Kratz leads the majors with 11.7 at bats per home run
Before he landed on the disabled list on August 3 with plantar fascitis in his left foot, Philadelphia catcher Carlos Ruiz was the injury-ravaged team’s most productive hitter.
The 33-year-old Ruiz, who has a $5 million club option for 2013 that will likely be picked up, was hitting a career-high .335 with 14 home runs, 58 RBI and a .959 OPS. He served as an important run producer for a lineup that was without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for an extended period.
On Friday, MLB.com reported that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro and Ruiz talked about him missing the rest of the season instead of returning and risking further injury.
The Phillies are making a late push for the postseason. Entering Saturday’s game with the Braves, they were 63-69 and eight games out in the wild card race with 30 games left. Ruiz’s long-term health is more important than any offense he could provide in September, Amaro believes.
Erik Kratz has made Ruiz’s absence more palatable for the Phillies. A minor league veteran of 11 seasons who had all of 40 Major League at-bats with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia over two brief stints in the last two years when Ruiz suffered his injury, the 32-year-old Kratz has a .290 average with eight home runs, 18 RBI, seven doubles, a .624 slugging percentage and a .967 OPS. Of his 27 hits, 15 are for extra bases.
Kratz leads the majors with 11.7 at bats per home run. He and Ruiz give the Phillies the game’s top two catchers in slugging percentage (with a minimum of 100 plate appearances). Kratz has a .624 mark and Ruiz is at .559.
On Friday, when Amaro and Ruiz discussed the likelihood of shutting the catcher down for the remainder of the season, Kratz delivered a memorable and gutsy performance.
In the fourth inning of Philadelphia’s 8-5 win over Atlanta in 10 innings, Kratz blocked the plate and held onto John Mayberry Jr.’s throw to nab Chipper Jones, who barreled into the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Kratz in one of the hardest collisions of the season. Kratz was standing upright when he took the hit and didn’t have a chance to brace himself, but he held onto the ball to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth, down 0-2 against Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel, Kratz ripped a solo home run to tie the game at 5-5. Before the at-bat, Kimbrel had fanned 34 of the 39 batters he had faced with an 0-2 count. Mayberry blasted a three-run home run in the top of the 10th for Philadelphia, which blanked Atlanta in the bottom of the frame to secure the victory.
A 29th round pick of the Blue Jays out of Eastern Mennonite University in 2002, Kratz has secured a spot as Philadelphia’s backup catcher next season, giving the team one of the best catching tandems at the plate and behind the dish.