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The Tale of Theriot

Friday, September 26th, 2008

A recent thread once again brought up the greatness of Ryan Theriot. I have been meaning to do something like this for awhile, so I guess it is time.

Below is a look at where Ryan Theriot stands offensively and defensively in comparison to other every day shortstops in the National League. The numbers below will pretty clearly show that Ryan Theriot, is, in fact, below average both offensively and defensively.

Now… this does not mean that I dislike Ryan Theriot, or that he does not have place on this Cubs team. I believe that he does, and has played a good role for the Cubs. I just believe that many, many people extremely overrate what he brings to this team, and I show why.


Out of 11 qualifying NL SS’s, Theriot is:

  • 7th in Fielding %
  • 11th in Range Factor
  • 8th in Zone Rating
  • 10th in RZR (which has 12 qualifiers)
  • 12th in OOZ, which doesn’t have qualifiers

Baseball Prospectus gives Theriot a 98 in their Rate2 stat, where 100 is average.

Theriot has an OPS+ of 93. That, by definition, is below average. For those of you who do now know, OPS+ is “OPS normalized for both the park and the league the player played in,: with 100 being the average. Out of 9 qualifying NL SS’s, Theriot is:

  • 8th in OPS
  • 9th in total bases
  • 7th in runs created
  • 8th in Gross Production Average
  • 10th (of 11) in Equivalent Average
  • 8th (of 11) in EQR
  • 10th (0f 11) in RAR
  • 10th (0f 11) in RAP
  • 8th (of 11) in RARP
  • 9th in VORP

Theriot is 7th in total Win Shares (batting & fielding combined), and 7th in batting and 9th in fielding. Of course, a player on a winning team will have more win shares. Now, one commentator thought that it would be good to compare Derek Jeter and Ryan Theriot. I am not going to touch their defenses, because they are both at the bottom defensively, but lets look offensively at their numbers this year. Of course, it is important to remember that Derek Jeter is having his worst year since 1997.

(“winners” in bold)

  • OPS:Theriot – 737, Jeter – 773
  • OPS+: Theriot – 93, Jeter – 106
  • Runs Created: Theriot – 75, Jeter – 88
  • Gross Production Average: Theriot – .253, Jeter – .269
  • Win Shares: Theriot -13 , Jeter – 16
  • EQA: Theriot – .260, Jeter – .275
  • EQR: Theriot – 71.8, Jeter – 85.2
  • RAR: Theriot – 19.1, Jeter – 30.6
  • RAP: Theriot – 4, Jeter – 14.6
  • RARP: Theriot – 22.8, Jeter – 34.1
  • Theriot – 25.2, Jeter – 38.9

Theriot, in his best year, is nowhere close to Jeter, who is having his worst year of his career. Jeter is pretty significantly better in each category.

Let me be very clear. I do not dislike Ryan Theriot. I just do not think that he is a great baseball player, or an All-Star, or the Cubs MVP, or anything like that. He is a role player, and an average one at best. And he simply does not compare to Derek Jeter.

Oh … and more fun one. People around here hate Derrek Lee, mostly for reasons not known to me. But one reason is because Derrek Lee’s propensity for double plays this year. Would you believe it if I told you that Ryan Theriot grounds into double plays at a higher rate (18.1%) in double play situations than Derrek Lee does (17.0%).

But go ahead and keep bashing Derrek Lee and praising Ryan Theriot. Maybe my next post will be comparing those two.

NOTE: If you would like explanations/definitions of these stats, go to:

  • B-R (OPS+)
  • THT (Win Shares, Runs Created, Gross Production Average)
  • Baseball Prospectus (EQA, EQR, RAR, RAP, RARP)
  • ESPN (Fielding %, Range factor, Zone rating)
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Sunday, September 14th, 2008

That was brilliant.

For the first time in 36 years, the Cubs have had a pitcher (Carlos Zambrano) throw a no-hitter (and, amazingly, Milt Pappa’s Wikipedia page

Blonde Ambition video

has already been updated to reflect that).

The Cubs scored 5 runs early in the game, but that really does not matter.

Big Z was phenomenal, with very good velocity (in the upper 90’s), great movement, good control, and simply unhittable stuff.

If there was any doubt about Z’s health, that should be gone.

And don’t look now, but all the Chicken Littles should note that the Cubs have now won three in a row, and lowered the division magic number to just 7.

Yes we can?

Added by Rob:

I am grateful that Len and Bob broke the stupid don’t mention the no hitter until its’ over rule. Len said it at the end of the eighth and Z still got the not hitter. I thought this was impossible because of the jinx factor.

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LouPa bunts away the game

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Oh boy.

There is not much to be said about this game.

The Cubs got off to a great start, scoring two runs in the first on back-to-back doubles from Lee and Ramirez, and would add a run in the third on a Ramirez single. But that would be it, with the Cubs showing in inability to take advantage of their opportunities.

Ryan Dempster pitched well enough to get a win, but was not great. His only runs allowed came in the sixth on a Albert Pujols home run that followed a double and a walk.

The Cardinals would win in the bottom of the ninth, after a single, a balk, a walk, a sac bunt, and a VERY weak game winning fielders choice to second base against Carlos Marmol.

But here is what I want to talk about. In the top of the 8th inning Jim Edmonds drew a leadoff walk, bringing up one of the Cubs best, and hottest, hitters in Geovany Soto. Lets get some facts out of the way about Geovany Soto:

  • Soto is slow.
  • Soto does not bunt often.
  • Soto hits for average.
  • Soto hits for power.
  • Soto gets on base often.
  • Soto has ZERO sac bunts in his major league career.

Yet somehow Lou Piniella felt the need to have a slow, infrequent bunter who also happens to be one of your best hitters try to lay down a bunt to advance Jim Edmonds Felix Pie, who came in to pinch run, to second.

And it failed miserably.

Now, don’t get me wrong. One play did not lose this game. But Lou Piniella made it more difficult for this team to win the game because of his decision to bunt with a slow, infrequent bunter who also happens to be one of your best hitters.

What an awful decision.

Which helped lead to an awful conclusion to the game.

The Cubs have now low eight of their last nine games. But I still say relax.

Related Post: Welcome to St. Louis

Without Evidence movie

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The Cubs are good!

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

The last ten days or so have been pretty ugly for Chicago Cubs baseball. The Cubs lost six in a row, rebounded for a big win, and then followed the win up with an ugly and painful ninth inning loss.

Some people are more than a little worried.

But lets step back and be honest with ourselves for a moment. This team is really good. And a bad eight game run is not more indicative of the ability of this team than the entirety of the 143 games that the Cubs have played up to this point of the season. The Cubs currently stand 29 games above .500, and they are 4.5 games up on Milwaukee in both the division, and for the best record in the NL. They also have the second best record in baseball, falling just one game back of the Angels.

Lets take a look at how good they really are among playoff contenders (via Baseball Analysts):

TEAM RS RA DIF OPS OPSa OPS+ Without Evidence full ERA+
NYM 701 618 83 .756 .720 107 104
PHI 696 599 97 .761 .741 101 115
CHC 769 593 176 .806 .715 112 117
MIL 676 608 68 .765 .726 104 113
STL 685 633 52 .781 .768 111 102
HOU 643 665 -22 .744 .775 101 97
LAD 603 581 22 .721 .694 92 118
ARI 645 637 8 .737 .721 93 111

In other words, among National League teams the Cubs have:

  • Scored the most runs
  • Allowed the fewest runs
  • Have the largest run differential
  • Have the highest OPS
  • Have the highest OPS allowed
  • Have the highest OPS+
  • Have the second highest ERA+

They also have the highest OPS+, second highest ERA+, and highest run differential in all of baseball.

The Cubs have struggled over the last ten days or so, but they are still far and away the best team in the National League. And it really is not even close.

The Cubs have also struggled over the last ten days in part because two of their top three starters have not pitched. Neither pitcher is thought to be having serious problems, and both should be ready and healthy from here on out.

So lets relax a bit, and and enjoy one of the best Cubs teams that we (or at least I) have seen in our lifetimes.

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Zambrano okay… for now

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Zambrano news good, could return in Houston


Cubs Nation can stop panicking — at least for the moment — as today’s news is good on Carlos Zambrano.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said today’s MRI confirmed his theory that Zambrano has rotator cuff tendinitis. If things go well, Zambrano will pitch in Houston during the Sept. 12-14 series.

This is good news. Tendinitis is a minor deal, and something that Z will be able to pitch through. And his velocity was more than adequate on Tuesday, so it does not look that will be a problem.

The same story says that Zambrano missed the MRI yesterday for family reasons.

As Matt pointed out in the comments, there are also rumors that Zambrano has been clashing with teammates. It is thought that this is connected to Zambrano calling Ryan Theriot out for his inability to throw out Hunter Pence on Tuesday night on a routine ground ball. Theriot deserved to be called out on that play, but it appears that several teammates did not appreciate Zambrano’s approach to that situation. Maybe last year was not all Barrett’s fault?

Hopefully Zambrano, and the Cubs, will be able to get over that and starting playing good baseball again.

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