This post suggested there were four positions last year where the Phillies, who were 15th in the NL in walk rate 2012, had a much worse walk rate than they had had in 2007 (in ’07 they had the best walk rate in the league).
At first base and left field they were a whole lot worse. At third and catcher they were worse.
Two recent posts suggests that the declining walk rate for the team doesn’t have a lot to do with longtime Phillies Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley. Those guys have actually seen their walk rates increase in recent years.
No so much with Carlos Ruiz.
Ruiz comes off the best year of his career. In 2012, Ruiz hit 325/394/540, posting career highs in batting average, doubles, home runs and RBI. Coming into the season he had slugged .393 for his career with an isolated power of .128. In 2012, his isolated power was .215.
What he didn’t do in 2012 was walk. Coming in 2012, Ruiz had walked in 11.7% of his 1,657 plate appearances since the start of 2008. In 2012, he walked 29 times in 421 plate appearances, which is about 6.9%.
Ruiz got about 62% of the plate appearances at catcher for the Phils in ’12. The guys other than him walked in about 6.4% of their plate appearances for the season and the Phils ended the year having walked in about 6.86% of their chances for the year.
Led by Ruiz’s high walk rate, the Phillies walked a lot at the position from ’09 through ’11. In ’12, Ruiz’s walk rate dropped and so did the advantage the Phillies had a the position.
Here’s the total walks by catcher for the Phillies over the last four years and the NL rank for that mark:
|Year||BB by C||NL Rank|
It’s hard to know what Ruiz might do this year after returning from his suspension. His walk rate was down in 2012, though, against both righties and lefties. Here are his numbers against both kinds of pitching for 2012 and for his career before 2012:
|Ruiz 2012||Ruiz before 2012|
|BB rate vs right||6.0||10.7|
|BB rate vs left||9.2||12.5|
If Ruiz walks in 6.0% of his chances against righties, there aren’t going to be enough lefties out there to save him. The good news is that his walk rate against righties has been a lot better than that in recent years — 9.6% in ’11 and over 12% in both 2010 and 2009 (12.2% in ’10 and 12.9% in ’09).
Let’s hope he bounces back, cause Ruiz looks like he’s just about the only hope for the Phils when it comes to drawing walks from the catcher position. Here’s a look at the other five guys who seem to have the best chance to see time at catcher — my guess is that Kratz and Quintero will see the vast majority of PA at the position that don’t go to Ruiz:
During 2012, NL catchers walked in about 8.9% of their plate appearances overall.
Michael Bourn looks like he’s headed to Cleveland on a four-year, $48 million deal.
Ryan Howard places third on this list of the 15 worst contracts in baseball with an honorable mention going to Papelbon.