View From The Bleachers

October 12, 2009

A Tale of Two Theriots

Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 11:24 am

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?

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. 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 and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail

  • Seymour Butts

    I kind of like the riot, but this VORP thing makes me a little softer on that approach and thus open to an “upgrade” but not to a deck chair shuffle.
    That being said, perhaps this VORP is much like the lesser known stat YMTSU (pronounced yom-stew, I know, but it’s like Favre) which of course stands for You Made That Shit Up.

  • MJ

    I’m not a Theriot hater, I just never understood the weird man crushes certain people had for him. He is what he is. An average SS. That being said, why not move him to 2B, and find a better SS? I hear JJ Hardy might be available. He struggled this year, but is only 27.

  • Lizzie

    Well, he IS kinda cute. ;-)

  • http://www.mindfulmission.com dave l

    The thing with the possibility of replacing Theriot is that SS is one of the obvious places to upgrade. The Cubs can’t really upgrade at 1b, 3b, LF, and RF/CF (whichever Fukudome is playing). It is assumed that Soto will get another chance to show that he can be a top hitting catcher.

    So you are left with SS, 2b, and the left over outfield slot (assuming that Bradley is gone).

    As I have often said on this blog, I don’t hate Theriot. But I find him to be incredibly overrated by many Cubs fans. And I believe that he could be replaced with someone better. With that said, there really are very few real SS options out there as free agents, and it doesn’t appear like there are many available on the trade market.

    MJ – I would pretty shocked if the Brewers would be willing to trade Hardy to the Cubs.

  • MJ

    I would pretty shocked if the Brewers would be willing to trade Hardy to the Cubs.

    As would I. Stranger things have happened though.

  • cap’n obvious

    I am by no means in love with the guy, but you can’t expect to have all-star caliber players at 9 positions, unless you are the Yankees. There have to be role players, or you are looing at a $250 mil. payroll. Last year, Theriot seemed to know his role, at least offensively. Use the whole field and do whatever it takes to get on base and move runners. The early power flash this season had an adverse effect on his ability to do the same things this year…hence the fewer walks and increased strikeouts. He is a good enough shortstop for a championship team, if he is a piece of the puzzle with a role, not someoone with high expectations. Give me back the 1 dinger and .387 OBP, and keep him. And I agree with Lizzie…he is pretty easy on the eyes…I mean, he’s no Doc Raker, but he’s not too shabby…

  • rob

    What are the numbers for Marco Scutaro? He is a free agent and he seemed to have some pretty good numbers from what I could tell this year. But I only look at the normal numbers…so what do the other numbers say?

  • http://mytimetowaste.com Rich Beckman

    I love Theriot.

    But I agree with Dave. The only places for upgrades are short, second, and center (let Fukudome go to right). Since we’ve no assurance that Soriano and/or Soto will play better, if an opportunity comes along to upgrade any or all of those three positions, it should be done.

    Didn’t Theriot change his swing at Lou’s request? Seems like there’s been at least a couple of other Cubs who changed their swing at the behest of the coaches only to end up worse than before. Is this common throughout baseball or are the Cubs specialists at screwing up player’s swings?

  • Terrelle Pryor 2

    While Theriot is trying to swing for the fences, he’s also always talkig with David Kaplin. I was listening to a podcast yesterday from July, he was telling Kap how he got Reed Johnson to do his business in a diaper and then he put it in Fontenot’s locker. I nearly strained my abdominal laughing

  • http://drdecarlo@drmdecarlo.com Doc Raker

    Jake Fox should play short.

    The crap in the diaper routine? Funny. We should try that at camp.

    I could see Theriot moving to 2b and picking a bigger stick at short.

    I think most Cub fans like Theriot because he is the anti Sosa, K Patterson and helped the Cubs transition out of hackers hell into quality atbatdom. He was what we were all longing for at the time.

  • Terrelle Pryor 2

    And the ladies love him because they think he’s hot (that’s another thing always mentioned when he’s on with Kap) and the Cubs turn-around in 2007 coincided with Lou starting him everyday

  • Terrelle Pryor 2

    Man these podcasts between Kap and Theriot are hilarious. They are approaching Car Talk funny levels. I thought Car Talk was the only thing that could give me a laughing-induced strained abdominal, but this is quickly joining that company

  • Tommy

    Been a few months since I stopped by the old haunt. About what I imagined. Nothing changes.

  • Doc Raker

    Nothing changes? Like you not having anything of value to add? Isn’t there a badminton match to keep you busy? Try channel 1748 on Direct TV, assuming you have the badminton package.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=8401936178 Joe Aiello

    Seriously Tommy, if you really have nothing better to add than complain that someone is bashing your favorite Cub, why comment at all?

  • Lizzie

    I could see Theriot moving to 2b and picking a bigger stick at short.

    Wasn’t 2B Theriot’s original position or am I imagining that?

  • Terrelle Pryor 2

    I think he is a SS by trade but he played 2B because someone else was at SS and because the Dust Bag is a stupid moron with an ugly face and a big butt and his butt smells and he likes to kiss his own butt

  • Tommy

    My point is that other than you Joe no one is saying anything different than they have said all year. I am not the only one plucking the same strings on the banjo.

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