Forced Comps: Montero, Banuelos, Betances

Jackson beginning to feel a lot like Soriano
Winter Classic at Yankee Stadium? Wait 'til 2016
(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.

Jackson beginning to feel a lot like Soriano
Winter Classic at Yankee Stadium? Wait 'til 2016
  • Mike Tomohawk

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

    • Tyrone Sharpton

      Betta than every black playah getting compared to a criminal or Barry Bonds

      • Mike Tomohawk

        No this is actually a pretty accurate comp.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

        Wayne Brady gonna have to smack a bitch on that one.

    • whozat

      Tall, latin pitchers who throw hard and have consistency problems? It kinda stands to reason, doesn’t it? If a tall, white lefty pitcher with command problems showed up, who do you think he’d get compared to?

      • mattdamonwayans

        Randy Johnson

  • MattG

    Mike Axisa is the next Bob Costas.

  • Kosmo

    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“?

  • Peter R

    “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!

  • Guns of Navarone

    Jose Tabata = Manny Ramirez

    That one was fun.

  • Joey H.

    Comp: A-Gon?

    • Slugger27


      • Joey H.

        I’m just going on the whole opposite field power thing.

  • Monteroisdinero

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

    • pat

      Jeter with powah!!!!!!

  • Ted Nelson

    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.

    • JoshTFL

      Is there a Ted Nelson Tumblr yet?

      • Jesse

        There’s a Ted Nelson blog

        • JoshTFL

          Love leokitty

          • Jesse

            I just absolutely love the title of that blog.

            • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

              I like the mailbag questions list

              “Trade Granderson for Dempster, and move Gardner to CF, Jones on a 2 year deal, sign Fielder to DH.”

              too funny.

    • the internet iz watching…

      Dante Bichette Jr. is Jason Pierre-Paul.

    • CJ

      So you’re saying people can make the wrong comp? It takes “x and y and data points and sample size validity” to explain that?

  • nsalem

    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.

  • CJ

    Banuelos / Ricky Romero, gio Gonzalez

    • Louis

      Which of these is not like the other?

    • Total Dominication

      Ricky Romero is significantly better than Gio Gonzalez.

  • vin

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

    • CJ

      I’ve made the mike Napoli comp as well, Napoli was a productive bat and below average catcher, 2011 he became an elite bat and solid catcher. Time and patience

      • Monteroisdinero

        Eliteandsolid. I like that almost as much as Monteroisdinero.

        • CJ

          Napoli 2011 was an Elite bat, solid defensively

          • Monteroisdinero

            As will Montero in the near future.

    • pat

      As long as you mean the 2011 version of Napoli, not the 2010.

      • vin

        Looking at his career, 2010 certainly seems to be the outlier.

      • CJ

        God forbid we new yorkers have to wait for him to develop into a 2011 Napoli. We will watch him hit .320 30 for another team

    • RetroRob

      All catchers who are considered subpar defenders are not created equal. Some are below average and some are just bad. I’ll leave it at that.

  • mac1

    So montero projects as a slightly lesser version of Posada?

    • Monteroisdinero

      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

        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.

  • craig

    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

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

      i thought the same thing re montero and berkman

    • Reggie C.

      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.

  • Jesse

    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

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

      That would be amazing.

      • Jesse

        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

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

  • CJ

    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

    • Ted Nelson

      Really? Batting average?

      • Ted Nelson

        I mean in the same thread you criticize me for thinking through the issue and then cite BA/HR/RBI to indicate a players value… hooray for ignorance.

        • CJ

          BA hr RBI work when comparing production of similar hitters in a full season .300 30 repeats in all measures.pitching is more difficult.

      • CJ

        Yup. Traditional comp stats. In almost every case stacking 300 30 will yield the same results for any other stat in a full season.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    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.

  • viridiana

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

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      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.

  • infernoscurse

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

    • mustang


      This guy wins for funniest comment!

      • mustang

        “It’s funny because it’s true.” … we sometimes commit too soon to conclusions we’ ve jumped to”

  • Monteroisdinero

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

  • Bob Loblaw

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

    • Bo Knows

      mindfreaked (whoa)

  • viridiana

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

  • Don W

    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.

  • RetroRob

    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


      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

        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.)

        • Monteroisdinero

          Dammit. Martin gettin in Montero’s way again. A fan must have leaned over the railing. Lol

  • Rigoleto

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