Why Brendan Ryan should be the starting Shortstop

There’s no question that Brendan Ryan had a difficult 2010. However, there’s also no question that he was one of the best major league short stops of 2009.

In 2009, Brendan Ryan earned the starting job at short stop for the St. Louis Cardinals. Ryan hit .292 with 3 home runs over his 129 games as he proved his worth. His +18 defensive RAR was the among the best major league short stops. He proved himself solid with the bat and among the top defensive short stops in the game.

Now cut to 2010. It was a season filled with disappointment and frustration for Ryan. He began the season rehabbing from a wrist injury which slowed his start. Frustration from being unable to hit as well as he had resulted in those frustrations translating into his fielding early in the season.

It was a season also filled with mental errors. From making awkward throws to first in order to try to beat the play to forgetting his glove in the dugout during a Chris Carpenter start.

At the end of the season, the final line on Ryan was .223 with 2 HR in 139 games. He posted a +14 defensive RAR, the highest among short stops in the major leagues. Making him one of the best defensive short stops in baseball.

It was one of the two positions that Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak singled out as needing to improve for 2011 when he designated his plans for the offseason.

Just a week ago, the Cardinals acquired Ryan Theriot from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Blake Hawksworth. After getting him he was declared the starting short stop.

Now Theriot had a bad year in 2010 himself. It was his worst season in the majors. He hit .270 with 2 HR in his 150 games between the Chicago Cubs and the Dodgers. Unfortunately, the Cardinals plan on playing him at short stop when he best defensive position is clearly second base.

Over the past three seasons, Theriot has posted a -8 defensive RAR at short stop while posting a +4 for his career at second base. When you take a look at our second baseman Skip Schumaker, who is a combined -11 in his two seasons at second base, you have to ask yourself why we make that call?

A 2B Schumaker and SS Theriot has an expected defensive RAR of -8. A 2B Theriot and SS Ryan combination has an expected defensive RAR of +24. What does that mean? That means that the Schumaker/Theriot combination is expected to allow 32 additional runs on defense over the Theriot/Ryan combination just by playing to their averages.

I remember sitting through last season with all the complaints about the defense of Schumaker at second base and now many support playing Theriot who is just as big of a liability at short as Schumaker is at second.

Why would you acquire a player and not play him at his best defensive position, especially when he can displace your worst defensive player? Instead you’re going to play your new player at a position where he is a proven defensive liability and displace one of the best defensive major leaguers at that position. Where is the intelligence in that?

In just 4 seasons at the major league level, Brendan Ryan has a higher total RAR than Theriot does in his 6 seasons. That should demonstrate the increased value of Ryan over Theriot. It does to me.

I think it is irresponsible and stupid to sit there and pick up other players who were bad in 2010 and hope for a rebound like their previous seasons when we have that same hope on our roster. The interest of other teams in acquiring Brendan Ryan illustrates his value at short stop. With Lance Berkman we’re hoping for him to rebound to previous success. With Theriot the same thing.

So why not play the best defensive short stop in the league and hope he rebounds offensively?