June 27, 2008

Cap-tip: Brendan Ryan

A June 26 4thebirds post from another network, by permission:

Brendan Ryan, the subject of a previous Redbird Droppings, now gives us an example of an excellent defensive play, fielding a high-hopper, transferring the ball rapidly from glove to throwing hand, and gunning down a base runner trying to score from third base.

In the aforementioned post, I scoured Ryan a bit for his bull fighting technique, stating that if need to "square up." This is still true. But I also mentioned that you should square up on ground balls of which you are able, and that if you did play a ball off to the side, there had better be a good reason for it.

In the same game as his misplay, Ryan had no choice but to play a high-hopping grounder to his left, actually having to jump. So he did end up in a situation where squaring up was impossible. But what made this play an excellent exhibition of defense by Ryan was that he had to pull around to his right as he transferred the ball, and in a hurry, in order to fire a throw to catcher, Jason LaRue, who surely appreciated getting a throw that was a) on target, and b) in plenty of time to allow him to set up for the tag play on a Tigers' base runner.

At the time of the play, the game was scoreless, and Ryan's assist on the LaRue putout made the difference in the lead run.