With all the big bats the Phillies tout in their lineup, who would have thought that Ruiz would have been as good as any this postseason? Yet that's been precisely the case. After hitting .308 in the Phillies' National League Division Series win over the Rockies, Ruiz hit at a .385 clip against the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series. He scored four times in the series and drove in four runs.
Maybe Ruiz's October success shouldn't be so much of a surprise, though. In the four previous playoff series in which Ruiz participated, he hit above .300 in three of them. Take away his 1-for-14 showing against Milwaukee in the NLDS last year, and he entered 2009 as a career .341 hitter in 13 other postseason games.
Call him clutch? Sure thing. Even in the regular season, he showed a knack for getting the big hits. His .274 average with runners in scoring position this year was higher than his .255 season average.
Ruiz hits best against lefties, which should bode well during a series in which the Phillies could see left-hander CC Sabathia three times and lefty Andy Pettitte twice. Speaking of which, Ruiz is a combined 4-for-6 with two homers against the two southpaws in his career. As for his success against the Yankees' other stud pitcher, A.J. Burnett? Well, Ruiz is 3-for-3 lifetime against him.
This isn't all that bad a result for a catcher lauded much more for his defensive abilities than his contributions as the team's eighth-hole hitter. He continues to handle the Phillies' pitching staff masterfully and caught 27 percent of baserunners attempting to steal against him this year. In fact, he is catching two starters -- Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez -- who were not in the organization at the All-Star break, yet both have thrived with Ruiz behind the plate in their starts.
Jorge Posada, Yankees
.285 BA, 22 HR, 81 RBIs
Jose Molina, Yankees
.217 BA, 1 HR, 11 RBIs
Taking nothing away from Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and the rest of the Yankees' roster, Posada might just very well be the cog that keeps this machine going year after year. This World Series appearance will be the sixth of Posada's career and his 26th postseason series in all. He may not have been the integral bat in most of those series, but he has been the constant behind the plate.
Still, this postseason hasn't been without some backstop controversy for the team in pinstripes. Though Posada is clearly the team's everyday catcher, manager Joe Girardi has opted to start backup Jose Molina in Burnett's playoff starts. The decision was based largely on Molina's excellent rapport with Burnett, but it left Posada publicly questioning the move during the American League Division Series.
It would seem that Girardi's intention to use Molina with Burnett and Posada at all other times won't change in the Fall Classic, though that's a storyline to watch. There's no question that Posada is the better offensive player of the two and obviously brings the experience with him. Posada hit .368 in the AL Division Series before batting just .200 in the ALCS. This means that even when he doesn't start, he's a likely midgame substitution for Molina just because of his ability with the bat.
Molina is the superior of the two defensively, though again, his role in the World Series is pretty clearly defined. He'll catch Burnett and will then move aside when the right-hander's outing is complete. Molina had some moderate offensive success while making postseason appearances for the Angels in 2004 and 2005, but he hasn't had enough at-bats this October to be much of an asset.
Note: Hitter evaluations based on a 100-point scale, factoring in power, contact hitting, speed, fielding, experience, recent performances and moxie. Click on each expert to see all of their selections for the 2009 World Series.
World Series Catcher Matchup
|Panelist||Carlos Ruiz||Jorge Posada||Expert analysis|
|75||78||Ruiz has been money this October and Posada has looked old, but Posada's ability to switch hit and hit for power gives him the edge -- although he may be a pinch-hitter again when Burnett starts. |
|70||79||Posada is the superior bat, but he struggled against the Angels and has enjoyed little World Series success, while Ruiz has a career postseason OPS over 100 points above his regular season mark. Both are average defensively, though the Phillies are more likely to test Posada.|
|70||80||Ruiz has a nice presence behind the plate, but Posada's experience is the difference here. His pitchers trust him, with good reason. Offensively, Posada is more dangerous.
|70||90||Posada's bat in the middle of the lineup and his ability to drive in clutch runs, plus his postseason experience, outweighs Ruiz's defensive ability and the fact that he's become an RBI machine in the No. 8 spot in the lineup.
|75||85||Off their resumes, this really shouldn't be a contest. Posada is a five-time All-Star, but Ruiz showed the Dodgers that his bat must be respected.|
|82||82||Posada is stronger offensively, while Ruiz is stronger defensively.
|78||83||Ruiz is a defense-first catcher who throws well and does everything else better, and emphasizes contact at the plate. Posada can't throw at all, and takes the Yankee approach -- patience and power -- to the batter's box. Jose Molina will get starts when A.J. Burnett pitches.
|76||78||Posada is a bigger threat at the plate, but Ruiz has a better arm and has come up big late this season with the long ball. Ruiz calls a better game.
Final tally: Posada 81.9, Ruiz 74.5