Don’t Look Now, But Ruggiano Reminds Us Of …

don'tlookIn the first part we found a lot to like about Justin Ruggiano.

But we are still like the dogged best friend who smells a rat and doesn’t trust the smarmy new stepdad …  [by continuing this theme we are not implying anything about Ruggiano himself, of course … ]

We used our Flowchart Profiler to find that Ruggiano’s recent run of success resembled the recent (left-handed) success of Michael Saunders.

Except Saunders’ run started at age-25.  Rugi’s at age-30.

And the Flowchart Profiler is calibrated at 1500 PAs and above.  Fewer than that and there’s more guesswork involved.  Ruggiano has fewer than 1300 MLB plate appearances.

Results inconclusive.

So we break it down a bit further, and we find that essentially all of the above-average results come against left-handed pitching.  Against righties, he not only strikes out more (27.8% vs. 23.0%), but he’s consistently a victim of weak contact.

  • Strikeout, ground ball or pop-up vs. RHP — 60%
  • Strikeout, ground ball or pop-up vs. LHP — 50%

He seems to have a different (and much better) skill-set against LHP.  And all the goodness vs. LHP … is based on just 443 PAs.  About 3/4 of a single normal season.

Is Ruggiano just on a epic hot streak against lefty pitching until he is eventually “solved”?

Well … we have more data.  We don’t have reliable batted-ball data, but we have a long record of Ruggiano in the minors … to which we can apply our old friend … the Spectometer!

Year Age Lvl G HR% BB% XBH% ISO K% PS Off Comp
Slugger > 4% Goal > 8.5% Goal > 19% Goal > .200 Goal < 20% Strong Prospect > 100
2004 22 Rk 46 3.74% 12.30% 22.46% 0.213 20.32% 116 107 123
2005 23 A+-AA 124 3.23% 9.68% 19.35% 0.198 26.02% 77 85 62
2006 24 AA 120 2.73% 13.66% 24.37% 0.208 21.64% 118 110 128
2007 25 AAA 127 3.66% 9.71% 19.05% 0.193 27.66% 74 81 54
2008 26 AAA 66 3.81% 7.61% 18.69% 0.222 26.64% 67 93 59
2009 27 AAA 123 2.82% 9.59% 17.86% 0.159 27.63% 67 67 34
2010 28 AAA 117 2.96% 8.28% 17.36% 0.166 25.44% 66 75 42
2011 29 AAA 43 3.68% 10.53% 21.58% 0.214 22.11% 100 107 107
2012 30 AAA 39 3.65% 13.14% 27.01% 0.256 17.52% 138 143 181
2014 32 AAA 6 0.00% 12.00% 16.00% 0.047 24.00% 71 33 4

And we see that only in one full season (and one short season) did Ruggiano keep his strikeouts in check sufficiently to grade out well on the ol’ Spectometer.  And the full year was at age-24 in AA.

One of our “rules of thumb” is to be wary of hitters who don’t “show up” statistically until 23 or 24 at AA or lower.  At that age, the very best of the pitchers from their peer group are in AAA or MLB, so they’re facing lesser and/or younger arms.  Some guys feast on that and put up misleading stats.

Another “rule of thumb” is to be wary of guys from major colleges who shine in the low minors, and that one applies to his season in rookie ball (which we rather discount anyway since it was only 187 PAs) (Ruggiano came out of Texas A&M).

And a final “rule of thumb” is that guys who strike out a ton against minor-league pitchers can almost never be counted on to strike out less against MLB pitchers.

Suddenly we are reminded of another RH-hitting new arrival.  One with a shiny track record in the immediate past (.831 OPS in his first 100 MLB games).  Also boosted by some big numbers vs. LHP.  Also with a really bad strikeout record except for some isolated periods in the minors.

Now we’re on it … Casper Wells.

Do you know how fast Casper Wells imploded?  His post-Seattle slash line (three teams gave him a shot): .126/.186/.147.

It would not shock me if Ruggiano is similarly exposed if counted on for regular playing time.


So we poked all around the silver lining until we found the cloud.  The busybody best friend really did have your best interest at heart, and wasn’t just jealously trying to crash down your happiness.



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