Darin Ruf is currently shown underneath Domonic Brown on the Philadelphia Phillies‘ left field depth chart. That listing is based upon Brown’s professional service time, some creative marketing and old-fashioned hope.
The Phillies front office is hopeful that the highly-touted Brown can actually deliver a full season of major league results. It’s plausible that he and last season’s minor league phenom Ruf could meet their platoon projections this year.
Brown is known for his long swing and short results. He’s smacked 12 home runs over the course of three big league seasons. He also has 90 other hits during that time.
Ruf attained “rising star” status in just one minor league year. He hit over 50 combined home runs last season in Double-A, the majors and in the Venezuelan fall league.
Baseball has been, is and will always be about hitting the ball “where they ain’t”. Turn of the century right fielder Willie Keeler (career .341 batting average, .802 OPS) told us that. He’s the chap who hit a cool .424 in 1897, which ranks as the fourth-highest single-season batting average in Major League Baseball history.
Keeler was five feet, four inches tall and weighed 140 pounds. The diminutive New Yorker would need to look up at the six foot, five inch, 205-pound Brown and at the six foot, three inch, 220-pound Ruf.
“Wee Willie” hit 33 home runs in his 20-year professional career. He also had 2,899 other hits during that time. His career .960 outfield fielding percentage certainly didn’t earn him induction into the Hall of Fame in 1939.
“Dom” and “Babe Ruf” are different types of ballplayers, at different stages of their careers. With whatever the 2013 season brings, both young men would be wise to strive for the steady offensive effort that Wheeler consistently gave. He played to his own strengths, as all successful major leaguers have done in every era.