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Feature
 
 
Playing a little "presto-change-o"

Nelson
on 05/13/2002

 

Most Brewers fans have wished at one point or another than they can have a different player on the team in the place of the current one on the roster at a certain position.

In perusing the Internet one afternoon, I came across a site called Baseball Reference for the first time. This site is similar in a lot of ways to Baseball Almanac, but one of the neatest features I came across was the player comparison - a list of players, both past and present, that are or have performed at the statistical level of the player you are currently looking at. The comparison is done on two fronts - in one section, players are compared by overall career numbers. In the other section, players are compared by what kind of numbers they put up at a certain age.

Just for some fun, I decided to look up the players on this year's Brewers roster in this player comparison. Some of the results were funny, others shocking, but all were entertaining.

Catcher
Raul Casanova - Both career-wise and age-wise, the most similar to Cassy is Bill Nahorodny, a mostly backup catcher who got the majority of his playing time in 1978 and 1979 with the White Sox. In his best year in '78, he hit .236 with 8 HR and 35 RBI. The number two player on both lists are certainly more well known. Career-wise, #2 is Bruce Bochy, the current Padres manager. Age-wise, its Chad Krueter.
Paul Bako - Not surprisingly, the players on this list are not well known. Age-wise, number one is Steve Nicosia, who got most of his playing time in the early 80's with PIT.

First Base
Richie Sexson is certainly is coming into his prime, and the comparisons bare that out with similarities to many star players, including 2 HOF'ers. Number one age-wise is Carlos Delgado, followed by Albert Belle, HOF'er Willie McCovey, Tony Clark, and Fred McGriff. HOF'er Willie Stargell is 7th on that list. Pretty impressive company for the 26-year old first baseman, and it proves that Richie is a player to definitely build around.

Second Base
For as much grief as Ronnie Belliard takes, the numbers certainly suggest he a more than solid MLB second baseman. The comparisons also show that. For his current age of 26, Ronnie is most compared to former SF second baseman Robby Thompson, a very productive mainstay in the Giants lineup from 1986-1993. Number two on that list is Bret Boone.
Eric Young has yet to live up to expectations since coming over to Milwaukee, and his rise in age and decline in play is very similar to EY's number one comparison age-wise, Bobby Avila. Avila was an All-Star for CLE in the 1950's, regularly hitting around .300 and getting on base at a .375 clip. However, Avila's numbers started taking a dip around age 32, when he hit a .224 and had just a .323 OBP. Just for reference, EY turns 35 years old later this week.

Shortstop
Jose Hernandez is certainly making a case to be an All-Star game starter, leading all NL shortstops in most offensive categories through the first month and a half of the season. Age-wise, Jose is most compared to Woodie Held, who turned in a number of productive years with CLE in the early 1960's.
Backup Mark Loretta is most compared age-wise to Tony Piet, who played way back in the 1930's with four different teams, bouncing around between 2B, 3B, and the OF. Perhaps more well-known is the #3 player on the list, Bip Roberts.

Third Base
Most compared age-wise to Tyler Houston is Gene Green, who played seven seasons in the late '50's-early '60's with five teams. Similar to Tyler's career, Green had two solid seasons sandwiched between inconsistency and injury. Number 4 on the list is Kurt Abbott, and #8 is Luis Sojo.

Outfield
Some interesting names popped up in the outfield comparisons. Number one age-wise to Geoff Jenkins is Ryan Klesko,. Shockingly, #2 is HOF'er Willie Stargell. Also on that list are players like Bobby Higginson, Tim Salmon, Jermaine Dye, and Magglio Ordonez. Going by these comparisons, its easy to see that Geoff could be a very special player if he can stay healthy and consistent the rest of his career.
Jeffrey Hammonds, plaqued by injuries most of his career, is most compared age-wise to Sam Chapman, who was an All-Star back in the 40's for PHI. Number two on that list is former Brewer Dante Bichette, and #8 is former Brewer great Ben Ogilvie. (FYI - Alex Sanchez has yet to play enough to achieve a comparison).
Alex Ochoa, age-wise, is most compared to Lee Maye, who had some pretty productive years with the Milwaukee Braves of the 1960's. Number 5 on the list is Mitch Webster, and #7 is Hal McRae.
Left-handed slugger Matt Stairs is most compared to age-wise by - get this - John Jaha. Henry Rodriquez is #2, and Lee Stevens is #4.

Pitchers - Rotation
This is the area where a lot of very surprising names came up, and it truly gives Brewers fans hope that they have a young staff that could blossom into a very dominant one, if they are held together.
The Brewers current prized arm, Ben Sheets, is compared to the most to Norm Bass, who turned in a very solid year in 1961 at age 22 before injury problems forced him out of the league just two years later. On a more positive note, #2 on the list is another solid youngster, Brad Penny of FLA.
Hopefully, Glendon Rusch doesn't end up like the player who he is most compared to at his current age, Allen Watson. Watson has never lived up to the billing he was given since having a couple of solid seasons in Anaheim. Rusch is also compared to Sterling Hitchcock and former Brewer Steve Woodard. Looking at these comparisons along proves the point that the next couple of years will determine what direction Rusch's career goes.
Perhaps the most shocking comparison of all comes from Ruben Quevedo. The trade that brought Q to Milwaukee certainly looks pretty good right now on paper, and if he turns out like the #2 player he is compared to age-wise, Javier Vazquez, it could be one of the biggest steals in Brewers history. However, Ruben also has comparisons to Frankie Rodriquez and Pat Mahomes. Time will truly tell on this one.
Nick Neugebauer has yet to accumulate enough innings to generate a comparison. The most well-known name on the list involving swingman Nelson Figueroa is Steve Farr, #3 age-wise in comparison. Figeroa certainly won't be a closer like Farr was, but the fact that their numbers are comparable says something about Nelson's performance thus far.

Bullpen
A number of Brewers bullpen arms have yet to have a comparison made of them. They include Luis Vizcaino, Ray King, Mike Buddie and Takahito Nomura.
Mike DeJean, performing well as the closer due to injuries, is most compared to Marc Wilkins, a middle reliever for PIT who has had some struggles with injuries in his career but has been solid when healthy. Number two on that list is Sean Lowe, and #3 is John Frascatore.
Chad Fox is most compared to another hard-thrower, Jeff Tam of OAK.
Curtis Leskanic, who was the closer before his injuries last year, is most compared age-wise to Mike Trombley. Also on that list is Stan Belinda, Darren Holmes, and Alan Mills.
Jose Cabrera, who has pitched well for the Crew since coming over from Atlanta, is compared most to Ernie Johnson, a solid relief pitcher for the Milwaukee Braves in the 1950's. Cabrera also draws comparisons to fellow middle relievers John Johnstone and Jim Mecir.

Comparisons like these and sites like Baseball Reference really open your eyes to the history of baseball, and it also opens your eyes to the possible fate of players on the team, both good and bad.

 




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