Jason Churchill is a guy with a sharp baseball mind, and nobody will ever question his networking and connections. This very info-taining article, "The Comp Has Evolved in Baseball Scouting," is worth your clickthrough and then some.
One of the key insights he makes is that SINCE baseball execs today are younger and more dynamic, and since jobs tend to transition quickly, and since scouts tend to be much younger with 1-5 years experience before they move on ... "Comparisons" to players from the 1970's and 1980's are difficult currency. Jason quotes an assistant GM,
"I still use the same era," said the veteran assistant GM. "I'm from the 70s and 80s, I played in that era and that's the one I know best. But for comparisons to be useful, I do have to find modern players, someone who fits the game better today. I can't go see (No. 1 Draft Prospect) Casey Mize and put down Sam McDowell or Mario Soto when our scouting director and general manager weren't born the last time they pitched.
Touche'. The 1970's and 1980's were also our era, about half of us here on SSI. It's interesting, and a little self-flattering, for us to reflect on the fact that we've seen players that a 28-year-old GM did not see. ;- ) That idea got Dr. D to contemplating a little bit.
There are thrown 292 pitches in a Major League game. Personally, I see almost all of them in a year; is that true for many of you? And we started watching baseball on TV in 1972 -- daily you ask? That was back in 1977. Probably in the early years, not every game was broadcast. But you multiply 40 years times 300 times 162 and you get 1,944,000 pitches. Let's trim that by 20% and we have carefully watched 1.5 million ... MILLION ... pitches.
In chess Grandmaster speak, that is a whale of a lot of pattern recognition to download. So there is nothing weird about the claim that the zealous SSI Denizen, like Mo' Dawg or Bat571, has seen a lot more chess games than many of the guys talking on TV (who typically were there for the games, but not studying the sliders and changeups from the superior CF angle).
If 1,000 light bulbs represent perfect baseball knowledge, then Mike Blowers has very many light bulbs on that a spectator will never have turned on. For example, Blowers, as a freakishly talented athlete, knows the myriad tiny differences and adjustments that separate a major league hitter from a AAA hitter. When he knocked in 96 runs in 1995, that was the result of jillions of lessons learned, lessons like "to look outside on 3-1 and yet protect the jam pitch, here's what you do with your front foot" and so forth. Nobody, obviously, is trying to diminish the incredible accomplishment of playing well in major league baseball.
At the same time, any sensible person respects the idea that an intelligent fan has seen 1,500,000 pitches from a Bill James-educated camera angle. Would you say?
Jason makes the point that scouts are in trouble if they "whisper" Randy Johnson's name in a James Paxton discussion. It will stick in the memory and for 15 years the scout will hear "that's the guy who said X ..." At SSI we don't fear for our jobs. Everybody knows we mean that the Unit is a 10 on the 1-10 scale for a Randy Johnson TEMPLATE. Chris Sale and James Paxton are somewhere on the scale of this TEMPLATE.
Dr. D puts Marco Gonzales in the Jamie Moyer pitching FAMILY. With Moyer at 10, is Marc-O a 6 or will he be an 8? It's fun to talk about, and that's all we're here for. Mark Beurhle is in the family. ... apparently some amigos plump for the 7 or 8 on a Cliff Lee scale ...
Dee Gordon, for me, is in the Ichiro family. We can say that now that he's an outfielder. You don't comp catchers and shortstops; Bill James' original idea was, "You could trade these two players and nobody would notice much." Where is he on the sliding scale? Well, his WAR the last three years* was 3.6, 4.8, 3.4 whereas Ichiro was 5.0 like a metronome. So despite being an All-Star, so far he's only a 7 on the Ichiro scale. Isn't that something?
I always thought of Nelson Cruz as the Latin Jay Buhner ... you can't walk your way off the island, brother, and Cruz doesn't wait as long in the count (less BB and K). But otherwise, I loved the comp. In the last two years has he gotten too good for that? Well, his OPS+ has gone to 150 the last three years and stayed there. Bone was a classy 130, so apparently Boomstick has spiralled up into the stratosphere where he needs another comp.
This should be an easy potato in the pot for you, Gentle Denizen. I'd love to hear any past player that a current Mariner reminds you of. One sentence is fine. :- )