Analysis

Ruf Lost Among Historic Rookie Class?

Headed into last night’s game against the Marlins, Phillies outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf was ranked sixth among all rookies in on-base percentage, sixth in slugging, was third in drawing walks, fifth in home runs, third in OPS, or on-base percentage plus slugging, third in wOBA, fourth in wRC+, and second in ISO, or isolated power. In a normal year, Ruf would receive consideration for the Rookie of the Year award and perhaps receive down ballot support. But this is no normal year.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tackled assigning the winner of the Rookie of the Year race. In addition to naming Jose Fernandez his pick for runaway Rookie of the Year, Crasnick named 14 other players who are having great seasons. Some, including power-hitting Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko and power-hitting Braves utility player Evan Gattis, fall behind Ruf in all three triple-slash categories. Yet, there has been no mention of Ruf. What gives?

The truth is, outside of the phenomenal Yasiel Puig, Gyorko, and Gattis, 2013 has been the year of the rookie pitcher. Fernandez, the Braves’ Julio Teheran, the Cardinals’ Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal, the Dodgers’ Paco Rodriguez and Hyun-Jin Ryu,  and the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole and Justin Wilson may all ultimately earn a second or third-place rookie of the year vote. Outside of that trio and Noland Arenado, Scooter Genner, Junior Lake, and Matt Adams, Ruf may find himself a capable player among a pretty routine group of rookie hitters who have been completely outshine by an other-worldly rookie pitching class.

Ruf’s 2013 0.7 fWAR would put him ahead of Chris Young’s 2007 rookie campaign of 0.4 WAR and exactly at Jay Bruce’s 2008 rookie year. Both received a few votes in relatively strong classes: 2007 featured Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and Hunter Pence, while 2008 featured Giovanni Soto, Joey Votto, Jair Jurrjens, and Edison Volquez. Where Ruf falls short, however, is the pure strength of this class: the fifteen players in Crasnick’s piece combined for 29.3 WAR, or an average of 1.95 WAR per player.

Granted, WAR is an accumulated stat and Ruf entered last night’s game with only 273 PA, but players like Puig and Gattis also had less than a full season of playing time also. Had Ruf, or defintely Gattis, played a full season with the numbers they put up, they may have been a Rookie of the Year contender in a weaker year like 1989 (Jerome Walton, 2.0 WAR)  or 1996 (Todd Hollandsworth, 1.2 WAR), but there is too much talent in front of them this season. Even though Ruf is not likely to receive a single third place Rookie of the Year vote, there are many positives found in Ruf’s rookie season: the power is real, the plate discipline is real, and the strikeouts should get better. Whether Ruf’s year was good enough to wrap up a spot in the Phillies outfield in 2014 remains a question unanswered.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. bacardipr

    September 25, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Hmmm never gave Ruf much thought for ROY. THough up to recently wasnt he slumping some that could have a little to do with it.

  2. Carlos Danger

    September 25, 2013 at 10:35 am

    He has a 0.7 WAR. His awful defense pretty much negates anything positive he does offensively. He also went through a six week stretch where he hit .210 and on the road he’s hit .213/.304/.348.

  3. Chuck A.

    September 25, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I’m sorry… I like Darin Ruf but he’s not ROY material…even to be in the discussion. Ruf is really best suited for an AL team that needs a DH/1B.

  4. Lefty

    September 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Unless they trade Ryan Howard, there is no place for Ruf here. He has shown little improvement that I can see in the outfield, and thats a shame because as Ian points out, he really can hit.

    • Hogey's Role

      September 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      Who would you rather have Howard or ruf???

      • George

        September 25, 2013 at 2:37 pm

        Right now, neither one of them. I’ll maybe decide come this spring.

      • lefty

        September 25, 2013 at 2:53 pm

        I’d rather have Brandon Moss of the A’s, a guy they gave up on, partly because we had a superstar first baseman locked up for many years. But hindsight is too easy, it’s always 20-20 .

      • Manny

        September 26, 2013 at 5:44 am

        It’s a close call. But I’d prefer Ruf. I’d be surprised to see Howard put up a WAR over +1 again.

      • c. schreiber

        September 27, 2013 at 1:12 am

        Easy answer, The Ruffer!!!!

  5. George

    September 25, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Ruf a rookie of the year? He’s as high as second in only one of the offensive categories listed and is fourth or worse in three of them. Then toss in his below average defense. And ROY includes pitchers. All those factors, I think, put him completely–and rightfully–out of the running.

    • Hogey's Role

      September 25, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      I agree George I don’t think he’s close to being in the conversation

  6. Thaddeus

    September 28, 2013 at 4:55 am

    The greatest mistake the Phillies could make this offseason is thinking Ruf is an everyday player for a championship quality team in the national league. In the american league maybe, just maybe he’s on a good team, but probably not. There is a slew of reasons the phillies should take what they can get for him while his “stock is high” and run, yes, a slew, but no reason is more compelling than the answer to a simple question followed by a slew, yes again, of questions: Has a 27 year old power hitting no defense rookie ever become a productive everyday player in the history of professional baseball? No. Of course not. The notion is absurd. The audacity to even considerate it possible ..well, I just don’t know. Can Ruf hit? Kind of, if .250 is saying he can hit. See Adam Dunn if Adam Dunn could draw a walk every 3rd day. Can he play first base? Nope. Can he play first base better than Howard? Nope. I know, it’s crazy, someone plays a worse 1st then the big piece but its true. Does he have any business playing in the outfield? Nope. Do him and Dom Brown make the worst defensive corner tandem in baseball? Without a doubt, no one else is even close.

    We should all say a prayer there is a team out there stupidly optimistic enough to trade us a veteran bullpen arm, a low A prospect, and a ball of yarn a 27yr old power hitting no defense rookie.

  7. chris

    October 1, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I can see Ruff being traded to Tampa for David Price. Add on a few other fellas as well.

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