Keibert Ruiz has struggled this season

After inking a long term contract last offseason, expectations were high for Keibert Ruiz. After a slow start in 2023, Ruiz found his stride in the second half of the season, creating even more hype for him entering 2024. After another slow start, what is the panic level on Ruiz?
Toronto Blue Jays v Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays v Washington Nationals / G Fiume/GettyImages

What is up with Keibert Ruiz? The Washington Nationals' 25-year-old catcher is hitting .150 (12-80) entering Saturday's game in Boston versus the Red Sox. All offensive categories are astronomically low for Ruiz, sporting an on-base percentage of .198 and a slugging percentage of .224, according to Keibert has had just 80 at-bats this season due to being placed on the 10-day IL on April 15 (retroactive to April 12) with influenza. During that time, Ruiz lost 20 pounds with the flu. Ruiz also did not have much of a rehab assignment as the Nationals basically just activated him off the injured list.

In 12 games since returning from the injured list, Ruiz has just seven hits in 50 at-bats. This is a problem for the Washington Nationals. Signed to an eight-year extension before last season, the front office clearly views Ruiz as a cornerstone of the Franchise. Ruiz is massively underperforming expectations in the 2024 season.

In year one of his new deal, Ruiz got off to a slow start before eventually turning it on in the second half offensively. Ruiz hit .226 with a .639 OPS in the first half and .300 with an .809 OPS in the second half. It could be that Ruiz is just a slow starter to the season, and missing a couple of weeks due to illness has exasperated the issue.

Let's not overreact, Ruiz lost 20 pounds while he was out sick, which is a very significant amount anyways, but especially in a short period of time. He has not lost all of his power, as he connected on a long ball in Miami in his third game back from the injured list. If Ruiz struggles at the same pace of 7-50 in mid-July, then the Nationals have a serious problem. For now, Nats fans should give Keibert Ruiz a rest, because he will likely return to his normal ways.

Last season, Ruiz hit .260 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI. Realistically, where Ruiz's stats are currently, he has a deep hole to dig out of. Hitting .150 through 21 games is not where Ruiz envisioned himself before the season. The potential is there for Ruiz, as he was one of the premier prospects acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021. Injuries have now hit Ruiz twice in his MLB career, as he finished last season on the injured list with a groin injury. Both instances are a bit unlucky for the Venezuelan catcher.

Although Ruiz is mightily struggling, let's pump the brakes on the overreactions. Ruiz isn't going anywhere, so we might as well be patient. The season is still young, and Ruiz is more than likely still adding the weight he lost from his battle with the flu. If these struggles continue late into the season, then it will be worth revisiting the issue as the Nationals, and Ruiz, will need to do something to get the young catcher back on a good path.