His offensive statistics weren’t eye popping, but he played a crucial role. Carlos Ruiz had arguably the best season of his major league career — and at a bargain. The backstop made just $475,000 in 2009.
In 2008, Ruiz struggled at the dish, batting .219 with a .620 on-base plus slugging percentage. Despite being plagued with neck, oblique, and wrist injuries, Ruiz had a huge turn-around. He batted .255 with a .355 on-base percentage and .425 slugging percentage. He reached career highs in home runs (9), runs batted in (43), and OPS (.780).
Ruiz grounded into eight double plays, but he made contact. Ruiz struck out only 39 times in 322 at-bats.
Always a reliable defender behind the plate, Ruiz did a tremendous job handling the pitching staff. He knew which pitch to call, where to locate it, and the appropriate time for a mound visit. Pitchers didn’t see many passed balls or wild pitches; Ruiz is skilled at blocking balls in the dirt. Because of this, extra base runners were limited, and he caught 23 people stealing. On a play at the plate, it was rare to see Ruiz unable to hold onto the ball. In result, he owned a 4.00 catcher’s earned run average.
Ruiz was solid through the regular season, but he took the postseason to a new level. It didn’t take long for “Choochtober” to take over. Ruiz, or Señor Octubre as they call him now, batted .341 with 2 home runs, nine RBI, six extra base hits, and had a 1.082 OPS during the playoffs. He made a case for NLCS MVP, batting .385 with four RBI.
In a sample of at-bats during the playoffs, everybody saw the type of offensive player Ruiz is capable of being. Chooch will remain behind the plate in 2010.
Grade: 7.95/10. Ruiz was under-rated in 2009. He was much improved at the plate and always provided stellar defense. For his performance and at his price, Ruiz deserves a high grade.