Well Darin “Babe” Ruf did it again. He not only broke Ryan Howard’s all time Reading Phillies single season home run record with his 38th home run of the season but he tied a major league record with his 20th home run in a month. The major league record for home runs in one month is 20 in June of 1998 held by Sammy Sosa. Ruf also continues to chase the Eastern League triple crown with his 2 for 4 Thursday night to raise his batting average to .321, just a point shy of the league leader who is no longer in the league but who has enough at bats to qualify for the EL batting championship. Ruf’s four RBIs gave him 102 on the season to solidify his lead in the runs driven in race. With four games left in the season. Darin then is only one point short in his batting average to win the Eastern League Triple Crown. The next four games that the R-Phillies play over the Labor Day weekend will be in Portland Maine. They will be incredible to follow. Let’s hope Darin Ruf can pepper the left field wall there which is called the “Maine Monster” and is modeled after the Green Monster in Fenway Park in Boston.
Baseball Betsy and I followed the Reading game on Milb.com on our cell phones Thursday night while we were watching the Clearwater Threshers beat the Dunedin Blue Jays 4-2 at Bright House. The Threshers moved into a tied for a post season spot in the Florida State League Playoffs. The Threshers pitching was excellent led by five strong innings by starter Percy Garner who had his big curve ball working early and strong relief efforts by Tim Kennelly, Hector Neris and Mike Nesseth. All strong, hard throwing right-handers.
What really impressed me in the Clearwater game was the all around play of Threshers first baseman Jim Murphy. Jim has been a steady consistent rock all season for the team hitting out of the clean up spot in the lineup. Tonight he laced his league leading 39th double down the third base line and drove in two runs with a single up the middle. Also what caught my eye was his strong play at first base stabbing line drive for an unassisted double play and picking another poor throw from third baseman Harold Martinez who is always an adventure at third. It was one of the best all around games I have seen Murph play this season.
I like to stay ahead of the curve in any thing I do. Try to see things no one else does. Have a good idea of what is around the corner. I do not like surprises. I must say the play of Darin Rug for the Reading Phillies has surprised just about every body including me. But should have it surprised us? Ruf last year playing for Clearwater lead the Florida State league in doubles with 43. For Darin Ruf to have 43 double he had to drive the ball and drive it far and long. He only had 17 home runs but the ball does not carry in the Florida State league. So put Ruf with his FSL doubles ability in a more hitter friendly Eastern League with inviting left field power alleys and viola the Phillies now have the top home run hitter in the minor leagues.
Its uncanny how similar Jim Murphy’s FSL offensive stats this season are to Darin Ruf’s 2011 FSL numbers. Murphy like Ruf needs to drive the ball hard to get his doubles because both lack foot speed. So let’s compare Murphy’s 2012 numbers with Ruf’s FSL 2011 numbers. With a few games left in the season Murphy has scored 71 runs, Ruf scored 72. Murphy has 39 doubles to Ruf’s 43. Murphy and Ruf each had 17 home runs. Murphy has 84 RBIs and Ruf had 82. Murphy has walked 51 times and Ruf walked 56 times. Murphy has an OPS of .824 and Ruf had an 894 OPS. I think you get the point. The big difference is that Murphy is hitting .268 while Ruf hit .308 last year but the power numbers were very similar. Even this year Murphy is hitting for a slightly higher average with runners in scoring position that Ruf is hitting at AA. Murphs problem this year average wise is that he is hitting only .232 with the bases empty but over .300 with RISP. Murphy also is about 10 months older than Ruf.
I am fascinated when I look around the corner toward next season and see big Jim Murphy hitting in Reading and the Eastern League. Thursday night Murph barrelled a line drive double down the left field line and he easily rolled into second base to pick up his 39th league leading double of the season. Who knows where that ball ends up in Reading’s First Energy Stadium or does it clear the Maine Monster in Portland. No, Jim Murphy will not equal what Darin Ruf has done in August if Jim plays at Reading next year. No one ever has and likely never will but it will be fun to watch what Big Jim can do there. Based on comparing Murphy’s numbers this season with Ruf’s numbers last season with the Threshers we can project a big year for big Jim next year for the Reading Phillies.