Monday, January 24, 2011

Bryce Harper Comparables

Finding Comps for Harper is a Challenge

In preparation for tomorrow’s release of the Nationals, I was going over Bryce Harper’s comparables and decided to share the top 10 that our comparable player projection system produces. Because there is limited professional data for Harper, most of his comps are matched from phenotypical data elements and he is at the extreme tail of his comparison group range. In any regard, here they are:

10) Dimitri Young, STL, #4, 1991 – A switch-hitter, Young entered the 1991 prep season as the clear #1 prospect before pitcher, Brien Taylor, put together an unbelievable spring campaign to claim the top spot. Still the power-hitting third basemen was the unquestioned top prep hitter available. Young spent nearly five seasons in the Minors before making his Major League debut at age 22. He played 13 Major League seasons, belting 171 career home runs. Career WAR = 10.6.

9) Ron Blomberg, NYY, #1, 1967 – The Yankees selected Blomberg, who had been a power-hitting first baseman/pitcher in high school hoping to convert him to center field. Blomberg entered the draft as the consensus #1 prep hitter in the draft. He ended up primarily a corner outfield/first baseman, making it to the Majors at age 20 and playing a little over 220 games. Career WAR = 8.7.

8) Jeff Burroughs, WSH, #1, 1969 – The only right-hander on this list, perhaps the only player that could come close to matching the pre-draft expectations of Harper, Burroughs , who was called by Ted Williams the best 18yo hitter that he had ever seen, was perhaps a slightly more well-regarded overall hitter than Harper. While Burroughs was considered a future power hitter—but not to the level of Harper--his real hitting skills were on the contact side. Burroughs reached the Majors as a 19yo, won the 1974 MVP and played 16 Major League seasons, but still never likely reached the level of success that was expected from him. Career WAR = 17.2.

7)Eric Hosmer, KCR, #3, 2008 –
While Tim Beckham was the consensus overall #1 prep player in the 2008 draft, Hosmer was the draft’s best prep hitter. He got off to a slow start in his 2009 full-season debut, but bounced back in a big way this past season. So much so that he likely opens up 2011 as a consensus top ten prospect. Don’t expect his debut before 2012, but he is on track for a solid Major League career.

6) Lloyd Moseby, TOR, #2, 1978 –
Moseby was the draft’s best prep hitter and was taken immediately after Arizona State’s Bob Horner was selected by the Braves. After three solid Minor League seasons, Moseby made his debut as an outfielder with the Jays as a 20yo. Moseby played twelve solid seasons, almost exclusively with the Jays. Career WAR = 24.1.

5) Adrian Gonzalez, FLA, #1, 2000 –
Gonzalez was the top prep hitter in the 2000 draft, albeit a rather weak class—where signability was the word of the day. A first baseman viewed more as a contact hitter than a power hitter, the question with Gonzalez was whether he would ever provide enough power for the position. Four Minor League seasons did little to answer the question, as he never posted more than 17 home runs in any year before making his Major League debut finally at the age of 22yo. Seven Major League seasons, including winning the 2007 NL MVP seem to have answered the power question. While his career looks far from complete, he has accumulated a career WAR of 21.8.

4) Mike Moustakas, KCR, #2, 2007 –
Moustakas was the unquestioned #1 prep hitter in the 2007 draft, a huge power threat but of questionable defensive value. After a solid full-season debut, Moustakas had a disappointing 2009 campaign before coming back in a big way in the Texas League and PCL. Positioned to be the Royals everyday third baseman at some point in 2011, the Royals continue to have extremely high hopes for Moustakas.

3) Tyler Houston, ATL, #2, 1989 –
Houston was the first hitter selected in the 1989 draft, an offense first prep catcher. Six non-descript Minor League seasons made Houston pretty much an afterthought when he finally reached the Majors at the age of 25. Houston played parts of eight seasons in the Big Leagues. Career WAR = 0.1.

2) Al Chambers, SEA, #1, 1979 –
Chambers was a power hitting, athletically gifted prep first baseman, who was easily the #1 prospect entering the draft. After five solid, but unspectacular Minor League seasons, Chambers made his Minor League debut at age of 22. His Major League career was pretty much of a non-event, accumulating a negative Career WAR in the process.

1) Joe Mauer, MIN, #1, 2001 –
Most considered Mauer somewhat of a signability pick by the Twins in a draft where Mark Prior had received Stephen Strasburg like hype. The Twins are having the last laugh with this one, as Mauer made his Major League debut at the age of 21yo after four solid Minor League seasons and has become one of the games best players—winning the AL MVP in 2009. While his career is far from over, he has already accumulated a 38.7 Career WAR.

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