Similarity

Brian Kersey

What does it all mean? It means it is January and baseball hasn't started yet.

Baseball Reference, as many of you are no doubt aware, offers a 'Similarity Score' for players.  The basic concept, originally conceived by Bill James is explained here.  There is no grand scheme here, just a comparison of career statistics or statistics through a certain age.

It is a Monday...in January and the Royals (and most of baseball except A-Rod) are extremely quiet.  For fun and conversation, let's take a look at the most similar players by age for the current roster.  The first name listed will be the most similar after a player's first year in the majors continuing forward.

James Shields - Joe Neale, Bartolo Colon, Charles Nagy, Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Joe Blanton, Ben Sheets, Moose Haas.   If you want a cautionary tale, Moose Haas threw 100 major league innings after the age of 29 while Sheets managed to toss just 169 innings since turning 30.

Alex Gordon - Bill Sudakis, Joe Foy, Howard Johnson, Darnell Coles, Eric Hinske, Ray Lankford, Dan Ford.  If it makes you feel better, Luis Gonzalez and Torii Hunter are both in Alex's Top 10 Similarities for his age 29 season.

Jason Vargas - Billy Traber, Scott Aldred, Eric Bell, David Williams, Mike Mason, Chris Capuano, Wandy Rodriguez.  One does have to like that Vargas actually gets similar to guys we have heard of as he has aged.

Omar Infante - Dick McAuliff, Denis Menke, Denis Menke, Dick Green, John Ellis, David Bell, Adam Kennedy, Adam Kennedy, Adam Kennedy, Jimmy Dykes.  Denis Menke has some bad baseball card photos.

Billy Butler - Keith Hernandez, Kent Hrbek, John Olerud, John Olerud, John Olerud, John Olerud.  Five of Olerud's six best home run seasons came after the age 27 season.  He never hit a ton, but he hit more than prior to turning 28.

Jeremy Guthrie - Philip Humber,  Johnny Wertz, Jerome Williams, Bob Milacki, Tomo Ohka, Tomo Ohka, Chris Capuano.  The Royals may not need to sign Chris Capuano, they might have two of him on the staff already!

Alcides Escobar - Ronny Cedeno, Royce Clayton, Jimmy Esmond, Cesar Izturis.  Jimmy Esmond had 15 triples in 1914.

Wade Davis - Alex Cobb, Joe Blanton, Paul Moskau, Brett Tomko. Oh good, a Brett Tomko appearance.

Salvador Perez - Shanty Hogan.  Baseball Reference only has an age 23 similarity for Salvador.  Hogan hit .339 with a .517 slugging percentage at age 24.

Norichika Aoki - Johnny Moore, Kiddo Davis. Davis was not a full time starter after age 32.

Luke Hochevar - Seth Greisinger, Brian Rose, Dan Wright, Jose Mesa, Ray Benge, John Thomson.  Yep.

Emilio Bonifacio - Buck Herzon, Eddie Grant, Jim Bucher, Eddie Foster, Alan Bannister. I have an Eddie (Eddy) Grant album - don't judge.

Justin Maxwell - Ellis Burton, Ken Hunt.

Greg Holland - Jeff Brantley, Troy Percival.  Troy Percival was a good, sometimes great, reliever for ten years.

Tim Collins - Jim Roland, Hub Pruett. There have been a lot of relief pitchers in the history of baseball.

Aaron Crow - Ryan Webb, Dave Heaverlo.  Heaverlo never started a game in seven big league seasons.

Eric Hosmer - Eddie Murray, John Olerud, Vic Saier.  Don't look at Saier's stats for the rest of his career.  Look at Eddie Murray's instead - you'll feel better.

Danny Valencia - Dave Engle, Kevin Orie, Joe McEwing.

Mike Moustakas - Willie Jones, Ken McMullen. Ken McMullen put up 34 bWAR over a 16 year career.

Jarrod Dyson - Alex Diaz.  The only similarity offered at this point, Diaz seems to be a poor comp at that.

Danny Duffy - Chris George, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Sowers.  Some circle of life stuff for you there.

Lorenzo Cain - Bombo Rivera.  Bombo played five games for the Royals in 1982, which I didn't realize (and I realize a lot of irrelevant crap).

Louis Coleman - Toby Borland, Vinnie Pestano.

Kelvin Herrera - Johnny Ruffin.  Now, if you go past Ruffin on this year's list, here are some of Herrera's other 'similars': Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps, Fergie Jenkins, Mark Littell and Drew Storen.

Honestly, I don't know that these similarity scores mean a ton.  They are interesting in following a player's career and who he compares to at a given age.  Interest and relevance are two different things, however.

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