In sports, comparisons are inevitable. The New York Yankees are probably the most compared team ever, due to their history of success. How would the Bronx Bombers fare against a team of players with comparable career stats at the same age?
How does Player A match up to Player B? Questions like that are always a topic of conversation among fans. Many a bar stool, holiday barbecue, and bowling night have been taken up with discussions like that. Some have devolved into outright shouting matches. With 27 World Series titles, sports fans have done plenty of what-if scenarios about New York Yankees players over the last 100 years.
Baseball is the most statistically analyzed sport. It’s so detailed that in any given game we can find out how a batter has fared over his career in the seventh inning, at home, trailing by a run, with a runner on second, one out, between 8:00-9:30 EDT, three days after a lunar eclipse, against the shift.
Using the current New York Yankees team, I put together a squad of players at the same age and comparable career statistics as their 2020 Bronx Bombers counterparts. For example, at 22-years-old, Gleyber Torres‘ stats match up very close to a young Cal Ripken Jr.
It doesn’t sound like an easy job. Thankfully, Bill James, the godfather of baseball analytics, developed a formula. Comps are at the bottom of a player’s page at baseball-reference.com. Just follow the hyperlinks.
Matching up a player to an all-time counterpart won’t necessarily build a team, so I used a few rules.
- Comparisons are made based on a player’s career body of work up until this point.
- Players didn’t have to be a position for position match.
- Because I needed that leeway, the comparable player didn’t have to be the closest match, but in the top five and I tried to stay within fifty points (read the formula) of his New York Yankees counterpart. The last part wasn’t always possible.
- I made an effort to use players who the average fan would know.
- Not every current Bronx Bomber has a comp value yet, so I had to skip players with limited MLB experience such as Mike Ford.