Projecting Stars Forward
There's comps, and then there's SSI comps


Five years ago, the 26-year-old Matt Kemp hit .324/.399/.586 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and also swiped 40 bases.  So, you had a very fast 172 OPS+ outfielder who hit 39 homers, had 126 RBI, and 115 runs scored.  Nelson Cruz crossed with ... I dunno, Ichiro Suzuki?

Something seemed fishy about Matt Kemp at that time, the something fishy perhaps being that he'd never previously had a 130 OPS+ season.  But the Dodgers signed him to an 8 X $20MM deal, these being $20M in five-years-ago terms.  Kemp was the #2 MVP that year, and got All-Star votes again at age 27.

Bill James was asked to evaluate the chances that Kemp would be an All-Star caliber player in year eight.  (As we know, teams do not care, at all, whether such players are all-stars in the last years of their contracts.  If they did, they would never win the bidding on such a player.)


James used an interesting method to come up with 43 peer-group players for Matt Kemp, and asked "how many of these players had All-Star seasons the next seasons?"  These were his criteria:

  • Age 25-27
  • Season "score" 250 ("impact" season)
  • Must have HRs and SB's (10+)
  • 100 runs created
  • 6-11 runs created per 27 outs

This list seemed objective in James' historical judgment; as you know, SSI feels free to hand-pick very specific attributes in finding comps for modern players.  For example, SSI ain't signing off on a James Paxton comp unless the historical player was left-handed and could throw very hard, very late in the game.  That limits us to what, three guys since 1862?


Anyway, James found that 63% of such players were All-Stars in year 5, about 90 of which were Carlos Beltran.  As it turned out, Kemp just wound up his 5th year under the contract, batting .268/.304/.499 between the Padres and Braves, albeit with 35 homers and 108 RBI.  Contract doesn't seem to have worked out this time, not a huge bust, but you didn't get the 172 OPS+ you were trying not to miss out on.

Dr. D is probably wrong, but he feels like the "almanac-type" similarity score attributes, while admirably objective, need a little human-cook basil and oregano thrown in.


Kyle Seager's baseball-reference comps include David Freese, Trevor Plouffe, Wilson Betemit and Sean Berry.  I think somewhere we gotta get in there "loves 96 MPH fastballs."

Lot of sentiment among the denizens for a 1-year "placeholder" contract at SS, giving the Mike Zunino and James Paxton treatement to our 22-year-old shortstop.  /cosign.  Ian Desmond, though... sez here you'll drop a pretty penny for that MLB(TM) shortstop label.  Take that money, and Aoki's, and Smith's, and ... pretty soon you're talking about real money.


Dr D



Then who?  From what I see it'd have to be a trade to be a reasonable upgrade.  I have no guesses for anyone else available.  Sticking with Marte and waiting for Drew Jackson could be a long coupla few years.  It's possible that Marte busts it this offseason, with coaching even, and makes the worry moot.  I'm not holding my breath though. 

We'll see what Desmond winds up with and it may be just too much, as you say.   He is coming off a 1 year $8mm deal that was only about his 3rd/4th best of 7 full seasons, just above his career average. 

Seager has Gary Gaetti, Howard Johnson, Sal Bando and Edwin Encarnacion on his through age 27 comp list.   Not sure the stats through 27 are as good with any of them though.  When it's updated to age 28 I'd expect the .859 OPS he just put up to change some names around in the comps.  The .788 in '14 was his previous high mark. 


For whatever reason, in 2016, Jose Bautista had huge Home/Away splits.

113 wRC+ in Toronto, compared to a 129 on the Road.

That's with a .221 BABIP at home, compared to .284 on the road.

Either teams shifted better in Toronto, or the turf led to more outs, or some other factor, I'm not sure. Bautista was his typical self on the road but horrible at home. 

In my opinion, if they decide not to be top bid for Cespedes, Bautista has a good shot at next year's comeback player. 

He was still better in the OF than Cruz this season and I think we could squeeze a year or two in RF out of him with a defensive replacement on hand.

All that to say this, if Impact is what Dipoto is after, and I believe it should be, there are a few players on the market that will justify paying for in my opinion. The biggest and best use of that money is to get another Cruz or Cano type bat and fill in around them with the talented youth they have acquired. In my opinion.

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