Despite the recent surge, Tampa's hitting coach, Justin Turner says Ibarra's power isn't something they really expect. It's more a product of a few good pitches and staying true to an approach.
"I wouldn't go as far to call him a power guy," said Turner. "I think he's run into some balls. It's a good swing. He's got a very repeatable swing where he keeps his head on contact a long time. He's just back-spinning some balls."
Turner's assessment of Ibarra's potential falls in line with the 23-year-old's career stats. He had a combined five homers in five seasons before this year's campaign.
But it's not just the home run numbers that have increased. He's already broken his career high for doubles (17), RBIs (34), and he's on pace for his highest slugging percentage yet. By 50 points.
"I worked a lot in the weight room in Mexico," said Ibarra. "I talked to my coaches and I think I've gotten a better swing."
Ibarra looks a bit bigger than his 180 registered weight suggests. It's obvious that as he's aged he has put on some weight and strength to become more than just a small-ball, speed threat. Although he stole 15 bases in 2010, he only recorded 14 RBIs.
The changes in the swing are most evident. What used to be a long slow process has turned into a short compact stroke. He says the change in approach is letting him pull inside pitches, especially fastballs, much better.
In years past, he would try to push an inside heater toward the middle but now he's getting the bat head in front of him and driving it into right field. Although he's a switch hitter, he's seen much more time against righties. The splits are pretty even except for RBIs, where he has just 4 of his 34 against lefties.
Ibarra bats near the top of Tampa's lineup, often second, so a high on-base percentage would be expected. That not necessarily so in this case. Although Ibarra's 40 strikeouts are not bad, his 13 walks aren't too impressive either. Coach Turner says it's a result of Ibarra's uncanny ability to make contact with almost anything.
"We'd like to see that on-base percentage go up," Turner said. "But at the same time, you don't want a player to lose his aggressiveness. That's part of the reason he's a good hitter."
"He's just asking questions non-stop," Coach Tuner added. "He's just been a joy for me to work with as far as hitting goes. He's an extremely intelligent player."
Ibarra and Turner agree that consistency is the biggest key to the second baseman's game.
"I've got goals but I don't like to talk about them,Ó Ibarra said. "Every day I just want to fight and fight and fight."