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September 28, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Is the glove of Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan really 15 times more valuable than Rickey Henderson’s legs? Works for Ryan

Received an interesting item from a reader, Todd Myers, today who tried to make the argument that Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan has a glove that is about 15 times more valuable to his team than were the legs of Rickey Henderson to his club the year he stole a record 130 bases in 1982.

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Myers said he came up with the idea today when reading a blog post called Stat Of the Week from Fielding Bible author and advanced defensive metrics pioneer John Dewan. In his list of frontrunners for the annual Fielding Bible Awards — which awards one prize to each of the top defenders in the majors at 10 positions — Dewan lists Ryan as the favorite for the shortstop award.
The post states: It is hard to believe that Brendan Ryan has never won either a Fielding Bible Award or a Gold Glove. Ryan has at least 18 Defensive Runs Saved in each of the last three seasons, and he has already flown by those previous totals with 29 this season. That’s 12 more than J.J. Hardy, the closest shortstop behind him. In addition to covering ground, Ryan has converted an impressive 77 percent of his opportunities for double plays, which is a career high. Ryan leads all players in Runs Saved and could break through for his first Fielding Bible Award.
Seeing all those runs saved got reader Myers thinking: how would some of the underrated things Ryan does with his glove compare to one of the more celebrated baseball feats of the past 30 years — Henderson’s steals?
Looking at Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), a stat Dewan created through his Basbeall Info Solutions company to measure a player’s total defensive value, we see that Ryan has saved 29 runs.
According to sabermetric theory, 10 runs equals one extra win to a baseball team.
So, Ryan’s glove has added roughly three wins to the 2012 Mariners.
How about Henderson?

Well, quoting editor James Click in Baseball Between the Numbers, Myers points out that Henderson is said to have only created two extra runs for his team in 1982 with all the steals because — even with a high success rate — the outs he made (he was caught 42 times) were so valuable that they offset a lot of the good he accomplished.
In other words, he added 1/5 of a run to the A’s that year.
Ryan has added three wins.
That means Ryan’s glove has given the Mariners 15 times more value than Henderson’s legs did the A’s.
I can hear the uproar already. Maybe it’s because I’m sitting in Oakland as I type this?
Anyhow, I thought it was interesting. I thought I’d pass the info along to Ryan today. Here’s what he said when I told him about the numbers.
“That’s crazy,” he said, laughing.
Then, he added: “Good or bad, some of the stuff they come up with today is interesting. All the things that go into the 162 games, it’s interesting, some of the things they’ll come up with. It’s much, much more fun to hear about it when it’s positive.
“Hey, if the skipper wants to read about it, or someone happens to slide it across Zduriencik’s desk, that’s a good thing. It’s no secret defense is why I’m here. I really do take a lot of pride in it and when it’s a tough day, it’s really a lot tougher than a bad day at the plate.”
Anyhow, I thought you’d have some fun with that. And for those of you not to swift on the uptake, this isn’t Ryan claiming he’s 15 times more valuable than a Hall of Famer’s best stolen base tally. It’s Ryan reacting to me coming to him with information put together by a reader. I do have to spell that out sometimes, because players often get in trouble when others think they were quoted on something they didn’t actually say. Ask Billy Beane about the Moneyball book. Anyhow, that’s just my disclaimer on Ryan’s behalf.
In other news, Franklin Gutierrez still has a bit of a sore neck from yesterday’s collision with the outfield wall during a catch. Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he’s going to sit Gutierrez tonight, then hope to get him in for the remaining five games of the season.
The lineups:
Mariners (73-83)
13 Dustin Ackley 2B
33 Casper Wells RF
15 Kyle Seager 3B
63 Jesus Montero DH
27 John Jaso C
17 Justin Smoak 1B
55 Michael Saunders CF
12 Trayvon Robinson LF
26 Brendan Ryan SS
49 Blake Beavan RHP
Athletics (88-68)
4 Coco Crisp CF
5 Stephen Drew SS
52 Yoenis Cespedes LF
37 Brandon Moss 1B
16 Josh Reddick RF
20 Josh Donaldson 3B
15 Seth Smith DH
14 George Kottaras C
2 Cliff Pennington 2B
64 A.J. Griffin RHP

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero


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