Robert Victor Ryan, Jr., more commonly known as B. J. Ryan, (born on December 28, 1975 in Bossier City, Louisiana) is a former closer in Major League Baseball, who is currently a free agent. He most recently played for the Toronto Blue Jays of the American League. Previously, Ryan played with the Cincinnati Reds (1999) and Baltimore Orioles (1999–2005). He bats and throws left-handed.
Ryan started his career as a left-handed specialist. His inability to command his pitches, combined with a history of difficulty facing right-handed batters, prevented him from acquiring a larger role in the bullpen. However, his eccentric, three-quarter, slingshot-like delivery has made him a dominant force against left-handed batters.
More recently, Ryan has been able to not only control his pitches better, but also add tailing movement to his low-90s fastball. This movement, combined with his already-devastating slider, has helped his success rate against right-handed batters. During his years with Baltimore, he translated this success into a larger role in the Orioles' bullpen. By the middle of 2004, he secured the primary setup role. By the end of the year, he took Jorge Julio's job as the closer.
Ryan became one of the most coveted free agents in Major League Baseball during the 2005 off-season. After considering an offer to rejoin the Orioles, as well as visiting with other potential suitors such as the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees, Ryan signed a 5-year, $47-million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on November 28, 2005. At the time, that was the largest contract for a reliever in Major League Baseball history, surpassing Mariano Rivera's 4-year, $40-million deal with the Yankees from 2001–2004.
On July 3, 2006 it was announced that Ryan would make his second All-Star Game appearance when he was one of five Toronto Blue Jays players selected for the American League All-Star Team. During the 2006 All-Star Game held on July 10 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ryan pitched the scoreless eighth inning and earned the win for the American League. He finished the year with a career-high 38 saves, ranking third in the league behind Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Bobby Jenks of the Chicago White Sox.
On the morning of April 13, 2008, less than one year removed from Tommy John surgery, B.J. Ryan was activated from the disabled list. Later that afternoon, he entered the game in the 10th inning, and picked up his first save in over one year.
Despite his arm not being fully healed and his slider's reduced effectiveness, he still managed to save an impressive 32 games for the Jays, good enough to place 6th on the AL list of top saves by the closers, as well as to be nominated for the DHL Delivery Man of the Year Award. From his return to around a month later, he had an average ERA under 1.
Ryan's mechanics have been heavily criticized as making him significantly more susceptible to injury.
Ryan got off to slow start to the 2009 season due to his significant drop in velocity, which limited his effectiveness. After only a few games, Ryan was put on the 15 day DL. When he was activated from the DL, he was used as a middle reliver. The closing job went to Scott Downs.
On July 8, 2009, Ryan was given his unconditional release by the Blue Jays. Ryan is still owed about $5 million for the remainder of '09 and another $10 million for 2010 which the Blue Jays must pay.
- On 2003-05-01, Ryan logged an unusual accomplishment: he won a game without throwing a pitch. Ryan's first throw was to first base where he picked off Detroit Tigers' Omar Infante to end the inning. The Orioles took the lead in the next half-inning and Ryan was relieved to begin the half-inning after that.
- Ryan's entrance music is Slipknot's "Duality".
- Ryan is a fan favorite at the Rogers Centre, having won a fan vote to be the next Blue Jay bobblehead.
- Press Release (2007). http://toronto.bluejays.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20070510&content_id=1956858&vkey=pr_tor&fext=.jsp&c_id=tor. BlueJays.com. Retrieved on 2008-05-10.
- O'Leary, Chris (15 January 2008). BJ Ryan: The Worst Timing In The World. Retrieved on 19 June 2009.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
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