Athletics’ top five rookies of 2016
Ryan Dull can hold inherited runners on base better than your reliever.
While Stephen Vogt was well deserving of his second trip to the all-star game in 2016, many argued that there was another player on the Oakland Athletics who might have deserved that chance even more, his name? Ryan Dull.
You may not know who he is or what he looks like but he put up the best performance by any A’s rookie or perhaps even by any A’s reliever in 2016.
The 27-year-old, who was drafted by Oakland in the 32nd round of the 2012 amatuer draft out of the University of North Carolina at Asheville, began his big league career with a record.
He did so fairly quietly and without much national attention, much like Brad Ziegler did when he was a 28-year-old rookie with the Oakland Athletics. In 2008, Ziegler set the rookie record for pitching the most consecutive scoreless innings pitched to begin a big league career.
Dull’s record may be of the lesser known variety, however, it was an extremely huge and difficult accomplishment.
The middle reliever inherited 36 runners that had been put on base by the previous pitcher and he did not let a single one score.
It is the longest known streak in MLB history dating back to 1961, the first year that complete records were kept.
Dull’s record did not just bring him notoriety, at least among the A’s faithful, it helped improve the earned run records of the team’s starting rotation.
The streak ended on July 9, just over three months into the regular season, but it was for a good cause.
“In that situation, I was going to do anything,” the rookie reliever said after the game. “A double play was going to help us more than that one run. I’d gladly sacrifice it to get the double play there.”
Pitching in the ninth inning with no outs and men on first and third, Dull had been summoned to save the game for starter Kendall Graveman who had pitched one of the best games in his, still early, career.
The streak ended with Jose Altuve, one of the fastest runners in the game, at the plate.
Dull got Altuve to hit a bouncer to third. Tyler Ladendorf then threw to second for the first out but Altuve made it safe to first, allowing Jake Marisnick to score.
Dull took the run in stride, getting the final out and the second save of his career to preserve the A’s 3-2 win over the Houston Astros.
Dull’s accomplishment was so big not just because of his impressive skills on the mound but also because coming into a game with men on base might be one of the hardest positions to be put in in the game of baseball.
Sure, the runners would have been attributed to the previous pitcher but then there is the idea of letting your teammate down and potentially losing the game for the entire team. It’s a stressful situation which Graveman said,
"“I think the most incredible part is he never shows any emotion,” Graveman said. “He comes in, bases loaded, man on first and second, it doesn’t matter. He’s just the same person, and I think that’s a tribute to the confidence he has in himself.”"
Dull may appear to be a quiet young man but he’s a quiet young man who is full of confidence and more than ready to be there for his team first and put his personal accomplishments second.
He finished the season with a 2.42 ERA over 74.1 innings. He posted a 4.87 strikeout to walk ratio and averaged 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Still, it was his uncanny ability to keep inherited runners from scoring that made him the A’s best rookie performer of 2016.