The Trouble With Comparisons

Baseball experts, fans and casual observers like to throw out comparisons for every kind of ballplayer from upcoming prospects to aging veterans. Many of us like to use analogies in all walks of life, not just baseball, but sometimes this act can be downright lazy.  

This past offseason when Rangers’ fans and local media were educating themselves on Japanese sensation Yu Darvish, the Daisuke Matsuzaka comp was thrown out daily. At first glance, both are from Japan (Yu is half-Iranian), right-handed pitchers and each enjoyed success in the NPB. It doesn’t take much effort, however, to see that Yu is five inches taller, has more velocity and had better makeup for MLB. The Yu/Daisuke comp is a recent example of comp ignorance.  Now let’s look at a Rangers franchise comp that has been going on for the last several years among fans.

Career Numbers

Player A:   9yrs   .305/.387/.478/19.8bWAR
Player B:   7yrs   .282/.340/.449/5.7bWAR

 By looking at these two players respective slash lines for their career, it begs for a simple question: Why are they compared in the first place? The answer: Both are Caucasian, fan favorites, left-handed and outfielders for the same franchise. “Player A” is Rusty Greer and “Player B” is David Murphy. Greer is in the Rangers Hall of Fame and was on the first three teams in the franchise that made the playoffs while Murphy is a platoon player on back-to-back AL Champions. 

So when fans compare these two players, what exactly are they looking at beyond the color of their skin and the position they play? When a fourth outfielder is compared to Greer, it’s a failure to understand his value on very good teams. Greer finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting back in ’94 when he had an OPS of .898 in 80 games. He also finished 22nd in MVP voting in ’97 when he hit .321/.405/.531. 

All of this isn’t to say that Murphy doesn’t serve a role on the best team in baseball, but let’s spare the comps to the Red Baron. Please think before you comp.  

Eddie Middlebrook is the Chat Coordinator and Junior Staff Writer for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at or on Twitter @emiddlebrook 
Eddie Middlebrook
Eddie Middlebrook is Senior Writer for @ballparkbanter9 and @shutdowninning. Formerly with @wfaasports and @FoxSportsSW. @IBWAA member. Eddie can be found on Twitter @emiddlebrook.

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