I will project each player for the 2009 season — six per day for the next five days. Do the same in the comments.
Carlos Ruiz, C (RHB)
2008: 320 AB / 47 R / 4 HR / 31 RBI / 44 BB / 38 SO / 1 SB / .219 AVG / .320 OBP / .300 SLG
Summary: Offensively, it was Carlos Ruiz’s poorest season yet as a major leaguer. Both his averages and counting numbers were down considerably from his strong 2007 season. He started weak and couldn’t raise his head above .250, cooling off after lukewarm May and August stretches. He did improve his numbers against left-handed pitching, but saw little time since Chris Coste has strong splits against lefties. Interestingly Ruiz was much better on the road (.251/.348/331) than at home (.179/.286/.262). Ruiz’s defense was a slight drop from 2007, but “Chooch” remained a solid defensive backstop. And what he lost in offense he gained in adulation for handling the pitching staff, though ERAs don’t exactly indicate he made much of a difference. Still, comfort means something, and pitchers love Ruiz’s habits as receiver.
Career Level: Prime (Year 1)
Green Flags: Ruiz’s poor offense might be a product of luck. In 2008 he was disciplined, swinging at pitches outside the strike zone 14.8 percent of the time and making contact in apperances 90.8 percent of the time. His strikeout and walk numbers show that, as well. … Now in his prime, Ruiz should be gaining more power in 2009. … His lefty splits show there was improvement in one area offensively.
Red Flags: You cannot turn a blind eye when every statistic drops from the year before. … Ruiz hasn’t caught part of more than 117 games, and handling a platoon is always an indicator of lessened quality. … Durability is always a prime concern with catchers, especially as Ruiz caught every game of the postseason, as well.
Prognostication: Every projection has Ruiz improving on his 2008 numbers, and that seems very likely. The intelligent theory is Ruiz hit into some outs, and isn’t as poor a hitting catcher as his 2008 statistics show. He’ll likely shun the platoon at catcher, so it’s possible Ruiz breaks the 125-game mark in 2009. His counting numbers should rise suitably, while his averages swim toward his career averages.
2009 Projection: 371 AB / 43 R / 8 HR / 42 RBI / 50 BB / 47 SO / 0 SB / .253 AVG / .329 OBP / .374 SLG