On November 11 the Dodgers flipped veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick to the Phillies for minor leaguer Darnell Sweeney (who was a former Dodger farmhand), and right handed hitting outfielder/infielder Darin Ruf. Now that the Dodgers have acquired Logan Forsythe from the Tampa Bay Rays to be the everyday second baseman, we can start to look at who will be filling out the rest of the position player roster. The question I have been wondering is this….Where does Darin Ruf fit into the Dodger’s roster?
Where does Ruf fit into the Dodger’s 2017 plans? What is Ruf’s role going to be with the Dodgers? Will he be the fourth outfielder? Will he be a Backup first baseman? How about an occasional pinch-hitter? Perhaps a Southpaw masher, or Bench warmer? Hot dog vender? Ladodgerreport staff writer?
Ok he’s probably not going to be an Ladodgerreport staff writer, but fourth outfielder and backup first baseman or lefty masher off the bench is very possible for the 30-year old. Ruf is entering his sixth MLB season and has never put up extraordinary numbers. Actually he’s never put up good numbers. Over the last two seasons he’s been particularly dreadful. Over 297 plate appearances in 2015 he batted just .235 with a .714 OPS and hit 12 home runs while playing in 106 games. That year he suffered from an oblique injury and fractured his left wrist sliding into a wall trying to make a catch in left field. In 2016 he played in just 43 games and spent most of the season at triple-A Lehigh Valley. Last season he batted .205 and hit only 3 home runs. He had more strikeouts (25) than hits (17).
Overall Ruf has a career .240/.314/.433 slash line with a .747 OPS in 838 MLB plate appearances. He’s hit 35 home runs and has posted an OPS above .800 only once during his five MLB seasons. Injuries have definitely seemed to derail his career. There is one thing he does well, and that’s hit left handed pitching.
As a matter of fact he’s been fantastic versus southpaws throughout his career. Check out his numbers versus lefties.
Career vs. left handers – .299/.379/.542 (81 for 271) .921 OPS 17 home runs
2016 vs. left handers – .286/.267/.429 (8 for 28) 1 .695 OPS 1 home run
He’s performed so well against left handers but has had serious problems against right handers. He’s batting just .206 against right handed pitching, and hit just .164 (9 for 55) last year versus righties. You would think that with his success against the southpaws he would be best utilized as a right handed pinch-hitter off the bench in the late innings.
His defensive metrics rate him as a below average defender at the corner outfield spots and at first base. Ruf has played 79 games in left field, 29 games in right field, and 139 games at first base. His range is limited and he’s cost his teams 10 defensive runs in the outfield. Another interesting thing to consider is his poor numbers with runners in scoring position. He has a career .183 mark with runners in scoring position. If the Dodgers are going to keep Ruf on the 25-man roster in 2017, it would seem his primary skills lie as a late-inning pinch-hitter to face left handed pitching. That’s probably the only reason the Dodgers wanted him. We all know how much the Dodgers need southpaw killers anyways.
And if this baseball thing doesn’t work out for Ruf, he could always come over here and churn out a few articles while he figures out what his next move is. We would welcome him with open arms. For the record, I think he’ll do just fine with baseball.