Thursday, March 06, 2008

Pardon Me, Aren't You...?

I've talked before about Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projection system. The nutshell version of it is that it's a hyper similarity score. It crunches through eons of baseball history to find players who have similar performances, talent levels, size, etc. It looks for players who were similar at the same age, and then sums up what they did with the rest of their careers. It ain't perfect, but what is?

Anyway, I saw on another blog (damned if I can remember which one), someone tinkering around with the list of top comps for various players. So I figured I'd steal it. It's an interesting (and independent) way of assessing the quality and potential of the players on our field. With that blather out of the way, here's our starting lineup:

1) UL Washington (Felipe Lopez)
2) Rondell White (Lastings Milledge)
3) Ken McMullen (Ryan Zimmerman)
4) Mike Esptein (Nick Johnson)
5) Bob Allison (Austin Kearns)
6) Pete Incaviglia (Wily Mo Pena)
7) Todd Hundley (Jesus Flores)
8) Wayne Tolleson (Cristian Guzman)

Those 3/4/5 batters probably seem familiar to the old guys out there.

What's your impression? That seems like a pretty solid lineup and a decent set of comps for some of those guys. If Milledge turns into Rondell (sans injury), that's a steal of a trade. Superjew couldn't hit lefties, but he was a pretty solid power hitter with a good eye for a few years there.

Bob Allison and Austin Kearns are a really good fit in my eye. Both are (were?) great defensive outfielders who could play CF in a pinch. If Kearns develops Allison's 30-HR bat.

If you ignore their heritage, Incy / Pena is a pretty interesting comparison. Incy was a big, lumbering guy who smacked the crap out of the ball and played indifferent defense. His plate discipline was just as indifferent, and when he had a bad batting average season, he was ghastly overall, much as it seems is the case with Pena.

The Zimmerman/McMullen comparison is a bit disappointing. McMullen had a few decent seasons (shaded by the pitcher's era he played in), but he never made an All-Star team. If that's Zimmerman's fate... In PECOTA's defense, the next three comps are Don Money, Bob Bailey and Larry Parrish. Cal Ripken and Aramis Ramirez pop up in his top 10. And David Wright and Ron Santo are in his top 15. Feeling better now?

The Todd Hundley comparison probably causes heartburn in the Flores fans, but it's not as bad as you think. We remember Hundley when he fell apart in the end, and was unable to play defense. But in the first part of his career -- which is where the two are being compared -- he was a damn good hitter, and not just "for a catcher."

Here's the bench:
Bill Mazeroski (Ronnie Belliard). Mazeroski's a Hall-of-Famer, but it isn't for his bat, and PECOTA doesn't consider defense beyond similar positions.

Bob Kennedy (Aaron Boone) -- apparently PECOTA considers familial relations! Bob's son, Terry, also played. Look Boone, Bob bounced around from team to team at the end of his career.

Austin Kearns (Elijah Dukes). Does that circular loop make your head hurt as much as mine? Other names in his top 20: Dwight Evans, Jesse Barfield, Chili Davis, Troy Glaus, Ryan Klesko, Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds, Scott Rolen, Willie Horton, Bernie Williams, Adam Dunn, Jose Canseco. Wow. Wouldn't you trade just about anyone in the farm system for any of these player's careers starting at age 24?

Toby Hall (Johnny Estrada). Hall wasn't good, but he was never terrible. Certainly the greatest catcher in Devil Rays history! (for another year or two, at least)

John Lowenstein (Willie Harris). I thought this one was pretty fascinating. My impression of Lowenstein isn't really anything like Wee Willie Harry. By the time that Lowenstein got to Baltimore, much of the speed had left, but like Harris, they could sure use a good platoon or two.

Doug Frobel (Ryan Langerhans). Frobel is the only one of the comps that I didn't know. Looking at his stats, I can see why.

Joe Girardi (Paul LoDuca). I think I used this joke before, but assuming that PLoD gets the lion's share of the catcher starts this year, they'll share not just similar batting stats, but their ability so steal good portions of a would-be Hall-of-Fame catcher's career.

Russ Snyder (Rob Mackowiak). If Russ is to be trusted, it looks like the end is nigh for Mr. Mack.

  • UPDATE: I overlooked Dmitri!

    His top comp is... David Segui... the OLD David Segui.

    Hopefully without the extra drugs. (other than insulin)


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