A lot of times, in any sport, when a player is drafted fans want to know what they're drafting. One way that this is accomplished is through player comps. Unfortunately, player comps usually are dominated by direct comparisons to former players of the same ethnicity that play the same position. These comps can be quite useful, then again they can also be quite prejudiced (for lack of better term) in their "reporting." Today, I will try to look at the statistics to find more apt comparisons for a couple of big named prospects.
When "tools" are rated for prospects, there are usually 5 tools that scouts go on. one is how well they hit for average, one is how well they hit for power, one is how well they run, one is how well the throw, and the last one is how well they field the ball. These are rated from 20-80 with 50 being MLB league average. every 10 up or down from 50 is a standard deviation away from league average. Statistically, 40-60 on the scouting tool would encapsulate about 68% of major leaguers. From 30-70, about 95% of major leaguers would fall in. Lastly, about 99.7% of major leaguers would be covered by the 20-80 grades.
That means, someone with a "60" as their "hit tool" would be expected to hit better than all but about 16% of other major leaguers. In the last three seasons, let's pretend there have been exactly 200 instances in which players have qualified for the batting title. If Kolten Wong has a 60 hit tool, which he does, then he would need to beat out all but 32 players to be at the top of the 60 hit tool parade, so to speak - this would be, what I would call, his top end projection. In any case, that's how I will be grading these comparable players.
Here is how I will grade out the three hitting tools:
Hit Tool: batting average
Power Tool: isolated slugging percentage
Run Tool: A combination of steals and Fangraphs' baserunning stat
I will show the arm and fielding tool to help you get a gauge of where the player will be defensively as well.
For comparable players, I will look just at the "prime" of players careers. So, I will be searching for players just in their age 26-32 seasons that are similar to the ones listed below.
Let's go ahead and get started, shall we?
Kolten Wong is a second baseman. MLB.com's scouting report on Wong and Wong's top projection for his prime years, to me, seems to be:
- Hit Tool: 60 (.300 batting average)
- Power Tool: 40 (.114 ISO)
- Run Tool: 50 (7 SB and .3 BsR)
- Arm Tool: 45
- Fielding Tool: 55 (3.7 Def Runs Saved)
- Overall: 55 grade
If you combine those numbers with Kolten's 8.4% minor league walk rate, you come up with a line of:
.300/.362/.414/.776, worth about 2.0 WAR defensively and 0.2 WAR baserunning. This is a very valuable 2nd baseman. The problem with this prediction, I think, is that it undervalues Kolten's speed/power. Because of his speed, his ISO number should climb higher than the .114 predicted. I have him projected at .124 as a rookie (not even his prime!) because of large numbers of doubles/triples, not homers. I also have him projected for 19 steals. If he can be what I think he can speed/power-wise and what the tools think he can be defensively at second base, he could be a 4.5+ WAR player. Even as is, he's projected (at the above) to be around a 3.5-4.0 WAR one.
This line is very similar to Placido Polanco in the last 20 years.
Oscar Taveras is an outfielder (likely RF). MLB.com has a scouting report on Tavears that looks like this:
- Hit Tool: 75 (.327 batting average)
- Power Tool: 60 (.223 ISO)
- Run Tool: 50 (7 SB and .3 BsR)
- Arm Tool: 60
- Fielding Tool: 55 (0 Def Runs Saved)
- Overall: 70 grade
If you combine those numbers with Oscar's 7.8% minor league walk rate, you come up with a line of:
.327/.382/.550/.932, worth about 0 WAR defensively and 0.2 WAR baserunning. This is a very valuable outfielder and middle of the order hitter! The problem with this prediction, I believe, is the speed. I don't see him as a 7 SB guy. He may very well be a .327 future hitter, but I bet he sacrifices average for power at some point in his career.
This line is very similar to Ryan Braun, with better defense and a better batting average. If he sacrifices some average for some power as I suspect, it is more similar to Juan Gonzalez's last few years, with much better defense.
Remember, these are projections for Wong and Taveras in their prime...not for this coming season. I already put those out. Rather than being prime-aged Placido Polanco, I had Wong as 2011 Cameron Maybin at the plate. Rather than prime-aged Juan Gonzalez/Ryan Braun, I have Taveras as 2008 Melvin Mora.