Two players, Mantle and Ott, took big steps forward. Conigliaro hit more homers but his overall production fell off, and Cedeno dropped to a below-average offensive player. Playing major league baseball at age 19 is a tremendous accomplishment, but even that isn’t a gold ticket to immediate superstardom.
Even with the admittedly nebulous nature involved in projecting Harper, projection systems can help show us a range of possibilities. But while projection systems can cut through human biases, they can also miss specifics that a good scout will catch and take into account*.
Keith Law is a senior baseball analyst for ESPN in charge of scouting. He said he thinks Harper “will be an impact player in the middle of a lineup for a very long time, the kind of player who hits 40 homers in a few seasons, wins an MVP award or two, and at worst ends up garnering some Hall of Fame discussion.”
...The reason why, according to Law, is Harper’s “unusual combination of overall athleticism and baseball-specific skills.” It’s that package that makes Harper unique, or at minimum, extremely difficult to project. For his part, Law feels Harper is one of a kind. “Has there been a player like him specifically? No, I tend to think most high-end players like Harper or Mike Trout are unique. Stars tend to have very specific skill sets that we haven’t seen before.”
People learn by experience. But when something comes along that we haven’t encountered before, it’s hard to know what to make of it. Harper represents those uncharted waters.
Posted: March 13, 2013 at 04:31 AM | 77 comment(s)
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