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Fun with comps: Evan Gattis is … Harmon Killebrew?

Sep 9, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

Harmon Killebrew

This was at the end of Ken Rosenthal’s notes column. And it was obviously there for fun so let’s not pretend it’s some serious deal. But still:

And finally, a scout offers this comp for Evan Gattis:

Harmon Killebrew.

I suppose there is something to be said about Gattis’ raw power compared to that of immortal power hitters. The guy can hit the ball a friggin’ mile.  But at the moment, that’s about all he can do, so let’s not go crazy with the comps.

Gattis just turned 27. He has a mere 300 plate appearances under his belt and a .303 on-base percentage. By the end of his age-26 season Killebrew had over 2,700 plate appearances and a line of .257/.367/.532 with 178 homers. And then he got better. Starting in his age-27 season in 1963, Killebrew did not post an OBP below .349 until his age-38 season, coming when he was clearly done as an elite hitter, in 1974. Over those seasons he posted a line of .261/.387/.515. And need I remind you that the bulk of that line came during an era that was the friendliest to pitchers since the Dead Ball Era ended?

Sure, Harmon Killebrew > than Evan Gattis is not exactly a controversial proposition. But then neither is saying that Killebrew is a Gattis comp. That before you realize that the scout who told this to Rosenthal, like everyone else, hasn’t seen the late Killebrew hit for 38 years and hasn’t seen a truly productive Killebrew for 41 years. Thus rendering his expertise as a scout on the matter kinda superfluous.

Comps are fun. But comparing a one-tool backup catcher to one of the greatest sluggers the game has ever seen is the sort of thing that makes fans angry when that one-tool backup catcher doesn’t become better than he is. And it’s not fair to the one-tool backup catcher.

  1. jwbiii - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    I was thinking more along the lines of Cliff Johnson.

  2. brandonwarne - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Weird comp since ya know, Killebrew edges him 178-18 in home runs by age 27.

  3. DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 9, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    Danny Espinosa is not impressed with Gattis

    • section138 - Sep 9, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      Jesus. If you’re gonna beat a dead horse with this Espi-Braves “better than” thing, at least do it correctly. In this context, it would be: “Danny Espinosa says, “Gattis is good, but I don’t think he’s better than Wilson Ramos.'”
      So, other than using a five-month-old quote incorrectly, bang up job! Keep bringing the quality.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Sep 9, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        Danny Espinosa is not impressed with your surliness

  4. dlf9 - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    Anyone have any thoughts on whether the Braves will resign Brian McCann? He is a hometown player and one of the beloved members of the team, but is clearly aging rapidly as do almost all catchers. If he goes, I think that Gattis could be a top-half catcher as his defense appears solid, he has massive power, his contact rate seems to go up with more frequent play, and unlike most 27 year olds, he doesn’t have much time playing organized (either amatuer or professional) baseball, so he may peak late.

    • jwbiii - Sep 9, 2013 at 5:45 PM

      The Braves will be calling up catching prospect Christian Bethancourt soon, so it seems like McCann is headed elsewhere.

      • dlf9 - Sep 9, 2013 at 6:00 PM

        Bethancourt is still young for his league (21 at AA Mississippi) but he has little control of the strike zone (3.5 k/w ratio – hello Jeff Francouer) and in a repeat of leagues this seasn, he only hit .277 / .305 / .436. In A ball, he had a 659 OPS, in High A, he had a 603, and in two years in AA, he clocked in at a devilish 666. I’d give him a year in Gwinnett.

      • jwbiii - Sep 9, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        But are they going to commit to a multiyear deal with McCann when Bethancourt is likely a year away? A qualifying offer to McCann and go fishing in the FA pool for a backup with Gattis as the #1 if he walks?

  5. innout10 - Sep 9, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Comparing look and style of play is different than comparing stats. Guys look like other guys when they play … Stats aren’t the only thing to compare to… I guess since you never stepped on a ball field you wouldn’t know.

    • dlf9 - Sep 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM

      Both are right handed hitters with a vaguely similar build and both are/were prematurely balding. But Killibrew batted much more upright and stood close to the plate with a closed stance and a long, flowing swing while Gattis has both a pronounced squat and his stance is much more spread out with a short jerky swing that often results in him pulling the bat backwards after a missed pitch. In other words, they are not at all similar. Or did you want to criticize the author while not actually having any particular point?

  6. raysfan1 - Sep 9, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    Gattis’ comps are Bill Plummer and Matt Treanor. Harris has more power than either, and Treanor didn’t get to the bigs until he was 28. However, Plummer has 2 WS rings as Johnny Bench’s back up and Matt Treanor married Misty May, so advantage them.

    • raysfan1 - Sep 9, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      Harris?! Sorry, didn’t notice autocorrect “corrected” Gattis until I hit the post button.

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