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Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Ibanez aging gracefully

MLB Notebook: Ibanez aging gracefully

MLB Notebook: Ibanez aging gracefully

In 1960, Ted Williams -- playing in his final campaign -- posted the highest OPS in history (1.096) for a player with at least 100 games in his age-41 season or older. That year, Williams hit 14 homers in only 123 at-bats during the first half of the season. No player before had been as old as him and had entered the All-Star break with as many home runs. Nearly 20 years later, Willie McCovey matched that feat, hitting 14 homers as a 41-year-old in the first half the 1979 season. And then almost 30 years after McCovey, Barry Bonds -- playing in his age-42 season -- entered the 2007 All-Star break with 17 home runs.

These three members of the 500-homer club were the authors of a combined 1,804 long balls. And yet Raul Ibanez --when it comes to being in an age-41 (or older) season and collecting home runs before the Midsummer Classic -- has them all beat.

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Ibanez went 4-for-5 on Thursday, hitting his 21st home run and driving in three to raise his RBI total to 49, in the Mariners' 5-4 loss to the Rangers. He is the only player to be in his age-40 or older season and have at least 20 homers and 40 RBIs before the All-Star break.

Ibanez tied Dave Winfield (1993) for the fifth-most homers in a full year for a player in his age-41 or older season. The men ahead of him: Williams (29 in '60), Bonds (28 in 2007 and 26 in '06), and Darrell Evans (22 in 1988).

Beltre making history
Adrian Beltre homered twice and added a single in Texas' win over Seattle.

Among all third basemen (75 percent of their games at third) through their age-34 seasons, Beltre ranks first in hits and doubles, second in extra-base hits and total bases, and third in homers and RBIs.

Beltre is currently sitting on 875 extra-base hits and 3,958 total bases. In baseball history, 16 players have reached 900 extra-base hits through their age-34 season, and 19 players have reached 4,000 total bases through that age-season.

Cuddyer not slowing down
Michael Cuddyer went 2-for-3 with a homer, three runs scored and three RBIs, and the Rockies defeated the Dodgers, 9-5. Cuddyer is playing in his age-34 season, and is currently sitting on a .343/.396/.594 slash line. He is second in the National League in batting average, third in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage and first in OPS.

From 1933-2012, 14 players in their age-34 or older season have finished the first half of the year with a line that features a batting average of at least .340 and a slugging percentage of at least .600 (min. 250 plate appearances). Lou Gehrig was the first to do it -- entering the 1937 All-Star break with a .368 average and a .644 slugging mark -- and Chipper Jones, in 2008, was the most recent, finishing his first half that season with a .376 average and a .614 slugging percentage.

Segura thriving early
Brewers shortstop Jean Segura went 2-for-3 with two steals, giving him 108 hits and 26 stolen bases for the year. Segura is playing in his age-23 season.

Segura's 108 first-half hits are the second most for any Brewers player in his age-23 or younger season. In 1979, Paul Molitor (age-22 season) had 114 hits before the All-Star break. Segura is the 14th player in his age-23 or younger season to collect at least 100 hits and at least 25 steals before the All-Star break. The first to do it was George Case in 1939, and the most recent before Segura was Hanley Ramirez in 2007.

Mets' homers in extras not enough
In their loss to the D-backs, the Mets got a pair of game-tying home runs in extra innings. Anthony Recker (13th inning) and Kirk Nieuwenhuis (14th inning) were responsible for the two.

The last time a team had two extra-inning, game-tying home runs and still lost the contest, the Mets were involved and the game also started on July 4. In 1985, during the Braves' epic 19-inning loss to the Mets, Atlanta got a game-tying, two-run homer in the 13th from Terry Harper, and then a game-tying solo shot in the 18th from Rick Camp.

Thursday's game marked the first in Mets history in which the club produced two extra-inning, game-tying home runs.

Here and there
• Dustin Pedroia doubled, singled and drove in a pair of runs as the Red Sox defeated the Padres, 8-2. Pedroia is tied for fourth in the Majors in multi-hit games, is second in the Majors in most games reaching safely at least twice, and he is fourth in the Majors in times on base.

• Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond went 3-for-4, scored two runs and had two steals in Washington's win over Milwaukee. Since the start of the 2012 season, Desmond leads all Major League shortstops in doubles, home runs, RBIs, total bases, extra-base hits and slugging (min. 600 plate appearances for all rate stats).

• Adam Dunn hit his ninth career walk-off home run, as the White Sox defeated the Orioles, 3-2. Dunn's nine tie him for the third most among active players, with David Ortiz having 11, Albert Pujols having 10 and Alex Rodriguez also having nine.

• Ichiro Suzuki had his 243rd career game with three or more hits, helping the Yankees to a 9-5 win over the Twins. This effort marked the ninth time in his career Suzuki had fallen a homer shy of the cycle. Since 1916, Paul Waner had the most such games, having fallen a homer shy of the cycle 27 times. Stan Musial owns the second most games, with 20. Among active players, Jimmy Rollins -- with 10 -- has the most.

• Cubs left-hander Travis Wood received a no-decision after allowing three hits and a walk in six scoreless innings. For the season, Wood is 5-6 with a 2.69 ERA and a 0.979 WHIP. Wood is one of two qualifying pitchers this season to currently own a WHIP below 1.00 and a losing record. Fellow Chicago pitcher -- White Sox southpaw Chris Sale -- is the other. In the live-ball era, only one pitcher -- Milwaukee's Ben Sheets in 2004 -- has finished a season with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, a WHIP below 1.00 and a winning percentage below .500. In '04, Sheets was 12-14 with a 0.983 WHIP.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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