Jan
03

Forced Comps: Montero, Banuelos, Betances

By

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Comparisons have been a part of baseball since long before the internet showed up and made everyone an expert. Players are routinely compared to one another, and this happens with prospects more than anyone else. Fans like to see comps because they want to know how good their favorite minor leaguers will be in the future, but comps often distort the truth more than anything. I used to think Austin Jackson had some Mike Cameron in him, but holy crap was I wrong with that one. Cameron hit 28 homers in Double-A one year, which is two fewer than Jackson hit in his entire minor league career. Comps need to go more than position and skin deep, if you catch my drift.

The most common comps you’ll see are the lazy ones, like my Jackson-Cameron laugher. Lefties from New England get dubbed a Tom Glavine type, soft-tossing righties are the next Greg Maddux, short-ish players that lack tools but play hard are a David Eckstein clone, so on and so forth. Some comps are forced, meaning the two players have one or two things in common — one of them is almost always appearance — but nothing else. I gave up on comps a while ago because ultimately it’s a disservice to both fans and the players, as we end up disappointed when Jesus Montero turns into a really good player but not the historically great Miguel Cabrera.

That said, comps are unavoidable and we see them every day. The Yankees top three prospects have each had a comp tag applied in recent years that’s stuck around, but none of the three are all that accurate. The players may look the same, but that’s not enough to make a comparison valid in my opinion. Let’s dig in…

Jesus Montero
Comp: Carlos Lee
Why It Fits: Handedness and body type
Why It Doesn’t: The big thing here is that Lee is a dead pull hitter, with just 16.0% of his career balls in play going to right field. Here’s his spray chart from the last three seasons (via Texas Leaguers), which really drives home the point. Montero, as you know, is more of an opposite field hitter. Lee also walked (5.3%) and struck out (11.0%) less in the minors that Montero has (7.8 BB% and 16.5 K%). It would be a success if Montero winds up having a career as long (13 seasons) and productive (.355 wOBA and 114 wRC+) as Lee has, but they’d go about it in very different ways.

Manny Banuelos
Comp: Johan Santana
Why It Fits: Smallish lefties, best pitch is changeup
Why It Doesn’t: Banuelos is primarily a fastball-changeup guy like Johan was once upon a time, but his third pitch is a curveball while Santana’s was a slider. Sliders are more effective against same side hitters while curves are a bit more universal, typically used against both righties and lefties regardless of the pitcher’s handedness. Secondly, Banuelos’ changeup isn’t as good as Johan’s. It just isn’t. Santana’s changeup is one of the best ever, and it’s a stretch to use that as a basis of comparison for anyone.

Dellin Betances
Comp: Daniel Cabrera
Why It Fits: Super-tall hard throwers with big stuff and walk problems
Why It Doesn’t: This comp is the most accurate of the three in this post, but again we’re talking about a slider pitcher (Cabrera) versus a curveball pitcher (Betances). Unlike Banuelos and Johan, that is their second pitch, not third. Cabrera was also injury-free in the minors, which Dellin most certainly hasn’t been. There’s also the makeup issue, as Cabrera was a notorious hot-head that had run-ins with coaches and teammates and intentionally threw at batters when things didn’t go his way. Betances has never had that problem, not that we know of anyway.

* * *

Maybe I’m just being nitpicky, but I feel comps should go a little deeper than typically do. In case you haven’t noticed, no one has ever become the next anyone. Every player is unique and they should be treated as such.

Categories : Minors

67 Comments»

  1. Mike Tomohawk says:

    Every tall Latin player gets the cabrera comp, so sad.

  2. MattG says:

    Mike Axisa is the next Bob Costas.

  3. Kosmo says:

    In Montero I see Miguel Cabrera
    In Banuelos I see Teddy Higuera
    In Betances I see J.R. Richard

    Who was it that said “comparisons are odious“?

  4. Peter R says:

    “In case you haven’t noticed, no one has ever become the next anyone. Every player is unique and they should be treated as such.”

    Well that’s just ridiculous Mike, we all know Yu will be the next Dice-K/Kei….jez!

  5. Guns of Navarone says:

    Jose Tabata = Manny Ramirez

    That one was fun.

  6. Joey H. says:

    Montero
    Comp: A-Gon?

  7. Monteroisdinero says:

    For an opposite field hitter, I have seen Montero crush it to left and left center too. Bring on the season!

  8. Ted Nelson says:

    One of the other interesting things about comps is that they’re usually leading… If you like a prospect, you can come up with a relatively successful comp. If you don’t like that exact same prospect, though, you can come up with an equally valid comp who was relatively unsuccessful.

    This is basically a sample size issue. If you take a representative sample of similar (past) prospects you might get a feel for a players odds of various outcomes… a few did x well, a few y well, etc. Instead what a single comp does is take that single data point from what would be a fairly representative sample and assert that it’s representative. Might be, might not be.

  9. nsalem says:

    I tried to find good hitters with low walk rates comparable to Robinson Cano and found Roberto Clemente and Al Oliver. They were both within app. 1 walk per 100 Ab’s. Clemente hit 10 points more in OBP and BA while Cano had slightly better power numbers. Cano was a little better than Oliver in BA and OBP with better power numbers. Both performed well at age 36. Both were injured at age 37 but performed close to their life time numbers. Personally I don’t think this gives any insight into what Cano will do in his mid 30′s but it was interesting to see Robbie in Clemente’s neighborhood and it makes me appreciate just how lucky i am to be able to see him day in and day out.

  10. CJ says:

    Banuelos / Ricky Romero, gio Gonzalez

  11. vin says:

    I’m sticking with my Montero – Napoli comp from 2010.

    http://riveraveblues.com/2010/.....ent-851419

  12. mac1 says:

    So montero projects as a slightly lesser version of Posada?

    • Monteroisdinero says:

      My hope is a better hitter for average and power and about equal defensively. Remember Posada did not catch his first full season until age 26.

      • mac1 says:

        That would be HOF worthy. I realize to get a Carlos Lee like 13 year career out of a top prospect would be amazing, but using Mike’s comps, Lee is not as good an offensive player as Posada. Just shows how great Posada was.

  13. craig says:

    Montero’s swing reminds me a bit of Berkman…slightly long & flicks at the ball, but gets good coverage and has pop.

    Like my trade proposals, my comp sucks, too.

    • dkidd says:

      can’t speak to your trade proposals, but your comp doesn’t suck

      i thought the same thing re montero and berkman

    • Reggie C. says:

      Love the comp. The body type is kinda there as well as Berkman was always round in the face and destined to end up in 1B even when he was in his 20s.

  14. Jesse says:

    I say Montero will have a career similar to Carlos Delgado, Banuelos will be like Ricky Romero, and Betances will bust and be a lot like Daniel Cabrera.

    Sorry Jumpin’ Jack Swisher if you’re reading this.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      I say Montero will have a career similar to Carlos Delgado, Banuelos will be like Ricky Romero…

      That would be amazing.

      • Jesse says:

        Yes I know it would. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to be more positive.

        The reason why I said “Sorry Jumpin’ Jack Swisher if you’re reading this.” is because I’m pretty sure he loves Dellin Betances like no other.

    • pat says:

      .280/.383/.546 w/ 38/120?. Yeaaaa boy.

  15. CJ says:

    I do think montero can resemble Miguel Cabrera .292-.294 26-30 103 are Cabrera numbers. It’s just not fair to expect the monster .330-.340 numbers

  16. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    My comps are: Montero/ Cepeda, Banuelos/ Key, Betances/ Stoddard. The latter was a reliever but a tall guy like Betances. Comparisons have been present since I can recall. Bobby Murcer was supposed to be the next Mickey Mantle.

  17. viridiana says:

    Montero/ Moose Skowron
    Banuelos/ Johnny Podres
    Betances /Armando Benitez (sorry about that one)

    • Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

      I like the Moose comparison. He was one of my favorites when I was a youth. Banuelos and Podres I also like. Benitez was not as tall as Betances but also threw very hard. Going back to the Moose, he could really hit with power to right and right center.

  18. infernoscurse says:

    jesus montero = kevin maas
    manny banuelos = brien taylor
    dellin betances = todd van popel

  19. Monteroisdinero says:

    Can’t wait for the KLong/Montero/ARod (January) Miami workout reports.

  20. Bob Loblaw says:

    Montero – King Felix
    Banuelos – King Felix
    Betances – King Felix

  21. viridiana says:

    Can’t wait for series in Fenway when Montero goes 8 for 13 with 3 bombs.

  22. Don W says:

    I don’t see Carlos Lee being a great comp for Montero. Montero came up a year sooner with an OPS 60 points higher in MILB all while spending a lot of time trying to learn the most difficult position on the field.

    Not that I’d be devastated if Montereo put up Lee’s career but I would be a bit disapointed. Having said that if you gave me the option of guaranteeing me Montero=Lee or I could take my chances I’d take Lee’s career.

  23. RetroRob says:

    Montero = Josh Gibson, but with more power. He’ll be the first player ever to hit a ball out of New York City, and he’ll do it to the opposite field.

    He’ll be elected to the HOF with 110% of the vote.

    • Monteroisdinero says:

      Reasonable.

      Seriously, how many Yankees hit 2 opposite field HR’s in one game this year? And neither was a cheapy.

      Answer……none but one!

      • gc says:

        Russell Martin hit two opposite field homers in the great three grand slam game vs Oakland. Neither was as crushed as Montero’s, but they all count the same once they clear the fence. AND he can actually catch.

        (Montero will be great, no doubt. Can’t wait to see him rake this year and beyond. Just sayin, he wasn’t the only Yankee to hit two opposite field homers in a game this year.)

  24. Rigoleto says:

    If he eats his broccoli Montero could grow up to be the next Yoenis Cespedes.

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