It probably says a lot about me that one of the days that I always find myself looking forward to during the off-season is the day that Baseball-Reference updates their player pages. The main reason for my anticipation is B-R's most similar players feature listed at the bottom of each page.
The similarity scores are based on a formula introduced years ago by Bill James, explained here. The Similar Through Age () scores can be used to give you some perspective on similar players career arcs.
This year, I was most interested to see if there were any encouraging comps for Juan Uribe. There aren't. I don't think the Through Age 26 comps for Uribe are all that comparable. Most of the players have much higher OBPs and much better walk rates. The only truly similar player is Earl Williams, and he was out of the majors by age 29. I don't know anything about William's defensive prowess, but I can guarantee that Uribe's defense (and power) will have him hanging around the majors well into his 30's.
The other player I was interested in seeing comps for was Brandon McCarthy. I had to laugh when I saw the #1 Through Age 22 comp, our very own, Ed Farmer. The comparison is physically a good one. If you put a picture of McCarthy into one of those FBI computer simulated aging programs, he'd come out looking a whole lot like the White Sox radio play-by-play man. From a baseball standpoint, that comparison is not as funny. Farmer, like McCarthy, had a problem giving up the longball early in his career, and was largely ineffective until his trade to the southside at age 28. He was an above average pitcher for only about a year and half, and out of baseball by 33.
- Jon Garland's top comp is Alex Fernandez. I don't know why we keep seeing former Sox topping the lists.
- Continuing the trend of blast from the past comparisons, Bobby Jenks best age comp is Bobby Howry.
- Mark Buehrle's top comp is Mark Mulder. Duh.
- Neal Cotts top comp is B.J. Ryan. -- I've made this connection before, and it extends to their minor league days. Ryan obviously developed a better fastball, and has secondary pitches, but there are still similarities in their development.
- Freddy Garcia's comp list includes a bevy of current players, but none who inspire much confidence in his future. You'll struggle to find effective seasons after age 31 from anyone on his age comps. Most of Javier Vazquez' comps have the same fate, though his top two, Livan Hernandez and Brad Radke continued their effectiveness into their early 30's.