Recently, Baseball Prospectus released their latest version of their projection system, PECOTA. PECOTA strives to be the best projection system in the business, but projecting players is really difficult, and it is not always successful, much like other systems. At the same time, PECOTA is among the best projection systems in the game, and one of the coolest features of the system is the "Comparables" section. The system uses the comparables to find similar players in order to identify a possible aging pattern, but most readers like looking at that list of names in order to dream about a future to be with their favorite players.
Hey, here at Fish Stripes, we are not that much different than other baseball fans. We like to dream too, and PECOTA's comparables are an excellent way to do that. Let us look at some interesting comps for the team's players.
|640||.253||.335||.505||.298||Justin Upton, Adam Dunn, Darryl Strawberry|
*TAv is True Average, Baseball Prospectus's all-encompassing offensive stat. It works very similarly to wOBA, and it is already park-adjusted. It is on scale with batting average, with the league average set to .260 every year.
#MONSTERDONG is already one of the most exciting players in baseball, and by the looks of those numbers and those comps, he could be in for an even better time. Upton is well-established as one of the better outfielders in the game, though he is not known as elite, but merely an "All-Star." Of course, Upton has a lot of pedigree behind him, and baseball evaluators still rave about his skill set. Dunn was quietly one of the better power hitters in the 2000's, and we know that Stanton's defense is much better than Dunn's. And Strawberry? The former New York Mets first rounder hit .252/.343/.467 (.289 TAv) in his age-22 season, but he followed that with a monstrous .277/.389/.557 (.331 TAv) campaign at age 23. In other words, some bright things are on the way for Stanton and the Marlins.Hanley Ramirez
|619||.301||.377||.491||.310||Vladimir Guerrero, Robin Yount, Nomar Garciaparra|
Once upon a time, Ramirez would have picked up better names than the ones listed here as comparables, and that is saying a lot given the presence of a true Hall of Famer in Yount and a borderline (probably just missing the cut) Hall of Fame candidate in Guerrero. Of course, the name that really stands out here is the one that is not associated any longer with greatness. Nomar Garciaparra and his ugly six-year stint at the end of his career loom large among these three names. Garciaparra's last MVP-caliber season was in 2003 at age 29, when he hit .301/.345/.524 (.291 TAv). Ramirez will be 28 in 2012. The big names like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter no longer show up on Ramirez's lists, and maybe there is a reason for that. The Marlins are hoping for a return to at least 2010 form.
|647||.292||.347||.434||.281||Jimmy Rollins, Barry Larkin, Nomar Garciaparra|
Here are three different outcomes spanning the spectrum for Reyes during his six-year deal with the Marlins. From age 29 to 34, Hall of Famer Barry Larkin amassed 29.2 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement and cemented a masterful career that began very well. Following Jimmy Rollins's age-27 MVP campaign in 2007, he has amassed 14.9 fWAR in four seasons. We already discussed the downside of Garciaparra. There is at least a decent chance that Reyes can average the 3.5 or so wins a season to make his contract worthwhile, but again the shadow of Garciaparra looms.
|187 2/3||8.2||2.7||0.7||3.20||Jon Matlack, CC Sabathia, Gary Peters|
I found Matlack an interesting comp because, based on his stats, he was the sort of pitcher who racked up few strikeouts and compensated with low walk totals. This went quite counter to what Johnson does for a living, as he is more of a hybrid pitcher that excels in all three categories to a decent amount. The comparison to Sabathia seems apt, with the injury status of both players being a major difference. Here's hoping for a healthy 2012 from Johnson.
|182 2/3||7.5||2.0||1.1||4.00||Scott Sanderson, Shane Reynolds, James Shields|
I may believe Nolasco is the most complex and puzzling pitcher of all time, but the last comparison of James Shields fits the bill pretty well. Both pitchers boast strong peripherals, but after Shields' 2010 season, he earned a reputation for underperforming his peripherals. Of course, after 2011, his ERA and FIP are back to normal. Nolasco would be hard-pressed to resolve that discrepancy of his in one season, but a strong 2012 would go a long way to proving us sabermetric minds right about his skills.
|144||7.4||4.1||0.8||4.11||Jim Beattie, Bob Gibson, Jack Morris|
For a guy who was cast away for almost nothing (Chris Volstad, to be exact), getting Bob Gibson and Jack Morris (no matter how much he does not deserve Hall of Fame status, it is difficult to deny that he was a good pitcher) seem pretty good for Zambrano. And with a projected 4.11 ERA that looks very similar to the figures we've seen in different sources, the Marlins could do significantly worse for one season in 2012 for a fifth starter. In fact, Zambrano or Nolasco may represent the best fifth starter in baseball next year.