Carlos Ruiz and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Season

Carlos Ruiz‘s season started on the wrong foot before it ever began. On November 27, 2012, we learned that Ruiz had tested positive for amphetamines and would be suspended for the first 25 games of the 2013 season. The Phillies used a combination of Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero, but neither performed well enough to truly replace Ruiz.

Ruiz made his season debut on April 28, but it has been all downhill from there. A year after setting career-highs in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage (as well as numerous others) and emerging as one of the most valuable catchers in baseball, Ruiz has been among the worst this year. Currently, he has a .272 weighted on-base average, well below the .311 Major League average and seventh-worst among catchers with at least 140 plate appearances.

Currently, Ruiz’s five percent walk rate would be a career low. His 14 percent strikeout rate would be a career-high. His .024 isolated power is so minuscule that even Ben Revere (.048) can taunt him. Everything that made Ruiz good as a hitter last year are now completely gone.

The following two heat maps show his isolated power on fastballs put in play.

These two heat maps show his ISO on “soft” stuff.

On a rate basis, Ruiz is actually swinging at the “soft” stuff less (39% this year, 49% last year), but is still missing it more often (26%, 20%). He is swinging at fastballs at about the same rate, but is actually missing them about five percent less often. He even has nearly an exact copy of last year’s BABIP on fastballs (.379, .378), but he has not had any power whatsoever. The deepest hit he has had on a fastball was a double down the right field line against Jon Niese on April 28. He has hit a few fly balls to center that went a longer distance, but not many.

Ignoring the absent plate discipline, Ruiz’s batted ball profile looks a lot like it did in 2008, arguably his worst offensive season. He finished with a .282 wOBA, putting 54 percent of balls in play on the ground, 29 percent in the air, and 17 percent as line drives. This year, those splits are 50%/30%/20%, respectively. Last year, they were 43%/33%/24%.

He isn’t expanding the strike zone, swinging at worse pitches. When he does swing and make contact, he has only on rare occasions had the strength to send an outfielder back instead of forward. There is some good news: he has only had 142 plate appearances, which is not enough for us to reach any strong conclusions. Because of the suspension, he might not have been ready to start the season when he did, and he could return to the Ruiz of old in the second half. It’s still possible.

On the other hand, Ruiz is 34 years old and eligible for free agency after the season. The Phillies may not want to gamble on a 34-year-old catcher suddenly rediscovering his power, thus he may be traded to a team in need of a veteran catcher by the July 31 trade deadline. As strange as it sounds, Kratz and Quintero at this point are more reliable to a team that fancies itself an NL East contender than Ruiz.

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26 comments

  1. Larry

    July 18, 2013 05:26 PM

    “As strange as it sounds, Kratz and Quintero at this point are more reliable to a team that fancies itself an NL East contender than Ruiz.”

    This statement is true and have you noticed Chooch not blocking balls like he did last year?

    I believe he’s been cheating since 2010 and finally got caught. The crazy part is when he got caught the 1st time, he was told he was going to get tested again within 6 months. Yet he got caught again. This drug when used as a PED gives you more focus ie can block ball better, swing at better pitches with power, etc.

    “Because of the suspension, he might not have been ready to start the season when he did, and he could return to the Ruiz of old in the second half.”

    Even though he was suspended he still got to play in spring training. His numbers were bad then as well. When the Phillies were trotting out Revere, Ruiz, and any pitcher everday, there was no power from 1/3 of your lineup. That can’t happen when you play in CBP, some people call it a sand box. This has given the visiting team an advantage. Time to move Chooch, we’ll be better off especially with his raise in salary coming next year.

  2. Larry

    July 18, 2013 05:55 PM

    One other thing about his loss of power, last year Chooch came in with 10 pounds of more muscle. Maybe this focus drug was helping him at the gym. Anybody who goes to the gym knows that some days you don’t focus on each repetition as much as we would like. ie squeezing the muscle tighter on each rep. His focus pill may have made it a lot easier to gain mass and strength.

  3. Trent Todd Chad

    July 19, 2013 05:39 AM

    Larry thinks Adderall is effing magic

  4. Trent Todd Chad

    July 19, 2013 05:40 AM

    (Cliff has a script, Shane too)

  5. bubba0101

    July 19, 2013 07:19 AM

    Great kids book. Great analogy. We all knew the hitting was a bonus. Theres a reason Larussa said he would keep Molina as his catcher even if he never got another hit. Well we have that scenario. Great catcher who may never get another hit. I still keep him. Our staff loves him and although the staff started out well, they’ve been tremendous since chooch came back. No way to capture that statistically.

  6. BeezNutz

    July 19, 2013 09:27 AM

    @bubba0101

    Agreed 100% … but I’d still move on after the season.

    IF and its a possibility because quality catchers are still a need around the league. IF they can get something of quality for him, they may have to move him though. But the reality is they keep him through the year and move on, im fine with that.

  7. bubba0101

    July 19, 2013 10:07 AM

    I think we have to include him in our plans over the next 2-3 years. It doesn’t seem Tommy Joseph will be ready next year and Kratz is not the answer. If we are still out of it come trade deadline then trade chooch and Utley and then resign them this offseason. that’s usually unrealistic but in this case, those two love it here (and the feeling is mutual) so much that I think they would go for it. Victorino would have if Boston hadn’t thrown ridiculous money at him.

  8. Larry

    July 19, 2013 10:37 AM

    Trent Todd Chad,

    “(Cliff has a script, Shane too)”

    If you have a condition it’s totally different. It’s like if you hurt your back and you are in pain. You take a percoset. It goes right to the pain and you feel better. However, if you are not hurt and you take it, you get high, now imagine someone taking 5 doses at a time just to get high.

    “Larry thinks Adderall is effing magic”

    Then why is he using it??

    www.philly.com/philly/health/Adderall-MLBs-latest-performance-enhancing-drug.html

  9. bubba0101

    July 19, 2013 11:18 AM

    Who cares? Soon they’ll say that eating animal protein is performance enhancing. When does it stop? Its ok if you have a prescription but not ok if you don’t. I think I could go get a script for Adderall very easily. People are prescribed human growth hormone too. What if that happened in baseball? Would that be ok if it were prescribed?

  10. Larry

    July 19, 2013 11:26 AM

    @ Bubba0101,

    “Victorino would have if Boston hadn’t thrown ridiculous money at him.”

    How is 13 mil a year for Shane ridiculous?? If he didn’t get hurt in his contract year, he would have gotten at least 15 mil. He’s been one of the top defensive outfielders for the past 5 years. He can also steal 30-40 bags per season. He gets a lot of extra base hits, has some power. Not only that but he makes the pitchers work harder. He raises their pitch counts. 13 mil a year is one hell of a bargain for a player like that.

  11. Larry

    July 19, 2013 11:35 AM

    “Who cares? Soon they’ll say that eating animal protein is performance enhancing”

    Was that meant to be funny?

    “Who cares?”

    What if I were to tell you that the Yankees cheated in the 2009 World Series. With guys like Aroid, it’s very possible. Would you care then??

    “I think I could go get a script for Adderall very easily”

    I wouldn’t be surprised.

  12. Chris S.

    July 19, 2013 11:36 AM

    @Larry

    Victorino has been very inconsistent from the left side of the plate. It was very bad last year and I wouldn’t have wanted to pay him $13 Million per year if he was a platoon player.

  13. Larry

    July 19, 2013 11:55 AM

    @ Chris S,

    “Victorino has been very inconsistent from the left side of the plate. It was very bad last year and I wouldn’t have wanted to pay him $13 Million per year if he was a platoon player.”

    I’ve always considered Vic to be better from the right side, even if he wasn’t a switch hitter you would still expect him to do better against lefties.

    I don’t see that as a big problem. This season he is currently batting 290 avg. Believe it or not he is batting .299 from the left side and only .272 from the right side.

    I think his wrist injury last year played a big part of why his season wasn’t good. If you look at his stats before that injury, he was getting a lot of extra base hits. After the injury he was a Ben Revere type ie lots of singles.

  14. JayZeeBee

    July 19, 2013 12:44 PM

    Adderall can have wide-ranging effects on people, increased focus and motivation being among them (though Chooch has never been known for having poor work ethic). It is certainly a possibility that it explains his performance increase (and subsequent decrease), but I would probably look to other explanations first.

  15. bubba0101

    July 19, 2013 01:20 PM

    I assume the Yankees did cheat, and no, I don’t care. JC Romero has his positive test before the 08 WS. And no, I don’t care. Science stays ahead of testing and I assume the playing field is level. It wasn’t meant to be funny either. It was meant to be ironic.

  16. Larry

    July 19, 2013 01:55 PM

    ” I assume the playing field is level.”

    How could you assume that? How could that be possible??

    “Science stays ahead of testing”

    Not entirely true when you start cracking down on cheating. Look how many people have been caught. You could also say the testing has gotten better, because of science.

  17. bubba0101

    July 19, 2013 03:29 PM

    You can say whatever you want Larry. The testing is science. Please don’t pick apart my sentences just for the sake of argument. It goes nowhere.

  18. Larry

    July 19, 2013 04:49 PM

    No problem as long as you don’t reply to a post with “Great Kids Book” and not expect a rebuttal. It goes both ways. An easier way for you would have been “I disagree and here’s why……….”

  19. bubba0101

    July 19, 2013 05:20 PM

    Are you kidding me? Please tell me you read the title of the article and understand why I said “great kids book”. And if you do understand why I said that, then what does it have to do with anything, and why would I expect a rebuttal?

  20. Larry

    July 19, 2013 05:31 PM

    Ah, lol. I took that the wrong way. Sorry Bubba.

  21. V frankowski

    July 19, 2013 06:18 PM

    Here we go again with the age Ruiz is going to be 35 years old also he was on the juice,I’ve stated again & again too many old players thanks to Phillie management you cannot keep winning with the same good old boys,this team needs changes ,& if you don’t agree than something is wrong upstairs!

  22. Jeff P

    July 20, 2013 01:26 AM

    “If you have a condition it’s totally different. It’s like if you hurt your back and you are in pain. You take a percoset. It goes right to the pain and you feel better. However, if you are not hurt and you take it, you get high, now imagine someone taking 5 doses at a time just to get high ”

    …uh… I don’t think you know how drugs work

  23. Larry

    July 20, 2013 02:05 AM

    Uh……..drug monkey from King of Prussia, please fill me in.

  24. GB

    July 20, 2013 06:39 AM

    Alot of injury an suspension excuses here….he was suspended because of his own stupidity twice and after age 30 we should always expect injuries i.e. that is why signing and/or keeping players past their primes is not smart and why investing in younger talent who could actually get better is good. Ruiz has been quite a surprise for us and a fan favorite, but the guy is now 34 and looks cooked. No way I pay him anything substantial in years or $$ to stay; if he wants to come back on a team-friendly deal as a bridge to one of the young guys that would be fine.

    Victorino worked the count? LOL…he was and is a hacker/guess hitter who, when guessing right, would streak for a while and then, when not, slump. He barely had an OBP over .320 the 3 years prior to 2013 and now stands at .335. Better, but far from great. Again at age 32, he is declining and not going to get better and the leg injuries keep coming.

  25. hk

    July 20, 2013 07:32 AM

    Slightly off-topic, but with the expectation that the next 8 games will go a long way towards determining the Phils fate as a contender or pretender, isn’t it a bit odd that they have chosen to go with 3 catchers and 4 OF’s for this stretch? Like when they called up Mini Mart earlier this year only to find themselves with him at the plate in two high leverage situations, I expect their need to leave Delmon Young in the field or on the bases late in close games to come back to bite them at some point. I don’t know anything about Steve Susdorf, but I would think a 27 year old, LH-hitting OF with a .879 OPS and 27 K’s and 27 BB’s in AAA would be of more help to the roster than Humberto Quintero during this key stretch.

  26. Larry

    July 20, 2013 12:48 PM

    “He barely had an OBP over .320 the 3 years prior to 2013″

    Not sure why you would include 2011 in your statement since he had a 355 OBP that year. Maybe you meant the average of 2010, 2011, and 2012??

    Let’s see isn’t that over .330 OBP?? hmmm

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