Ruiz has seen action in 16 games since returning from his 25-game suspension and has struggled, striking out an uncharacteristically high 16.1%, walking an uncharacteristically low 5.4%, and hitting just .235/.286/.275 in 56 PA. Ruiz left yesterday’s game in the second inning after hearing a pop in his leg. The injury was initially described as a hamstring strain. Catcher Humberto Quintero joined the team today in Miami, filling the roster spot vacated by Mike Adams‘ trip to the DL.
Howard, as reported this morning, has been amongst the worst first baseman in baseball in 2013, ranking 26th in fWAR among first baseman who would qualify for the batting title and 49th among the pool of every player to play first base this year. The lefty-slugger and former MVP is hitting just .245/.282/.430 with just 6 HR in 163 PA. Howard received a cortisone shot yesterday and will see how he responds to it.
Analysis: Will it be a blessing in disguise to having Howard out? I’m not sure I would go that far but I will say this: it is difficult to be a less-statistically relevant first baseman than Howard has been this year. Any combination of Michael Young and Darin Ruf will provide an upgrade in production over what this Ryan Howard has provided. What I won’t do is write Ryan Howard off yet – yes, he has been a declining player who has not executed the proper adjustments to remain an elite player since 2009 but it is entirely plausible that this most recent dip in production has come due to injury.