2018 Season Preview

The Good, Bad and Weird of Baseball Prospectus 2018 Yankees Comparables: Part 1, The Good

Baseball Prospectus’ glossary describes their player comparable algorithm thusly:

Comparable Players are generated by taking a player’s baseline projection and finding players with the same age and similar contact, power on contact, walks, and strikeout rates, as well s similar height, weight, handedness, and position (or start/relief split for pitchers).

It’s also important to note that established major leaguers are compared to other major leaguers only, while minor-league players may be compared to major-league or minor-league players, with PECOTA strongly preferring the latter. All comparables represent a snapshot of how the listed player was performing at the same age as the current player, so if a 23- year-old hitter is compared to Miguel Tejada, he’s actually being compared to a 23-year-old Tejada, not the decrepit Giants version of Tejada, nor to Tejada’s career as a whole.

That’s pretty self explanatory right? Aaron Judge is going to be compared to other 25 year olds who are the same size as him with similar career trajectories. Wait. Those people don’t exist besides the other right fielder the Yankees got from the Marlins.

Okay so that’s an outlier case for sure (and we’ll get to his one specifically weird comparable) but a lot of the other ones make more sense and inspire good feelings for the Yankees 2018 season. Let’s get going on those positive cases!

The Good

Miguel Andujar

Andujar, the presumptive third baseman coming into the 2018 season, having a total of eight plate appearances in major league baseball, is being compared to Jedd Gyorko and Neil Walker at the same age. Colin Moran, too, but he was much more highly regarded when he was 23.

It took Gyorko a few years to get going, hitting at sparkling OPS+’s of 78 and 93 in his last two years in San Diego, respectively. His rookie, year, though, at 24, he had an OPS+ of 113 and over his last first years in St. Louis, has put up OPS+’s of 111 and 112 respectively. He’s hit 20 home runs three times in his career and has had an OPS of over .800 the last two years. If Andujar can turn in seasons like that, you’d take it.

As for Walker (who, hey, may possibly be a Yankee within a week of writing this), he’s had an OPS+ of 100 or over every year since he became a regular in 2010. Walker had a .462 slugging percentage in his age 24 season and an OPS of .811. He’s held strong, putting up an OPS of .843 last year with the Mets and Brewers.

The only thing I’m wondering about here in regards to Andujar is that Gyorko and Walker didn’t spend a majority of their age 23 seasons in the majors. Their age 24 seasons were both with OPS+ of 100+ but their age 23 seasons didn’t have them up yet. Maybe Andujar will show us what they would’ve done a year early. Regardless, it certainly looks good for 2019 even if these aren’t star players he compares to.

Estevan Florial

If you want to talk about some minor league celebrities, look at Florial’s comparisons: Byron Buxton and Lewis Brinson. Buxton finally did something in the majors last year and Brinson just got dealt to Florida to actually begin a major league career, but this makes me more cheery on Estevan’s upward trajectory through the minors.

The concern with him is always that his absurdly high strikeout rate will catch up to him, and he’s unique having grown up in Haiti thus giving him less playing experience, but if he can play like Buxton and Brinson through the minors, boy you’d take it. He’s also compared to Domingo Santana, who’s done pretty well for himself in the majors. I’d take him turning into any of them.

Gary Sanchez

Gary’s already scary (TM John Sterling) but his comparables include Paul Goldschmidt, he of the .966 OPS last year. He of the career 146 OPS+. He of the career .931 OPS. Sanchez may get worn down by playing behind the plate and won’t be able to play as many games per year, but hey we’re not starting off on a bad foot.

His second comparable is 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau (still on the lam from stealing that one from Derek Jeter). Morneau had five all star seasons at 1B before getting hurt and held up at similar rates until those injuries circa his 30th birthday.

Brandon Belt is the third comparable, which is weird since Belt’s never hit 20 home runs. I’m sure AT&T Park has something to do with that, but hey, Belt has had four 120 OPS+ seasons, so he’s not hack. Greg Bird also has Belt as a comparable, though Bird’s high fly ball rate kind of seems to make him an opposite of Belt, he of 18 HR in the juiced ball year. Even if Sanchez and Bird turn into pre-2017 Belt somehow, they’ll still be real good though, so hard to complain.

Chance Adams

Adams is a weird case, with his high fly ball rate probably not being a great fit at New Yankee Stadium, but his comparables certainly seem not bad. Kinda.

Carl Edwards, Jr. is probably the fall back option for Adams, as a reliever who tunes it up and strikes out a lot of guys.

The other comparables are more interesting, I think. One is Dylan Bundy, who got hurt early and has come up over the last two years and put up slightly above average ERAs. Not exactly an all star. Bundy was regarded as one of the most advanced high schools arms ever and got to the majors at 19, but then got hurt and hasn’t been that great since. But Adams could very well be a 4.50 ERAish guy in the majors, necessitating his move to becoming Edwards.

The other comp Zack Wheeler, who seemingly has been injured forever, but was highly regarded before they occurred. He had ERAs under four over parts of 2013-14 during his age 23 and 24 seasons (Adams is 23) before getting hurt and looked like a solid bet to be a solid major leaguer for years to come. Then he got hurt.

So maybe Adams becomes Wheeler before he got hurt. Or maybe he becomes Bundy, which probably makes him become Edwards.

Tommy Kahnle

I mainly wanted to focus on prospects/really young players here since there’s more projection involved, but Kahnle’s comps are Brian Wilson and A.J. Ramos. Joey Devine also makes an appearance, though he got hurt pretty much right after breaking out.

Blake Rutherford was probably traded because the Yankees thought they were getting the next Wilson or Ramos when they got Kahnle, though he didn’t really show it until the postseason. If you think he’s Edwar Ramirez and good for one year, you don’t give up Rutherford, even if Blake went in the toilet last year.

Ramos had four straight seasons with ERAs below 3.15 before 2017 and Wilson was a three time all star with four really solid seasons under his belt. You’re probably not finding the next Mariano Rivera, so all you can ask for in pitchers, who shatter at a moment’s notice, is a few good years and Kahnle looks like he projects to do that at a possible all star level.





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