Why Carlos Ruiz Deserves Your Respect
No, I'm not saying he always did. Just that he does now.
I, like many Phillies fans, barely stifled a sigh of disappointment when old "Carlos Ruissss"(as PA Announcer Dan Baker refers to him) steps into the batter's box. A dribbling grounder seemed inevitable, and then the pitcher was up. How thrilling.
At the end of last season however, an entirely new player had filled the squat, stubby body of the Phils' starting catcher. He even called himself Carlos Ruiz. The nerve.
We all knew Carlos was a sub-par hitter, so who was this little bundle of right-handed power? I still believe it is an impostor, but so far have no hard evidence to back up my claims.
Whoever he is, he hit .385 over the course of the 2009 NLCS and .333 in the World Series loss to the Yankees. He homered once in both series'.
The stalwart backstop is proving that these performances were not flukes. So far this season he's hitting .354, tops on the high-octane offensive team. Will his numbers stay this high? Probably not, but you sure don't hear those groans from the bleachers when the number eight hitter shuffles to the plate.
While sharing the lineup with pretty-boy Chase Utley and the "Black Jared" of Subway, Ryan Howard, Ruiz is the least heralded, but one of the more productive, members of the team.
Ruiz is coming off of a four-hit game against the Rockies, and has tallied 14 hits in the past six games against tough opponents. He also has registered two homers and five RBIs over this stretch.
Ruiz has also shown a penchant for patience at the plate. He has walked 21 times this season so far, second only to Chase Utley on the team (which really shouldn't count considering pitchers love to bean Utley and, let's face it, he just loves to get hit.)
Ruiz's newfound consistency helps more than just the stats on the box score imply. Having a solid threat at the bottom of the lineup changes a pitcher's game plan and keeps him from getting comfortable after retiring the more highly-touted bats on the lineup.
It's also a known fact that pitchers suck at batting, and reaching the top of the order with one out instead of two provides a team with a much greater opportunity to manufacture runs.
In addition, "Chooch" (Charlie Manuel's pet-name for Ruiz, cute huh?) is about as good as you can get fielding-wise for his position. He has a perfect 1.000 percent fielding percentage and has recorded 18 assists from the catcher spot.
He also has been able to call some great games for the Phils', whose pitching has not been as stellar as many had predicted.
So the next time your friends start going off about how hot Jayson Werth is, hitting-wise, or how hot Chase Utley is, not hitting-wise (it may be time to get some new friends as well), remind them that Carlos Ruiz is having just as big of an impact with his bat as well as his glove. If they ask you who Carlos Ruiz is, just send them the link to this article (I could use the reads.)
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