2015 Best/Worst Case: Darin Ruf


With the season fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of team the Phillies may have in 2015. This look at Darin Ruf is the first in a series of articles looking at the best and worst case scenarios for each player that is likely to be on the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies squad.

Today’s Player: OF/1B #18 Darin Ruf

2015 will be Darin Ruf’s third full season in Major League Baseball. He was expected to become one of the leaders, along with Dominic Brown and John Mayberry Jr., of a youth movement that a few years ago Phillies management was hoping would turn this team around. Now, Mayberry is no longer with the team, and Brown has turned into a major disappointment.

Last year, Ruf played in 52 games, hitting .235 with 3 homers and 8 RBI. It was a fairly disappointing season for Ruf, following a 2013 campaign that saw him hit .247 with 14 home runs and 30 RBI in 73 games. Ruf started a fair number of games in 2013, but saw his starts decrease in 2014 after the Phillies added another outfield option in Marlon Byrd

Ruf will go into spring training competing for the Phillies leftfield spot, or even possibly at first base if Ryan Howard is no longer around. If he has a decent showing in Clearwater, Ruf will be in line to add an Opening Day start to what is to this point a less than stellar resume.

Best case scenario: .266/18 homers/ 60 RBIs and an Opening Day starter

Darin Ruf’s goal going into spring training needs to be trying to win a starting place in the Opening Day lineup. Last year, he broke his wrist shortly after being sent down to Lehigh Valley in June. He never really came back from that injury, and ended up with a sub-par year. Ruf knows that this year is going to have to be different.

“There’s nothing that ruins a season quicker than not being on the field,” Ruf said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet last week. “I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to get myself ready to be on the field every day.

Ruf will be given the chance he wants. He will likely be going up against Grady Sizemore for the left field slot in the spring. If Ryan Howard is traded or released, and even if he is still here, Ruf will almost certainly get looks at first base. Either way, the chances will be there for Ruf to earn a starting nod.

If Ruf can get back into the form that had him hitting .317 at AA-Reading in 2012, and IF he can regain the power stroke that had him hit 38 homers that same year, then Ruf could be an everyday player for the Phillies.

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to get myself ready to be on the field every day.” ~ Darin Ruf

The problem is, Ruf needs to learn how to stay healthy… and if his performance in winter ball is any indication, Ruf isn’t going to be making a splash any time soon.

Worst case scenario: .180/1 homer/ 8 RBIs and splits time between AAA and the Majors

It hurts because I have always been a fan of Darin Ruf, but the big utility player has not had an easy time this winter. He was eventually released by his winter club in the Dominican Republic after only hitting .167 with one homer and 2 RBIs. He struck out 10 times in 36 at bats.

Grady Sizemore will battle Ruf for leftfield playing time.

(Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Those are not the kinds of results that you want from someone who is getting back in shape for the baseball season. Those are numbers of someone who could very well be starting the year in AAA. I don’t think it will be that drastic, but I do think that if Ruf continues this pace, he is unlikely to win that start on Opening Day.

Grady Sizemore had a decent year in 2014, hitting .255 with the Phillies. He is more than capable of filling the left field role. If Ruf goes into spring training after an abysmal performance in winter ball, and he doesn’t improve, the starting job may well go to the veteran Sizemore.

Realistically, I think that Ruf will slightly turn it around in the spring. Last year, he had a very strong spring, but then ended up breaking his wrist which set him back. I expect him to have another good spring, and I think he will work his way into a platoon role with Sizemore in left field, assuming Howard comes back as the 1st baseman.

NOTE: Michael will be doing an ongoing “Best Case / Worst Case Scenario” series here at TBOH as we move towards and through spring training.