Baseball Reference has an interesting tool in which they use Bill James’ similarity scores and list the top 10 players to which an individual players is similar in history at their current age. For example, George Brett was most similar to Carney Lansford at age 22, Frankie Frisch at 23, and Oyster Burns at 24. It wasn’t until he was 28 that he was similar to a Hall of Famer, Harry Heilman. I decided to take the 2013 Royal players and see who they are most similar to. Maybe it will tell us something about the future of the Royals.
Catcher Salvador Perez is 23 and most similar to Shanty Hogan. Who? Second on Salvador’s list is Mickey Cochrane. I’ll take the #2 spot here. Jason Kendall is the #3 player. Five of the ten players on Salvadore’s list ended up being stars, with Cochrane and Bill Dickey being Hall of Famers on his list. Hogan was a catcher in the 20’s and 30’s who was an average hitter. This bodes well for Salvadore.
First baseman Eric Hosmer is 23 and most similar to Vic Saier. Who again? John Olerud and Carlos May are 2nd and 3rd for him. There are 6 players who were stars, but no Hall of Famers. The best was probably Keith Hernandez. Interestingly, Billy Butler is #10 on his list. Saier was a good hitter for a few years in the 1910’s. Looks good for Eric.
Second baseman Chris Getz, who is better than 99.9% of us could ever hope to be, but not near as good as any of us would like is 30 and most similar to Marv Breeding, who was a way below hitter in the early 60’s, but an excellent fielder. Danny Murtaugh is on his list at #10, but of course, he’s famous for his Pirate manager years. Sorry, Chris. No good.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar is 26 and most similar to Cesar Izturis. Not a ringing endorsement, especially since only one player ended up having a good career, Dave Concepcion. This doesn’t look good for our shortstop.
Third baseman, Mike Moustakas, is 25 and most similar to Ken McMullen. Howard Johnson and Gary Gaetti are pretty good players on his list, but most of the other’s didn’t accomplish much more in their careers. Alex Gordon is on his list. Jury is out, but about ready to bring a decision.
Left fielder Alex Gordon is 29 and Dan Ford is his #1. Ray Lankford and Luis Gonzalez are 2nd and 3rd. That’s pretty good company and six of his comparables ended up with pretty good careers. Sounds good for Alex.
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain is 27. It doesn’t look good as Bombo Rivera is his #1 player. The best player he has on his list is Vic Davalillo. Looks like a place where an upgrade could help, more than I realized. Former Royal Pat Sheridan is on his list as is one of the great names Bevo Lebourveau who played for both Philadelphia franchises in the 20’s and was also a World War I vet.
Right fielder David Lough is 27, but doesn’t have enough at-bats to have his similarities listed. The threshold is 500 at-bats.
Designated hitter Billy Butler is 27 and is most similar to Olerud. He looks good with only two of his top 10 not having good careers. Yaz is on his list as is Rafael Palmeiro who might have been a Hall of Famer if the steroid story hadn’t broken on him. Nick Markakis and Keith Hernandez are #2 and 3 on his list. That looks good for Billy.
That is the players who started the most games at each position. Now for the bench, part timers and released players.
Jarrod Dyson is 28. Sorry, Jarrod, Alex Diaz is the top player on your list. Nobody on his list was a very good major league player.
Jeff Francouer of course is gone now. He’s 29 and if his similarities stood up, could have a chance of being a pretty good player in the future. This is where the similarity score breaks down, it doesn’t measure trends. Anyway, his players are Lance Parrish, Chili Davis, and George Scott. Chili was an ex-Royal, and I wonder how many of you remember that Boomer played for the Royals for two months in 1979.
Emilio Bonifacio is 28 with Alan Bannister being his #1 similarity. He doesn’t have anybody very good on his list either, except #10 former Royal and starting 2nd baseman for a number of years before Frnak White, Cookie Rojas.
Elliot Johnson is 29 and in no better shape than Bonifacio with Steve Huntz being his first similarity. Former Royal Terry Shumpert is on his list which isn’t much of endorsement. (Of course Johnson is gone.)
Miguel Tejada’s career is pretty much over of course. Jeff Kent, Yogi Berra and Gary Gaetti are his top three similarities. Barry Larkin, Pudge Rodriguez and Carlton Fisk are the now or future Hall of Famers on his list beside Yogi. I doubt he will ever be in the Hall with the steroid scandal tainting his stats.
George Kottaras’ similar players are for the most part other back-up catchers with Sal Fasano being #1 on his list.
Justin Maxwell, who has my vote as having the most exciting play of the 2013 season, isn’t due for much else. Ken Hunt is #1 on his list.
Jamey Carroll is 39 with Germany Schafer being #1 on his list. Not a ringing endorsement when the most similar player was a dead ball era player from 1901-1915. The best nickname in baseball, IMHO, was Bob Ferguson, "Death to Flying Things." Second on Carroll’s list, he played in the 1870’s and 80’s.
Carlos Pena is 35 and Andre Thornton is his first comparable. He’s got a number of good power hitters on his list, but all of them were at the end of their careers and 35 as is Pena.
Johnny Giavotella, Brett Hayes, Pedro Ciriaco, Adam Moore, and Irving Falu don’t have enough career at-bats to be listed..
Butler, Gordon, Perez and Hosmer seem to have good similarity scores. The rest aren't in too good of shape. I though Bonifacio's comparables would be better, but the rest of them don't surprise me.
That's the hitters. I'll compare the pitchers in another post.