A little series of articles I've started called The Count, using stats and common sense to figure out just what's going on in today's sports.
This part of the article is to judge the value of these MLB youngsters based on how well they are doing now, as well as how well I feel they will do down the road. I will also do a comparison as best I can to other players, current or all time.
Today, we will focus on two rising stars:
If you haven't heard of Buster Posey yet this season, you will. Posey, in his rookie season, is absolutely tearing it up on the West Coast, batting .358 on the season with 8 HR and 32 RBIs in 47 games, as well as a .958 OPS. He is currently sitting on a 17-game hit streak, and has proven to already be the best hitter on the Giants roster so far this year. This isn't a fluke year either - Posey has put up similar numbers in the minor leagues, and was rightfully named the #7 MLB Prospect by Baseball America before 2010.
Before anyone starts making comparisons to Mike Piazza, realize that Piazza isn't a good enough comparison for Posey's potential - he is also a much better fielder. In the majors, the Giants prospect originally spent most of his time at 1B, where he was a mediocre fielder at best (none too surprising, as he spent almost no time at 1B in the minors). However, once he moved to catcher after Bengie Molina was traded, he really took off. He's only had one error at C all season, and he's managed to throw out 9 of 21 potential base stealers, or 43%. Compare that to other great fielding catches like Yadier Molina (48%), Russell Martin (40%), Joe Mauer (26%) and Pudge (39%). Posey stands quite nicely.
COMPARISON: Thurman Munson. While it remains to be seen if Posey has the same leadership qualities as Munson, they do each have similar skills. Both of them are catchers who can hit well for average, and like Munson, Posey has enough power to reach around 20 HRs in a season. Neither one is quite Johnny Bench or Bob Boone defensively, but neither one is anything resembling a liability at the plate either. Posey has the skills to win an MVP award at some point in his career, and the comparison to Munson, a HOFer before his tragic death, is a valid one. If nothing else, Munson also got off to a quick start in his career, winning Rookie of the Year in 1979.
Rasmus is a premier talent that can easily be lost in the depths of the Cardinals' fantastic group of hitters, but that's no reason to overlook him. Despite his relatively low .267 BA, he has a .349 OBP, showing a reasonably good ability to get on base. His OPS is .856, a huge jump from last year, and he already has 16 HRs, as many as last year in many fewer ABs. One thing he has to work on is how often he strikes out compared to how often he draws a walk. Nonetheless, this is a problem many younger hitters face. He has the power to hit up to 30ish HRs a year, and it says a lot that in his 2nd full season, he's already batting 5th.
He also plays a great defensive CF, maybe not Gold Glove worthy, but that could change as things go on. His UZR last year put him as the 3rd best defensive CF in the NL, although he is struggling in the field a bit this year. He may not ever be a Franklin Gutierrez out there, but he's capable at the very least.
COMPARISON: Reggie Smith. Smith played both CF and RF in his career, and Rasmus has a good enough arm to eventually move to RF. Rasmus isn't as fast as most CFs are, and could benefit from the move. Smith was good for about 20 HRs a year, sometimes more, never hit for a particularly high average, was strong defensively, and could steal the occasional base. All of these apply to Rasmus, although Smith may have been a better defensive player.