Going into the 2013 season, the Philadelphia Phillies do not have one legitimate starting outfielder on their entire roster. Yes, I'm talking about Domonic Brown, John Mayberry, Lanyce Nix, Nate Schierholtz and Juan Pierre. None of which have the skills at this point in their careers to start for a championship-caliber team.
Insert Darin Ruf, a first baseman by trade, who is now in the process of moving to left field in order to earn a chance to play for the 2013 Phillies. His 2012 campaign has been a remarkable one to watch, he even blasted two home runs last night against the NL East Champion Washington Nationals, providing all of the Phillies' lackluster offense. When is the last time another Phillie hit two home runs in a game? I couldn't even tell you.
Between Double-A Reading and the major leagues, Ruf has hit 41 home runs and driven in 113 runs in 520 at-bats. Man, the Phillies could sure use those kind of offensive numbers in 2013, especially because they have no idea what they are going to get out of sluggers Ryan Howard and Chase Utley next season.
Ruf can provide a spark to an offense that none of the above mentioned Phillies' outfielders can. Even if his defense is sub-par, having another bat in the lineup that can drive in 100 runs and hit over 30 home runs will be instrumental in rebuilding a dominant Phillies offense of years past. Besides, none of the other current Phillies outfielders are by any means a Gold Glove candidate. If the Phillies can win a ring with Pat Burrell in left field, why not Darin Ruf?
In the 30 at-bats we seen so far from Ruf, an observant eye can tell you he is having quality major league at-bats: not swinging at bad pitches, getting ahead in the count and having total control of the inner half of the plate. It seems every time he step in the batter's box, he has a plan on how he wants to attack the pitcher.
The Phillies are in desperate need to interject some talented youth into their organization. The Washington Nationals are full of young, hungry, players. In order to compete with them over the long haul, the Phillies are going to need a spark that will lead them back to the top of the NL East. That spark may just be the power-hitting Darin Ruf.
Ruf will play winter ball this offseason to work on his defense. Look for Ruf to takes names, and someone's job come 2013 spring training.