The new and possibly improved PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus came out Wednesday, and if you want to know how it works, Colin Wyers will explain to you using Adam Dunn as an example. If you're interested in the numbers, you can just look at Kyle's FanPost.
But if you're like me when you look at the spreadsheet, your eyes soon drift towards the comparable players column. Or, if you're Grant Brisbee, you seek it out immediately. They're fun to mull over no matter how fast you get there, because in many cases, it would be better for PECOTA if they were left unsaid.
Sometimes the comps are ridiculous on the surface, but you can at least draw a Hawk Harrelson STRETCH! connection, because, hey, Eduardo Escobar and Luis Aparicio are both diminutive Venezuelan shortstops. But then you get ones like ...
- Brent Morel: Andy Marte, Aramis Ramirez, Adrian Beltre
Dallas McPherson: Harmon Killebrew, Mike Schmidt, Mike Hessman
And you get the idea that PECOTA isn't an intricate baseball projection system, but a high school student with senioritis mailing in a project ("Here are three third baseman. Can I graduate now?").
But amid the carnage, I did find four that ended up being somewhat profound upon some reflection.
Jeff Francoeur, Ruben Sierra, Ellis Valentine
Here's one that I saw and nodded, "Yup, yup, yup." I really like the Sierra comp at its core. He generated a lot of excitement with results that didn't quite match ... unless he hit .300, and then he was an MVP candidate. Viciedo doesn't seem like the best bet to age well, either. If this was the first set of comparables I saw, I would think this system had it down cold.
Jerry Mumphrey, Vernon Wells, Eric Byrnes
Seeing Wells and Byrnes listed next to Rios made me laugh, because they're pretty apt comparisons for reasons not captured by PECOTA. The former was given a mistake contract by Toronto, and the latter rubbed some people the wrong way for emotional displays that lacked authenticity.
Willie Mays, Adam Jones, Sammy Sosa
I'll wait for you to stop laughing at the concept of Thompson immediately bringing Mays to mind...
... Still? C'mon, it's not that funny ...
... Are we OK? Finally.
The Jones and Sosa listings have their selling points. Over the last two seasons, Jones has averaged 26 walks and 116 strikeouts, which is a walk-to-strikeout ratio Thompson could replicate if he makes it to the big leagues. Likewise, if restrict your vision of Sosa to what he was with the White Sox, there's a heap of tools that wouldn't come together to form a major-league game. That could very well be Thompson. He could also produce like Sosa in his early Cubs career, if things break the right way.
The 60-homer or 600-homer parts ... I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's out of his reach.
Danny Richar, Ian Kinsler, Jim Lefebvre
The first time I saw Danny Richar play was back in 2007, when I went to a Charlotte Knights-Pawtucket Red Sox game. In his first trip to the plate, he fell behind 0-2, watched three straight pitches out of the zone, and then fouled off eight pitches in a row. The 14th pitch was high and tight and resulted in an HBP, making it the hardest-earned base I've ever seen.
That's the only thing I remember about Richar, and if Beckham keeps it up, I might end up saying that the fun came crashing to a halt after he took a fastball to the hand, too.