To the Phillies pitchers, though, Ruiz is right near the top.
"He's huge," pitcher Joe Blanton said. "I think if you ask any pitcher, they are going to tell you how valuable he is putting down the fingers, game-calling, his ability to handle us each differently."
The Phillies have a core of five everyday players who have been All-Stars and who are now going into their third consecutive NLCS: Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth. Placido Polanco and Raul Ibañez, who joined in the middle of the recent run of success, have also been All-Stars.
Then there's Chooch, as his teammates refer to Ruiz.
Although he has yet to make an All-Star team, he is just as much a part of the core as anyone. He took over as the everyday catcher in 2007, the first of four consecutive postseason appearances for the Phillies.
"He gets a great deal of respect from his teammates, and as an athlete that's what you hope to get," Phillies lefty Jamie Moyer said. "He's earned it quite well. I think if you went across the field and ask any opposing team what they think of him, they would have a great deal of respect for him as a person and a catcher."
Discovered as a second baseman in his native Panama, Ruiz was converted to catcher because of his powerful arm. The process of acclimating to the culture and learning the language made for a slow matriculation to the big leagues. Ruiz, 31, spent seven years in the minors before finally making it to the majors at age 27.
"When he first came up here, he was quite shy and unsure of himself, and you now look at him as a catcher and he's very sure of himself," Moyer said.
Used to be, when a pitcher shook off Ruiz, he called another pitch. Now, he usually will stick to his first choice if the pitcher shakes, because he is certain it's the right pitch. As a result, pitchers don't bother to shake him off much anymore.
"When he's catching you don't ever have to question what's going on," closer Brad Lidge said. "It's an entire part of the game that you can just rely on him. You know he knows what's best. You know if you shake him, you are probably going to get hit. It's a nice feeling to have him back there, so when you are pitching all you have to focus on is execution. You don't have to worry about where and what you want to throw."
Phillies pitchers this year had a 3.31 ERA with Ruiz behind the plate, compared with 4.41 with backups Brian Schneider, Dane Sardinha and Paul Hoover.
(Before you ask, the backups also worked a few games with the Phillies' Big Three of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, so it wasn't as if Ruiz's numbers are skewed by the pitchers he caught.)
Not that it's necessarily easy to be the man charged with handling a stable of elite pitchers, but Ruiz seems to have a knack for it. One of the men he caught last October -- and could potentially face in this year's World Series -- weighed in on Ruiz's many strengths.
"He knows how to call a good game," said Rangers ace Cliff Lee. "He keeps baserunners in check. He can throw guys out. He's crafty. He knows what to do behind the plate. He knows how to get to know each pitcher and what their strengths are. He knows what he's doing."
Ruiz was on the disabled list with a left knee injury for three weeks in the middle of the season, and while he was gone the Phillies had a 4.18 ERA and they were 10-10.
"He handles the pitching staff extremely well," Moyer said. "He knows his pitchers, calls a good game, catches the ball well and throws the ball well. On top of it, offensively he's had a really nice year. You don't see that in a lot of catchers across the board."
Ruiz's offense, or lack thereof, kept him out of the spotlight for his first few years. In his first three full seasons, he hit a combined .245 with a .375 slugging percentage. This year, Ruiz hit .302 with a .400 on-base percentage and a .447 slugging percentage. His .847 OPS ranked second in the NL only to Giants rookie Buster Posey (.862), who is also good behind the plate, and ahead of five-time All-Star Brian McCann (.828).
Now that Ruiz is more of a threat at the plate, he may start to get some attention for what he was doing all along.
"Sometimes if you don't hit well, you don't get the credit for how you are defensively," Lidge said. "I'm glad he's hit so well so people can realize what a good all around player he is."
FanHouse's Ed Price contributed to this story from Arlington, Texas.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter joined The MLB Hour to analyze the ALCS and NLCS: