TheRiot Platoon?

by on May 10, 2011 · 6 comments

Maybe Ryan Theriot‘s current line of .287/.341/.320/.661 isn’t really that far off of his career line of .284/.348/.354/.702, but I’m beginning to question whether or not he’s the right guy at the leadoff spot for the Cardinals.  More pointedly, I’m questioning whether or not he’s the right guy at that spot on a full-time basis.  Sure, he has a whopping 4 stolen bases in 31 games played, but that’s really just going to get him over the 20 mark for the season, and that’s a far cry from “generating” runs.

Besides, it’s time to look a little deeper into his stats.  He’s currently hitting just .246 at home, but he’s hitting .340 away from Busch.  He’s only hitting .185 in day games, and he’s hitting .368 at night.  Looks to me like maybe there are some opportunities there to platoon him a bit with someone who can either hit at Busch or hit while the sun is up.  Greene isn’t that guy at Busch, but he does seems to like daylight a bit more (.294 average during day games).  Also, Greene has 5 stolen bases and just 40 at-bats.  Why not leadoff with someone who has the potential to steal 50 bases (or more) a year?  Give the pitcher something else to think about other than the guy batting 2nd.  Just a thought.

I’m not bashing Ryan Theriot here.  Nope, not at all.  I thoroughly enjoy watching someone with a .941 fielding percentage and average arm play SS.  It’s just that I was under the impression that he would more than make up for his defense with his offense.  I guess you could say that he is.  He currently has managed to put up a total WAR of 0.1.  Oddly enough, Brendan Ryan is putting up exactly the same total WAR in Seattle.  Of course, Ryan is playing for $1M, and Theriot is playing for $3.3M this season.  Funny how things just seem to work out. 

TIDBIT:  Maybe the sample size is a little too small, but it will be interesting to see whether or not Ryan will improve his average enough to keep his total WAR close to Theriot’s total WAR.  Considering the teams involved, the salary difference and his position as leadoff hitter, I’d say that the expectations for Theriot are a lot higher.

MORE BITS OF TID:  Okay, I actually AM bashing Theriot.  The guy should at least be able to catch pop-ups with two hands for $3.3M a season.  Then again, I’m sure he’ll find employment with one of the other 28 MLB teams or the Nationals for next season. 

FYI – The official name for someone who has played for both the Cubs and the Dodgers is “Codger“.  Just thought y’all should know.

Like it?  Can you hit .275 during day games played at Busch?  Follow gr33nazn on Twitter, and we’ll discuss whether or not you should wear jean shorts with tank tops this early in the season (or ever)!

Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
View all posts by Dennis
Follow Dennis on Twitter


Andrew May 10, 2011

Why would play a platoon based on that small of a sample size?

Dennis May 10, 2011

I don’t believe that there is a magic number for sample size, but he’s just not hitting in day games so far. Greene is, and Theriot has only scored 14 runs this season. Even if Greene does drop off a few points from his day game average, he could still help score more runs by getting into scoring position more.

Andrew May 10, 2011

But… there is a magic number for sample size. Ever since James’ abstracts in the 80s produced the term itself “sample size.” The proven theorem that shows, in time, a hitter is himself, no matter the situation. If you subscribe to that, which it’s cool if you don’t, it would suggest that expecting to get more by platooning based on a few AB’s isn’t likely to work out.

Dennis May 11, 2011

Yeah, we could debate this one for a bit, because I don’t agree with Bill James completely on this one. Besides, the concept of “sample size” has been with us since mathematicians started using publishing papers about it prior to the 1960’s, so it’s not like Bill invented it. He may have been the first to document it in published form as it applied to baseball stat analysis.

Basically, he argued that hitters over an extended period of time eventually simply are who they are. That’s a rather lame way of saying that whatever they produce is who they are. I simply don’t agree. By James’ logic, there is no allotment for players who play through injuries. If their numbers suffer, then it’s just because they are regressing, and it’s not because they are injured.

That said, I do like a lot of what James says and writes, but there are just a few things that I don’t completely agree with at face value. My point about platooning is that I don’t see how much less the team can get, if Theriot continues to hit below .200 during day games. If that opens the door to get Greene more at-bats, then I think there is a lot of value to be gained later in the season as a result, especially if someone else goes down due to injury.

Otter May 11, 2011

I think this would be one of the few rationales that I would accept for platooning a position; that being one of day/night splits or something similar. Just swapping out position players seems like it would make it even harder for a player to bounce back from a slump, but actual physical distinctives that affect players are different.

That said, I don’t think there’s any difference between hitting at night and day, except that everyone should be a better hitter at night (no shadows, no glare, less wind, lower temps, etc.).

Dennis May 12, 2011

I agree, Otter. I’m not a huge fan of platooning, although the catcher position might be the exception. I was a huge fan of Greg Maddux having a “personal catcher” that ensured that the regular starting catcher had every 5th start off. Predictability in a platoon schedule makes a big difference to me.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: