Keibert Ruiz’s 2022 campaign ended in early September, when the 24-year-old catcher suffered a testicular contusion, the result of a foul ball which caught the backstop in the groin.
“He’s pretty much shut down for three weeks,” Ruiz’s manager Davey Martinez announced the next day, which meant the No. 1 catcher in Washington, D.C.’s second season with the Nationals was over at that point.
Getting the catcher back on the field took a back seat to just making sure he was healthy going into the offseason after the young receiver caught the bulk of the games for the Nats in his third big league run.
KEIBERT RUIZ WALK-OFF PICKOFF pic.twitter.com/upY0AdapnF— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 5, 2022
“We hope that he just continues to get better,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he’s doing. But like I said, with everything going on, doctors said he’s not able to do anything strenuous for three weeks. So we’re just going to take it day by day and see how he’s feeling.”
Ruiz played in 112 games total, starting 98 behind the plate and putting up a .251/.313/.360 line, 22 doubles, seven home runs, 30 walks, and 50 Ks in 433 plate appearances, while throwing out 20 of 71 would-be base-stealers (28% CS%), and posting a .992 fld% on the year, with seven errors on the season (three fielding, four throwing), and four passed balls, finishing the year at -3 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved).
Ruiz, “… ranked second in Major League Baseball with 18 catcher caught stealing behind Philadelphia catcher J.T. Realmuto (27),” the club noted in their Season in Review.
He also, “picked off four runners at first base, tied for the most in Major League Baseball with Colorado’s Elias Díaz and New York’s (AL) Jose Trevino,” and his, “four pickoffs were tied for the most in a single season in Nationals’ history (2005-pres.) with Brian Schneider in 2005.”
Though his season ended prematurely, the catcher finished the year, “... ranked [high] among [NL] catchers in hits (5th, 99), doubles (5th, 22) and extra-base hits (T6th, 29).”
He was also on a nice run at the plate when he suffered the injury, hitting, “safely in 14 of his final 19 games, .300 (18-for-60), with four doubles, one homer, six RBI[s], six walks, one stolen base, and seven runs scored during this stretch.”
When will they learn...— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 9, 2022
DON'T RUN ON KEIBERT RUIZ. pic.twitter.com/UPe1K3bJeV
Even before the season-ending injury, however, Ruiz was banged up a bit, with a number of foul balls off his mask raising concerns for his manager, though the young catcher played in the 9th most games by a backstop this season (as a catcher), in spite of the fact his season ended on September 9th.
“He’s a tough kid,” Martinez said of his catcher. “He played through a lot of minor injuries, a lot of balls to the head. He was fine, but I’ll tell you, he’s done really well. Like I’ve said earlier, we talk about him a lot, but he’s matured behind the plate. He’s gotten a lot better at calling games. His hitting has gotten a lot better. As you know, he’s a catch-and-throw guy. I mean, he can throw guys out. He blocks balls well.
“He’s going to be a big part of our future moving forward. And I truly believe one of these years, this kid will be an All-Star. He’s improved that much.”