This player is the best comp for SF Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski

Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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SF Giants, Tommy Pham
Tommy Pham #28 of the San Diego Padres(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

SF Giants Statistical Comparison: Mike Yastrzemski and Tommy Pham

The other two finalists were Houston Astros outfielder George Springer and Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler. However, Springer’s career-best numbers are just far outside what Yaz has done even in 2020 to justify the comp. Kepler was intriguing (especially because they have a similar swing and defensive profiles), but is still younger than Yaz when he debuted last year, which undermined a comparison.

Tommy Pham, a bulky righthanded outfielder, and Yaz may not look that similar from the eye-test. If you look at more of the particulars though, a number of similarities emerge. While Pham was drafted out of high school, he didn’t make his MLB debut until he’d spent 8 years in the minor leagues.

When he got his first extended time in the bigs, Pham quickly established himself. His numbers from his first full-season (in 2017) aren’t too dissimilar to Yaz’s career numbers.

Name                       Age        G       PA    R    2B    HR    RBI    K       BB    BA    OBP    SLG
Tommy Pham          29       128   530  95   22    23     73   117    71   .306  .411    .520
Mike Yastrzemski 28-29  131   521  85   29    27     74   130    52   .280  .356    .544

At roughly the same age, both Pham and Yaz burst onto the scene as solid all-around players. Across the board their production aligns in nearly every category. Yastrzemski showed a bit more power, but Pham got on base at a higher clip with a slightly lower strikeout rate.

Pham’s impeccable plate discipline stands out and outperformed Yaz overall, but it’s worth noting that Yastrzemski has quietly made massive strides in his walk-rate from last season. Thus far in 2020, Yastrzemski has walked in over 17% of his plate appearances on the season (Pham has never walked in more than 13.4% of his trips to the plate). Even if Yaz maintains just some of the gains he’s made from last year, his production could soon very well align with Pham even more.

Defensively, the comparison holds water too. Pham would eventually shift to center field full-time, but he primarily played left field when he was first promoted. While Yaz obviously was a primary right fielder before his recent transition, Pham’s arm is what limited him to left, not his range. Both played above-average defense in their respective corner and it seems like Yaz is following Pham in the transition to an adequate defensive centerfielder.

Pham hasn’t replicated his 6+ WAR performance in that first full season with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he’s remained a good player when on the field. Injuries originally hampered and have continued to limit Pham’s production, something that thus far has not been an issue for Yastrzemski.

From the Giants perspective, Pham’s career arc should probably be a good reason to consider holding onto him as well. On paper, Pham’s .207/.316/.293 batting line leaves a lot to be desired, but his expected stats suggest a fairer line would be around .262/.371/.477, not far off from his 2017 peak.

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At 32-years old, Pham creates a strong model for Giants brass to believe that Yastrzemski can continue his strong production for the next few seasons when the team hopes to be competitive. Trading Yastrzemski would only make sense if the team could recoup players they thought could make as big an impact, but given his production this season, there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll still be a good player when guys like Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos are ready.