Who should be the Phillies starting first baseman, Ryan Howard or Darin Ruf? That is the big question the team is trying to answer.
Since Jim Thome was traded in 2005, Ryan Howard has been known as the Phillies primary first baseman. However, his numbers and fielding are beginning to slip. Darin Ruf has been patiently awaiting his chance to prove himself. With this being Howard’s last season in a Phillies uniform should he be the starter or should Ruf have the chance to show the coaches what he can bring to the team? Unless Howard gets traded I believe this will be a controversy all season long.
Howard has been playing in the Major Leagues for twelve years while Ruf made his major debut just four years ago. Howard has a career average of .262 while Ruf has a career average of .244. While both players bring different things to the table, there can only be one starter. Who should it be?
Everyone knows Ryan Howard as the “Big Piece”. However, during the last couple of seasons he hasn’t been living up to his nickname. In his prime years Howard had hit 58, 47, 48, and 45 homeruns. Now we are lucky if he hits 20. Last season Howard hit 23 homeruns with a .229 average. On the field he doesn’t commit many errors and last year he had only committed one. At age 36 I would say he is a hit or miss type player. He either strikes out or surprises you with an RBI. There is no in-between.
Darin Ruf has been around the Phillies since 2012 as a backup to Howard, an outfielder, and a pinch hitter. He hasn’t been known as a homerun hitter like Howard but does come up clutch in key situations. Last season he had an average of .235 with 39 RBIs, 12 of those being homeruns. He also is patient at the plate as he walked 21 times last season. Unlike Howard, Ruf is able to hit left-handed pitchers, which has been a hot topic of discussion going into the 2016 season. On the field Ruf has only committed five errors his whole major league career. At age 29 I would say Darin Ruf is a reliable player for the Phillies lineup.
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It is a tough decision for Pete Mackanin to make every day on who should start first base each game as Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf are two completely different players. One is known for being a power hitter, while the other I would say is more reliable. Who would you choose?