Richie Ashburn was arguably the Phillies greatest outfielder in the history of this beloved franchise. You can argue before my time legends such as Ed Delahanty a hall of famer who dominates the Phillies record books. You have other greats from Chuck Klein to Del Ennis, or fan favorites like Lenny Dykstra and Pat Burrell. Who can forget Gold Glove winner Bobby Abreu (sarcastic laugh at the Gold Glove reference). When you think outfielders for the Philadelphia Phillies immediately Shane Victorino comes to mind, as well as exiled to the D-League Jayson Werth, and future star Domonic Brown. Raul Ibanez seems to be the forgotten son.
On December 16, 2008 Raul Ibanez signed a 3-year, $31. 5 million deal with the Phightins. Not even three weeks into his first season in Philly Raul hit a 2-run walk off homerun and marked the beginning of the RAUUUUUULLLL phest in South Philly. The love hate relationship of former left fielder Pat Burrell was officially over and a new man crush had taken its place. In 2009 Raul turned in a note worthy performance driving in 93 RBI’s, with 34 HR’s, 32 doubles, a .272 avg., while scoring 93 runs, posting career numbers in HR’s, OPS, and slugging percentage. Exceeding Burrell’s 2008 stats in nearly every category while providing a much improved defensive left fielder. In the 2009 World Series Ibanez batted .302 with four doubles, a homerun, and four RBI’s.
In 2010 Ibanez got off to a horrid start leaving phans wondering whether the 38-year olds career was on the down slope. The constant RAUUUUUUULLLS on the field or at the plate started to happen less frequently. In early June Ibanez’s average was getting increasingly close to the Mendoza Line and his power numbers were almost nonexistent. In the second half of the season he became one of the most consistent hitters for the Phillies down the stretch during a team hitting dry spell that could have drained out the Schuylkill River. Despite his strong second half surge his power numbers for 2010 still were low with only 16 HR’s and a slugging percentage of only .444 compared to .552 in 2009.
The truth remains Raul is one of the hardest working men in baseball, possibly 1B to Doc Halladay’s 1A. For a 38 year old Ibanez keeps his body in better shape than most players in their twenties. In each of the last ten seasons Raul has hit over 30 doubles, at least 89 or more RBI’s in 7 of 10 seasons, 20 or more HR’s in 6 of 10, and 70 or more runs scored in 8 of 10. There is reason to believe that with a healthy season and the offense around him his numbers will improve from 2010. Charlie will be looking to players like Ibanez to pick up their production to replace recently departed Werth.
So do not lose hope in our “aging” left fielder fore he has many more playing days ahead. Domonic Brown is still progressing to big league level status and Ibanez provides a valuable asset to the team. He has more heart and a more intense work ethic than most big league hungry prospects. The thing Phillie phans love and respect is a player who comes to the park every day ready to play, puts his work in, and does it with pride. Those are the characteristics that embody Raul Ibanez and the type of player he is. So on April 1st when number 29 graces left field for the first time in 2011 I can’t wait to hear the Bank erupt with echoes of RAUUUUUULLLLLLL!