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15 April 2011

Theriot Big Piece of Cards Offensive Revival

Lost in the recent explosion of offense from the St. Louis Cardinals is the role shortstop Ryan Theriot has played.  Since taking a day off on April 9, Theriot has been on a tear going 10-24 in the last 5 games of the road trip - a .417 clip.  It is no coincidence that those five games correspond to the 5 straight games the Redbirds have scored at least six runs.

During the off-season, the Cardinals added Theriot to the roster and shipped fan favorite Brendan Ryan to the Seattle Mariners.  Many fans in Cardinal Nation were unhappy with the switch sensing that Theriot would be a major defensive downgrade from Ryan, not to menition his taint as a former Chicago Cub.  Then on opening day, Theriot mishandled the exchange off a poor throw from the outfield and the San Diego Padres scored the go-ahead run in the 11th inning.

Plugged in as leadoff man in the Cardinal lineup, Theriot was caught up in the offensive malaise that gripped the Redbird bats during the season opening homestand, hitting just .182 through the first six games.  In fact the last home tilt on April 6 is the only game of the young season that Theriot went hitless.  But since the plane left Lambert International for the west coast, the veteran shortstop's bat has heated up with 12 hits in the six games he has played.

Despite the small sample size, The Riot appears to be the upgrade in the lineup that GM John Mozeliak was shooting for.  Theriot's average is .314, with an on-base percentage of .386 and a slugging percentage of .353 for the season.  He has also been clutch, getting seven hits in 12 chances with two outs and more importantly is batting .500 with runners in scoring position.  Add in a surprising five RBI from the leadoff man, and Theriot has put up numbers vastly superior to the black hole in the lineup the shortstop position was last season.

The questions about defense may be valid as Theriot has already committed four errors this year, though he had two after the first two games.  But the middle infield has not been a wasteland of leather as the most pessimistic of Cardinal fans feared entering the season.  Skip Schumaker looks far more comfortable at second base thus far, and the Theriot/Schumaker double-play combo has jelled early on.

Matt Holliday's return to the lineup, Albert Pujols return to a level of normalcy, and Colby Rasmus' consistent hitting has been key to the resurgence of scoring.  But Theriot has also been a vital part of the offense as well.  Former Cub or not, his performance early in the season deserves some love from the Cardinal faithful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love Ryan Theriot!!!

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