Stat Boy Presents: The Curious Case Of Ryan Theriot

Lee: "Seriously, how can a guy this short be our everyday shortstop?"

Did I call it or did I call it?  Again.  Ryan Theriot epitomizes everything that is Chicago Cubs baseball.

Fun to watch until September.

Get off your knees, Riot, you're blowing the game.

For the third straight season, the diminutive Cubs shortstop slumped in September.  Over those 317 plate appearances, Theriot has racked up a .240/.320/.276/.597 line.  Cub fans want him to be a lead-off hitter, but how can they do so with a .320 on-base percentage when it gets down to the nitty gritty?

Theriot's career OBP leading off a game is .329.  Oh wait, no it's not.  That's Alfonso Soriano's.  Want more of an indictment against The Riot in the lead-off spot? His career OBP leading off a game is .312, and when leading off an inning it is .332.  His career OBP when batting first in the order is a respectable .356.

Common sense tells me Theriot just wears down over the brutal 162 game season.

In 2007, his average dropped from .280 to .266.  In 2008, it only dropped from .323 on July 30 to .298 on Sept. 20 before finishing on a tear to get his average back up to .307 to end the season.  After a 7-1 win against the San Diego Padres, Theriot held a .300 batting average.  It would be the last time Theriot would see the big .300 as he finished with a .284 average.

Personally, I'm of the new school of thought that believes batting average is not the be-all, end-all.  So, let's take a look at his OPS, shall we?

In 2007 he posted an OPS of .520 after posting a .701 number in the season's first five months.  The same can be said in 2008 where Theriot notched a .754 OPS through August 31 before watching it drop to .676 in the season's final month.  Wash. Rinse. Repeat in 2009.  Remember Theriot's killer month of May where he ripped 5 home runs, 8 doubles and a triple en route to an .865 OPS.  Well, it was all downhill after that as he posted a .666 OPS in the four months afterward, only reaching an OPS of .700 once.

In each of the last three seasons in which Theriot has been the Cubs' full-time shortstop, his number of strikeouts has risen.  Last season, he drew 73 walks and only struck out 58 times.  In 2009, Theriot struck out 93 times while only drawing 50 walks.  That's an alarming strikeout rate than can be overlooked when you're mashing 40 home runs a year.  But when you're not, those numbers pop up as red flags.

The free agent class of shortstops is void of difference makers unless you have access to a time machine and can acquire the Miguel Tejada that hit 34 homers, drove in 131 runs and posted an .861 OPS en route to an American League Most Valuable Player trophy.

At least that guy posted a .313/.373/.515/.888 line in September.