Carlos Ruiz gets complete lack of respect from fans in All-Star voting
In many ways Carlos Ruiz has been the heart and soul for this era of Phillies baseball. There wasn’t really much fanfare regarding Ruiz as he moved through the Phillies’ minor league system. He was never considered a top prospect, and was fourth on the depth chart behind Mike Lieberthal, Chris Coste, and Sal Fasano upon his arrival in the big leagues back in 2006. However, the pieces quickly fell into place for the man Phillies fans now know and love as Chooch. Fasano was eventually traded, Lieberthal left the Phillies for the Dodgers, and Ruiz eventually won the starters job due to the inconsistent play of Rod Barajas in 2007- the first of five straight NL East Division winning titles for the Phillies. That season, Ruiz was the Phillies leading hitter in the NLDS against Colorado with a .333 average.
The next year, Ruiz managed to handle every slider Brad Lidge threw while hitting .375 in the World Series. The image of Ruiz and Lidge as they celebrated the club’s second World Championship will never be forgotten by Phillies fans. While Ruiz had another strong World Series in 2009, 2010 saw him catch both Roy Halladay’s perfect game and post-season no-hitter. 2011 saw him grace the cover of Sports Illustrated, while magnificently handling one of the best pitching staffs in recent baseball history. Chooch also finished 17th and 25th in the National League MVP voting in those respective seasons.
Which brings up to 2012. While the Phillies have struggled all season for consistently, one player who clearly hasn’t had his difficulties is Ruiz, whose performance thus far should make him a lock for the All-Star Game in Kansas City in July.
Well the early voting results are in, and so far, they are almost as disappointing as Cliff Lee still being winless in the beginning of June. Chooch currently has 562,021 All-Star votes for a fourth place standing. He trails the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina (1,100,048 votes), the Giants’ Buster Posey (1,072,464) and the Braves’ Brian McCann (707,508).
Yes, the Cardinals are the World Champions, but is Molina (as well as former Rookie of the Year Posey) practically half a million votes better than Chooch?! No way. McCann is hitting .248 this season!
While Chooch’s competitors have similar offensive numbers, one area where Ruiz is blowing them out of the water is batting average. Going into Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers, Ruiz is hitting .358, which good for third in the National League and fourth in the majors. He currently has eight home runs, which is one away from his career high of nine, and he is unquestionably the Phillies’ MVP. I don’t even want to think of where this team would be if Chooch weren’t in the lineup.
In saying that, it’s amazing how small minded fans of Major League Baseball can be when it comes to All-Star Game voting. After all these years, it’s still nothing but a popularity contest. Phillies fans experienced this in 1992, when Darren Daulton took a back seat to Benito Santiago in the voting. The future Phillie started ahead of Daulton mainly because the game took place at Jack Murphy Stadium, where Santiago played his home games. Although on the surface it doesn't seem like an issue this season, the fact that the game will be played in the Cardinals' home state of Missouri (Kansas City) might get Molina some votes.
Ruiz’s numbers speak for itself, and it’s not like the Phillies having been hiding under baseball’s radar the last half decade to where he should be so far behind in the voting. Chooch was the catcher on two Phillies World Series teams over the last four years (with Molina and Posey having one appearance each). With the exception of Pedro Feliz and Pat Burrell, each everyday player from the meat of those Phillies’ division winning teams made the All-Star team. The fact that Philadelphia is the fourth largest market in the country and Ruiz is in fourth place is disappointing. Despite their lackluster performance at times in 2012, the Phillies still sell out every game, and as Halladay noted, Ruiz should be able to win the starting job in the mid-summer classic with the support of this town alone!
So get on it, Philly! I hear you chanting “Choooooch” at all these Phillies home games. It’s time for us to set an example for all of Major League Baseball and show them how it's done. Let's help send Carlos Ruiz to Kansas City!