 last month, now has 24 home runs through just 71 games this season. And the power surge is putting him in some pretty select company for his age.
According to Baseball Reference, only six players (Barry Bonds did it twice) have hit more home runs in a season in their 40s. Darrell Evans is at the top of that list, as he hit 34 with the Tigers in his age-40 season in 1987. Only two players (including Bonds twice) have hit more in their age-41 season or later, with Ted Williams (29 home runs in 1960) leading the way. If Ibanez stays healthy, he has a legitimate chance to surpass all of them.
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.
While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.
Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.
I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.
On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.