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Feature
 
 
Tyler Houston = Phil Nevin?

Lawton
on 07/05/2001

 
Is Tyler Houston the second coming of Phil Nevin? Tyler Houston, born on January 17, 1971, was selected second overall in the 1989 June Free Agent draft by the Atlanta Braves.

Phil Nevin, born on January 19, 1971, was selected first overall in the 1992 June Free Agent draft by the Houston Astros.

With all first-round draft picks, there is the added pressure of the expectations that the drafting organization has placed on their new player. However, when you are the first or second overall pick, those expectations are even greater. Nobody wants to be remembered as the next David Clyde or Tom Goodwin. Early on in their careers, neither Tyler Houston nor Phil Nevin measured up to the expectations that had been placed upon them. Here are the statistics that Tyler Houston (1996-1999) and Phil Nevin (1995-1998) compiled in their first four years as major leaguers:

Player AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Houston 869 90 223 36 3 24 118 62 .257 .305 .388 .693
Nevin 764 87 176 33 3 27 94 68 .230 .301 .387 .688

Eerily similar, and not very impressive. But then, a funny thing happened. Following the 1998 season, Nevin caught on with the San Diego Padres. After a solid 1999 season, the Padres signed him to a contract extension, and he proved that he wasn't a fluke with an even better 2000. He is off to a great start again this year, and was named to the NL All-Star Team. Likewise, following the 1999 season, Tyler Houston signed with the Brewers. He was a pleasant surprise last season, and is having an even better campaign thus far in 2001. So far, Tyler Houston has 488 at-bats as a member of the Brewers. Here are his statistics in those 488 AB's, along with Phil Nevin's statistics in his first 488 AB's as a Padre:

Player AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Houston 488 65 136 22 0 30 79 33 .279 .326 .508 .834
Nevin 488 71 138 33 0 32 105 60 .283 .360 .547 .907

Again, the numbers are pretty similar. Both players dramatically improved on their previous performances. The most glaring difference is in OBP and BB, where Nevin drew almost twice as many walks as Tyler did. Nevin's power numbers were also a little better than Houston's. However, it appears that a change of scenery and an opportunity for more regular playing time benefited both players.

So what can the Brewers expect from Tyler Houston in the next year-and-a-half? Well, here are Phil Nevin's numbers since those first 488 AB's with the Padres:

Player AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB AVG OBP SLG OPS
Nevin 714 120 214 48 1 42 152 93 .300 .381 .546 .927

Nevin has continued to improve, which is the reason he is an all-star this year. Again, the big difference between Tyler Houston and Phil Nevin at this point is discipline at the plate. Tyler's plate discipline has seemed to improve a little this year, as he has almost as many walks as he did all of last year in 80 fewer AB's. However, in order to become a hitter of Nevin's caliber, Tyler must continue to improve his discipline and take more walks. Because he was a pinch-hitter/platoon player for much of his career, he has stated that he usually looks to drive the first pitch if it is a strike. Now that he is a regular, he would be better off to work the count a little. Regardless, he has helped solidify the Brewers' situation at third base this year with his much-improved defense and equally impressive offensive contribution. It will be interesting to watch Tyler the next few years to see if he can develop into a player of Phil Nevin's caliber. If nothing else, the parallel paths that their careers have taken suggest that it is a definite possibility.

 




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