I got my Baseball Prospectus 2014 in the mail the other day, which is a jolly January/February tradition. While I love the player comments, team essays, and forecasts, the best part this year is this hilarious essay on unwritten rules. It's just the best. Well-written, amusing, and it makes you think. You should buy the book for that essay alone.
Man, still laughing. Just so good.
With the nice things out of the way, it's time for our annual tradition of laughing/crying/recoiling in horror at the PECOTA comparables for Giants players. The guy who created PECOTA is now a celebrity whose slavish devotion to logic and process controls the free world. So you shouldn't mock the projections. They are self-aware.
But the list of comparable players is fair game. The names are there to make you think, not help you gamble. Some of them make you think, alright.
Brandon Belt - Ike Davis, Mark Teixeira, Robert Fick
That would be the second year in a row for an Ike Davis comp, which means PECOTA-TRON 3050 is seeing something in the mainframe of the universe that really, really sucks. Robert Fick was an All-Star one year, which is why the average number of chromosomes for All-Star players is still at 45.996.
That Teixeira comp would be quite nice, though. Considering last year's comps were all miserable for Belt, it's nice to have one perennial All-Star mixed in.
Gary Brown - Clay Timpner
Well ... shoot. Keith Law just ranked Brown 10th on his list of Giants prospects, which speaks half to an eternal faith in his tools, and half to the depth of the Giants' system. The other two comps were Alex Presley and Josh Prince, but it's the Timpner one that stings.
When the Mets were choosing between Brown and Zack Wheeler, they were kind of choosing between Timpner and a young Tim Lincecum. Cool, cool. Helluva coin flip, Sandy.
Brandon Crawford- Toby Harrah, Edgar Renteria, Jimmy Rollins
Huh. Harrah's OPS+ through age 33: 122. He made three All-Star games, and he stopped playing shortstop at 28.
Renteria was a four-time All-Star by the time he was Crawford's age, though I'll point out one last time that his career arc sure makes a lot more sense if you pretend he came up as a 21-year-old instead of a teenager.
Jimmy Rollins literally won an MVP. I am starting to have doubts about Crawford winning one, though at least that's likelier than Andres Torres's 2010 season.
The funny thing is that Crawford's PECOTA projection isn't that rosy -- OBP in the low-.300s, and a WARP that's bound to his defense, as you'd expect. But his comps sure are pretty.
Jeff Francoeur - Juan Encarnacion, Mark Carreon, Ruben Sierra
Francoeur's not on the team, but ... wait, hold on.
/makes sign of cross
Francoeur's not on the team, but this one is still interesting because of the Carreon comp.
Jeff Francoeur: Reportedly one of the nicest human beings on the planet, but a lousy hitter
Mark Carreon: Reportedly a serious malcontent, but one of the only non-Bonds/Williamses who could hit from '94-'96.
I've seen some comps I can't explain before. This one is a doozy on every level.
Michael Morse - Nelson Cruz, Ryan Ludwick, Dave Parker
The Giants have never acquired Ryan Ludwick, even though they're the Tony and Angela of our times, an unrequited love that will never be satisfied until it's much, much too late. Good thing, then, the Giants got Ludwick's spirit animal in Morse. Phew. That was close.
Cobra's line when he was Morse's age: .279/.311/.411, 97 OPS+, bad defense, and 0.2 WAR. So, yeah. The good news is that Parker rebounded when he was 34 to finish second in the MVP voting! The bad news is that wouldn't help the Giants, and Parker was a guy who stayed on the Hall of Fame ballot for all 15 years, so there was a bigger ceiling for which to dream.
Angel Pagan - Vernon Wells, Coco Crisp, Cesar Cedeno
Okay, now I want to take this dainty white glove off and slap PECOTA-TRON with it.Take back that Wells comp, or there will be a duel. TAKE IT BACK.
Hey, Coco Crisp is kind of cool. I'll choose that one. The best part is that if you swap names, you still get all kinds of fantastic. I'll rank the possible permutations in order:
1. Angel Pagan
2. Coco Crisp
3. Angel Crisp
4. Coco Pagan
But it's really, really tightly bunched, and I'll accept arguments with the exact rankings. Angel Pagan wins because of the oxymoronity, but Coco Crisp is a close second because it sounds delicious.
Hunter Pence - Michael Cuddyer, Roberto Clemente, George Hendrick
Another year, another Clemente comp for Pence, which serves as a reminder that all Pence needs is 10 years of 183 hits to reach 3,000. I'm not too worried about the morbid aspects of the comparison because Pence is the guy on the wing harassing William Shatner, not the other way around.
George Hendrick is an interesting name to bring up, just for this reason: He was traded by the A's as a youngster with Dave Duncan for Ray Fosse. That's a lot of the A's future passing back and forth. If Pence ages like Hendrick for this contract, I'll be quite okay with it.
Mac Williamson - Wladimir Balentin, Domonic Brown, Nate Schierholtz
The first guy is a former prospect who became a Japanese legend before getting arrested for domestic violence this month. Focus on the power when it comes to Williamson, though. PECOTA doesn't look at the repugnant stuff. PECOTA does not judge the worth of a man, just the worth of his dingers
The second guy is the Brandon Belt of the Phillies in a way: a productive hitter who had troubles earning the trust of his manager. I'd take that as a comp for Williamson.
The third guy is the Nate Schierholtz of right fielders. And he sure would have been a better look in left this year than Morse. I wonder what the Cubs want for him. Probably a young, projectable outfield prospect or something.
And now we're down the rabbit hole.
Mostly just rabbit doots down here, really.
The pitchers will come in a separate post, just because you barely stayed awake for these 1,000 words. No sense pushing the extra 1,000 on you.