Ryan Theriot: Chicago Cubs Profile 2010
Ryan Theriot enters his fifth major league season in 2010, and his third as the Chicago Cubs' starting shortstop. Theriot, 30, batted .284 last season and, for the third consecutive season, stole 20 or more bases. He also provided solid defense at the game's toughest defensive position, and a spark for Chicago throughout the season.
Sneakily, Theriot has earned a place very near the top of the team's clubhouse food chain; newcomers get lockers between the shortstop and fellow team leader Derrek Lee. Theriot is also the truest leader; Lee, while highly respected, does everything quietly, and Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano are charged more with keeping the team loose than motivating the group or speaking on its behalf.
Although he grew into this role more clearly than ever last season, Theriot struggled in many ways to follow up his great breakout season of 2008. After drawing 73 walks and striking out just 58 times that year, Theriot walked only 51 times in 2009 and had 93 whiffs, plunging his .387 2008 OBP to a far less impressive .343. His seven home runs doubled his career total, but after an early-season power surge, he became pull-conscious. He lost some of the terrific ability that he had previously shown to take the ball to right field.
One thing Theriot always does well, however, is hit against left-handed pitchers. He had a .306 average and .799 OPS against them this season, while hitting just .279 and posting a meager .690 OPS against right-handed hurlers. For his career, the difference is equally pronounced: .304/.813 against southpaws, .283/.698 against righties.
Whenever Starlin Castro is ready, Theriot would make a fantastic platoon partner with Mike Fontenot at second base, and Jeff Baker could be expendable.
In the meantime, though (and the meantime could last into 2011), we must assume that Theriot will face right-handed pitching most of the time, and plan accordingly. Here are my projections for "The Riot" in 2010:
- 142 games
- 520 plate appearances
- .279/.350/.362 AVG/OBP/SLG
- 22 stolen bases
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