The Philadelphia Phillies should disregard the comments of all naysayers, including any within their own organization, regarding Darin Ruf's career limitations. This young man's potential is undeniable.
I was one of the people who had the chance to see 'Babe Ruf' earn his nickname this season. Watching the native Nebraskan hit one home run after another (38 total) for the Double-A Reading Phillies represented far more than a summer hot flash.
His dominant efforts forced a split in the local crowd along personality lines. Those who adamantly believed that "they know the game better than anyone" constantly barked about what Ruf wouldn't be able to do as he was generating his electric season. We're all familiar with individuals who attempt to undercut everything and analyze every pitch to the point where you wonder if they're baseball fans, or fans of their own voices.
There were other people in the crowd who became instant true believers. These good-hearted souls love the game and enthusiastically transfer their positive energy onto the field. They aren't simpletons, but instead represent the purest supporters that can be found.
There were also other types who took a more cautious approach toward Ruf's burst onto the baseball scene. I put myself into that category this summer and remain there now.
Reacting to Babe's bounce
I've followed baseball since the 1970s. Like anyone, the people who I've been fortunate to know along the way have helped to shape my views of the game.
Ruf demolished Double-A pitching because he can hit a fastball. But, he also made a nice transition from first base to left field in August.
I specifically kept my eye on how he handled his outfield duties. Ruf seemed to have good tracking instincts, showed a decently strong arm and was never out of position. His approach to playing left field caused me to believe that can learn to hit major league off-speed pitches. Of course, developing that particular skill will take consistent effort over time.
Any professional player must routinely adjust his overall game. Ruf's ability to embrace many big moments this season and openness to improving himself along the way allowed him to reach the major leagues this September.
Some people have imposed limits on what they think this fourth-year player will be able to accomplish in the future. Ruf obviously hasn't done the same. As a result, he's playing in the major leagues right now.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies' farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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