Ibanez still hot after two weeks on DL

Raul Ibanez is performing at a top-five level, ahead of players like Ryan Braun, Torii Hunter, Jason Bay and Brad Hawpe.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - For those fantasy owners who thought that Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez might cool off after spending two weeks on the disabled list - sorry.

Ibanez has continued his onslaught of National League pitchers, batting .333 for his abbreviated month of July (he returned from the DL on July 11) with four home runs, 12 RBIs, a slugging percentage of .888 and an OPS of 1.267.

The most interesting part of those numbers is how Ibanez, a career .270 hitter against lefthanded pitchers, has changed that trend in 2009. Heading into last night's game, Ibanez was batting .305 against lefties with an OPS almost 300 points higher than average - 1.030 versus 0.754.

An what did Ibanez do in the first inning against Chicago Cubs lefthander Ted Lilly last night?...hit a three-run home run, of course.

For the season, Ibanez has 25 HRs, 68 RBIs and batting average of .315 and an OPS of 1.048. Not bad for an outfielder who had an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 107 before the season began and was ranked as the 31st-best fantasy outfielder.

He's performing at a top-five level, ahead of players like Ryan Braun, Torii Hunter, Jason Bay and Brad Hawpe.

As I posed in a late April article, the question is whether he can continue at this pace. Hitting lefthanders is a must for Ibanez and the Phillies since they have such a left-handed dominant lineup.

So far this season, despite the middle of the Phillies lineup being 75% left- handed (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Ibanez, Jayson Werth), the team is 22-11 (.667) in games where the opposition started a lefty. That is significantly better than last year's .592 win percentage which had the righthanded Pat Burrell in left field instead of Ibanez.

In April I suggested that Ibanez might be playing over his head and a trade while he was at peak value might be in order. I was wrong and I'm big enough to admit it.

Ibanez has never been surrounded by this kind of offensive talent when he was playing in Kansas City and Seattle and he's seeing plenty of good pitches. That's likely to continue as is his hitting.

If you own Ibanez on your fantasy team, enjoy the ride for the rest of the season. It should be fun.

2009 Raul Ibanez Statistics by Month
April 78 20 28 7 17 3 0.359 0.718 1.151
May 109 20 34 10 29 1 0.312 0.661 1.027
June 63 11 16 5 13 0 0.254 0.571 0.870
July 27 7 10 4 12 0 0.333 0.888 1.267

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.