The short answer is yes. The SF Giants originally reeled in Darin Ruf on a minor league pact to face off against left-handed pitching, but he has proven that he can handle right-handed pitching as well. The Giants will need as much offense as they can get to make a playoff push and Ruf’s bat being in the lineup can help them in that area.
SF Giants: Should Darin Ruf get more playing time?
It has been a strong 2021 campaign for the 35-year-old outfielder. The Giants have not received nearly enough production with the bat from their core contingent of outfielders but Ruf has been one of the few exceptions.
He began the year on the roster bubble but he went from a platoon player to one who should be in the lineup every day. Ruf has continued his trend of hitting well against lefties, slashing .274/.421/.579 with eight home runs, 17 RBI, and 16 runs scored in 121 plate appearances. This includes 23 walks against 23 strikeouts.
His production against lefties is not surprising as that has been a trend since he came up with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012. However, the seven-year veteran has proven that he can handle right-handed pitching as well.
This was not a trait he had demonstrated earlier in his career as he was primarily used in a platoon role. That said, Ruf has posted a strong .878 OPS in 135 plate appearances against righties. For the sake of comparison, Alex Dickerson’s role is to hit right-handed pitching and he has registered a rough .725 OPS against them. Given how Ruf has performed in 2021, he is the superior option.
In total, the right-handed bat has produced a .275/.398/.536 line (151 OPS+) with 14 home runs, 36 RBI, and 37 runs scored while being worth 2.9 WAR in 256 plate appearances. His power has been impressive, but his on-base ability stands out as well and is partly what makes him such a threat at the plate. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, Ruf would have the third-highest OBP in the National League with his .398 mark.
Of course, Ruf was not known for his outfield defense before coming to the Giants either. However, the defensive metrics are painting a more favorable picture of his glovework recently. In the outfield, he has been worth four DRS and -1 OAA, so depending on which metric you use, he has been perfectly acceptable.
This is all to point out that Ruf has improved in just about every facet of the game at an age when players normally regress. He has been a nice addition by the front office and it is time that he is rewarded with more playing time.
As the Giants begin a key series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, they will need every advantage they can get. Ruf gives them an advantage at the plate regardless of what arm the pitching is throwing with, meaning that he should be in the lineup in an everyday role. September baseball is the time to put the best foot forward and keeping Ruf in the lineup puts the Giants in a better position to win.