Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Three Ryans a-Vyin'

As of this morning, the top three National League leaders in home runs comprised a trio of Ryans: Philadelphia's Ryan Howard leading the league (and tied with Adam Dunn), followed closely by Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and Ryan Ludwick of the St. Louis Cardinals.

There were 400 players on the National League's 2008 Opening Day rosters. Of those 400, 16 were named Ryan—and of those 16, six were pitchers. Thus, there are only 10 Ryans realistically capable of leading the league in home runs. Excluding Howard, Braun, and Ludwick, the remaining seven Ryans have, as of this morning, hit a collective total of 40 homers, with no player hitting more than Ryan Doumit's 13—hardly making any of these Ryans a threat to win the home-run crown.

Furthermore, Ryan Howard is the only Ryan ever to win a home-run title (2006) since the inception of the first professional league, in 1871, which illustrates the futility of a Ryan competing with the Hanks, Willies, and Gavvys of the baseball world.

According to, whose data are derived from the US Census, Ryan is the 49th most common male name in the United States, with only 0.328% of the American male population possessing it. And Ryan currently is near its peak of popularity as a name for newborn American males—it has never appeared anywhere near the top ten most popular names since baseball's inception. Thus, the odds of three Ryans simultaneously leading the league in such a butch category as home runs is—well, my abacus is missing a few pegs, but it's gotta be in the zillions. Statistically, the chances of such an occurrence must be about as infinitesimal as Saving Private Ryan, Saving Ryan's Privates, and Shaving Ryan's Privates finishing 1-2-3 for an Oscar as Best Picture.

Which might have happened had Tom Hanks trumpeted comical war wounds and erotic hair removal as much as he did World War II veterans...

(Graphic wizardry courtesy of Mount Drinkmore's Dave.)

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