I thought this article on Yahoo! Sports was interesting given our discussions about Randy Ruiz. It analyzes late-blooming sluggers in the light of Garrett Jones' emergence with the Pittsburgh Pirates last year at 28.
It's interesting because none of the historic late-blooming sluggers in the article (going back to the 1920s) were 30 or over when they started playing regularly. As many of you no doubt know, Ruiz is 32 this season (he turned 32 last October) and he had less than 200 major-league plate appearances prior to 2009 and zero prior to his 30th birthday. (it remains to be seen how many he'll have this year).
Obviously no one can say for sure what will happen with Ruiz. I'm of the opinion that he has earned at least a shot at a platoon role, with the chance for more if he performs well. I mean, even J-Mac has better numbers than Overbay against lefties the last two seasons, so it's not like it's a high bar Ruiz would have to cross to be useful in that role (though you would be sacrificing defense). But what we do know is that if he were to break out this season the way some folks think he could, it'd be more than just completely off the age curve, it'd be a unique event in a hundred years of baseball history. It could happen, and I'm hoping it does. But it's hardly crazy on the part of Jays' management to not be counting on it.
That being said, give 'em hell, Randy!