Darin Ruf was leading baseball with nine home..."/> Darin Ruf was leading baseball with nine home..."/>

Who’s Hot & Cold This Week? Darin Ruf & Yasiel Puig

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Darin Ruf (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

If you knew that Darin Ruf was leading baseball with nine home runs so far in August, then I give you a lot of credit. Because, that is certainly something that took me by surprise. But should it really be all that shocking?

Ruf has been in the Phillies system since 2009, and he was always was a good prospect, but he was never someone that stood out. Well that was until Ruf hit 38 home runs in 139 games at AA while batting .317 and driving in 104 runs. That earned the outfielder 12 games with the Phillies in which he batted .333 with three home runs and 10 RBI’s in 12 games.

This season, the Phillies started Ruf in AAA where he did not produce like he had the season before. The 27 year old was hitting .266 at the time of his call up with seven home runs and 46 at bats in 83 games. Now those aren’t terrible numbers, but they are also not enough to really draw too much attention.

In his first extended playing time at the major league level, Ruf has performed to mixed results. So far in 93 August games, Ruf is hitting .237 after hitting .297 in July. Obviously, that is not why the outfielder finds himself as my ‘hot” pick of the week. It is those nine home runs that catch my attention.

An easy explanation for the power surge, is that Ruf is hitting home runs on 34.6% of his fly balls. That is a trend that cannot be expected to last. Ruf clearly has power but I think expecting him to hit much more than 20-25 home runs going forward is over zealous.

To say that Yasiel Puig came up this June and took the league by storm would be an understatement. The outfielder quickly became a top story by hitting .436 in his first 101 at bats. Of course that level of production is impossible to keep up, so Puig’s average in July dipped to .287. So far this month, the outfielder is batting .312 and for the season his average sits at .347 with 13 home runs while scoring 52 runs and driving in 30 runs.

So then, if that’s the case, I must be crazy. Why would I think it would be a good idea to put Puig on the cold side of this list?

Well for starters, Puig is only hitting .257 with two home runs, 5 runs scored, and three RBI’s. Those are very pedestrian numbers and a far cry from the success he had just two short months ago. But again, a regression was expected, so for me there is more to the story.

At the risk of being overly dramatic, Puig is at a crossroads. His talent is undeniable, but his focus needs to improve. The young outfielder still has a lot to learn about being a professional. And until he does, his on field performance will suffer.

Last week, the 22 year old arrived to the ballpark late. This Wednesday, Puig was pulled from the game for lack of focus in the outfield. Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. As long as these continue, expectations for Puig must be adjusted. You can easily chalk them up to being a rookie with a ton of talent and experiencing a lot of early success, but if they are not addressed we could have a case of lost potential on our hands.