Answer me this, fellow lifelong baseball fan. Think of a lineup that includes these players in or around their prime, would any be good?
Miguel Tejada, Jim Edmonds, Joe Torrey, a selected DiMaggio brother, and 1992 World Series MVP Pat Borders, along with a pitching staff that included Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and Stephen Strasberg?
Yes? No? maybe? Who cares, we’ll never see it?
Well, in a certain way we looking at it, along with the shiny new 2022 edition of the Greeley Tribune Red Sox. The above players, and many others, apparently less well-known, are the top historical statistical matches for some Red Sox players at their current ages.
The information is derived from baseball-reference.com’s similarity score, a formula developed by Bill James in the 1980s. This might be my favorite feature on the site, and I write this column every other year or so in an effort to… well, mostly just to have fun with the surprisingly unexpected comparisons, but hopefully the distinctive rad. It’s also there to offer some context about the Sox players in their careers and where they can go.
This time around, I put it to the regular lineup and starting pitchers, because the Red Sox have a smaller bench and way, way too many nondescript relief pitchers.
Let’s hit those comparisons. And, yes, I’ll admit it: the comparison is Vince Dimaggio…
, kike hernandezhu
Comps through age 29: Jack Howell, Derek Dietrich, Trevor Plouffy
Howell, a third baseman who hit .239 with .742 OPS and 108 home runs in 11 seasons primarily with the Angels, is actually Hernandez’s top comparison at each age of 26 to 29. But remember, this is only a crime. Hernandez is a better defender and baserunner than Howell, which is one reason Hernandez’s wins last season alone (4.9, per baseball-reference) accounted for more than half of Howell’s career total (9.7).
, Raphael Devers
Comp through age 24: Eric Chavez, Bob Horner, Ryan Zimmerman
Davers has been so prolific at such a young age that I thought some bold-type name in baseball history might appear on his list—maybe, uh, Frank Robinson, or if you want to go with third baseman, Chipper Jones. .
But don’t mistake it for bad company. Chávez scored at least 29 home runs four times in a season, receiving MVP votes every year from 2002–05, and the best of his era alongside Scott Rollen and Adrian Beltre before a back injury derailed his career. Was in the defensive third baseman.
, xander bogarts
Comp through ages 28: Joe Torrey, Vern Stephens, Hanley Ramirez
Uh oh, does this mean that Bogarts is going to end up as an intelligent, likable-rivaling Yankees manager someday? Toure found his way to Cooperstown after five World Series wins in the Bronx, but he was hall-worthy as a player, leading the National League in 1971 in bats (.363) and hits (.230) and his Ended a career spanning 18 years. With 252 home runs and an average of .297.
New bullpen faces make strong opening statement for Red Sox in New York
, JD Martinez
Comp through age 34: Jim Edmonds, Ryan Clesco, Tim Salmon
Am I the only one who forgot that Martinez led the American League last season in doubles with 42? He’s still a powerful hitter, if a spot or two down the batting order from the elite. He’s a logical fit with those three players at this point in his career, all .285/.290-hitting types who would mash about 30 homers. Salmon, now forever hailed as the second-best fish-themed outfielder in Angels lore, is a particularly fitting match.
, alex verdugo
Comps up to age 25: Terence Long, Rip Repulsky, Dimitri Young
Long was a substantial (career-adjusted OPS: 90) center fielder for dodge A’s teams in the early 2000s; Red Sox fans probably remember him best for robbing Manny Ramirez of a clear walkoff home run in 2002 with a jump in front of the bullpen. We ain’t sorry, Terence.
Verdugo, who has basically replaced Andrew Benintendi’s production with the Red Sox in two years, has the talent to end up in better company than this.
, Trevor Story
Comp through ages 28: Miguel Tejada, Xavier Baez, Troy Tulowitzki
It’s interesting to see Tulowitzki, as a statistical parallel, to his actual predecessor as the Rockies’ slugging shortstop. Surprisingly, at least to me, it’s a more impressive comp list than Bogart’s.
Tejada wasn’t really considered part of that A-Rod/Nomar/Captain wins vortex, but he put together a few monster seasons for the A, winning the AL MVP in 2002 (.861 ops, 34 homers, 131 RBI) and 150 in Driving 04, when he finished fifth in balloting.
Ninth in the story list, by the way, is Stephen Drew. You don’t need to tell me. I know he was your favorite.
, Bobby Dalbeco
Comps by age 26: n / a.
I’m not sure what Baseball-Reference uses for the parameters in awarding parity scores—I’m assuming that’s 1,000 plate appearances, or maybe two full seasons—but the Red Sox is still looking for slugging first basemen. There is no match till now. (The same applies to Tanner Hawk as a pitcher.)
But here’s another way to see where he stands. Last season at 26, he scored 25 home runs with a .240 batting average and .792 OPS. Similar seasons by a 26-year-old first baseman include 1987 Glenn Davis (27 homers, .251 average, .769 ops), 2004 Carlos Pea (27 homers, .241 average, .810 ops), and 1968 Boog Powell (22 homers). Are included. , .249 average, .748 ops in “Year of the Pitcher”).
, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Comp through age 31: Vince DiMaggio, Nate McCloth, Eric Hinske.
In other words, we have Don Swayze of the DiMaggio Brothers here, a 27th-place finisher in 2008 NL MVP balleting, and an obscure member of the ’07 Red Sox Champion. I think I’ve said this every year I’ve done this thing, and I’ll say it again: Isn’t JBJ the Paul Blair of his time?
, Christian Vazquez
Comp through age 30: Pat Borders, Toby Hall, Greg Myers
I thought he might have some high-profile players in here (Sandy Alomar Jr. is a few places down his list), but Borders, who hit .253 with .663 Ops in 17 seasons, is a fair match. Do you remember that he was the MVP of the Blue Jays’ win over the Braves in the 1992 World Series? I wasn’t sure, and as someone who was semi-raised on TBS, I was pretty invested in Braves back then.
, Nate Iovaldick
Comp through age 31: Jason Vargas, Carl Pavano, Jake Westbrook
I would say the unusual shape of Iovaldi’s career – injuries limited him to modest success in his 20s, but he turned into a dependable front-of-the-rotation starter after turning the corner in his 30s – Finding your ideal makes it challenging Comp. Vargas was a soft-tossing lefty who led the AL to 18 wins at the age of 34 for the 2017 Royals.
Also, something to consider: Alvin (Texas) High School has sent two players to the big leagues: Iovaldi and Nolan Ryan. Wonder what the third toughest thrower in school history did with his life.
, Chris Sell
Comp through age 32: Stephen Strasberg, Adam Wainwright, Johan Santana
Looking at Sell’s recent injury history, you could tell me that his top three comps were Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” a crash-test dummy, and “Out of Service” Parvis Alison and I. As he shook his head, “Yeah, I understand.” But Strasbourg, a hugely talented pitcher who was limited to 26⅔ innings over the past two seasons, also fits in well.
, Nick Pivetta
Comp through ages 28: Vince Velasquez, Willie Banks, Claudio Vargas
Pivetta and Velasquez were actually teammates at the Phillies until they ran from 2017 through the ’20 season. Pivetta scored 19-30 with a 5.50 ERA in 396⅓ innings in that stretch; Velasquez was 19-28 with 4.99 ERA in 370 innings. No wonder there still isn’t.
Pivetta won Red Sox fans with his flamboyant demeanor and excellent post-season pitching (2.63 ERA in 13⅔ innings). But expecting a pitcher with a career 5.17 ERA to consistently pitch as the No. 2 starter could be a reach.
, Michael Coven
Comps through age 29: Aaron Harang, Scott Baker, Homer Bailey
Harang’s second coming is not such a bad thing. The man won 128 games and made nearly $60 million in 14 big league seasons. But what happened to the pitcher who was seen as the second arrival of Adam Wainwright during the ’13 World Series?
, rich hill
Comp through age 41: Orlando Hernandez, Jose Contreras, Jim Turner
Wouldn’t have guessed that Hill’s top two comps were a Yankees pair of Cuban righthanders from the late ’90s/early ’00s rivalry with the Red Sox, but it does make some sense. Both stood well into their 40s and, like Hill, had unusual career patterns. Turner pitched for three teams from 1937–45. No, Turner and Hill were never teammates.
, james paxton
Comp through age 32: Kenta Maeda, Hyun Jin Ryu, Chris Young
It’s a really good trio of pitchers right there. A little deeper into Paxton’s comps, though, and a Red Sox fan might tremble. 5 is Eric Bedard, who made eight mostly forgettable debuts for Popeye’s scarring 2011 Socks. Number 9 is Garrett Richards. At least it’s a low bar.
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