2018 Season Preview

The Good, Bad and Weird of Baseball Prospectus 2018 Yankees Comparables: Part 2, The Bad & The Weird

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) and a lot we saw in yesterday’s post inspired good feelings. Most of these do not! At best, you’ll be confused!

The Bad

Gleyber Torres

Gleyber has always been good in the minors, but a lot of people think his production hasn’t lived up to his projection, if that makes sense. His comparables bear that case out.

Nick Franklin, who hit over .225 once is on there, listed first. We have a Jesus Montero level bust on our hands if he turns into Nick Franklin. Franklin raked in the PCL in 2013, before being promoted to Seattle, but struggled the year before down there.

Franklin did hit pretty much everywhere he went in the minors, though, so it’d be hard to say his major league dead wood would’ve been projectable. Like, if a prospect is compared to Brandon Wood at age 20, I’m not gonna be too concerned even if he never hit better than a corpse would’ve.

Franklin Barreto is the second. He made 76 plate appearances for the A’s last year and had a 62 OPS+. Yeah. He’s still #43 on the Baseball America top 100 before this year, and he’s projected to improve. But it’s not a great start. Barreto has been better than solid in AAA and AA the last couple years though, so there’s no reason to think he won’t hit.

Eugenio Suarez is a pretty good scenario for Gleyber imo, at least if he’s like 26 year old Suarez. He broke out in his second full season last year, hitting 26 home runs with an OPS+ of 115. He was fairly mediocre up until this year, though, and wasn’t anything to write home about.

Gleyber’s power is the one people seem to worry about so what you really hope he projects to Suarez in terms of is that.

Tyler Wade

Tyler didn’t hit for beans last year and might as well have been a ball boy with how often Joe Girardi played him once Starlin Castro came back. Two out of three comps don’t really project him to two much more.

I don’t know who Yamaico Navarro is, but he has a .206 career batting average over four seasons in the early teens. He never got more than 66 PAs in a year. He was bad.

Greg Garcia’s primary position on Baseball Reference is pinch hitter, so that’s not ideal. He’s also never slugged .400. Again, not ideal.

Chris Taylor is the first comparable, and he’s had one really good season with LA, blooming late at 26, but that doesn’t seem like it’s the most repeatable thing, ya know? His OPS+ was 102 in his first year with Seattle, with 151 PA and then it never rose again above 85 until it suddenly was 122 last year.  He apparently changed his swing, but Wade is compared to pre-swing change Taylor who was uh not good.

I’m sure the poor MLB debut played a role in Wade’s poor projections but it doesn’t make me feel any better.

Clint Frazier

Michael Saunders somehow was an all star in 2016 and was pretty good for Seattle in 2014, but seems to have become nothing more than a platoon outfielder. Not what you want out of Clint here.

David Dahl: who knows, he played one year two years ago and then that was all we’ve seen. He had an OPS of .859 during 237 PA two years ago, but it’s hard to draw anything from that. If he plays like healthy Dahl, you’d take it though.

Chad Huffman had 36 major league plate appearances, with seven years in between his two years in the majors. I really hope Red Thunder does better than that.

The Weird

Aaron Judge

I mainly wanted to write this after seeing Aaron Judge’s comparables. His third one listed is one Giancarlo Stanton. He’s a Yankee in case you haven’t heard. He’s Judge 1.0 basically. They’re the living two Spidermen pointing at each other meme.

The first one listed for him was George Springer. Springer’s an all star who has done nothing but hit since coming up to the majors four years ago. He does it from a more premium position than Judge, but he’s still not really in Aaron’s league if Aaron keeps up what he did last year or anything close to it. Still, there are way stranger comps in this book.

The one where I did a spit take was Jabari Blash, the return for Chase Headley. This strikes me as “we ran out of big guys with light tower power, so Blash it is.” Blash has eight career home runs and a career OPS+ of 79. Judge 56 and 157 in those categories.

Blash did hit for a lot more power in the minor leagues than he’s shown in San Diego. Probably more than Judge. But doesn’t Judge’s 2017 season alone take a comparison to Blash off the table? How likely is it that Blash turns into Judge? 1%? How likely is it that Judge’s career careens like the bus in The Fugitive off the tracks? Maybe like 25%? Even then he’s STILL way better than Blash at age 25. I don’t get it. Shrug. This seems based on size and not much else.

Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo’s are a little worrisome just because they’re all sluggers who didn’t age particularly well.

Ralph Kiner was never an all star again after his age 30 season. Darryl Strawberry is obviously a unique case with other problems besides suddenly being bad at baseball. Jose Canseco was just pretty okay besides his 46 home run season in Toronto in 1998 after turning 31.

Those guys were all great, but boy would you hope Stanton’s prime lasts a little longer than those guys’ with that ten year contract. Those are all unique scenarios to some degree, so it’s hard to really compare Stanton, plus these comps are only up to his current age, where there wasn’t a warning that these guys would fall apart. It’s just…seeing all three of his comps having that similarity is worrisome.

The Young Arms

Anyway, there are some other weird ones too, like Dillon Tate’s and Albert Abreu’s, but with prospects, especially pitchers who have been screwed up mechanically or hurt or both, it’s hard to really compare them. If players like those complete a whole healthy season, I’d wager their comps would be much more positive than Jason Berken next year.

And obviously, take this all with a grain of salt. If they could project super accurately, major league teams would’ve snatched up whatever system this was and kept it from other teams. After all, Aaron Judge has Jabari Blash as a comp and has done pretty well for himself.

 

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