Though they've been out for a couple of months now, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the top player comps for some key Marlins contributors in 2016, according to ZiPS projections, courtesy of creator Dan Szymborski and Fangraphs. All of the Marlins comps are lumped together nicely in an article put together by Carson Cistulli. I'm only going to highlight a handful, though I'm sure you were dying to know that Tommy Medica's top comp is Yurendell de Caster.
At a minimum, it should provide us with
some content to bridge the gap from here to meaningful baseball a glimpse of how some modern day Marlins stack up to historical talents. I'm going to cherry pick some stats out of the projections to illustrate the validity of the comparison being made; for a wider look at the individual projections themselves you can refer to Mr. Cistulli's article as linked above.
No.1 comp - Harmon Killebrew
Stanton 2016 ZiPS projection: .269/.369/.569, 34 home runs, .303 ISO
Killebrew in 1963: .258/.345/.555, 45 home runs, .297 ISO
Killebrew was Stanton's age (26) in 1963 when he bashed 45 home runs and compiled 96 RBIs for the Minnesota Twins. During his 22 year career he became known, aside from having a fantastic baseball name, for hitting long distance home runs. His run ended in 1975, by which time he had 573 home runs to his name. Killebrew was recognized for his stellar play by being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
Killebrew amassed almost 600 at bats in 1963, about a hundred more than what Stanton's projected for this season. As we're all keenly aware, Stanton's health will be critical to whether or not he can live up to the team's lofty expectations and this particularly flattering comparison.
No.1 comp - Dwight Gooden
Fernández 2016 ZiPS projection: 171 K's, 10.45 K/9, 2.65 FIP, 70 ERA-
Gooden in 1988: 175 K's, 6.34 K/9, 2.54 FIP, 97 ERA-
Speaking of flattering comparisons...both of these guys were 19 years old coming into the league. In fact, in 2014 when Fernández took the mound as the opening day starter, he became the youngest opening day starter since...you guessed it, Dwight Gooden in 1986.
Gooden was an immeasurable talent, but he was ultimately done in early by a combination of drug abuse, injuries and overuse. Fernández, fortunately, doesn't appear to be battling the demons that Dwight did, but he's definitely had his fair share of injuries in his young career. In 1988, during Dwight Gooden's age 23 season, he ended up tossing almost 250 innings. I think the majority of us would be happy if José merely reached the proposed 180 inning the club and Scott Boras wish to limit him to.
No.1 comp - Dave Henderson
Ozuna 2016 ZiPS projection: .263/.312/.421, 23.7%, 2.2 zWAR
Henderson in 1984: .280/.320/.466, 15.0 K%, 1.7 fWAR
This is kind of a rough year to year comparison; Henderson only played in 112 games in his age 25 season, swatting a meager 14 home runs and driving in 43 RBIs for the Seattle Mariners. The brain trust in Seattle at the time probably thought they could and should get more out of Henderson. Indeed, he later ended up churning out his best years in Oakland, ably capitalizing off the legendary Rickey Henderson (no relation) batting in front of him. Between 1988 and 1991, Hendu averaged roughly 18.9 K% at the plate and almost 5 fWAR a year estimated between his offensive and defensive contributions.
Does Mattingly have this in the back of his mind as he plays around with Ozuna hitting 2nd? Probably not. But if Ozuna could cut into that projected 23.7% a little bit by maybe laying off some breaking pitches, and find some of his 2014 form in center, this comparison might begin to look a lot more favorable.
No.1 comp - Lou Brock
Ichiro 2016 ZiPS projection: .249/.294/.304, 86 hits, 11 stolen bases
Brock in 1979: .304/.392/.398, 123 hits, 21 stolen bases
Let's keep it real here: Ichiro is not going to match Brock's age 40 and final triple slash line. Probably should've mentioned this earlier but the important thing to keep in mind is not just how a modern day player matches up historically when they were both (relatively) the same age; but also that they compare favorably to each other over the course of their respective careers. Both of these guys were speed demons and masters with the stick in their primes, but I think the pertinent thing here is that Brock picked up his 3,000th hit in his final season and Ichiro is projected to do the same.
In case, for some reason, you think this comparison is doing a disservice to no doubt Hall of Famer Lou Brock, you should note that no doubt Hall of Famer Ichiro will (likely) be collecting his 3,000th hit three seasons earlier than Brock did, in almost 1,000 plate appearances less. Ichiro is not a great player anymore, that much anyone can see, but he has had a brilliant career and I'm looking forward to seeing it's culmination. I'm also crossing my fingers for a positive WAR contribution.
No.1 comp - Blue Moon Odom
No analysis here, I just wanted to include Blue Moon Odom.
No.1 comp - Luis Castillo
Gordon 2016 ZiPS projection: .292/.331/.375, 58 stolen bases, 2.2 zWAR
Castillo in 2004: .291/.373/.348, 21 stolen bases, 3.2 fWAR
Ahhhhhhhh yes, now we're talking. Marlins legend Luis Castillo is Flash Jr.'s number one comp...how perfect is that?! Both of them play a mean second base, both of them could/can swipe a bag, both pesky up at the dish. Castillo in 2004 was playing in his age 28 season, and was to never again reach the lofty 4.9 fWAR he'd put up in the previous season. Must've been resting on the laurels of that championship.
I don't need to repeat what Dee Gordon accomplished last season, but if he keeps that kind of play up, Castillo might not be the only second baseman sporting a World Series ring on his finger.