The case for Brendan Ryan at shortstop

Last week, I wrote about the end game of Derek Jeter and speculated on the worst and best case scenarios for his 2014 season. The best case scenario (in my opinion at least) was that Jeter could get into 130 games and hit about as well as he did in 2010. What I cannot see is him putting those games in at shortstop. The problem about moving Jeter from the position in past years was that Eduardo Nunez was the only other option. As we have all grown accustomed to seeing, Nunez could never be that option. Brendan Ryan is an option and in the following post, I will attempt to prove my case. Ironically enough, Derek Jeter and Brendan Ryan both played seventeen games for the Yankees in 2013. Ryan played all of his seventeen games at short. Jeter played thirteen games at short. Such a short sample size is not a way to make a case, but Jeter's short stint resulted in a minus four runs of defense while Ryan's time there resulted in a plus four runs of defense. That is already an eight run swing.

When you look at that same statistic over an year long period, it gets even more striking. If you take Jeter's defense and expand it over the year, the estimate is that he would have ended up with a minus 43 runs for the season. Do the same for Ryan and the estimate is a plus 35 runs for the season for his defense. That is a swing of 78 runs! That is about seven wins in value over the course of a season.

Let's look at the offense. I projected that if Derek Jeter could hit the numbers offensively in 2010 at the age of 40, that would be about the best you could hope for. Despite his low (for him) numbers that season, his offense was still worth 2.7 wins. So let's use that number while keeping in the back of our minds that this is the best case scenario for Jeter's offense in 2014.

Everyone knows that Ryan cannot hit. Over his last five seasons, Ryan's offense has averaged being worth 0.76 rWAR per season. So if you take Jeter's best case scenario minus Ryan's average season, then Jeter picks up 1.94 wins for his offense. Now do the math. 7 - 1.94 = 5.06. You still have a 5.06 win advantage with Ryan as your everyday shortstop.

That does not sound overly realistic, so let's look at it another way. If you do not count Derek Jeter's 2013, which would not be fair, Jeter has had an average worth in his prior three seasons of 1.63 rWAR. Over his last five seasons, and despite his lack of offensive skills, Ryan has averaged 2.8 rWAR per season. So even if you look at it this way, then Ryan is worth on average 1.17 win per season over Jeter's last three seasons.

No, 2.8 rWAR per season does not match Jeter in his prime. But Derek Jeter is not that player any more. What is missing from all this data is how much better Brendan Ryan will make the pitching staff having a vacuum cleaner at short. And if the Yankees can manage to sign Robinson Cano, just drool over that up-the-middle combination!

So what about Jeter then? We all want the Captain to play in 2014, right? If I was Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman, I would say, "Jorge...Derek, you are our designated hitter." But Jeter does not sock the ball like most designated hitters. Perhaps true. But if you look at the DH position for the Yankees in 2013, you come up with this horrid triple slash line: .189/.276/.307. Ugh! Jeter has to beat that at the age of fifty, right? Jorge Posada, in his "terrible" last season at DH had better numbers than that.

The facts seem to indicate that even if Brendan Ryan does not hit, he will be more valuable at short for the season than Derek Jeter would be. And if Ryan can find his stroke a little bit and at least hit in the Chris Stewart range, all the better.

I love Derek Jeter. But the Captain should be the DH with occasional days off against tough right-handed pitching and Brendan Ryan should be the every day shortstop.