The injury bug was biting in Philadelphia in 2010 and the fallout was dramatic. Over the course of the regular season, three quarters of the Philadelphia Phillies’ everyday regulars spent time on the disabled list for extended periods of time. With injuries to players like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz severely limiting manager Charlie Manuel’s ability to put his best lineup on the field daily, two regular players deserve credit for staying off of the disabled list in 2010—outfielders Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez.

However, with Werth having moved on to sign his mega-deal with the division rival Washington Nationals, the Phillies’ bill of health is looking fairly uncertain. Assuming that top prospect Domonic Brown emerges as the everyday right fielder for the 2011 season, he and Ibanez will be the only two Phillies that did not serve time on the disabled list last year, and even that could be a bit misleading.

All things considered, Ibanez had a good season in 2010, despite an unsettling decrease in his power totals. He posted an average slash line of .275/.349/.444, with 16 home runs and 83 RBI. For all of you stat buffs out there, that’s good enough for an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .793—eighth among qualifying left fielders in all of baseball.

As for his defense? Also relatively average. Taking a glance at standard defensive metrics, Ibanez played left field with relative ease. He made just two errors, helping him to a fielding percentage of .991—fourth among qualifying left fielders in 2010.

However, some advanced defensive metrics aren’t as fond of Ibanez’s play in the field. His ultimate zone rating (UZR) of minus-6.9 in left field for the Phillies was sixth among qualifying left fielders. Seeing as how the first five players on that list all posted positive ratings, being ranked sixth isn’t all too impressive.

Even still, the numbers Ibanez posted in 2010 were considered a down year to Phillies fans who expected him to replicate the highlights of his 2009 season—power and defense. With that in mind, he didn’t come close to matching the 34 home runs or 3.9 UZR from the year prior.

However, that isn’t the same as saying that the Phillies haven’t received their fair share of value out of the left fielder. According to the popular baseball statistics site, FanGraphs, the Phillies are actually getting what they paid for, and then some. By taking all stats—standard and advanced—into account, FanGraphs is able to calculate a player’s wins above replacement (WAR), and turn that into a player’s suggested value. Over the past two seasons, the Phillies have paid Ibanez $18 million. His suggested value over those two seasons? FanGraphs believes he was worth right around $24.7 million.

Despite that, fans were calling for Ibanez’s head by May after the left fielder got off to one of the slowest starts of his career. In the month of April, Ibanez posted an ugly slash line of .229/.341/.348, with just one home run.

While most people credited his slow start as being just that—a slow start—there was actually much more to it than that. Despite not spending time on the disabled list last season, Ibanez was far from healthy. Following the 2009 season, Ibanez underwent surgery to repair several abdominal tears, and was forced to train differently in the offseason as he recovered. He entered spring training before the 2010 season looking less than healthy, and his performance suffered.

By July, he was back on track. He posted a much better slash line of .337/.419/.533, with four home runs, before a wrist injury in August added yet another bothersome hitch to his swing. After a down month in the heat of the summer, he returned to being one of the Phillies’ most productive outfielders in September.

While some people were ready to write his 2010 season off as Ibanez being a streaky hitter, a couple of untimely injuries may have interrupted the flow of his game. In a recent interview with Comcast Sports Net in Philadelphia, he set out to put the 2010 season behind him, and prove that his new training regimen was going to put him back on the map in Philadelphia for the 2011 season.

When asked if he felt the pressure to perform in a contract year, the city of Philadelphia and with championship expectations, the bearded Ibanez told that he wasn’t feeling any pressure at all. “To me, pressure is a single mom trying to work two jobs trying to feed a family. I think that that’s pressure. I think that this is fun. Being in the situation that we’re in, it’s an amazing time to be a Phillie. It’s an amazing time to be a Phillies fan.”

He makes a few interesting points there. It certainly is a great time to be a Phillies fan. Having added Cliff Lee to a rotation that was already considered one of the best in baseball, high expectations are numerous. With those expectations come a certain amount of pressure, but like Ibanez said, the Phillies are handling that pressure in different ways.

As filmed by, Ibanez has taken to a rigorous training regiment to prove that he’s worth the $11.5 million the Phillies are set to pay him for his services in 2011. A healthy Ibanez could go a long way in helping the Phillies offense to rebound in 2011. Replacing Werth is not going to be a simple task, but a productive, bearded Ibanez is certainly a start.

Is he going to replicate his 2009 season? Probably not. That is a best-case scenario that the Phillies aren’t expecting. However, Ibanez is no longer an aging corner outfielder coming off of offseason surgery either. He’s training like he has something to prove this season, and like many members of the Phillies offense, he does.

While there’s certainly nothing he can do about that whole aging thing, Ibanez’s impressive offseason regiment has fans looking forward to the 2011 season, if they hadn’t been already. He’s positioned himself to put his 2010 woes behind him, and return to being one of the National League’s top left fielders in 2011.

The Phillies could certainly use that production, and Ibanez is ready to provide.

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