It’s often been discussed on this site, and probably many others, whether or not Ryan Theriot is an effective answer for this team. It’s amazing how different people’s opinions on the matter are. Some love Theriot and have pledged their eternal allegiance to him, while others can’t stand the sight of him on the field. There is no question that the 2009 season for Theriot was much different in terms of production than the 2008 campaign. This year we saw an increased focus on generating power off the bat from Theriot, and as a result, a 700% increase in home run production came about.

I thought it might be fun to compare the two seasons to see which was more effective and then see where they fit in terms of the rest of the ML shortstops.

Year

G

PA

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

SB

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

OPS+

2008

149

661

85

178

19

4

1

38

22

73

58

0.307

0.387

0.359

0.745

93

2009

154

677

81

171

20

5

7

54

21

51

93

0.284

0.343

0.369

0.712

84

Taking a look at the stats, I’ve highlighted the drastic changes from one year to the next. It’s clear that Theriot’s focus on increasing his power with swing adjustments and increased weight training worked. We saw more home runs and significantly more RBI’s as a result. Unfortunately, we also saw a pretty big reduction in his patience at the plate as evidenced by the decrease in walks and significant increase in strikeouts. The decrease in batting average doesn’t bother me as much as the 40+ point drop in on base %. If that reduction yielded a drastic increase in his slugging, then I think I’d be ok with it. Unfortunately, while he did increase his slugging, it didn’t increase enough to account for the lower OBP. As a result, we see a lower OPS and OPS+. In case you’re un familiar with OPS+, here is a basic explaination:

OPS+, Adjusted OPS, is a closely related statistic. OPS+ is OPS adjusted for the park and the league in which the player played, but not for fielding position. An OPS+ of 100 is defined to be the league average. An OPS+ of 150 or more is excellent and 125 very good, while an OPS+ of 75 or below is poor.

Because it doesn’t take position into account, it’s important to note that typical non-power hitting shortstops are probably going to be lower than the “average” number of 100. What we can see though is that Theriot’s OPS+ did decrease. That’s important.

Now that it seems pretty clear that Theriot’s new approach didn’t yield as good of results this year, it’s time to see where he stands in terms of the rest of the league to evaluate whether or not it’s time for a change. That change, if needed, doesn’t necessarily mean moving Theriot to a different team or a part time role. It could also involve a new position as well. To evaluate where he stood in respect to the rest of the league, we’ll use the stat VORP, which stands for Value Over Replacement Player, and look at all ML shortstops.

Using a minimum of 450 plate appearances for the ML at the shortstop position, we get the following results:

Of the 19 shortstops that meet that requirement in 2009, Theriot comes in ranked 14th with a VORP of 17.8

Of the 21 shortstops that met the requirement in 2008, Theriot ranked 10th, with a VORP of 27.3

It seems to me that Theriot came into 2009 as in the upper half of the shortstops in the game in terms of offensive production, before the change in approach. After that approach, we see a player in the bottom third of all of baseball.

The question now arises. Is Theriot the answer for 2010 at the shortstop position? If so, does he need to try to revert to the 2008 approach or would another year of refining the 2009 approach yield better results? If Theriot isn’t the answer at SS, who is? What would happen to Theriot?

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:
Share

Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail