Back in 1998, the Phillies signed a not-very-heralded Panamanian second baseman to an $8,000 contract. This young player changed positions and began playing catcher after signing with the Phils, and slowly made his way through the system, before making his Major League debut in 2006.
That Panamanian catcher is now perhaps the best catcher in Phillies history.
Carlos Ruiz caught his third no-hitter yesterday, this time a combined effort by Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon, in the Phils' 7-0 whitewashing of the Braves in Atlanta. It was the first non-Roy Halladay no-hitter Ruiz has caught, and with the feat joined a very select group of Major League backstops.
Carlos Ruiz has caught 3 no-hitters, most among active catchers, 1 shy of MLB record (Jason Varitek) (via @eliassports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 1, 2014
Because we can, here is the final out.
So yes, Ruiz is pretty special.
Before the season, the Phillies signed the 35-year-old catcher to a three-year deal that is paying him $8.5 million a season through 2016. And while that is a lot of money to pay an aging catcher who has had a hard time staying on the field the last few years, Ruiz once again showed his value yesterday.
Not only that, he's actually had a pretty productive season at the plate as well.
His power numbers are down, with just four home runs and a slugging percentage of .370, but among NL catchers with at least 350 plate appearances, his fWAR is tied for 5th with Yadier Molina. And his wRC+ shows he is an above-average offensive player. And that on-base percentage of .358 is far higher than the league average of .312.
When you look at the greatest catchers in team history, it's easy to make the case for Ruiz as the Phils' all-time best.
Ruiz has once again had an above average year defensively, according to Fangraphs, and is just a couple wins above replacement behind Darren Daulton. Also, Mike Lieberthal was better than you probably remember, for what it's worth.
And don't forget how great he's been in October. He's played in 46 postseason games and put up a slash line of .254/.380/.408 slash line in 172 playoff PAs.
We all know how good Carlos Ruiz has been for the Phillies throughout his career. But he's also been solid this season as well. I was not a fan of the three-year deal he signed before the 2014 season, but it's hard to argue against its value, for this year at least.
So congratulations to Carlos on catching his third career no-hitter yesterday. In celebration, here is one of my all-time favorite Chooch moments. Enjoy.