Phillies Nation Player Review: Darin Ruf – Phillies Nation
2013 Player Reviews

Phillies Nation Player Review: Darin Ruf

Despite launching 14 homers in three months in 2013, Darin Ruf again finds his future in Philadelphia uncertain.

Despite launching 14 homers in three months in 2013, Darin Ruf again finds his future in Philadelphia uncertain.

For the second straight season, Darin Ruf did all he could in his time with the Phillies to dispel the notion that his 38 AA homers in 2012 were some sort of fluke. In September of that year, he launched three bombs in 33 at-bats with the big club. He got a much longer look this season and didn’t disappoint, posting an .806 OPS and all but cementing himself a roster spot next spring.

Ruf bashed 14 home runs and knocked in 30 runs in just under three months with the Phils this summer, compiling a slash line of .247/.348/.458 over 73 games that were split between first base and the outfield. Ruf certainly has his warts. But he also has 17 big league home runs in 284 at-bats with the Phils, leading many to consider a reality in which the immense power he flashed in Reading that magical summer might be real.

Now… about those warts. Ruf, already 27, is essentially a man without a position. With Ryan Howard manning first base for at least the next three years, Ruf must play passable defense at a corner outfield spot to keep his bat in the line-up. Ruf is a liability in the outfield and, from what I saw this year, is also pretty shaky defensively at his “natural” position of first base. The only good news on this front is that the outfield is a new endeavor for Ruf, and he improved enough in a year for the Phillies to tolerate his defensive shortcomings out there for 40-plus games in 2013. There have also been whispers that Ruf could see time at first in some sort of platoon with Howard during the 2014 season.

Ruf’s ability in the outfield, or lack there of, is no doubt exacerbated by a case of lead foot, a condition that also rears its ugly head on the base paths. Ruf’s defense and base running were so brutal in 2013 that they negated his offensive contributions in Fangraphs’s WAR calculation, if you pay mind to such things. Fangraphs deemed Ruf’s tenure in Philly worth a paltry 0.1 wins above replacement. Finally, Ruf is a strikeout machine, fanning 91 times in 293 plate appearances at-bats or about once in three trips to the plate.

Despite Ruf’s downside, there are a lot of elements to his game that make them worth overlooking. First, as previously discussed, Ruf supplies power in bunches to a team that desperately needs it. The once-potent Phillies lineup was 27th in baseball in runs and 23rd in dingers this season. It is also heavily lefthanded. Right now, Jimmy Rollins is the only righthanded bat guaranteed a spot in next season’s lineup, and he’s hit .235 against lefties over the past three seasons. Ruf’s presence should ameliorate both issues.

Much has been made about the Phillies’ refusal to consider the value of advanced statistics (read: walks), and their performance shows it. Despite having a considerable financial advantage over 90 percent of the league, the Phils ranked 24th in baseball in on-base percentage and 27th in walks. In 2013, Ruf was without a doubt their most patient hitter, walking in 11.3 percent of his plate appearances and seeing 4.17 pitches each time he went to the plate, both tops on the team among regulars by a healthy margin. Without replacing him with a similar style of hitter, limiting Ruf’s at-bats would probably transform the Phillies from impatient to downright anxious.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Ruf will make about a half-million bucks in 2014 in a lineup that will include at least three eight-figure players. If you’ve overpaid in some areas, as the Phillies clearly have, you must compensate in others. It’s that strategy that has made young, cost-controlled players among the most valuable assets in baseball in recent years and Ruf is no different. Along with Domonic Brown, Ruf represents hope for a Phillies’ offense whose stalwarts got old quickly. His strikeouts, baserunning and defense are tolerable if he’s sending balls flying over the fence. It wasn’t long ago when Pat Burrell was stationed in the left field grass of Citizens Bank Park, so the Phillies should know firsthand how that type of player can help a team.

Grade: B. In nearly 300 plate appearances this year, Ruf made it pretty clear his power will play in the majors. Surprisingly, his OPS against righthanders (.863) was considerably higher than it was against southpaws (.657). Unless the Phillies go nuts on offense in free agency — and there are reports they may – Ruf’s bat simply must be in the lineup on most nights. With Ryne Sandberg piloting the ship, you have to hope that he will be more openminded in doing whatever it takes to score runs, whether that means sitting down Howard or dealing with a dreadful outfielder like Ruf when the matchup looks right. Either way, Ruf has played about half a season in the majors and looks like he can be a valuable (and cheap) piece if used creatively. He is a wild card entering 2014, making him one of the guys to keep tabs on throughout the offseason.



  1. Phil Ease

    November 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    I like Darin Ruf, but add to your list of warts his performance in high leverage situations and with runners in scoring position. His triple slash lines are:

    High leverage: .136/.367.182 (.549 OPS)
    With RISP: .150/.312/.283 (.595 OPS)

    • schmenkman

      November 6, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      I should note that those are very small samples: 77 PAs with RISP, and 30 for high leverage.

      FWIW, baseball reference must define high leverage differently, and they show .207/.343/.397 (.739 OPS) in 70 PAs — not great but better, and still a small sample.

      • Phil Ease

        November 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm

        A fair point indeed.

  2. c. schreiber

    November 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Love the Ruffer. He reminds me of my favor player of all time, Del Ennis. I do believe he’ll be big for the P’s in the coming years. If only we could unload the “Big Breeze, er Piece”

    • schmenkman

      November 6, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      Prediction, and not really controversial: Howard will be one of the best 3 hitters on the ’14 Phillies.

      • Alex Lee

        November 6, 2013 at 9:26 pm

        I found myself thinking the same exact thing today when I was writing this up. It’s an enticing thought considering he will enter Spring Training with 8 months of rest under his belt. But then I remembered that I went into last season hoping for the same thing, especially after a hot month in Clearwater…. and look how that turned out. Honestly, I am just hoping for .750 OPS, some health and 25 bombs. For $25MM… yuck.

      • Chuck A.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm

        Yeah, Alex…but those are realistic numbers for Howard. Anything more will just be an unexpected surprise.

      • schmenkman

        November 6, 2013 at 10:14 pm

        It all depends on his health in my mind. If he’s healthy, .850 OPS is about what I would expect, +/- 25 points. Otherwise, .750-.800 like this year is more reasonable.

      • Rune Duren

        November 7, 2013 at 8:15 am

        I agree Schmenk! My brother and I were discussing that very topic last night. And we both feel if healthy there’s no reason for him not to have a big year. The one thing I think could hamper him is a lack of discipline at the plate. And that’s the only thing that bothers me. His tendency of that is well noted. What I’m hoping is, if he’s healthy he might be more disciplined.

      • c. schreiber

        November 7, 2013 at 7:47 pm

        The Big Breeze should be one of the top THREE. Whats so hard or good about that??

      • schmenkman

        November 7, 2013 at 8:09 pm

        It’s not good or hard (except to 5 other starters). But for all the silly nicknames he can still be a key part of the lineup.

      • wbramh

        November 8, 2013 at 3:14 am

        Until he trips over 1st base in April and is out for 3 months.
        Okay, I’ll lighten up.

        IF Ryan can stay healthy and is platooned at 1st he’ll still be among the top 3 RBI guys (I’ll predict 70 RBI in 100 game appearance either as a starter or sub. In fact, 70 RBI would put only behind Dom Brown based on the current anemic lineup.He’ll also have a better OBP and probably have a better chance of surviving physically through September. Unfortunately there will be no October stars (or goats) on this team.

        If management tries to play him in over 100 games they’ll be doing Ryan and team a disservice. Let Ryan hit his 25 HRs off of righties and Ruf hit another 15 off of lefties and we’ll have a great situation at 1st despite the defensive weaknesses of both players.

  3. Davep

    November 6, 2013 at 10:13 pm


    Hell yeah

  4. Lefty

    November 6, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Ruf’s patience and power should earn him some platoon starts vs. lefties at first base. The question in my mind is whether the organization will let Sandberg platoon Howard if he’s healthy.

  5. bacardipr

    November 7, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Good question Lefty. Though if he can get 25-30 starts. Maybe the occasional start in the OF and PH he should provide some value. His K rate though is alarming. However he still getting on base at a good clip.

  6. John Adams

    November 7, 2013 at 6:51 am

    Darin Ruf will never be a National League ball player! The Phils can not afford another year teaching this guy who will be 28 in July how to play baseball. You can’t teach running and throwing.
    I heard a recent interview with Amaro where he said Ruf may be used as a bench player who could platoon for Brown or Howard when facing a nasty LHP. Aaaaa!!! LOOK AT THE SPLITS!!! These are the lines against LHP:
    Howard 173,218,321,532
    Brown. 252,296,429,724
    Ruf. 188,309,348,656
    And oh, Ruf struck out in 50% of his ABs vs.LHP.
    Maybe he can be a DH in the AL. The Phils must lose him.

    • hk

      November 7, 2013 at 7:49 am

      John Adams,

      That’s a great job of cherry-picking a small sample size of stats and ignoring even larger sample sizes to make a point.

      1. Ruf’s minor league splits were much better vs. LHP’s than RHP’s.

      2. You are basing your claim on the small sample size of 81 PA’s vs. LHP’s in 2013. If you expand your sample size to his MLB results vs. LHP’s, the number improve slightly to .224/.323/.459/.782 in only 99 PA’s

      3. If you are willing to form your opinion based on 81 or even 99 PA’s to determine that he can’t hit LHP’s at the MLB level, why wouldn’t you also use the small, but more than 2 times larger, sample size of 231 PA’s vs. RHP’s in which he’s produced .271/.359/.503/.862 to determine that he should start 70% of the games (those against RHP’s)?

      • schmenkman

        November 7, 2013 at 8:17 am

        Good points, hk. The reverse splits may have been a one-month fluke in August:

        In the minors:

        2012 (Reading): better vs. LHPs, 1.318 OPS vs. .898
        2013 (LV): about the same vs. both, .770 vs. LHPs, .746 vs. RHPs


        Sep 2012 – better vs. LHPs in a small sample (1.327 OPS vs. .845)
        Jul 2013 – about the same vs. both: .878 vs. LHPs, .897 vs. RHPs
        Aug 2013 – much better vs. RHPs: .460 vs. LHPs, .942 vs. RHPs
        Sep 2013 – about the same vs. both: .733 vs. LHPs, .730 vs. RHPs

        Time will tell, but at this I would bet he will end up somewhat better vs. LHPs than RHPs.

      • Ryne Duren

        November 7, 2013 at 8:44 am

        HK, Schmenk, you guys are right on His splits were fantastic in the minors. I would cringe any time I would hear people say he should be platooning . My god he wasn’t hitting lefty’s for a time and still hit 14 dingers. Give him a full year, stop jerking him around the field and let him get in a comfort zone so as to not try to impress anybody to stay up here.
        Isn’t that the reason they didn’t move Brown? So he could get comfy? I think if given the same chance they gave Brown he’ll flourish. He is not the athletic man that Brown is supposed to be but what he is, is a baseball player with smarts. Brown is a gifted athlete that doesn’t know how to use his God given talents. And when he does? he gets hurt. Ugh!

      • Lefty

        November 7, 2013 at 9:53 am

        Not to pile on Mr. Adams, I hear you were once a great patriot and president. But I agree with hk, schmenkman, and Ryne.

        Ruf can hit lefties with enough proficiency to platoon some at first base or pinch hit when the other teams go to loogys in the pen late in the game against Howard. And it’s important for this club, because he’s a less expensive option to be in that role than they are likely to find on the open market or in trade.

      • wbramh

        November 8, 2013 at 3:25 am

        JOHN ADAMS
        A great patriot.
        Brilliant man.
        So-so president.
        Way to critical of Ruf’s value to the Phillies

        First off, we’re talking about a team that had to use MiniMart as a pinch hitter.

        If Ruf struck out 70% of the time I’d still pick him over anyone else coming off their current bench save perhaps Frandsen. Give the guy a break, Mr. President!

      • wbramh

        November 8, 2013 at 3:25 am

        JOHN ADAMS
        A great patriot.
        Brilliant man.
        So-so president.
        Way too critical of Ruf’s value to the Phillies

        First off, we’re talking about a team that had to use MiniMart as a pinch hitter.

        If Ruf struck out 70% of the time I’d still pick him over anyone else coming off their current bench save perhaps Frandsen. Give the guy a break, Mr. President!

      • wbramh

        November 8, 2013 at 3:29 am

        Sorry for the repeated message. Fixed a spelling error and thought I had caught the original comment before it was posted.

  7. Rune Duren

    November 7, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Alex I beg to differ on your mention of Ruf not being a good outfielder. I hear this a lot from a multitude of writers and radio. I watched a lot of games and if I recall . Ruf played pretty decent! What all you people forget is that he had hardly any experience in the outfield. Plus he was put in right? When that happened everyone assumed it was because he couldn’t play left!
    Yet he didn’t shame himself out there at all. I’ve been watching baseball for a long long time. This kid has it. Give him time he’ll get better. But he should be in left. You questioned his ability at first base. He made a few miscues but he was much better there than ANY body else we had on the roster. Do you think Young, Mayberry, Fransden was any better? Hell he was even better than Howard. And by the way the only reason he was put in right was because the Phillies didn’t want to shake up D Brown who I think was much improved but still a horrible outfielder.
    And for those of you who think Nelson Cruz is the answer to a right handed bat. Beware of what you wish for. In my eyes he’s a lousy outfielder who isn’t any better than Ruf will be as a hitter and is 3 years older. What’s that saying? The grass is always greener on the other side? In my experience it usually turns out to be weeds! I’d stick with what I have in right. Give him a full year and see what happens. Actually Brown and Ruf should switch positions.

    • Chuck A.

      November 7, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Ruf is not a good outfielder.

    • George

      November 7, 2013 at 10:01 am

      “Yet he didn’t shame himself out there at all.” Now there’s a ringing endorsement!

      And just because he was better than anyone on the roster at 1st doesn’t mean he was good. Young, Mayberry, and cpmpany have never been known as defensive stalwarts.

      He might improve in the field, but he happens to be in his late twenties. How much more time can he realistically have to be get better, particularly playing at the ML level? They gave Brown time, but Brown is still young compared with Ruf, he’s more athletic, and has more time to get better.

      While I can agree that Cruz probably isn’t the answer as a righthanded bat, I don’t think Ruf is, either.

    • c. schreiber

      November 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Ryne, Amen on Ruffer…

  8. J.L.

    November 7, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I believe Sandberg will instill plate discipline in Howard like he did with Rollins in the last month and a half, and work on his swing and overall approach. Manuel is swing for the fences old school style, Sandberg is more like the current successful younger coaches who preaches fundamentals all around, defense and offense. Watch out next year if we acquire the right free agents.

    • Lefty

      November 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      That’s a very positive and sunny outlook. I have serious doubts, but that sure sounds great to me J.L. I hope you’re right.

      Maybe it always sunny in Philadelphia.

      • Double Trouble Del

        November 7, 2013 at 9:51 pm

        I have serious doubts that Howard can stay healthy for a full season.

  9. octom

    November 7, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Were Burrell and Luzinski gold glove outfielders?

    • Vinnie

      November 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      No, but Victorino and Maddox were.

  10. Matt

    November 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Ruf got way better in the outfield at the end of the season. In spring training he was a mess out there. You. Guys and writers alway bust on him for his fielding, I’m not sure what you all seen, but I saw that every player they put out there wasn’t very good either. Young had cement shoes, dingleberry will never may a throw out at the plate, and everyone man crush dumbo brown was very good out there either. As a matter of fact brown is a train wreck out there, he jogs around and dives at ball he should catch standing up if he would hustle more. So all in all ruf isn’t all that bad out there. You clowns say the same thing about Caesar, I didn’t think he did too bad either and I watched every game.

    • schmenkman

      November 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      This is way off: “…he jogs around and dives at ball he should catch standing up if he would hustle more”

      • wbramh

        November 8, 2013 at 3:42 am

        “Dingleberry” is also out of line.

        John Mayberry, Jr is a smart and good kid and fine athlete who tries his best but is just never going to be a great ballplayer. That said, he was no worse a choice than Delmon Young (certainly faster and a better baserunner) and Mayberry was already on the team.

        Mayberry often dives for the ball, too when he should be trying to cut it off but I noticed you didn’t accuse him of having no hustle. In a league where .240 hitting FA outfielders are making mega-millions for their services you can bet that a few of those heralded players are not much of an upgrade over JMJ. Certainly not for cap hit the team would take.
        Just ask the Atlanta Braves.

    • George

      November 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      I’ve never seen footage of Caesar playing. In fact, I didn’t even know they had baseball in ancient Rome. In other words, I can’t really comment on his defense.

      • Chuck A.

        November 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

        Maybe he’s confusing baseball with the ancient Olympics.

      • wbramh

        November 8, 2013 at 3:48 am

        Oh, I can assure you Caesar’s defense was legion.

  11. Bob in Bucks

    November 7, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    IMHO Ruf was the worst of many bad base runners for the Phils this year. I am not just talking about speed but really poor decisions.

  12. Matt

    November 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Sorry for my screwed up spelling, dumb ass phone. Sorry for calling some of these players funny or not nick names, it’s just I’m not sure I like any of the phillies outfielders. I’d like to see some of the younger players get a fair chance out there. Ruf should get more time Hernandez should get more time. Those two have up sides, they can hit. I’m not sure id want rube to sign anyone. We would end up with a guy who is over the hill, a guy who can not stay off the dl or someone who has no arm,,oops we got guy already. Ben would be better off running the ball to the infield.
    I’m down on dingleberry and dumbo brown. There not good out fielders at all. They need to be traded.
    So the current outfield stands like this right now, brown is going to get hurt, Mayberry cannt hit or make a good throw to the plate, Ben revere can’t throw a ball far enough and has no power in his bat. Ruf is slow and doesn’t have enough time playing out there, Hernandez doesn’t have enough time playing there so his tracking routes are odd. Of all of them I like Hernandez the best, he’s young, he can hit, he has some speed, and he can throw a ball to the infield.
    Can someone fill me in as to why so many of you love brown, he had one good month of baseball and everyone of you are sold on him. He can’t stay healthy, he seems kinda lazy , he didn’t hit a lick after the all star game and now he likes to mock phillies fans. He’s right philly doesn’t love him, we like healthy hustling players who keep their mouths shut.

    • Brass Villanueva

      November 8, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      Ruf hit .229 in August and .232 in September – that’s probably indicative of what to expect going forward. He also hit .194 on the road with a .609 OPS. If he’s anything more than a bat off the bench next season this team is in big trouble.

    • schmenkman

      November 8, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      “now he likes to mock phillies fans”

      Brown has never mocked Phillies fans, so you must be talking about the midnight-green-panties in-a-bunch “incident” (MGPIAB).

      Also, almost every player has one half that’s better than the other. Brown didn’t hit much after the break, and he *still* hit as well in the second half as Hernandez, who “can hit”, and as well as Chooch, and much better than Asche or Michael Young. But the point is you can’t just look at one half.

  13. hk

    November 9, 2013 at 6:14 am


    Your “everyone of you are sold on him” argument seems like a straw man, but I’d have to know what you mean by “sold on him” to be sure. If you mean everyone who comments on this blog is convinced that he’s going to be a superstar, you are way off base. If you mean that many of us believe that he could put up a line like Steamer projects for him next year, .272 / .336 / .470 with 23 HR’s in 600 PA’s, you are correct. In that realm, why would you trade a 25 year old who can produce like that while only being paid $525K? Because he grew up as a Cowboys fan?

    • Matt

      November 9, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      No mostly because he will end up hurt and worthless. He has spent the last few seasons hurt, it cracks me that he was going to play football. He made the right choice . I just fear he will spend more time on the dl then any other player on the team. He is also not that great of a fielder. I mean superstar by the way.

      • Matt

        November 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm

        I don’t really mean you guys being sold on him, I mean the front office, and media.

      • schmenkman

        November 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm

        Really? “he will end up hurt and worthless”? Interesting. And why in the world would you say the media and front office are sold on him being a superstar? Where is that idea coming from?

      • EricL

        November 10, 2013 at 12:06 am

        Matt, the majority of all baseball players miss games due to injury every season. It does not mean that they’re all worthless. There’s also a vast cavern between “worthless” baseball players and superstars. A good but not quite elite player is still really valuable, especially when he’s being paid close to the league minimum.

        Maybe it’s time to log off for a bit, Matt. You keep getting everything wrong.

  14. sportsdoctor

    November 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    What is important to note is that the two world series wins the franchise owns were with “Ruf-like” outfielders; Luzinski in 1980, and Burrell in 2008. Ruf should be given every chance to develop into the type of power hitting right handed bat the Phillies need. Morse won’t provide anything better, but at a much higher price tag. Unless a guy like Cory Hart is healthy enough to play the outfield, Ruf is the best match for this team. After spending what is equivilent to 1/2 of a season in LF, Ruf needs to work with a hitting instructor to close his stance (would allow hitting to the opposite field) a bit while learning to lay off of the inside breaking pitch. That takes time. Remember, Brandon Moss had not place or plans for the Phillies outfield mix. I guess the past 2 seasons in Oakland has made someone look foolish.

    • George

      November 11, 2013 at 8:26 am

      While it’s true that the Phils won with less than stellar outfielders, Luzinski and Burrell, it’s important to point out that the other two outfield positions were manned by much better defensive players in those years. It’s also important to note that both Lusinski and Burrell started their ML careers at earlier ages. Since, in your own opinion, it takes time to learn to “close his stance” and “lay off the inside breaking pitch” I think by the time he does so, he could very easily be in decline, and until he does so, he’s not a huge help.

      Brandon Moss might be a positive example of what could happen, but there are very few Brandon Mosses out there. The more likely example would be Ryan Howard, who still hasn’t learned to close his stance and lay off of breaking balls. He’s now in his thirties.

      I do doubt that Morse would be much, if at all, better than Ruf, though.

  15. John Adams

    November 11, 2013 at 7:38 am

    By the way, my ancestor was a great president.
    Matt, you’re obviously biased towards players of color as evidenced by the disrespect and name calling you expressed towards JMJ and the team MVP and best player by far, Dom Brown. Let me guess, you have names for our two future hall of famers Rollins and Howard too. Enough time on you.
    The rest of you make good points but ignore a significant stat that should prevent Ruf from being in the middle of any lineup. He batted .150 with men in SP. Finally, anyway you look at it, he can’t hit LHP for a decent AVG and must be considered another LH bat.

    • schmenkman

      November 11, 2013 at 8:07 am

      I share your concern about Matt, but the best player on the team (by far) this year was Lee. If you mean position players, the best was Utley, by a comfortable margin, with Brown second. And on Ruf, the 77 plate appearances he had with runners in scoring position are not nearly enough to make a judgement on. The same can be said about his hitting vs. LHPs, since he hit them well in the minors.

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