With the minor-league playoffs finished, the Baltimore Orioles summoned first-base prospect Trey Mancini from Triple-A Norfolk this week to help sure up their offense. Mancini wasted no time making an impact for the O’s, notching his first career home run in Tuesday’s game against the Red Sox. Mancini broke out in 2015 when he slashed an outstanding .331/.370/.539 between High-A and Double-A. His raw numbers regressed a bit this season as he moved to a more pitcher-friendly park, but he still managed a strong .282/.357/.458 showing, with almost all of that coming at Triple-A.
Mancini’s power is enticing. In each of the last two seasons, he’s reached the 20-homer mark and ISO’d over .175. However, some of his other attributes take away from some of that shine. Mancini’s a first baseman, meaning he’ll need to hit a bunch to have a long-term future in the bigs. He also turns 25 next spring, making him a bit old for even the Triple-A level. And perhaps most importantly, he kind of strikes out a lot — likely due in part to his long swing.
KATOH pegs Mancini for 3.5 WAR over his first six seasons by the traditional method and 2.6 WAR by KATOH+, which integrates Baseball America’s rankings. To help you visualize what his KATOH projection entails, here is a probability density function showing KATOH+’s projected distribution of outcomes for Mancini’s first six seasons in the major leagues.
To put some faces to Mancini’s statistical profile, let’s generate some statistical comps for the newest Oriole. I calculated a weighted Mahalanobis distance between Mancini’s performance this year and every Triple-A season since 1991 in which a first baseman recorded at least 400 plate appearances. In the table below, you’ll find the 10 most similar seasons, ranked from most to least similar. The WAR totals refer to each player’s first six seasons in the major leagues. A lower “Mah Dist” reading indicates a closer comp.
Please note that the Mahalanobis analysis is separate from KATOH. KATOH relies on macro-level trends, rather than comps. The fates of a few statistically similar players shouldn’t be used to draw sweeping conclusions about a prospect’s future. For this reason, I recommend using a player’s KATOH forecast to assess his future potential. The comps give us some interesting names that sometimes feel spot-on, but they’re mostly just there for fun.
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