Projecting Darin Ruf‘s 2013 is very important if the Philadelphia Phillies are going to make the playoffs. It is not a question of talent. It’s a question of realizing that talent immediately. In a season where the Phillies will start as sizable under dogs, they need every ounce of offense to help push them to the top. Darin Ruf is capable of producing more than an ounce of offense, he could be a whole ten pound bag (okay, I think I’ve stretched that metaphor as far as I can).
The Phillies are projected by experts to look up from third place at thee superior outfields of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. Atlanta signed B.J. Upton, traded for Justin Upton and still has prized major leaguer Jason Heyward, who is the best of the three in my opinion. The Braves invested a lot of resources into their outfield this season, Justin makes $14 million, B.J. $15M, Heyward will get $3.65M with that number a mortal lock to shoot up close to $8 or $9 million by next season.
The Nationals OF is no slouch either, the overpaid Jayson Werth may not be worth $144 million but he’s still got talent. The uber talented Bryce Harper and recently acquired Denard Span man the nations capital’s outfield together and will wreak havoc both offensively, defensively and on the basepaths.
All that means is to keep up, the Phillies cannot have an offensive hole in their outfield like they did so often last year when they trotted out Lance Nix, John Mayberry and Juan Pierre (to name a few).
Darin Ruf has the talent to produce at a major league level and hold that job all season. The question is how soon (if ever) will his talent manifest at a major league level.
His minor league splits from the last two seasons look great, especially in 2012. Ruf spent 2011 in A (132 games) and 2012 in AA (139 games). He hit 55 homers between the two leagues (38 in AA), and batted .311 and .317 respectively. The relevant question is can Babe Ruf hit .300 and bash 30+ home runs in the majors.
Let’s take a look at his very small sample size in the majors from last season. Darin played 12 games and had 37 at bats. In those 37 at bats he hit three home runs, 10 RBI’s, batted .333 and had a strike out percentage of 32.4 percent.
You aren’t supposed to do this, but projecting those stats for 162 games you get: 40 HR / 135 RBI / 54 R / .219 and around 500 at bats.
Did you just get excited? If Darin Ruf can produce like that Ruben Amaro will wet himself like an excited puppy.
Those projections are unsustainable, and if Ruf’s average is only at .219 I think its safe to assume way less than 40 home runs, and that K percentage is higher than Ryan Howard’s. I think the absolute best Darin Ruf can provide this year is 28 HR / 95 RBI / 80 R / .280 and close to 450 at bats. Will that happen? Probably not.
Darin Ruf has to start hitting early to keep the other prospects away from his job. Long time prospect Dominic Brown is going to get another shot at proving what the Phillies see in him (they see him as the next Darryl Strawberry). If neither Brown nor Ruf work out, the Phillies still have John Mayberry and Lance Nix who should be looked at by fans as platoon players that should play only when someone needs rest, gets hurt or gets demoted. They are the “Pull in Case of Emergency” guys.
I think Darin will produce enough this season that the Phillies will give him RF by June or July. Here’s what I predict: 135 G / 450 AB / 21 HR / 70 RBI / 65 R / .270
I like Ruf’s future, and I believe 2012 will be the beginning of a solid stretch from Darin.