What if I told you there’s a player currently on the Mets that produced an OPS of .904 in 2021, .887 in 2020, and was currently on the Mets roster? Furthermore, this player has a past of absolutely demolishing lefties, a role that the club desperately needs filled. Additionally, this player is only due 3 million dollars for the 2023 season. So who is this player?
None other than Darin Ruf.
I know what the initial reactions will be:
“Ruf was terrible last year!”
“We sent all those prospects away!”
“J.D. Davis has played better than him!”
“His best moment as a Met was as a relief pitcher!”
The Mets in the Buck Showalter era have been committed to running out a platoon DH, starting with J.D. Davis and Dom Smith, both of who were undependable at the plate last season. To settle this dilemma, Billy Eppler made an effort at last year’s deadline to find low-risk, high-reward solutions. One of these came with the acquisition of Daniel Vogelbach, who slashed .255/.393/.436 with the team. The other side of the coin was Darin Ruf, who produced slash lines of .152/.216/.197 with the team. Yikes.
Regardless of Ruf’s struggles at the plate during the second half of 2022, his history of demolishing righties is undeniable. The 36-year-old, in his eight years of service time versus LHP, has produced a slash line of .272/.367/.523, which amounts to an OPS of .891. These are irrefutable, elite-hitting numbers.
So here’s my suggestion:
Start Ruf as the everyday platoon DH vs. left-handed hitters. Give him 50 plate appearances to show he has anything left in the tank. And if he fails? You cut him.
Some of you might find great distaste in that sentiment, but what alternatives do the Mets have? Rolling out a rookie like Mark Vientos or Francisco Alvarez? Or starting Tommy Pham, who has cracked an OPS of .830 once in his career?
Darin Ruf is owed too little money and has too much of a history of obliterating lefties to dump to the curb before the season even begins. You give him time to adjust, see if he has anything in the tank, and then you rationally decide from there.