Don’t Quit On Me: Brendan Ryan
We as fans get things in our minds about people. We have an specific instance or a situations that train our mind in certain patterns. We develop predispositions about person(s) and those are hard to let go after they’ve been developed. So let me caution you before you start thinking something bad about Brendan Ryan.
It’s easy to think rather negative about Ryan because he just hasn’t been very good out there so far. He’s missed opportunities one after another both out there on defense and at bat. It also hasn’t helped things to have him bat in the six-hole every once in a while too.
Those type of things tend to compact around a player and just like how “everyone” fell quickly in love with Josh Wilson they can tend to become easily annoyed and discouraged with Brendan Ryan. They are kind of polar opposites in terms to how they’ve been accepted by the Mariner fan base and their respective ceilings.
Normally the number 9-hitter in the St. Louis Cardinals line-up (since Tony LaRussa bats his pitchers 8th ) Ryan, who of course was traded in the off-season to the Mariners, has gone to a better league with more capable pitchers and is seemingly being asked to become a better hitter.
Obviously, this is an unrealistic expectation. Generally he has always had a BABIP below league average (coupled with a rather low LD percentage) and overall he’s just not a good hitter. In fact he isn’t even an average hitter in regard to his position. But, in spite of the negatives at the plate there are also positives that have surfaced this season even with an the ugly .220 batting average.
Ryan has seen his pitches per plate appearance improve by almost a whole pitch more than he has ever had in his big league career. His Swing percentage is down and he overall he is becoming more and more patient at the plate. Not only has he becoming more patient but he isn’t swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Swinging at pitches outside the zone at only 17.7 percent (an improvement of over 12 percent!). This is an extremely positive thing and it’s led him to nearly doubling his annual walk total.
I’m not trying to make the claim that Ryan could potentially be the answer to the Mariners offensive woes. Ryan, like so many other players, is what he is. A glove first defender. He shouldn’t be batting 6th but it’s not as if the options are overwhelming on this team. But, there are better one…
The point is, that as one of the best defensive shortstop (T-2th according to UZR using data from 2008 – 2010 with a min Inn. Of 150) in all of baseball Ryan doesn’t have to do a lot at the plate to be of value to this team. You all know that right? Of course you do. What you may not realize is that with Ryan sitting in the 8th or 9th hole for the next 2 or even 3 or 4 years and providing 10% walks and being able to drive the ball 20% of the time he could still provide value on offense. Don’t give up on him just yet.