The early returns came to our newsroom at about 4 p.m. Sunday: Raul Ibanez is a hell of an offensive player.
Just innings after misplaying a line drive and grounding into a defeating double play, the new left fielder strode to the plate, hearing a collection of boos and “Rauuuuls.” Ryan Howard stood at first, the game stood at a one-run deficit, the crowd stood to attention and Ibanez locked in: One mammoth 2-0 swing later, and Ibanez rounded the bases — the bell chiming, the crowd rejoicing and Harry Kalas’ trademark call serenading him home.
Now Ibanez is a Phillie.
Sure we’re looking at small sample sizes (11 games), but so far, Ibanez has earned his keep in Philadelphia, regardless of the late-game heroics. Here are the numbers, with National League ranks in parenthesis:
Runs: 12 (T2)
Hits: 17 (T3)
Doubles: 4 (T4)
Home Runs: 5 (T1)
Total Bases: 38 (1)
On-Base Percentage: .438 (14)
Slugging Percentage: .864 (1)
Batting Average: .386 (5)
The most important statistics for our sake are the total bases and slugging percentage. Now, notice that I didn’t list runs batted in — his 10 make him tied for sixth in the National League. So, here’s a thought: What about moving Ibanez to the three-hole, pushing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard each down one spot in the lineup? It’s early, but the Phils could take full advantage of their hottest hitters this way.
That said, Ibanez is so far earning his keep.