Ryan Howard and the 2010 MLB All-Ryan Team

Asher ChanceySenior Analyst ISeptember 13, 2010

Ryan Howard and the 2010 MLB All-Ryan Team

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    Here's a little baseball trivia for you: how many major league baseball players with the first name of "Ryan" have there been in baseball history?

    The answer is 45.

    Here's another one: how many of those players played before 1990?

    The answer is one: Ryan Kurosaki.

    What's going on here? Has the overall popularity of the name "Ryan" spiked in the last 30 years? Are teams more likely to sign guys named Ryan? What's the deal?

    We have a theory: a whole generation of children born during Nolan Ryan's hey-day have been named after the Ryan Express by baseball-crazy fathers, and those same baseball-crazy fathers have also raised their sons to be ballplayers.

    Crazy? Perhaps. But the evidence, albeit circumstantial, is there.

    For example, let's take a look that the 2010 All-Ryan All Star Team.

Catcher: Ryan Doumit, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 23:  Ross Ohlendorf #49 of the Pittsburgh Pirates talks with Ryan Doumit #41 and manager John Russell #7 before leaving the game with an unknown injury during the game against the St Louis Cardinals on August 23, 2010 at PNC Park in Pi
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit was born at the beginning of the 1981 baseball season in Washington state, so there isn't a whole lot of connection to the Ryan Express, who was starting his second season with the Houston Astros.

Catcher: Ryan Hanigan, Cincinnati Reds

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    SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 25:  Ryan Hanigan #29 of the Cincinnati Reds bats against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 25, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Whereas Nolan Ryan was one of the most feared pitchers in baseball, and had one of the best fastballs in baseball history, Cincinnati Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan has the privilege of catching some of the best fastballs in the majors today from Aroldis Chapman.

First Base: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies

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    CHICAGO - JULY 16: Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies waits for the pitch at 1st base against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 16, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Phillies 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Phillies' mighty first baseman was born in November, following the 1979 baseball season during which Nolan Ryan led the AL in strikeouts for the seventh time in eight years. Howard was born in St. Louis, where his family probably didn't see too much of the Ryan Express.

    Nevertheless, Nolan and Howard have lots in common: every year, Howard, like Nolan, is at or near the top of the league in strikeouts.

Second Base: Ryan Raburn, Detroit Tigers

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 16:  Ryan Raburn #25 of the Detroit Tigers connects on a second inning two run home run against the New York Yankees on August 16, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    We come up a bit short with infielders named Ryan in the 2010 season; thus, Ryan Raburn—who has 55 career games at second base in four seasons—slides to second to fill the gap.

    Could Ryan Raburn have been named after Nolan Ryan?

    He was born in April of 1981 in Tampa, Florida, just after Nolan's first year with the Astros. Who knows?

Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals

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    PHOENIX - AUGUST 04:  Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals at bat during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 4, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Nationals defeated the Diamondbacks 7-2.  (Photo b
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Ryan Zimmerman is probably the best overall player on this team.

    Born in 1984 in North Carolina, there can be no doubt that he was born at a time when Nolan Ryan had become a household name all over the southern United States, if not the United States as a whole.

Shortstop: Ryan Theriot, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 01:  Ryan Theriot #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 1, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Ryan Stewart Theriot was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in December of 1979.

    During the 1979 season, Nolan Ryan had just led the AL in strikeouts for the seventh time in eight years, and, just a month before Theriot was born, Nolan signed one of the richest free agent deals in baseball history to that point to join the Houston Astros, who played just down Interstate 10 from Baton Rouge.

Left Field: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

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    ATLANTA - JULY 15:  Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 15, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Ryan Braun was born in November following the 1983 baseball season in Mission Hills, California, which is just up the road from Los Angeles, where Nolan Ryan had been an All-Star for the decade of the 1970s.

    During the 1983 season, Ryan and Steve Carlton jockeyed back and forth for the lead in career strikeouts. By then, Nolan was surely a household name around the country, and especially in southern California.

Center Field: Ryan Spilborghs, Colorado Rockies

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 27:  Ryan Spilborghs #19 of the Colorado Rockies looks on from the dugout against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field on September 27, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Cardinals 4-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Ryan Spilborghs was born in September of 1979 in Santa Barbara, California, as Ryan was wrapping up a decade of dominance with the Angels.

    We can't say for sure if he was named after Nolan Ryan, but we can say that even if he wasn't, his parents probably got asked that by a lot of people.

Right Field: Ryan Ludwick, San Diego Padres

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    PHOENIX - SEPTEMBER 01:  Ryan Ludwick #47 of the San Diego Padres hits a double agianst the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 1, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Born in July of 1978 in Satellite Beach, Florida—which is just up the road from spring training meccas Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach—baseball could certainly have been on the minds of Ludwick's parents when they chose to name him Ryan.

Starting Pitcher: Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs

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    CHICAGO - JUNE 27: Starting pitcher Ryan Dempster #46 of the Chicago Cubs is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after the 7th inning of a game against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on June 27, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defea
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    His full name is Ryan Scott Dempster, which would be a great name for a guy born in Houston in the mid-to-late 1980s.

    However, Dempster was born in Canada in 1977, so the link to the Ryan Express is minimal.

    Which is ironic, because of all the players named Ryan in baseball history, he is the one whose game most closely approximates that of the Express.

Relief Pitcher: Ryan Madson, Philadelphia Phillies

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    ST. LOUIS - JULY 20: Relief pitcher Ryan Madson #46 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 20, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Born in August of 1980 in Long Beach, California. Not hard to believe that Madson may have been named as a tribute to the recently departed Ryan Express by Angels fans.

Closer: Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals

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    HOUSTON - JULY 09:  Pitcher Ryan Franklin #31 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws in the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on July 9, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1973, he probably would have had to have been related to Nolan Ryan in order to be named after Nolan Ryan.

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