Key 2013 Stats: .268 AVG/.320 OBP/.368 SLG, 5 HR, 37 RBIs
What Happened in 2013
“Chooch” started off the year serving a 25 game suspension for use of Adderall. Upon his return from the suspension, he got off to a very slow start and looked almost nothing like the player who experienced a career year in 2012. With free agency impending, it looked possible that we were seeing the final games of Ruiz in a Phillies uniform.
As the season progressed, Ruiz appeared to get stronger. It is believed that Ruiz now has permission from Major League Baseball to take Adderall. I am not sure if this permission came during the season, but it would be interesting to see how closely it corresponds with his increase in production. Regardless, in the second half of the season, Ruiz was once again the reliable catcher who has become a fan favorite over the years.
What to Expect in 2014
Ruiz was signed to a three-year deal, so he will be back as the Phillies starting catcher in 2014. There is some debate over the wisdom of offering a three-year deal to a player who will turn 35 next year, but the Phillies didn’t seem to have many better options.
I don’t think we’ll ever see him match his 2012 offensive numbers, but I do think that Ruiz can come close to his more modest numbers from 2008 to 2011. Through most of his run, Ruiz was the Phillies eight-hole hitter, and his ability to get on base in that spot was always an underrated part of the Phillies’ offensive success. Because the Phillies lineup is predominantly left-handed, Ruiz probably will have to bat higher in the lineup in 2014, but I’m not convinced that is the best spot for him. Regardless of how he does with the bat, I expect Ruiz to continue to be a strong defender behind the plate.
The Phillies had better hope that Ruiz can have a strong season in 2014, because either way, they are fully committed to him as their starter.