Mark Week: The Future

Here at the AZSnakepit, we have a special power. We can see into.... THE FUTURE.

So, you thought Shark Mark Week was over, eh? BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

Previously, on Mark Week -- we've discussed Mark's minor league numbers, we've looked at Mark's towering dingers, and we've uncovered objective evidence that Mark has been on a steady upward slope defensively. So what's left? Well, come with me, and we'll look into the crystal ball at Mark's future...

 

::cue wavy fingers and weird, high pitched noises::

Baseball-reference's similarity scores from the start of career until age 27 give us the ten most similar batters through Mark's current age, based on stats.

The player most similar? As has been well-publicized, not the least by Daron and Gracie, Mark's closest comparison is to former Philadelphia Phillie right-handed 3B Mike Schmidt. Schmidt led the league in both home runs AND strikeouts in 1974, 1975, 1976 AND 1983. Sound like anyone we know? In a Hall Of Fame career lasting 18 years, Schmidt drove in 548 home runs AND struck out 1883 times. For those keeping score at home, that's good for 7th on the all-time K list and 15th on the all-time HR list. Schmidt, however, led the league in homers WITHOUT leading in Ks in 1980, 1981, 1984 AND 1986. Sign of things to come?

It's certainly not an exact comparison. For the same years relative to his age that Mark's been in the league, Schmidt averaged 38 HRs and 150 Ks per 162 games, while Mark Reynolds has averaged 36 HRs and a shocking 221 Ks per 162 -- a total that would make Joe Morgan choke on his own vomit, could he read. Schmidt only struck out more than 150x per season ONCE, in 1975, with 180 whiffs. For the record, even in today's strikeout-happy climate, where 12 of the 20th highest single-season strikeout totals have been delivered by five active players (Mark, Ryan Howard, Jack Cust, Adam Dunn, and Jim Thome) Schmidt's 180K 1975 is still good for the 22nd highest single-season total in baseball history.

In rate stats, Schmidt's career OBP of .380 and career slugging % of .527 give us a total of .908 and an OPS+ of 147 for his career. Now, that's why he's a HOFer. Through Mark's age, Schmidt got on base at a .369 clip, as opposed to Mark's .338, but Schmidt's slugging % at .500 is only a bit ahead of Mark's .497. Schmidt's OPS edge through age 27 over Mark is .869 vs. .835 -- although park factors turn those numbers into a 138 OPS+ vs. 110, respectively. To Mark's age, Schmidt had averaged 97 walks per 162, while Mark's averaged 73.

On the other hand, while Schmidt may never have played in as HR-happy a park as Mark does, I would be selling our 3B short not to point out that Schmidt only passed Mark's 2009 HR total of 44 twice, in 1979 and 1980, with 45 and 48 bombs, respectively.

While it's certainly nice to have statistical proof linking Mark's career to a HOFer, and B-R puts Schmidt's numbers closest through Mark's age, active players on the list include Fernando Tatis, Edwin Encarnacion, and Pat Burrell. It's tough to see any similarity between Mark's numbers and Fernando Tatis', who has 11 seasons with an OPS+ of just above average, at 101, and 113 career HRs and 709 career Ks. Though Mark's entire career so far, he has exactly one more HR and one fewer K, so that seems rather unlikely, and Tatis is much more of an OBP guy. Encarnacion, a well-known Dbacks killer, (including 3 HRs in 3 straight ABs vs. Arizona earlier this year) has a career OPS+ of 103, but was DFA'd by Toronto earlier this season. Through six seasons, however, he's averaged 24 homers and 113 Ks per 162, so that's a little closer to Mark's numbers. Pat The Bat, to me, seems the closest comparison -- he's never hit more than 37 homers in a season, nor struck out more than 162x, but at Mark's age, he'd put up a career .348 OBP and .473 slugging % for an OPS of .821, but park factors put him ahead of Mark at a 114 OPS+ vs. Mark's 110. Burrell had a pretty good 9 year stretch for the Phillies, putting up a 119 OPS+ and 251 dingers, however, Burrell joined the Rays at age 32 last year and posted an OPS+ of just 77, with only 16 bombs in 146 games. After being DFA'd earlier this season, he's back in the NL, and slugging for the Giants.

So, can Mark raise his OBP and put up numbers similar to his oft-compared HOF predecessor? Will he have a pretty good, but not great, career like Burrell's, still in progress? Or will he flame out? Can he replicate last year's All-Star caliber numbers again? Will he hit a home run today? Why am I asking so many inane questions? Is it because I can?

The answer to these questions and others will be answered... well, in The Future.

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