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The New York Mets are almost guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, but they still made one of MLB’s most questionable trade deadline decisions.
The 89-54 New York Mets are having an incredible season and are virtually guaranteed a spot in MLB playoffs. That being said, they did make a very questionable trade at the deadline that could’ve hurt their success more if they didn’t have so much talent on the team already.
At the trade deadline, the Mets snagged Darin Ruf from the San Francisco Giants in what they thought was a steal of a deal.
Ruf had a .886 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2022 when the trade took place, per New York Daily News.
In a month, the power-hitting lefty has gone from triumph to slump. According to Marc Craig of The Athletic, “The big league average OPS+ is 100. Darin Ruf’s OPS+ with the Mets is 9.”
Ruf is no stranger to the league. He made his MLB debut back in 2012 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He played with them through the 2016 season before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but his career with the Dodgers ended before it even began. His contract was sold to the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization, where he played three seasons before coming back to MLB in 2020.
He then re-joined the majors with the Giants before he was traded to the Mets at the deadline this season. His overall performance has been extremely unpredictable over the years, varying greatly each season. However, he hasn’t shown significant signs of struggle like he has this season since 2016.
Mets deadline addition Darin Ruf doesn’t look great in hindsight
Over Ruf’s career, excluding his time in Korea, he’s hit .240/.329/.434 for an OPS of 763. His two seasons with the Giants were exceptional with slugging percentages above .500, proving he’s a capable power hitter. The Mets were likely after that potential, but he’s been far from living up to it this season.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s underperforming. With the Giants in the earlier half of the season, he hit a low .216/.328/.373 for an OPS of .701. This is the second-worst of his career, behind his final season with the Phillies.
He did extremely well in Korea, which essentially earned him a spot back in the majors. In 2017, he led the KBO in RBIs (124 in 134 games). He did, however, take a while that season to reach his potential, and he’s never been consistently incredible. He’s only won two awards throughout his entire MLB career, both during his rookie season in 2012.
He was a risky trade for the Mets, which saw them sending J.D. Davis and a few prospects to San Francisco. New York doesn’t have much room to test the waters with the defending World Series champions, the Atlanta Braves, trailing right behind them for the top NL East spot. It’s surprising they took such a huge gamble with Ruf.
They mainly traded for him because of his ability to hit off left-handed pitchers. Manager Buck Showalter stated, “Darin has been really good in that spot in his career. It just hasn’t been there for him lately” (via Matthew Roberson, New York Daily News).
It’s rare to find a hitter that can do significantly well against left-handed pitchers, but the Mets are risking more than they’re gaining with Ruf.