Mariners 2012 shortstop competition: Brendan Ryan vs. Munenori Kawasaki

Google: North West Ozzie

I’m just throwing this out there. Brendan Ryan needs to lose 160 pounds before April.

Entering spring training for the Mariners this season, veteran shortstop Brendan Ryan is looking to lose some weight, 165 pounds to be exact.

It isn’t that he has been into eating too many burritos or playing too many video games this offseason.  In fact the weight gain happened virtually overnight as the Mariners picked up an extra short shortstop, Munenori Kawasaki.

The 30 year old Kawasaki is about as physically intimidating as an oopma loompa and is only in camp as a non-roster invitee, but he could bully Ryan out of the starting job if his array of skills proves to be as good as his stats.

Here is a side by side comparison of the two M’s short-stop competitors.




(Per Season Average)
Hits 150.6 84
Stolen Bases 29.4 10.4
Batting Avg. .295 .256
Fielding % .983 .978

So on paper it looks like Ryan should call up Jenny Craig and pack up his bags, but ask any baseball player and they will tell you that numbers lie.

There is something about who a person is that determines if they are a good fit on the field and in the clubhouse.

If I were Eric Wedge I would be looking for a combination of skills and attributes in my starting short stop.

The ideal short stop is part ballerina.

Not that they should wear tights and tutu’s, although that could be a funny thing to make them do through one practice.  When it comes down to it, being a short stop isn’t about the technical skills as much as it is art form.

I good short stop is fluid and agile.

Ryan is good, but in side by side comparisons Ryan seems a bit clunkier in his movement.

Winner: Kawasaki

The ideal short stop is part parkour.

If you are not familiar with the acrobatic running / gymnastic falling stunts known as parkour – be ashamed of yourself and then look it up.  A parkourist is in the business of doing impossible things with their body as they run.

While the ballerina trait is an art, parkour is insanity that leaves your jaw on the floor after the play is over.

While both players are amazing, looking at the film I think one has more has more jaw droppage.

Winner: Ryan

The ideal short stop is part strategist.

Although it may look simply like good reflexes, good shorts stop are not simply intuitive, but they work with the pitchers to sort out which pitches to throw in different situations so that they may place themselves in the best field position for that scenario.

They can’t simply be sheep.

Brendan Ryan vs. Munenori Kawasaki

Ryan is good, but in side by side comparisons Ryan seems a bit clunkier in his movement. - (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

They need to be generals.

The short stop is also an ideal team leader on the field and in the clubhouse.

Winner: Ryan

The ideal short stop is part Quarterback.

They need a rocket of an arm to play deep in the infield against guys with good wheels.  It does no good to make acrobatic stops if you throw the ball into the stands instead of the first baseman’s glove.

Winner: Ryan

The ideal short stop is part Porsche.

Speed.  Pure and simple speed.

You need 0-60 in 3.2 seconds.  Not 0-60…. sometimes.

With a comparison in stolen bases there really is only one choice.  Maybe Ryan should lay off the burritos after all.

Winner: Kawasaki.

The ideal short stop is a Timex.

That is, they take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. 

Playing short is physically demanding any many a good man has lost a roster spot because their bodies couldn’t keep up with their aggressive game play.

Winner: Kawasaki.

Seems like it could be a pretty even match up.

Who is your choice M’s fans?


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  • InsiderSteve

    There really isn’t much of a debate regarding the SS position. Just on defensive metrics alone, since ’07 Ryan has shown his worth. His UZR number is a 6.1 (MLB average is 0), his RZR is .839 (MLB average .820), and his RngR is a 3.5. His defense is well above average. If there is a debate, maybe you can make a case on offense, but Kawasaki in also a light hitter. Either way, you have to go with the better defender. In this case it’s Ryan.

  • Baseballlifer9

    You have to be kidding me? While I’ll give the author of this post credit for his unique angle, the substance is a stretch and that is an understatement to say the least. First of all – While Japan has given MLB plenty of quality players, their league is equal to AA, maybe AAA. How can one compare a proven player in MLB vs an inferior Japan Leaguer? Secondly – he wasn’t even that much of a hitter in Japan while Brendan Ryan has been the best defensive SS in MLB for 3 years running and if you look at the cumulative numbers, it isn’t even close.
    I look forward to reading the next post about how there is competition between King Felix and our latest Japanese pitcher for Ace.

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