Defending Raul Ibanez: He Isn't the First to Defy Age

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Defending Raul Ibanez: He Isn't the First to Defy Age
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Much has been made of the blogger who dared put the words "Raul Ibanez" and "steroids" in the same headline.

Some people were outraged. Some people were outraged by the outrage. Most people just wondered if and when the shadow of performance-enhancing drugs will ever leave baseball alone.

No matter your stance on that debate, the reality is that Ibanez is having a career year at the age of 37.

Naturally, when a 37-year-old outfielder emerges from 13 years of relative obscurity in Seattle and Kansas City into the spotlight of Philadelphia, and does so with a bang (21 bangs to this point), it will inevitably draw attention.

Ibanez is currently second in the majors with 21 home runs and first in slugging percentage at .674. His career highs in those categories are 33 (2006) and .537 (2002) respectively.

With 58 games played so far this season, he is currently on pace to hit around 58 bombs. Should Ibanez hit 58 home runs (which is unlikely), that would represent a 152 percent increase from the 23 homers he hit in 2008.

Remember that percentage. We'll come back to it later.

All the hubbub surrounding Ibanez and his apparent discovery of the Fountain of Youth got me thinking: Is it rare for a player to peak in his late 30s?

Absolutely. Most players don't even last that long.

But for a player who has put up consistently good numbers at the plate or on the mound over a number of years, is it that rare for success to continue or even increase at a late age?

I didn't think so. We're not talking about NFL running backs here. David Wells threw a perfect game at the age of 35 while overweight and hungover. Is it so far-fetched to think someone could reach career highs at 37 just by taking care of his body and utilizing 13 years of experience?

My research was by no means exhaustive, but I found a few notable examples to support my theory. And you can forget about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens—some of the names on this list might surprise you.

These examples are presented for the sole purpose of showing that it is possible for a 37-year-old with a history of solid hitting to reach career highs that late in his career. Just throwing some more wood on the fire, if you will.

I'd love to hear your comments.

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