Ryan Howard is getting a precautionary MRI on his left knee and will likely be out for Monday’s game against the Marlins. John Finger and John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly are saying Howard’s knee, according to Howard, is a day-to-day issue. Of note, however, Howard also said his knee has been bothering him since Spring Training and that it “kicked in a little bit more than normal” on Saturday.
All was going well for IronPigs’ outfielder, and part-time first baseman, Darin Ruf going into May 16. Earlier that week, he got defensive praise from the Phillies Farm Director Joe Jordan, saying “The left-field play has been very good. It’s not a concern for me. It’s not a concern at all.” And then the bat caught fire: he was suddenly hitting .290/.367/.486 after a slow start with 12 2B and 5 HR in 138 PA heading into the morning of May 16.
It is a shame the Phillies now need a first baseman instead of an outfielder – Ruf would have fit right in. I kid.
A lot of folks will get excited and call for Ruf to get called up. I will be one of them. Ruf should have a shot to play every day in left field, moving Domonic Brown to right field and excommunicating Delmon Young (.208/.298/.333 in 57 PA), but now that there may be an opening at first base, he should absolutely get first dibs.
Don’t get me wrong, Ruf has recently gone ice cold (0-17 with nine Ks). But anything to add a little patience, Phils are tied for 24th in OBP, punch, Phils are tied for 26th in SLG, or both, Phils rank 27th, would be very much welcome. Ruf could conceivable add a little bit more of both.
Ruf’s current .349 OBP in Triple-A Lehigh Valley would rank ahead of all Phillies with over 100 PA not named Michael Young. Obviously, the jump in level would shave down a portion of that number but consider this: John Mayberry Jr. has the third highest OBP on the team, after Young and Chase Utley, at .304.
It would be hard to get much worse than what the Phils have had at first base this year. Howard ranks 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 Phillies first base brigade ranks 26th in getting on base, 18th in slugging, 23rd in wOBA, and 22nd in wRC+. While I wish Ryan Howard a speedy recovery, the Phillies have a player capable of producing at least as well ready should he need to see the DL.