This is more than just a fun parlor game; making a major-league comp to a just-drafted, highly-touted player is designed to give us an idea of how that player might fare in the big leagues.
Thus, I present to you Kris Bryant's stats from his just-completed junior year at the University of San Diego:
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS 62 228 80 75 13 3 31 62 66 44 .329 .493 .820 1.314
That's really good. I mean, really, really good. He hit for average; he hit for power. He drew walks -- scored more runs than he had hits, which of course is team-dependent, but he was on base nearly 50 percent of the time.
Does this predict major-league success? It's hard to say, because every drafted player is different. Thus, I present to you the numbers from another college player, also in his final college season before being a No. 1 pick (third overall), very similar to Bryant:
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS 67 264 100 108 15 1 34 91 57 52 .409 .514 .860 1.374
If you were just looking at those two stat lines, you might think they came from the same player. A somewhat higher average in the second line; a few more walks and few less strikeouts in the first.
Obviously, they're not the same player, or I wouldn't be showing these to you. Instead of telling you myself, I'll let Dale Sveum tell you:
"He has the same approach and everything as (former major league slugger) Troy Glaus," Sveum said."I think that is who we have always compared him to … that kind of leverage to hit balls that far and that high."
Bryant is listed at 6-5, 205. Glaus' baseball-reference page lists him as 6-5, 220. Some have said that Bryant might have to move off third base, but Glaus played over 1,300 games there in the major leagues and was at least competent. Power bats are very difficult to find at third base and so I hope the Cubs keep him there, at least to start his career.
You will note that Glaus was in the major leagues only a little more than a year after he was drafted (July 31, 1998), was the Angels' starting third baseman the following season, and an All-Star in 2000, at age 23. The Angels, who weren't nearly as bad a team in 1998 as the Cubs have been the last three years, started Glaus at Double-A. By 2002 he was helping lead the Angels to their first, and still only, World Series title.
We'd take that, of course.
Glaus had hit 257 home runs by the time he was 30 and appeared on a potential Hall of Fame track, until his career was ended by injury in 2010. (He's still just 36, seven months younger than Alfonso Soriano.)
So Bryant could end up at third base after all. Glaus played tougher college competition than Bryant, but didn't play at all professionally in 1997 after signing late. I'd like to think that Bryant can dominate at Boise and maybe play at Kane County before this year is over and be at Double-A in 2014, possibly even ready for a callup late in 2014. It's time to stop babying guys like this.
Will Bryant eventually have to move off third base? Maybe; some power hitters of his build (Jim Thome is a good example) who started as third baseman eventually moved to first base. For now, I'd like to see Bryant on the fast track; the Cubs need a third baseman, for one thing, and for another, we can hope he'll come close to what Troy Glaus became.