Author: Matthew Pouliot

Raul Ibanez

Raul Ibanez hits 18th homer, on pace for major league record


Raul Ibanez hit his ninth homer of June and 18th of the season Wednesday against the Pirates, putting him on record pace for a 41-year-old.

No player has ever hit 30 homers at age 41 or beyond. Ted Williams tops the list with 29 at age 41 in his last season prior to retirement. Barry Bonds hit 26 at 41 and 28 in 42 before he was forced out of the league. Here’s the list of players 41 and over:

1. Ted Williams – 29 – (41, 1960)
2. Barry Bonds – 28 – (42, 2007)
3. Barry Bonds – 26 – (41, 2006)
4. Darrell Evans – 22 – (41, 1988)
5. Dave Winfield – 21 – (41, 1993)
6. Stan Musial – 19 – (41, 1962)
7. Carlton Fisk – 18 – (42, 1990)
7. Carlton Fisk – 18 – (43, 1991)
7. Raul Ibanez – 18 – (41, 2013)
10. Craig Nettles – 16 – (41, 1986)
10. Carl Yastrzemski – 16 – (42, 1982)

So, with 83 games still left in the Mariners’ season, Ibanez is sixth in homers among 41-year-olds and tied for seventh among anyone 41 or over. Even more impressive is that he’s gotten there while playing in just 58 of the Mariners’ 79 games so far. He certainly figures to fade from here, but given that his approach now is much more geared towards homers than singles and doubles, there’s a realistic chance he’ll get to 30 and set the record.

R.A. Dickey shuts out Rays in no time flat

R.A. Dickey

Well, technically, it was 2 hours and 10 minutes. Still, it was a breeze.

Toronto’s R.A. Dickey, finally throwing his knuckler with authority again, pitched a two-hitter Wednesday against the Rays for his first shutout and complete game of the season. Dickey entered with a 5.15 ERA in 16 starts. He had three shutouts and five complete games while winning NL Cy Young honors last season.

Largely due to a back injury, Dickey hasn’t been throwing his knuckleball as hard this year as he was previously. Today, though, he was often hitting 77-78 mph on the gun with the pitch, which is about what he averaged last year. And he was still getting great movement, obviously. He ended up striking out six and walking one.

Dickey threw just 93 pitches on the day, the second lowest total in a complete-game this season. The Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann threw 91 pitches in his one-hit shutout against the Reds on April 26.

Diamondbacks, Dodgers brawl after Zack Greinke gets drilled

Miguel Montero, Yasiel Puig

The fourth hit by pitch of Tuesday’s game between the Diamondbacks and Dodgers finally did the trick; Ian Kennedy nailed Zack Greinke in the shoulder in the bottom of the seventh, touching off a modest brawl.

Punches were thrown after the benches and bullpens cleared, but most of the action was limited to yelling and shoving. Actually, the confrontation between Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire and Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and third-base coach Matt Williams was the most interesting to follow, as McGwire was holding both guys and looked like he wanted to throw some punches.

Watch the entire brawl here

Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross was the first batter hit tonight, and the Diamondbacks responded by hitting Yasiel Puig in the sixth. Greinke came back and drilled Miguel Montero in the back in top of the seventh. Both of those latter two appeared intentional, and the benches cleared after Montero was hit. Given what was most likely coming, it was pretty surprising Dodgers manager Don Mattingly sent Greinke out to hit in the bottom of the seventh. Sure enough, the first pitch was right up by his head and he took it off the shoulder, not far from where his left collarbone was broken after Carlos Quentin charged the mound back in April.

Kennedy is a lock for a suspension after making that throw, and MLB should ensure that it’s a good one. It’s one thing to intentionally hit someone, but there’s no excuse for going anywhere near a guy’s head. While pitchers are never suspended for more than one start for on-field incidents, MLB should make a statement and sit Kennedy for at least 12 games.

Greinke is also due a suspension for his intentional plunking of Montero, even if he wasn’t thrown out. It looked like he’d leave after the HBP, but he came back out of the dugout and stayed in to run. He even tried a takeout slide at second on a double-play ball afterwards. He didn’t come back out for the eighth, though.

Puig, who was ejected, could also get suspended for 2-5 games based on his actions as one of the instigators in the scrum. Dodgers relievers J.P. Howell and Ronald Belisario also made themselves front and center in the mix and should be looking at bans.

It’s probably safe to say Gibson and McGwire are looking at one- or two-game suspensions as well. Mattingly, for what it’s worth, was not ejected from the game.

So, someone is going to have to be the AL Rookie of the Year, right?

Jose Iglesias

The AL fired off all its rounds with a 2012 rookie class that featured Mike Trout, Yu Darvish, Yoenis Cespedes, Jarrod Parker, Hisashi Iwakuma, Matt Moore, Tommy Milone and many others. This year, the strong rookie class is in the other league, with Shelby Miller, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Julio Teheran leading the way and Yasiel Puig potentially putting in a charge.

The AL class, on the other hand, is extraordinarily weak 40 percent of the way through the season.

Here are all the AL rookies with 100 at-bats:

Aaron Hicks (CF Twins): .179/.249/.326, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 4 SB in 190 AB
Conor Gillaspie (3B White Sox): .248/.313/.360, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB in 161 AB
J.B. Shuck (OF Angels): .278/.324/.349, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 0 SB in 126 AB
Brandon Barnes (OF Astros): .282/.341/.419, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 4 SB in 117 AB
Robbie Grossman (OF Astros): .198/.310/.243, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB in 111 AB

Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias, hitting a completely unsustainable .446/.494/.581 in 74 at-bats, has been the league’s top position rookie so far. Still, the true rays of hope come in the form of the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar (.258/.315/.379 in 66 AB), the Twins’ Oswaldo Arcia (.255/.318/.449 in 98 AB) and the Mariners’ Nick Franklin (.250/.353/.455 in 44 AB).

The pitching side isn’t much better. Six AL rookies have made at least five starts so far:

Nick Tepesch (Rangers): 3-5, 3.92 ERA, 45/16 K/BB in 62 IP
Justin Grimm (Rangers): 5-3, 5.25 ERA, 51/20 K/BB in 60 IP
Dan Straily (Athletics): 3-2, 4.67 ERA, 44/15 K/BB in 52 IP
Brandon Maurer (Mariners): 2-7, 6.93 ERA, 32/17 K/BB in 49 1/3 IP
Pedro Hernandez (Twins): 2-1, 5.85 ERA, 17/10 K/BB in 32 1/3 IP
Brad Peacock (Astros): 1-3, 8.07 ERA, 23/17 K/BB in 29 IP

Those last three are all back in the minors now.

And while some relievers have enjoyed moderate success (Ryan Pressly, Preston Claiborne, Cody Allen and Alex Torres most notably), none of them are threatening for closing gigs. There doesn’t seem to be an Addison Reed or a Sean Doolittle in the bunch.

A couple of rookies will emerge as the year goes on. Tampa Bay’s Wil Myers should debut soon. Seattle called up Mike Zunino today. Profar and Arcia could force their teams to play them regularly. Baltimore’s Kevin Gausman and Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer could start fulfilling their potential, and maybe Bruce Rondon will yet factor into the closing mix for Detroit. Still, as of June 11, we’re probably looking at either Nick Tepesch or Jose Iglesias as the AL Rookie of the Year and that’s pretty hard to fathom.