The Yankees are prepared to do battle against the Red Sox in the ALDS tonight. If the Bombers want to win and advance, they’re going to need someone to step up and have a huge series. Sometimes it’s a player who was consistently good all season long, like Didi Gregorius last year. Other times it’s an unexpected contributor who rises to the occasion, just as Raul Ibañez did in 2012.
Ibañez hit .240/.308/.453 with 19 home runs during his lone season with the Yankees. That doesn’t paint a full picture, however, as the DH-turned-outfielder struggled at the plate for most of the summer. Once the calendar flipped to September, however, a different version of Ibañez showed up. He simply transformed into one of the most clutch hitters I’ve ever witnessed.
The 40-year-old produced a .262/.338/.541 triple-slash with four home runs down the stretch. That included some important late-inning homers that gave the Bombers an advantage in their division fight against the Orioles. His heroics didn’t stop there, however, as Ibañez hit to a mind-boggling .318/.423/.773 line with three home runs in the playoffs. He almost singlehandedly powered New York ahead of Baltimore and into the ALCS.
To celebrate the special run Ibañez had, SB Nation produced this Season Spotlight video. It’s perfect for reliving that memorable year and all of those clutch dingers.
Who will be this year’s postseason hero? Luke Voit is my pick, but you probably can’t rule out a clutch pinch-hit home run by Neil Walker. If anyone hits anywhere near Ibañez’s level in 2012, then the Yankees should be in good shape.