Considering his age (40) and pre-season role as a pinch hitter, it was extremely easy to write off Raul Ibanez as a non-factor for the 2012 New York Yankees. However, after Brett Gardner suffered a wrist injury, Ibanez was thrust into the everyday lineup and has delivered time after time. While he doesn’t present much value defensively, Ibanez has carried a big stick, clubbing 12 home runs in 228 at-bats. Last night’s eighth inning grand slam off of Jason Frasor broke a 2-2 tie as the Yankees notched their AL-best 55th victory.¬†

While Ibanez has had his share of adventures in left field, the Yankees couldn’t ask for more out of their 40-year-old journeyman. It’s hard to believe that Ibanez has started 46 games in left field and only served as the DH 14 times. While Ibanez has clearly surpassed his pre-season expectations, Yankee fans will continue to expect more clutch hitting (and¬†serviceable¬†defensive play) from their left-handed masher. A few balls deposited in the right field stands won’t be too shabby, either.