Silencing The Slander Of Steroids Against Raul Ibañez

We’ve reached the All-Star Break and congratulations are in order to Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma for their election to the 2013 team!  I had hoped that Raul Ibañez would’ve made the roster for a second time, but no such luck. 

Perhaps one reason he didn’t make the team is because there are naysayers and skeptics who attribute his impressive numbers to something other than natural talent.  Such doubt casts a shadow on Ibañez’s amazing first half and is one of my pet peeves ever since his first season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009 when such chatter began.  For the record, Ibañez vehemently denies any steroid or PEDs use and he has never tested positive.

In order to silence such nonsense and in defense of a quality player on and off the field who doesn’t deserve such slander, here are three reasons to put pessimists in their place and argue why Ibañez is not juicing:

1.      In Good Company

Unlike professional basketball or football where players in their mid-thirties start knocking on the door of retirement, baseball is a sport where players can thrive past their expected prime.  Take pitcher Satchel Paige for example.  He holds two distinctions in MLB history as the oldest player to make an MLB debut (42 years old) and the oldest player to play in a regular season game (59 years old). 

One can argue that pitchers have a longer shelf life because of their sporadic playing time, as opposed to position players who play every day.  So how does Ibañez measure up to fellow fielders?  His numbers are special, but not unprecedented.  For one, there is Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams, who currently holds the record for most home runs by a 41-year-old (29) and he was also a left fielder like Ibañez.  There’s also Darrell Evans, a first and third baseman, who in 1985 at the age of 38 hit 40 home runs – he led the AL in home runs and was the oldest player to ever do so.  Then two seasons later, at age 40, he hit 34 home runs.

And of course there are other favorite Mariners who played well into their forties: Designated hitter Edgar Martinez hit 24 home runs and 98 RBIs at age 40. Pitcher Jamie Moyer at age 40 had the lowest ERA in his 25-year career at 3.27, and he went on to pitch nine more solid years in the MLB as a starting pitcher, which included becoming a World Series Champion at age 45. And shortstop Omar Vizquel, known for his defense, earned a total of eleven Gold Glove awards, two that were awarded at age 38 and 39 respectively.

2.      Proof  By Numbers

Throughout Ibañez’s 18-year career, he has always been a consistent player.  His numbers this season with the Mariners are on par with his career averages per season and not out of the ordinary – let’s compare some numbers:


This season (73 games):

Career Averages:

Batting Average



Home Runs












For fun, let’s use another player’s numbers for comparison.  Take Barry Bonds’ 2001 season numbers, when he was 36 years old, and compare them to his career averages. 


2001 Season:

Career Averages:

Batting Average



Home Runs






















Even though Bonds’ career averages over 22 years are inflated by his years of doping, they still demonstrate my point: with just a cursory look, there’s something questionable about the disparity in his basic numbers as a player and Ibañez’s numbers don’t raise such red flags.

3.      Like a Fine Wine

Ibañez simply improves with age – a late-bloomer, if you will – evidenced by the fact that many of his milestones occurred later, but progressively, in his career.  He entered the big leagues at age 24, but it was almost a decade later, at age 32 when his batting average as a Mariner was .304, the best of his career.  Or how about when he was 34-years-old, he had a career-high 123 RBIs.  Then at age 36 and 37, he had a career-high 186 hits and 34 home runs respectively.

There are even more factors to consider that would support my argument for Ibañez’s untainted success – like the fact he looks the same and never physically bulked up like other famous juicers, how dimensions of different fields and hitter-friendly parks are contributing factors to his offense, or the straight-up benefit of a long career and that practice and experience can improve any skill set.

Bottom line: Raul Ibañez deserves recognition across the league and he earned a place at Citi Field on Tuesday.  But even though he may not be an official All-Star this year, he’s certainly one to Mariners fans.         

Carina Fung

About Carina Fung

Carina is a native Seattlite and a die-hard Seattle sports fan: Sonics, Mariners, Seahawks, Huskies -- in that order. On her sports bucket list, she would love to see: the OKC Thunder restored as the Seattle Sonics, the Mariners win the pennant, and the Seahawks beat the "Stealers" in a Super Bowl! Oh, and visit every baseball stadium in the U.S. (seven down, 23 to go)!