Arbitration Decision: Ryan Theriot

Ha! Helllllll no.

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Okay, part of me contemplated just leaving it at that. But I suppose I should offer some backup. Where should I start? Oh, I don’t know. How about with the fact that there’s 157 players who have accumulated at least 475 plate appearances in 2010, and Ryan Theriot is the 3rd-worst in baseball in OPS+? Beating out Alcides Escobar and Cesar Izturis is hardly an achievement:

Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Tm R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Miguel Cabrera 180 648 2010 DET 111 180 45 38 126 89 95 .328 .420 .622 1.042
153 Jason Kendall 70 490 2010 KCR 39 111 18 0 37 37 45 .256 .318 .297 .615
154 Jose Lopez 69 618 2010 SEA 48 141 28 10 58 22 65 .239 .269 .337 .606
155 Ryan Theriot 69 618 2010 TOT 68 153 15 2 29 38 73 .270 .319 .314 .633
156 Alcides Escobar 66 530 2010 MIL 56 115 14 4 40 33 66 .236 .287 .326 .612
157 Cesar Izturis 53 500 2010 BAL 42 109 13 1 28 24 53 .236 .282 .275 .557
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/28/2010.

“But,” you say, “OPS doesn’t measure defense, or position, or baserunning. That’s an unfair comparison.” Okay, then. Let’s go with WAR, and compare against only fellow second basemen. How does that turn out for Mr. TOOTBLAN? Well, he’s only the worst second baseman in baseball in 2010 (min. 300 PA):

Rk Player WAR/pos PA Tm R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Robinson Cano 5.5 672 NYY 100 193 39 28 105 55 76 .318 .378 .530 .908
25 Skip Schumaker 0.2 513 STL 64 122 18 5 41 43 63 .265 .331 .341 .671
Rk Player WAR/pos PA Tm R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
26 Cristian Guzman 0.0 396 TOT 48 97 12 2 26 20 63 .266 .311 .337 .648
27 Gordon Beckham -0.3 498 CHW 58 112 25 9 49 37 92 .252 .317 .378 .695
28 Ryan Theriot -0.9 618 TOT 68 153 15 2 29 38 73 .270 .319 .314 .633
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/28/2010.

(Before anyone mentions it, yes I’m using B-ref’s WAR, and FanGraphs has a different flavor of it. There, he’s at 0.1, but that’s still next to last among 2B. It’s still not good.)

Want more? Since August 31st, Theriot’s hitting a robust .129/.228/.129, which works out to 9 hits in 81 plate appearances. He hasn’t had an extra base hit since August 26th, more than a month ago. I’m pretty sure Troy Tulowitzki picked up two while I was writing that sentence.

Oh, and Theriot turns 31 this winter and stands to make about $3.5m in arbitration. This is why I hated the deal that brought Theriot over so much; it’s not because I love Blake DeWitt, because I don’t, but because Theriot is older, more expensive, and adds little value. I will admit that he’s been better defensively than I had anticipated, but that’s probably in part due to my low expectations coming in. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that a mediocre shortstop would make a decent defensive second baseman, though.

That said, “a bit above average” with the glove can’t compensate for “complete trainwreck of a disaster” at the plate. So if you’re still wondering whether Theriot deserves an arbitration offer, well, of course he doesn’t. If you’re willing to have a second baseman with an OPS+ of about 70, you can do it for a hell of a lot less than $3.5m. If you’re going to pay that, you won’t get a star, but you can at least get someone adequate. Someone with numbers like this, and headed in the wrong direction – since his “peak” in 2008, his BA and OBP have declined precipitously the last two years – is barely worth a roster spot, much less several million dollars. You can find a better way to use the money and the position, and I’ll touch on how to do that once the season is over.

But these are all pesky “facts”. I brought up the Theriot case on Twitter earlier this week, and people like ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne made their cases that they think the Dodgers will bring Theriot back, and I completely agree. I think they will bring him back, if only because he’s got a nice (if empty) batting average, top-notch “grit”, and they want to have something to show for this July’s disastrous trading deadline, especially if Ted Lilly leaves. Ryan Theriot will be back in 2011. But it sure doesn’t mean he should be.

Verdict: not a chance in hell should he be offered arbitration.

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  1. [...] As outlined here for Theriot, he’s one of the worst second basemen in baseball, and certainly not worth the $3.5m or so he’d get in arbitration. If you can fool some team into giving up any sort of a useful bullpen arm for him, I’d do it in a heartbeat, though I don’t think it’s all that likely. Podsednik’s going to be 35, had a .313 OBP for the Dodgers with so-so defense, and missed the last month with a foot injury, therefore putting the only skill he actually has in jeopardy. Uh, no thanks. $69.8m + $0.1m Podsednik buyout = $69.9m [...]

  2. [...] As outlined here for Theriot, he’s one of the worst second basemen in baseball, and certainly not worth the $3.5m or so he’d get in arbitration. If you can fool some team into giving up any sort of a useful bullpen arm for him, I’d do it in a heartbeat, though I don’t think it’s all that likely. Podsednik’s going to be 35, had a .313 OBP for the Dodgers with so-so defense, and missed the last month with a foot injury, therefore putting the only skill he actually has in jeopardy. Uh, no thanks. $69.8m + $0.1m Podsednik buyout = $69.9m [...]

  3. [...] went into detail about how awful Theriot is when I noted him in our arbitration decisions series, so let’s revisit that quickly: Where should I start? Oh, I don’t know. How about with the fact that there’s 157 [...]

  4. [...] the largest. I’ve been through the horrendousness of non-tender candidate Ryan Theriot more than once, and Jamey Carroll shouldn’t be seen as a full-time option at the position. With Blake DeWitt [...]