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Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Soriano unstoppable, Ryan a stopper

By ESPN Stats & Information |

One recent acquisition is crushing opponents with his swing. Another is coming to town to thwart opponents with his glove.

The New York Yankees' playoff hopes are still modestly reasonable after they sliced a game off their wild-card deficit by rallying to beat the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.

Alfonso Soriano was the star of this game. He has been a tremendous acquisition for the Yankees. Another, Brendan Ryan, is on the way.

Two are better than one
Soriano was the star of the win once again, hitting two more home runs.

This was Soriano’s 37th career multihomer game, matching the career total for a number of former greats -- Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Mike Piazza. It was his seventh multihomer game of the season. No one else in the majors has more than four multihomer games.

So what’s the difference?
Soriano isn’t that different as a Yankee than he was as a Cub in a couple of respects. His batting average is .253, one point less than what it was with the Cubs, and his strikeout rate with the Yankees is slightly higher than it was with the Cubs. But the ball is carrying a little better off the bat in places such as Yankee Stadium (where he has nine of his 15 homers) and Camden Yards.

Soriano averaged a homer for every 10 balls he hit in the air with the Cubs. He’s averaging two homers for every 10 balls in the air since joining the Yankees. In other words, those balls are leaving the park twice as frequently.

Soriano’s 15 home runs rank second on the team, despite the fact that he has played only 43 games since joining the Yankees.

Soriano has 47 RBIs in 43 games with the Yankees. He has a chance to be the first Yankee to average better than an RBI per game in a season in which he played at least 50 games since Joe DiMaggio (who in fairness had 155 RBIs in 153 games) did so in 1948.

And in other news ...
The trade for Ryan is a move that provides the team a huge upgrade at shortstop in one respect.

Ryan has a major league-leading 92 Defensive Runs Saved over the past five seasons, twice as many as any other shortstop in the major leagues in that span.

Yankees shortstops have combined for negative-26 Defensive Runs Saved this season, the most in the majors.

Ryan, who will not be postseason-eligible, figures to be a late-game defensive replacement for Eduardo Nunez and possibly Derek Jeter. He has been credited with only three Defensive Runs Saved this season (his total was as high as seven a month ago), but he looks pretty impressive when compared with Nunez’s negative-27 in 2013 and Jeter’s negative-38 since the start of the 2011 season.

Putting the Ryan-Nunez comparison another way: Ryan has a Revised Zone Rating of about 75 percent, meaning he gets outs on about 75 percent of the balls on which shortstops most often get outs. Nunez’s Revised Zone Rating (a stat tracked on is only 60 percent.