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  1. He’s this year’s version of Mike Napoli.

    Comment by Andy — July 18, 2012 @ 10:35 am

  2. Chooch! Forget BABIP, its all because of the ice cream.

    Comment by Billion Memes — July 18, 2012 @ 10:36 am

  3. Except he’s also good at defense.

    Comment by nik — July 18, 2012 @ 10:39 am

  4. Understatement of the year

    (in comparison to Mike Napoli)

    Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — July 18, 2012 @ 10:45 am

  5. I’d guess the power surge is a fluke, but it is worth noting that Chooch put on some weight (and I don’t necessarily mean muscle) this past offseason.

    Comment by Harry — July 18, 2012 @ 10:45 am

  6. Ruiz has also changed his swing-prep. He no longer takes a large leg-lift before his swing. His foot now slightly lifts and comes back down. This change could account for (some of) the increase in BABIP and HR/FB%.

    Also, premises are not argument flaws. Every argument has premises. And each of your conclusions in the article is time-relative. So, how is it that those premises are insufficient to establish your conclusion? Perhaps, the unarticulated premise that WAR is the definitive measure of performance quality for catchers could be questioned, but it is not obviously a mistake. (Anti-WAR crowd? Bait?)

    Comment by LTG — July 18, 2012 @ 10:50 am

  7. Great post. An balanced assessment of Chooch’s excellent play.

    The underlying issue is pinning down what exactly what we mean when we say The Best. Are past results relevant to the determination of The Best beyond their ability to project future performance? It is tempting to ignore them, but in doing so, do we run the risk of putting too much stock in our predictive abilities, perhaps mis-assigning such a lofty title due to an unknown systematic flaw in the forecasting methodology.

    Even if we choose to only use the past insofar as it can predict the future, how far into the future do we look when assigning this title? Is the player with the greatest expected WAR in the immediate future, ignoring all past results, The Best? Is The Best a similar player, but with the highest expected cumulative WAR over longer time frame (say 2-3 years) from now? Are “the bonus points” awarded for a flashy nickname or stylish facial hair?

    Perhaps one of the resident masseurs or masseuses of the English language at NotGraphs could help address these questions.

    Comment by Ben — July 18, 2012 @ 10:55 am

  8. “the best” is too relative a claim because it relies on so many conditions that, frankly, are unlikely to be agreed upon–especially in a fluid state.

    this is one of the reasons a tiered approach is better, IMO.

    Comment by cable fixer — July 18, 2012 @ 11:01 am

  9. Would that make him “the best of the best” then?

    Comment by I Agree Guy — July 18, 2012 @ 11:16 am

  10. I’ve always been partial to Chooch, as his defense reminds me of my favorite player, Tony Pena. Given his offensive explosion this year, I’d take Ruiz over any other catcher in baseball right now.

    Comment by gonfalon — July 18, 2012 @ 11:32 am

  11. It’s Yadi. Oh, and easy on the italics, captain.

    Comment by lester bangs — July 18, 2012 @ 11:39 am

  12. No

    Comment by Romogenized Melk — July 18, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  13. I can’t say I’m overly surprised to see him be the best catcher in baseball for a year. I’ve always felt that Ruiz is one of those guys who has been consistently underrated over his career. He’s a catcher with above average defensive skills and above average OBP for a catcher.

    Let’s exclude this year and look at 2000 to 2011. Over that period, Ruiz had the 14rth best WAR/Game of all catchers (out of 77 qualified players). Who was above him? Joe Mauer, Brian McCann, Mike Napoli, Jorge Posada, Ivan Rodriguez, Russell Martin, Victor Martinez, Matt Wieters, Geovany Soto, Mike Piazza, Javy Lopez, Charles Johnson, Nick Hundley. It’s not like he’s a shuffler in total playing time either, with a total WAR good for 20th on the list (and being compared to people who played more seasons during the decade).

    If we include 2012 so far, he’s 6th on WAR/Game after: Mauer, McCann, Posada, Napoli, and Rodriguez. Considering one of those guys is half DH/half catcher, I’d probably downgrade Napoli a bit and so you’re basically saying he’s the 5th best catcher of the decade maybe? That’s pretty impressive for a guy who is known more for his defense, at a position where we don’t do a great job measuring all the tools of defense.

    Or, in other words, if you thought Yadier Molina would have more value you’ve been paying too much attention to batting average and not enough to walks. Because most people would tell you that a guy with a 3% higher walk rate, similar power, and similar average is a better hitter.

    Comment by B N — July 18, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

  14. Power surge in his age 33 season? And a catcher? That doesn’t happen without some help.

    Comment by Peter — July 18, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

  15. I’ll still take the additional defense, offense, and stolen bases that Yadi provides. You can have Ruiz’s everything else….which looks to be: “baserunning in non-stealing situations”.

    Comment by the hottest stove — July 18, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

  16. Me too. I have been extolling his virtues to anyone that would listen. He has been in the midst of one of the best catching seasons ever.

    I love that he felt ‘snubbed’ and was upset about not winning the fan all star vote, or the players vote, and having to be named by the manager. It’s going to propel him to a batting title. You WILL know him next year!

    Comment by jirish — July 18, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

  17. You could have picked a Arrested Development .gif if Micheal actually saying “Him?” from Season 3 – Prison Break-in. I find the .gif you used to be a fraud.

    Comment by Pat — July 18, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  18. easy answer: no. if you asked “carlos ruiz, luckiest catcher in baseball in 2012?” then the answer is yes

    Comment by jim — July 18, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

  19. I’ve never understood why Ruiz gets such little respect

    2010 .302/.400/.447, .366 wOBA, 126 wRC+
    2011 .283/.371/.383, .332 wOBA, 108 wRC+

    Thats .292/.385/.414, .349, 116 wRC+ the last two seasons prior to this years surge.

    And how does it stack up to other catchers with 300+ PA?

    .292 BA – 4th behind V-Mart, Mauer and Posey
    .385 OBP – 2nd behind only Mauer
    .349 wOBA – 9th behind Napoli, V-Mart, Posey, CSantana, McCann, Ross, Mauer and Avila
    116 wRC+ – 9th behind same ofcourse
    905 PA – 11th with only V-Mart, McCann, Napoli and Mauer having more PA and higher wOBA/wRC+

    Again, thats before this year. I just dont see how he has not been owned in almost every league, that kind of steady strong production from the Catchers spot is fantastic. Yet until recently he was always hovering around the 1/4th-1/3 owned marks (from my recollection)

    People kept taking fliers on younger players like Salty and Arencibia to fill that difficult hole, while Ruiz continued chugging along producing like crazy on everyones waiver wires.

    Comment by blahblahblah — July 18, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

  20. don’t mean to be a trolling homer, ’cause even without the power chooch is obviously still a great catcher, but the sleeping on brian mccann this season is getting a little surreal. let’s be clear: mac has been better than chooch every year of his career except this one and is five years younger. he’s a better player.

    Comment by chiefglockandhummer — July 18, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  21. It seems like the best catcher in baseball designation probably moves around a lot more than other bests in baseball. Mauer, McCann, now Ruiz in a 3-4 year period, and maybe Molina sneaks in there too for some people. I guess it’s just in the nature of the position that it’s hard to sustain a long run of dominance.

    Comment by Anon21 — July 18, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

  22. How exactly does Yadi provide additional offense over Ruiz? Ruiz has a higher OBP, SLP, wOBA and WRC+. Is it the 19 extra SB’s that he’s accumulated over his career? If so, you might also want to look at the 16 extra CS’s. There’s an argument to be made that Yadi > Ruiz, but that argument is almost solely based on his better defense.

    Comment by hk — July 18, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

  23. how does a player luck his way to a .350 average?

    Comment by john — July 18, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

  24. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read all day.

    Comment by Andy — July 18, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

  25. Two quick criticisms:

    1. The intro to the article doesn’t work that well with the title – sort of as if “The Sixth Sense” had been called “Ghost Psychologist.”

    2. You say he’s at +4.8 wins and on pace for nearly +7 wins, but +4.8 wins at this point in the season would easily put him on a pace for more than +8.

    Comment by Jon L. — July 18, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

  26. you must be new around here

    Comment by jim — July 18, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

  27. to #2, so far he has seen 60% of his expected PA/Playing time. If he only gets another 40% of what he has done so far, then he would gain about +2.8 WAR to his current 4.8 for around 7.7.

    Its much later in the season then many people seem to think. The Phillies have played 92 already, so 57% of their scheduled.

    Also, realistically he should see at least a slight regression on his BAbip even if he keeps a similar production pace. It will likely be difficult to pass 8+ for him, so they arent out of line for giving a more honest assessment I dont think

    Comment by blahblahblah — July 18, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

  28. If you are ten games behind in the wild card race, and, at 11 games below .500, you are the fifth-worst team in the league, and you have a 33-year-old catcher who is having a career year… you have to shop the guy, right? What would Philly realistically hope to get back for Carlos Ruiz? He represents a massive upgrade at the C position for all of the following teams:

    Athletics (only 0.5 games back in the wild card race!)

    Side note: A couple of years ago, I was looking at all players who had more walks than strikeouts, for that particular season as well as during the two previous seasons. There were very few names on this list, less than five, I think. Ruiz was one of the guys on this list.

    Comment by Robbie G. — July 18, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

  29. you can be the best and the luckiest at the same time.

    the answer is yes, right now he is.
    top 5 wRC+

    Comment by joe — July 18, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

  30. Mike Scioscia just got hard thinking about your “Angels trade for Chooch” advice.

    Comment by KDL — July 18, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

  31. The exact calculation for what he’s on pace for through 93 games is +4.8 *162/93 = +8.36 wins. I agree that that would be a very optimistic projection, but it is nonetheless his current pace.

    It may be that the author was meaning to refer to his ZIPS projection, which is currently listed at 6.7 WAR.

    Comment by Jon L. — July 19, 2012 @ 12:52 am

  32. His babip may be high but with a LD % of 23.8 its only so lucky. Hes hitting the ball hard and consistantly has multihit games. Consider also that he has a certain presence and swagger that he carries both on the defensive and offensive end. Hes fun to watch and very consistant. While I doubt he ever hits for 350 in a full season again (and very well might not even finish this year with that ridiculous average,) but similar to Bautista and Encarnacion, Ruiz is simply finding his groove at a later stage in his career and looks like hes gonna produce at a high level until Father Time has his way.

    Comment by brez224 — July 19, 2012 @ 2:48 am

  33. I’d say his 12.3 K% and his 23.8 Line Drive % have more to do with his batting average than luck. He’s also hitting fewer infield flies than ever. If you don’t believe in his power, fine, but to write off his season as lucky is to overlook the legitimate improvements he’s made at the plate.

    Comment by Philadelphiandy — July 19, 2012 @ 3:26 am

  34. Crazy

    A guy that looks like you would pick him up at the Home Depot to do some yard work for $20 can be the best catcher in baseball.

    Comment by lollers — July 19, 2012 @ 5:50 am

  35. Clever. And not at all racist.

    Comment by Chris R — July 19, 2012 @ 10:06 am

  36. Ala Austin Jackson…look how that has helped him this year as well.

    Comment by Chomp — July 19, 2012 @ 11:21 am

  37. Interestingly, a similar adjustment by Jose Bautista drove his BABIP down because he started hitting way more FBs. For Ruiz, his LD% has gone up but his FB% down, while increasing his power tremendously.

    Comment by LTG — July 19, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

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