Keibert Ruiz is in the first year of his new 8 year, $50 million contract extension with the Nationals. As the quarter mark of the season is now behind us, let's take a look at how Keibert has performed thus far, and take a look at what the rest of his season needs to look like to count this season as a success.
For reference, his stats from last year:
112 games; 433 plate appearances; 99 hits; 7 home runs; 36 RBIs; .251 batting average; and a .313 on base percentage.
Let's compare these statistics with his numbers from 2023 (thus far), and see where Keibert has excelled, and where he may need improvement.
2022 Total: 112 / 2023 Total: 47
Seeing as we are just past the quarter mark of the season and Keibert has about 10 games shy of half of his total for last season, I'd say he's on a pretty good pace. He's caught 47 of 56 games for Washington this season (roughly 84%). If he continues this pace, he'll reach 135 games behind the plate.
For reference, the most games caught by a catcher last season was 133 by J.T. Realmuto of the Phillies, who is widely considered one of the best catchers in baseball. Keibert is doing very well so far this season.
The plate appearances will come the more games he plays, however he's on pace to dig into the batters box more this season than last.
2) Plate Productivity
2022 Total: 99 hits / 2023 Total: 42
Keibert is already just shy of half of his hit total, and we're barely into June. He's well on pace to surpass his total from last season.
In terms of extra-base-hits, Keibert totaled 22 doubles last season, and has amassed 7 this year. He's about on the same pace, and will likely pass his previous total here too. Surprisingly, Keibert Ruiz has never tripled in the major leagues.
Home runs is another category where Keibert Ruiz has improved, and this time, he's improved drastically. 47 games into the season, Ruiz has matched his total of 7 home runs from last season. That's a win in my book.
His batting average and on base percentage are down from last year, however his slugging percentage is up to .705, compared to .673 last year. We'll see if Keibert can try and reverse some of these downward trends.
3) Catcher Comparison
Next year, Keibert Ruiz will rank in the top 10 highest paid catchers in Major League Baseball (by annual value). Let's see how his numbers stack up to some of his competition, specifically in his division, and around the majors
First? J.T. Realmuto
Realmuto has appeared in more games, however Ruiz has more plate appearances. Realmuto leads Ruiz in hits (45-42), doubles (14-7), and batting average (.257-.237) among other statistics. However, Ruiz leads in home runs (7-3), RBI's (23-17), and OBP (.310-.307). These two are very closely matched right now. Sure, the Phillies are struggling, but that also shows development from Ruiz.
Let's come back down to earth here. The 7 time all-star catcher in Kansas City leads Keibert in every category that we've listed, except for one: batting average. Keibert leads Perez by a margin of .002 (.237-.235). But in basically every other category, Perez leads nicely. Keibert is good, but he's not quite to the top yet; after all, Perez is in the top 2 highest paid catchers in the league, and deservedly so.
One of the most talked about catchers in the last few months has been Contreras, for varying reasons. More recently, it's been the slump he's been in since being the talk of the summer when he made the suprising move from the Chicago Cubs to the rival St. Louis Cardinals.
Contreras edges out Ruiz in games played, hits, doubles, and RBIs. Ruiz leads in averages and strikeouts (only 15!). My point here with this comparison is that Keibert is certainly up there with some of the bigger names in baseball, and he's just getting started (he's only 24).
4) What would a successful season look like?
Back to the original question: what would a successful season for Keibert Ruiz look like? Here's my opinion:
If Keibert can continue on his current pace offensively, I'll call that a sizeable step in the right direction. His batting average can use some work, and hopefully as the season goes on, consistency (which he's lacked) will help with that. So, I think a successful season would look a little like this.
Final Stats: 120+ games played; 120+ hits, 20+ home runs, .250 BA
These are the important things; all the other stats will come. However if Keibert can continue to be productive on the offensive side of the ball (like he's shown he can), I think he'll continue to make a steady climb ever closer to the top of the "Best Catchers in Baseball" list.