Friday, September 26, 2008

Please stop doing this before I lose my mind

There is one comparison that's been made all over the place this week, starting in the Q&A and slowly growing like an ugly monster, that might actually drive me insane. I understand that Andy LaRoche has been disappointing and terrible and all other such things and if you choose to take the small sample size of this year at face value and ignore his minor league numbers, that's your prerogative. But please, please, please stop comparing him to Chad Hermansen.

Hermansen was a guy with a lot of power that struck out a ton in the minors and showed almost no on-base skill in the upper level of the minors. It didn't take a genius to see that his power numbers might not translate to the big leagues because of this, and they didn't. Just because Cam Bonifay and Peter Gammons loved Hermansen for his minor league power doesn't mean he was ever nearly the prospect they thought he was. I'll admit that hindsight's 20/20 here. I was excited about Hermansen, but in my defense I was 13 at the time and didn't even know what on-base percentage was. Check out the numbers from his two big years with Nasvhille:

  • 1998, age 20: .258/.331/.520 with 152 strikeouts in 508 PAs
  • 1999, age 21: .270/.318/.530 with 119 strikeouts in 531 PAs
You know what those numbers remind me of? Corey Patterson's minor league career. See a pattern? It wasn't hard to see he wasn't developing. The Pirates didn't. Instead, they built Hermansen up as the savior of the franchise, even though he didn't have the tools. LaRoche, meanwhile, has a minor league OBP of .380 and has been around .400 since his second year in the minors. He's struck out 294 times in 2073 minor league plate appearances. He looks like crap this year and there's no point in arguing that, but comparing him to Chad Hermansen is incredibly unfair.