Our favorite 2015 PECOTA comps
Last year was my first time putting together the list of favorite PECOTA comps -- you can read the introduction and disclaimers there -- and doing it for a second time proved once again to be a really fun exercise. You get to see where it's scariest (fun debut year, Masahiro Tanaka, here's a Jeremy Bonderman comp), where it's the most tantalizing (Joey Gallo: Giancarlo Stanton) and, of course, where it's the most unintentionally racist (Koji Uehara: Takashi Saito).
Here are some of my favorite PECOTA comps in this year's deck.
A comp list that's worth 1,000 words
Hey editors, listen up. You know how whenever a pitcher signs a huge contract or extension, we go into these long 1,000-word transaction analyses that take effort and graphs and stuff? The moral of the story usually ends up being how players of a similar age and track record who sign these deals can turn out to be a variety of things.
So I have an idea. Next time someone like a Clayton Kershaw signs something like a Clayton Kershaw contract, just save the time.
Here's Clayton Kershaw's list of three comps this year. Just run this every time and save 994 words:
Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Rich Harden
Quiz: Who got the one comp to ...
1. Who got the one comp to Willie Mays? (Hint: It wasn't Mike Trout)
2. Who got the one comp to Derek Jeter? (Hint: Late 20s shortstop)
3. Who got the one comp to Ichiro? (Hint: He signed with a new team this offseason)
Bonus: Who got the one comp to Wily Mo Pena? (Hint: He has by far the lowest OBP of any player in history with a .400 slugging percentage, but I guess given that you already knew he got a Wily Mo Pena comp, this might not be much of a hint.)
Answers are toward the bottom of the column.
PECOTA has no idea who Xander Bogaerts is
There are some diverse paths here when it comes to young players, and there have to be. Even if a player were an exact match for three former major leaguers at that snapshot, those three former players would have had very divergent routes from that point forward. Giancarlo Stanton's list, for instance, includes a Mickey Mantle and a Darryl Strawberry. Both were outstanding players at a young age, just like Stanton. George Springer's numbers, mostly in the minor leagues, mirror those of Paul Goldschmidt or Dallas McPherson. It happens.
But PECOTA appears confused as to who Xander Bogaerts even is. And it's not hard to blame it. He's a shortstop, and a good one, but he's shown times of stardom, times of struggle, times of plate mastery and times of whiff affinity. So still just 22, Bogaerts gets the most confused list of comps -- Troy Tulowitzki, B.J. Upton (an infielder early in his career), and Eric Hosmer.
At least he didn't get a pitcher in there.
They're meant to be together, hitters division
Brendan Ryan's No. 1 comp is Adam Everett
Terrance Gore's No. 1 comp is Jarrod Dyson
Joe Mauer's No. 1 comp is Kent Hrbek
Billy Hamilton's No. 1 comp is Willy Taveras
Corey Hart's No. 1 comp is Garrett Jones
Jean Segura's No. 1 comp is Alcides Escobar
Mike Yastrzemski's No. 1 comp is Scott Van Slyke
Most comped hitters:
On Twitter the other day, I proposed the "Adam Dunn Axiom," probably an overreaction to reading about the Astros' strikeout totals and how they were going to be a team full of Adam Dunns.
Thankfully, PECOTA doesn't think this way. The list of guys who show up as a No. 1, 2 or 3 comp for the most players is as usual, very boring. Some are more skilled than others, but they're skill sets that aren't outliers in any one area, making them easy to replicate.
Reigning champion Caleb Gindl moved down a spot, replaced at the top by America's Fifth Outfielder, Xavier Paul.
Xavier Paul - 12
Caleb Gindl - 11
Steve Pearce - 11
Zoilo Almonte - 10
Charlie Culberson- 10
Jesus Guzman - 10
Marcell Ozuna - 10
Neil Walker - 10
Most comped pitchers:
John Lackey - 14
Edwin Escobar - 13
Jose A. Ramirez- 13
Alex Wilson - 13
Jenrry Mejia - 12
Mike Foltynewicz- 11
Kyle Lobstein - 11
Jose Bautista's graduation
It's a special day in a hitter's life when he comes into his Barry Bonds comp. Either he's rocketed to stardom like the Pirates and Giants speedster did, or he's hung on long enough and kept his power and on-base skills high enough that the system's run out of mortals.
Bautista got his first this year, as the system has gradually been clearing its memory of the old Pittsburgh Bautista, and he's lasted as this player for long enough.
This year, Bautista graduated from a still-strong group of Bobby Abreu, J.D. Drew, Frank Robinson to the much more impressive Stan Musial, Frank Robinson, Barry Bonds.
The rest of the comps to the greats are pretty slim. Justin Upton kept his Bonds comp, and Matt Holliday managed one too. There were no Roger Clemens comps, nor new Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. Hiroki Kuroda lasted long enough with enough in the tank to get a Greg Maddux comp as his going-away present, and Bartolo Colon got one too for his late 30s skills.
Quiz answers: Who got the one comp to...
1. Who got the one comp to Willie Mays?
That roundly skilled and generationally elite outfielder would be Andrew McCutchen, who put together one of the most visually impressive lists of comps this year: Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Hank Aaron.
2. Who got the one comp to Derek Jeter?
A clearly above-average offensive shortstop who's carrying a -18.6 career FRAA, it is Ian Desmond who gets the lone Jeterian comparison this year. Desmond also has the only comp to Robin Yount, like Jeter a Hall of Fame-level shortstop who sported negative defensive metrics.
3. Who got the one comp to Ichiro?
That would be Norichika Aoki, who while slowing down a bit in his early 30s, also grabbed the only Juan Pierre comp.
Bonus: Who got the one comp to Wily Mo Pena?
Nobody else who has a .400 career slugging percentage (min. 1,000 PA) has anywhere near as low an on-base percentage as J.P. Arencibia, who got the only Wily Mo comp.
Lowest OBP for .400 sluggers
J.P. Arencibia - .255
Craig Paquette - .274
Miguel Olivo - .275
Karim Garcia - .279
Darryl Motley - .280
They're meant to be together, pitchers division
Cliff Lee's No. 1 comp is Roy Halladay
Tim Hudson's No. 1 comp is Derek Lowe
And finally, my favorite comp out of any of the 6,270 given out this year: Pedro Strop's No. 1 comp is Fernando Rodney.
It's reassuring to see that the system is well calibrated for #tilt.
Zachary Levine is an author of Baseball Prospectus.