Welcome Back, Chooch
Carlos Ruiz has completed his 25-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy and will return to the Phillies’ lineup for this afternoon’s series finale against the Mets, uplifting news for the Phillies. As a response, Humberto Quintero has been designated for assignment.
You don’t need any in-depth analysis to know that Ruiz’s return will be a boon for the offense, which has struggled for the most part in the early going. Erik Kratz had the lion’s share of the playing time behind the dish, backed up by Quintero. Combined, the two posted the National League’s second-worst OPS among catchers at .567, ahead of only the Reds at .448. Their on-base percentage is dead last at .242.
Last year, Ruiz was the second-best-hitting catcher in baseball going by weighted on-base average at .398, behind only Buster Posey at .406. His on-base percentage ranked third (.394) and his isolated power ranked fifth (.215). Strangely, his walk rate dropped significantly from 10-13 percent in previous years to below seven percent. It is no big leap to assume he will regress — his career average wOBA is .340 — but even a 2009 or 2011 level of production is a welcome addition to the lineup.
The Phillies did go 11-14 in Ruiz’s absence. All things considered, that isn’t so bad. The month of May will have some challenges, though, that will make the Phillies very happy to have their star catcher back in the middle of the batting order. By the end of the month, the Phillies will have played the Giants, Diamondbacks, Reds, Nationals, and Red Sox.