Over the past five years, Carlos Ruiz has become a favorite among Philadelphia baseball fans, but it appears the love for “Chooch” has not yet hit the same level nationally as it has in the City of Brotherly Love. Ruiz, who is having a career year so far in 2012, is currently ranked third amongst National League catchers in the latest updated balloting for this year’s All-Star game. What more does he have to do to gain the start in Kansas City?
As usual, the All-Star game is more like a popularity contest than a literal “All-Star” game. I fully understand why Ruiz is behind St. Louis catcher, Yadier Molina, since both have similar numbers this year. Ruiz is more productive average-wise, and Molina has better numbers on the base paths. However, I do not see why either one of these two would be behind San Francisco catcher Buster Posey in the balloting. Posey is a great young player, but if the All-Star game really is a showcase for the players having the best year, then Molina or Ruiz should be voted the starter.
Ruiz has been well known for his defensive achievements and being the anchor for one of the best pitching staffs in baseball over the last few years, but this year, he has taken his game to an entirely different level. He is currently fourth in the NL in batting with a .347 average. Also, he has been asked to move up in the order for the injury-depleted Phillies and has responded with 38 RBI, 9 HR and .414 OBP. I realize these aren’t elite numbers, but they are more than adequate for a player who hit out of the seven or eight spot for much of his career. He was asked to step up and he did.
Typically, Ruiz is looked at as an afterthought in a lineup that is usually filled with All-Star caliber players but this year is the exception. Chooch is really all there is offensively on the ballot for the Phillies. And with the Phillies starting a 10-game home stand this week, it is conceivable that Ruiz will move up a spot or two in the balloting, but he will need a push from baseball fans from other cities, and I’m not sure fans who do not see him play every night fully understand his value and what his production has done for the club this year.
The ballot system has always been flawed, and I am sure he is not the only player getting ripped off by it this year, but there is still time to fix this. I am sure Ruiz would be voted in by his peers and most likely will make his first All-Star appearance anyway, but it does mean something to be voted a starter. The simple solution is to vote for players like Chooch, who are having career years! Do not vote for players like Ryan Howard, who hasn’t played this year but is still fifth in votes for first base. It is simple: Just put the players that deserve to be in the game.