2013 Phillies Exit Interview: Darin Ruf

Chris Gardner

Darin Ruf proved to be a power-hitting country boy that could hit the ball a mile, but did he prove he can do much else? And what will his role be in 2014?

Darin Ruf on Fangraphs.

Darin Ruf on Baseball Reference.

There are two things the Phillies did not do all that well in 2013. They did not hit for power, and they did not get on base all that much.

Darin Ruf, in 293 plate appearance, tied Chase Utley for the team lead in on-base percentage at .348. He walked in 11.3% of his plate appearances this year, which led the team (Rollins was surprisingly second at 8.9%), and his 14 HRs were third on the team, behind Domonic Brown (27) and Utley (18).

Not only that, Ruf's 12 homers after the All-Star break were three fewer than the NL-leaders, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Paul Goldschmidt and Jedd Gyorko, who all had 15.

That's pretty good, right? So then why do almost none of us think this guy is a full-time player?

He seems to fill the offensive voids that are most glaring on the Phillies. And yet, we question. We worry. We're skeptical. And we're not the only ones. So does Ruben Amaro, who tends to make a lot of the decisions on this kind of stuff.

"In right field, we don’t know what we’ve got," Amaro told CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury a few weeks ago. "That’s a hole for us. Ruf is not a right fielder. I think he can fill in for us. I think he can fill in in certain areas, but I can’t sit here and tell you that he’s an everyday player for us. He’s going to have to fight for a job in some way, shape or form. Can he add some depth to our bench, to our club overall? Can he play a little left, can he play a little right, can he play a little first and give [Ryan] Howard a blow? He can become valuable in that regard. But I don’t know he’s an everyday player yet. It’s hard to say that he’s an everyday player in the outfield. I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice, because we just need to be better in the outfield defensively."

Of course, this is the man who thought Delmon Young WAS an everyday player. So, there's that.

Ruf's end-of-year stat line, albeit in a small sample size, looks decent: .247/.348/.458, good for an OPS of .806. Over 650 plate appearances, Ruf would have been on pace to hit 31 homers this year, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Darin_ruf_1_medium

But there are some other numbers that don't exactly scream "everyday player." Among players with at least 250 PAs, Ruf's K-rate of 31.1% was worst on the team. Yes, even worse than Ryan Howard's.

He also hit just .212/.328/.327 with 3 HRs during his last 125 PAs, including 39 Ks during that time. Of course, that's an even smaller sample size, but, in judging Ruf's viability as a starter for next year, that's kinda all we have.

Ruf was also a very poor defensive right fielder, which may be why, on WIP last week, Amaro seemed to indicate Ruf could be moved to left field, where his massive defensive shortcomings would fit in the grand tradition of Pat Burrell and Raul Ibanez.

Ideally, Ruf makes for a terrific Ryan Howard platoon-mate at first and fourth outfielder/right-handed bat off the bench. That is, of course, if the Phils actually have the stones to platoon Howard against left-handers.

This seems the way Amaro is leaning, mainly because he's likely going to dump a seven year, $800 bojillion contract at the feet of Jacoby Ellsbury and move Revere to a corner spot.

Obviously, it would have been great if Ruf set the world on fire this year, giving the Phillies a super-cheap power-hitting corner outfielder next year.

And if wishes were horses then beggars would ride.

Perhaps one day we'll all be able to stop wondering just what in the heck Darin Ruf is. Regardless, he's at least in the team's plans for 2014 doing... something.

This season was an unmitigated disaster. How did you contribute to the disaster?

If I hadn't been so sucktastic in AAA for the first 83 games of the season, I might have been able to save you turkeys from so much Delmon Young. As it is, I only hit seven freakin' home runs off the collection of ham-and-eggers they had there in Lehigh Valley. Sorry 'bout that.

If I had traded you mid-season, would the team have done better or worse?

You still would have had Delmon Young, right?

All of my options are open for next year. Should I trade you, release you, or keep you?

That all depends on whether or not you're going to allow Ryan Howard to continue sucking the life blood out of this team against left-handed pitching. Because, you know, these country biceps love them some left-handed pitching. And country music. Are you familiar with Trace Adkins?

Plus, what are you gonna do, go sign Nelson Cruz or Carlos Beltran or something. HA HA HA HA HA!

Wait, you're really going to do that, aren't you?

Some people have questioned whether I should keep my job. Tell them to go "blank" themselves by explaining why I should keep it forever.

Well, you did eventually release Delmon Young, and that's gotta count for something, right, boss?

Overall, explain to me how your time with the Philadelphia Phillies has been the highlight of your life.

Dude, I'm from Omaha, Nebraska. I saw my first Denny's when I got here. I'm still not sure how stoplights work. And your airport has more than one runway. So yeah, it's been a whirlwind.

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