2015 Best/Worst Case: Carlos Ruiz


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 Carlos Ruiz is the seventh in the series of articles speculating on a best and worst case scenario for each player that is likely to be on the 2015 Philadelphia Phillies squad.

Today’s Player: C #51 Carlos Ruiz

The man affectionately known as “Chooch” has been on the decline since his career year in 2012. That season, Ruiz hit .325, struck 16 homers, and had 68 rbi. Since then his average has declined to .252 in 2014, he only batted in 31 runs, while he also had a career high 60 strike outs.

On the defensive side, Ruiz has been a stalwart behind the plate. He has a career .995 fielding average, and has a fantastic arm, catching 27% of all runners trying to steal. Often times I will watch Carlos Ruiz, and I will be very impressed with his ability to keep balls in play, blocking pitches in the dirt.

Catchers are difficult to judge by statistics because there is no stat that says “this catcher keeps balls in front of him.” Carlos Ruiz keeps balls in front of him. 

Is it a risk to put three years into a catcher at this stage of his career? It can be, yes. But I think every signing is a risk” ~ GM Ruben Amaro Jr

In 2015 Carlos Ruiz has his role down pat. He is going to be the starting catcher for the Phillies until 2017. There is no viable backup to Ruiz right now, unless a trade or two changes things, and the Phillies seem to be all-in on Chooch for now. Unlike some past players I wrote about in this series (Freddy Galvis and Cody Asche, I’m looking at you) Ruiz appears to have his role secured.

Best Case Scenario: .290/12 homers/ 50 RBIs

Everyone is looking at Ruiz and hoping he will stop his decline, hoping he will return to his all-star form, and hoping he has a few more years left. At 36 years of age, Ruiz’ best years are likely behind him. But when Ruben Amaro Jr. signed Ruiz to a three-year contract before the 2014 season, Amaro said it was worth the risk.

More from That Balls Outta Here

“Is it a risk to put three years into a catcher at this stage of his career? It can be, yes. But I think every signing is a risk, and we hope that he remains productive throughout the three years and perhaps more.”

Hopefully Amaro is right. Hopefully Ruiz will come back and be productive. The numbers shown are what would happen if Ruiz has a late-career resurgent season. His average ticks up. Those power numbers tick up. Of course he will continue to be a force behind the plate on the defensive side, but now the hope is also that he can find his bat again.

Last year we saw some positive changes. Despite his batting average going down, Ruiz’ on-base percentage went up by 27 points. This is because he had nearly 30 more walks than in 2013. That is an encouraging number.

If Ruiz wants to bounce back fully, he needs to lower his strike out totals and learn how to get on base. Ruiz started that trend in 2014. By being more selective, hopefully Ruiz will turn that into more hits.

Worst Case Scenario: .230/4 homers/30 RBIs

On the other hand, if Ruiz continues his decline it could lead to even more woes for the Phillies than already anticipated. He is one of the few remaining veteran leaders on the club, and if he isn’t performing, the team may well follow his lead.

His average has dropped 70 points in two years, and that decline could continue. A catcher’s shelf life is relatively low, and at 36 years old, such a decline could be nothing more than what we should naturally expect at this stage of his career.

The issue is, there is no real replacement for Ruiz. Between the fact that the Phillies lack depth behind the plate, and that Ruiz is signed for another couple of years, there seems no realistic alternative other than Chooch.

If I had to guess, I would say Ruiz would stay consistent with his numbers from 2014 to this coming 2015 season. He calls a very good game behind the plate, is very good defensively, and is the classic field general, so Phillies fans can probably live with his average numbers at the plate.