Babe Ruf. Ruf Ryder. So many nicknames in so little time.
Darin Ruf slugged his way onto the scene about midway through the 2012 season with the Reading Phillies; it wasn’t as though Ruf was some highly-touted prospect everyone knew about. Really, he was an afterthought at 26 years old; a guy who was just kind of there. That all changed.
In August, Ruf slugged 20 home runs for Reading, which actually equals the Major League record set by Sammy Sosa in 1998. Overall, Ruf pounded 38 homers over 584 plate appearances, a Phillies minor league record once held by Ryan Howard. After all was said and done with August, Ruf had knocked in 35 runs, scored 29, slugged the 20 homers, and slugged at a .974 clip. Quite a month.
And better late than never for Ruf. And if you recall, Ryan Howard was blocked at one time, not playing full time in the majors until he was 25.
In September, Ruf was called up to the majors as the Phillies were making a final push for the second wild card spot, one they would fall short of reaching. It took some time for Charlie Manuel to get Ruf into the lineup, but once he did, he couldn’t keep him out. On September 25, his first major league hit was, you guessed it, a home run against the Nationals.
You’ll remember the largest post-home-run snub in major league history that everyone in the dugout was a part of, including the bat boy. Players only do that with guys they like, and in 2012, everyone enjoyed Darin Ruf.
Overall with the big club, Ruf finished with 11 hits in 33 at-bats, including three home runs and 10 RBI.
After the season, Ruf was named the Paul Owens Award winner for the best minor league player in the Phillies system. It was much deserved.
Even with all the exciting moments during 2012, there are still questions with Ruf’s game. Can he play a suitable enough left field to be an everyday player? Can he hit at this level for a long period of time? It remains to be seen if the Phillies will give him the opportunity to start. But for 2012, it was one hell of a ride for Ruf.