Finding Comps for Yankees Prospects: Greg Bird

Derek and I ranked first base prospect Greg Bird as our #7 prospect this offseason and gave him an anticipated MLB ETA of 2016. Here’s what we had to say about him:

Bird torched the SAL to a tune of a 170 wRC+, launching 20 home runs while posting an awesome 18.7% walk rate. Yet, a few detractors hold him back from being higher up on this list. The SAL is known to be hitter friendly, and first base is a position that requires high levels of offensive production at the major league level. He’ll have to sustain similar performances as he moves up the minor league ladder.

Using only Bird’s 2013 stat line, I compiled a list of comps — players who put up similar numbers (BB%, K%, and ISO) in the South Atlantic league at a similar age. Note: I did a similar analysis on Bird a couple of weeks ago, but have since tweaked my methodology.

This analysis cuts right to the bottom line — it considers what a player did in his most recent year and churns out a list of players who performed similarly. There are some obvious limitations to this approach. For one thing, it only considers a hitter’s offensive performance and completely ignores defensive position and ability, so some of the comps will have very different defensive profiles. Additionally, this analysis only considers 2013 stats and does not take into account a player’s performance from previous seasons. Finally, in no way does it take into account things like scouting reports, which provide insight into a player’s future performance. Still, this gives us some living, breathing examples of players with similar offensive track records and hopefully gives us an idea of some possible career trajectories.

For reference, a first baseman with average defense who posts a 100 wRC+ is worth about 1 WAR over a full season — essentially a backup. The more similar comps are at the top of the list:

Player PA’s Triple Slash wRC+
Derek Norris* 540 .226/.315/.383 96
Mike Whitlock 0 N/A N/A
Nick Weglarz 0 N/A N/A
Ricky Ledee 2,307 .243/.325/.412 89
Kelly Johnson* 4,174 .253/.335/.427 104
Drew Robinson* 0 N/A N/A
Gus Kennedy 0 N/A N/A
Chris Ashby 0 N/A N/A
Max Ramirez 140 .217/.343/.357 90
Reid Fronk 0 N/A N/A

*Active with at least a reasonable chance of  playing in the majors some time in the future

This isn’t the most inspiring set of comps for someone who’s one of the Yankees’ consensus top 10 prospects. At least five of the 10 players listed won’t record a single at bat at the major league level. Kelly Johnson is the only player listed who’shit enough to be even a serviceable first baseman. Even so, a first baseman with Kelly Johnson’s bat is a pretty bland ceiling. The various projection systems out there comp Bird a bit more favorably:

Davenport:

Slade Heathcott: (still in minors)

Jon Tucker: (career minor leaguer)

Brandon Jacobs: (still in minors)

Scott Rolen: (122 wRC+)

PECOTA:

Jaff Decker: (42 wRC+)

Anthony Rizzo: (100 wRC+)

Lars Anderson: (28 wRC+)

About Chris

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, and is an occasional user of the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell
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