By now, SF Giants fans know Mike Yastrzemski is good. Around the Foghorn’s Marc Delucchi dives into the numbers to see, which established players he’s most similar to.
Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski‘s breakout 2019 season is no longer just a feel-good story. If the league had not canceled the 2020 All-Star Game, Yaz would easily be the Giants selection for the midsummer classic.
First-year manager Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff asked Yastrzemski to adjust to a new position this season as well. While he hasn’t looked elite in center field, he’s shown he can handle the position enough to allow Kapler even more defensive flexibility in the outfield.
After blasting the first leadoff home run of his career in Tuesday’s – win against the Angels, Yastrzemski is now hitting .311/.436/.656 on the season. Over a 162-game season, Yastrzemski would be on-pace to crush the team-highs in most offensive categories since Barry Bonds has retired.
Now that Yaz has played in just over 130 big-league games over the past two years, and 110 plate appearances this year alone, there should be a large enough sample to begin comparing him to other players around the league.
Prior to the season, the ZIPS projection system projected Yastrzemski as just a league-average starter. According to ZIPS, the number one comp for Yaz was Lou Clinton, a middling outfielder in the 1960s. With what he’s shown so far this season we have a larger and stronger sample to pull from to ultimately find a
SF Giants statistical comp method
First, using Baseball Savant’s percentile leaderboard all players were compared against Yastrzemski’s 2020 performance in expected batting average, expected isolated power, walk-rate, strikeout-rate, and speed. The percentile difference between each qualified player was summed up in each category, which gave every player a “difference score”. The larger the score, the further from Yastrzemski they’ve performed.
From there, the approach shifted to a more qualitative lense. Obviously it would be short-sighted to only compare this year’s performance when we have the rest of these players careers to look at. So from the list of players who’ve performed closest to Yastremski this season, each of those players’ career arcs and performance were compared with Yaz to find the best option.