When the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera made the final out of the 2012 World Series it became official that the Phillies Darin Ruf would become the 2012 home run champion of professional baseball. Cabrera finished the season second in professional baseball with 46 homers including two in the MLB post season while Ruf was hitting his 49th and 50th homers of the season with LaGuaira in the Venezuela Winter League. You see Ruf had hit 38 homers during the regular season with Reading, one in the Eastern League playoffs, three with the Phillies and now eight in only 14 games in winter ball to get him to the 50 home run plateau so far in the 2012 season. It will be interesting to see how many more long balls he will hit in 2012 as the VWL is just getting started.
Ruf has certainly earned his monicker of “Babe”Ruf this season. Even the first “Babe”, George Herman Ruth, only ever hit 50 or more homers in a season five times including World Series games. His first time hitting over 50 was in 1920, his first season with the Yankees at age 25 when he hit 54 home runs during the regular season. The Phillies “Babe” Ruf hit 50 for the first time at age 26. Ruth would go on and play 15 seasons with the Yankees and hit 659 of his 714 home runs with the Bronx Bombers.
You might question my blogging putting these two “Babes” together. After all Darin “Babe” Ruf has only hit three major league home runs so far but any good blogger must be able to project. What Ruf has done since August 1st is truly amazing at any level. He tied a professional baseball record for home runs in one month by equaling Sammy Sosa’s major league record hitting 20 home runs in August with Reading. Since August 1st Ruf has hit 32 home runs in about 60 games. As Richie Ashburn would have told Harry Kalas “Harry. I find that hard to believe”.
Ruf would go on in September and early October, after riding the Phillies bench for the first 14 days after his call up, to demolish the pitching staff of the National league Eastern Division champs with the best record in baseball, the Washington Nationals, by hitting three home runs in six games against them at the end the season. I will never forget the excitement Baseball Betsy and I experienced when we first learned at an Instructs game that afternoon that Ruf would finally get his first start in the major leagues against the Nats. Later that day we would run into Cody Asche and Adam Morgan. Cody mentioned that Darin had faced Ross Detwiler, the Nationals starting pitcher while in college playing against him in the Missouri Valley Conference. We both knew how he hits left handed pitching. Darin did not disappoint as he took an inside pitch from Detwiler and drove it deep into the left field seats at Citizens Bank Park that night for his first major league hit .
Who knows what the future will hold for Darin Ruf. His playing time in winter ball has been divided between first base, left field and DH. We were left with the impression that he would be playing exclusively in left in winter ball to learn the position but that has not been the case. The Phillies just might be show casing him for a big trade to the American league where he would shine as a power right handed bat in the DH role or at first base. Or he might be expected to play some first base for Ryan Howard in 2013 who struggles mightily against left handed pitching. Remember Ruf hit .392 with 19 home runs against left handed pitching during the regular season with Reading.
What ever happens it’s hard to believe that Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would trade “Babe” Ruf under just about any circumstance. Ruben does not want to go down in baseball history as the second general manager to move a “Babe”. No! Ruben Amaro Jr. does not want to become the second coming of Harry Frazee, the Boston Red Sox owner/GM who at the time sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. I don’t think so anyway?