Goatriders of the Apocalypse

2008 Cubs Recap: Ryan Theriot

Ryan Theriot's Stats

We meet again, Ryan Theriot!

So, how valuable was Theriot this year? Let's look at Justin Inaz's TotalValue stats, which are pretty close to how I would roll my own player value system if I wasn't so lazy... er, busy. I mean busy. We're not accounting for Theriot's baserunning value here (I'm still ironing out the kinks on my baserunner evaluation system, having only gotten the 2008 data late last night), but let me give you a preview: Theriot probably would have done better running station to station.

As a hitter, Theriot was modestly below average on the whole - if you glance above, he carried a .307 batting average throughout the season, and yet only put up a .745 OPS. Yikes. Now, OPS is going to tend to underrate OBP and walks - two of Theriot's primary skills a hitter - but Wrigley is going to inflate those numbers some as well. I think I recall saying in the last offseason that Theriot was going to have to hit .300 to be anything other than a liability with the bat; lo and behold, he hit .300 and wasn't a liability with the bat. Theriot 1, Colin 0.

I will go ahead and momentarily address Theriot's baserunning anyway. To sum up briefly:

  • He cost the team runs by running the basepaths recklessly.
  • Probably not a whole lot of runs.
  • It was still utterly frustrating to watch.

So take that for what it's worth.

The question then rolls around to defensive value. Simply by standing at shortstop and being able to move you provide some level of defensive value in the abstract - because we normally measure defense relative to the average player at that position, we need to account for the added difficulty of playing shortstop in our rankings.

Now, relative to his peers at shortstop, Theriot was a below average fielder, according to the Total Value rankings. This is corroborated by what scouting data we have, such as Tom Tango's Fan Scouting Report. Of course, his peers at shortstop are all superior fielders - given that, we should think he was roughly an average fielder overall compared to the league as a whole.

So what it boils down to is this: Ryan Theriot, for 2008, was roughly a league average player. There are of course questions going forward:

  • Will he continue to play this well in the future? (Doubtful; 2008 has the makings of a career year for Theriot, and at 29 next year he's past his peak years - speedy players tend to decline faster anyway.)
  • Should he be moved to second base? (I don't know that it makes much difference - he'd go from being a below-average defender at his position to being an above-average defender at his position, but I don't think his overall defensive value would change much at all. You'd probably see a modest uptick in his defensive value by hiding his weak throwing arm better, but a very marginal change all-in-all.)
  • Am I eating a lot of crow here? (Not really; I think preseason I handicapped Theriot's odds of a season similar to this at something like 20%. Now if all of my predictions were that bad that'd be a source of concern for me, but a two-out-of-ten chance coming true doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things; it's still a chance, in other words.)

A guy with speed like Theriot,

CAN learn to be more effective at stealing a base. I don't know how many times Theriot ran on his own and I would assume if he did it very often, Piniella would kick him so hard that he would be wearing his ass for a hat. You can't teach speed or a good eye at the plate, and a player like Theriot is not making the most of both if he's not taught the finer nuances of base stealing.

It's certainly debatable if the Cubs have anyone on the present coaching staff that can help the few players that do have speed be more effective at swiping a base, and it looks like the team doesn't place much of a priority on it.

However, this lack of attention to many of the finer points to the game just further illustrates how and why the Cub organization have such a hard time developing complete players through their system.

"It's certainly debatable if

"It's certainly debatable if the Cubs have anyone on the present coaching staff that can help the few players that do have speed be more effective at swiping a base, and it looks like the team doesn't place much of a priority on it."

Weirdly. BP put out something a few years ago saying...

"One last note that deserves mention: For all the attention the running teams of Whitey Herzog got--teams that were successful more because of their high OBPs than their stealing--the unheralded master of the running game is Lou Piniella. In his career as a manager, Piniella's teams have almost always been among the league leaders in stolen-base percentage:"
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2607

i have NO idea what's going on then with that... you'd think that a pinella's led team would have something to do with that.

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