Sometimes, we use these to highlight a particular statistic. Sometimes, it's a specific game, and sometimes, it's a player. Lately, I've been going the player route, and today is no different.
Today, we'll be talking about Vern Ruhle, who in 1983, allowed 107 hits while posting an 8-5 record in his second-to-last season as a Houston Astro. Ruhle pitched seven seasons for the Astros, going 39-46 with a 3.35 ERA and 313 strikeouts in 749 2/3 innings.
Then, after leaving Houston as a free agent following the 1984 season, he spent two more years in the league before retiring. Ruhle popped up again on Houston's radar when he was named pitching coach under Larry Dierker. He served in that position for four seasons, being fired after the 2000 season.
Ruhle joined the Reds organization and served as pitching coach there until he died in 2007.
In Ruhle, Houston had a very unique player who taught me quite a bit about successful coaching. I remember reading the following quote from Larry Dierker during his time at PC for the Astros:
"He made it because he worked hard at it," Dierker said. "He wasn’t the most talented guy, but he worked hard. Usually the guys that fit that description make better teachers because they learned to make the most of their abilities."
That came from his obituary in the Chronicle, but I remember Dierker bringing it up during those '97-'00 years. it's why guys like Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas make bad coaches. It's hard to teach someone how to be as physically gifted as they are, but for a player like Ruhle, who worked and worked and worked, it's easier to teach the little points that can bring out the brilliance in players.
Ruhle and DIerker worked well together on those late '90s pitching staffs and he certainly helped the young players those staffs. He and Burt Hooten have been my favorite Astros pitching coaches of the past 20 years.
Oh, and lest we forget, Ruhle also turned in a brilliant season on the mound in the '80 season. He went 12-4 with a 2.37 ERA in 22 starts (28 appearances). That includes six complete games and two shutouts. He threw 159 innings while striking out 55 (yikes) and walking just 29.
Ruhle was thrust into the rotation that season when J.R. Richard's stroke happened, going 6-2 after that point with 1.98 ERA and a .222 batting average against. He only allowed one home run and 12 walks in 89 innings over 12 starts. He had a miniscule on-base allowed of .254 and an even tinier slugging percentage allowed of .279. That means his OPS allowed was .533!
Ruhle then pitched one game against Philly in the playoff series, going seven innings while allowing eight hits, three runs and a walk. He did strike out three, but got a no-decision.
Is he one of the all-time bests? Nope, but he's been inextricably linked to some of the greatest moments in franchise history, played and coached very well and should be remembered.