We all know Brendan Ryan is good at defense. The advanced metrics tell us that and our eyes agree. Where does he really gain his value though? Is it going up the middle? In the hole? Something else? In an attempt to gain insight on that I created the following chart. It has hit angle along the bottom and out rate along the vertical axis. The far left of the chart (~ -30) can be thought of as deep in the hole, while 0 would be up the middle.
I used data from 2008-2010 where a right handed hitter was at the plate and Carpenter, Wainwright, Lohse, or Garcia were on the mound. These choices allowed for a decent sample size, while trying to introduce as few other variables as possible. My take away from the chart is that Ryan has been better at balls deep in the hole and at those right at him than the other players to play SS for the Cards during the time period. The point where Ryan dips below the other guys is where he has made a relative high number of errors (6 on 77 BIP) where the other players have made less errors in that zone. In total, Ryan’s overall out rate is about 5% higher than the other players to have played the position (to include Cesar Izturis who is no defensive slouch).
The next logical step (or maybe it should have been the first logical step) would be to take the above chart and add a line for what a league average shortstop looks like. That’s how the advanced metrics behave (more or less). We’ll do that next time.