keyboard_arrow_uptop
Baseball Prospectus is looking for a Public Data Services Director. Read the description here.

As much as it pains me to say it, Matt Collins did an excellent job of introducing the 2015 Tale of the Tape series yesterday. I’m here with another installment, and a bit of a wrinkle. While last year’s (and yesterday’s) focused on the upcoming season, this year we’re bringing you the same template with an eye toward the future (and from a dynasty perspective). This doesn’t necessarily mean that the players in question will be prospects (as today’s are), but that they’re younger players that require more projection than an established regular. Of course, this also means that the conclusions drawn are a bit shakier, as projecting further out is a bit more hazardous. That doesn’t mean you can’t hold me to it though, when I’m inevitably, invariably, wrong. To kick off the dynasty portion of this series, let us look into the futures Blue Jays’ recent draftee Max Pentecost and Giants’ backstop Andrew Susac, who checked in at 24 and 25 on the Top 50 Catchers list, respectively.

Batting Average

Susac posted a pleasant average in his brief major -eague stint, but he’s never been one to hit for much of an average in the minors. That doesn’t mean he’ll hurt you in the category, especially because when he does hit, he hits the ball hard, but he’s not a huge boon here. Small sample caveats apply, but it’s worth noting that Susac produced a .368 BABIP while hitting fly balls over 40 percent of the time, which doesn’t seem sustainable. Pentecost, on the other hand, has little-to-no track record. He hit over .300 in his 109 plate appearances in 2014, but that doesn’t tell us much. The 5+ potential hit grade he received in the Blue Jays Top 10 does, though, especially when paired with his college career. As far as what we’re expecting in terms of ability to hit for average, four out of five dentists chose Pentecost.
Advantage: Pentecost

On-Base Percentage

Things get far more interesting here with Pentecost getting staked a decent advantage thanks to his batting average-edge, but Susac providing impressive walk rates throughout his minor-league career (never below 13.4 percent. No, really.). Pentecost sports an advanced approach at the plate and is known to work deep counts, but he’s not nearly the patient hitter that Susac is, and for good reason. When he makes contact, he generates hits, so it stands to reason he’d swing a bit more often. Despite the disadvantage in batting average, Susac’s discipline at the plate earns him a slight edge in OBP over the long haul, as a down season in BABIP won’t affect him as drastically as it would Pentecost.
Advantage: Susac, slightly

Home Runs

All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Let’s not make this harder than it has to be.
Advantage: Susac, by like, a lot.

Runs Batted In

One of these two is a middle of the order thumper, and the other is a top/bottom of the order guy, so this is once again, not much of a contest. It’s worth noting that context matters, and Pentecost plays in a league with a DH (thus presumably better hitters throughout the lineup), so if he ended up batting fifth or sixth in a dynamic lineup this could be a closer call than it seems. That said, if you’re banking on one or the other going forward, you’re going to take the guy with long-ball power.
Advantage: Susac

Runs

This is quite obviously a reversal from the last category. Pentecost has the profile of a solid two-hitter, and if he’s slotted there, he could score a bunch of runs. Susac does get on base more than you’d think given his average, which gives him the potential to score more runs than you’d normally anticipate, but he’s not going to be a dynamic baserunner by any means. The clear edge here goes to Pentecost with the standard caveat that lineup placement matters a great deal for contextual stats like runs (and RBI).
Advantage: Pentecost

Stolen Bases

As noted above, Susac isn’t the swiftest guy in the league, and Pentecost has impressive athleticism given the position. He’s not the second-coming of early career Russell Martin when it comes to swiping bases as a backstop, but he’ll contribute in a category that’s generally ignored at the position.

Advantage: Pentecost

Cool Name

Sure, you can make dated references with Susac’s name, but Max Pentecost carries the connotation of an international spy/bad-ass. (Image courtesy Mike Baumann’s mind, Colin Wyers’ photoshop abilities)
Advantage: Pentecost, big time

Injury Risk

Catching is a hazardous job, so let’s not fool ourselves and pretend either of these guys is a safe bet. That said, the guy who is still rehabbing a torn labrum isn’t going to win this category. Susac hasn’t been a paragon himself though, missing games in the minors for injuries to his fingers, a right shoulder impingement, and a concussion among other maladies. This is likely more of a push than anything long term, as Pentecost’s injury, while more severe is ostensibly fixed. Susac seems to pick up nagging injuries here and there, and while none have cost him more than 35 days, the tendency to attract them is of concern.
Advantage: Push

Risk/Upside

Pentecost is probably the hotter name given his draft status and his ability to contribute to all five standard categories in fantasy. The injury is a bummer, as is the signing of Russell Martin, which could result in a slower climb for Pentecost, as the Jays have no reason to push him with a quality catcher in place. On pure upside, he’s the guy to take between these two players, but his time to impact and the obstacles in his way mitigate some of that tantalizing potential. Susac is the vanilla option, but vanilla isn’t always bad. He’s not a special player, with all the bells and whistles, but he’s got the chance to be a fantasy glue-guy if he can wrangle regular at-bats either with San Francisco or elsewhere. He’s got enough pop to be a starter even in 12-team leagues if the playing time is there, and while he won’t put you over the top, he’ll allow you to spend earlier picks/more money on other players while not punting the position entirely. All of this is to say Susac is safer, especially in the near-term, while Pentecost carries more long-term upside. The wrinkle though, is that as of right now, today, Susac has the better combination of the two.
Advantage: Susac

Estimated Time of Impact

ETA is a popular term for prospect enthusiasts because we all wanna know when we can turn on MLB.tv or our local station and see the guy we’ve been coveting for some time. It’s a useful thing to know — when someone will make their major league debut. But for fantasy, what’s significantly more useful is having some idea of when someone will actually start to make an impact. Some prospects are polished and ready to contribute immediately upon graduating to the bigs. Others are raw but require development at the major league level and could struggle early on (potentially for a season or more) before becoming an asset in fantasy circles. Knowing who falls into which category allows the enterprising owner to grab some post-prospect types on the cheap, and reap the rewards, or alternatively sell high on a raw player right before he debuts, only to watch him struggle.

Susac nor Pentecost are the “raw” type of player, with Susac already having a short but successful MLB stint under his belt, and Pentecost being pegged as a fast mover with a polished approach. It would be easy to declare this a victory for Susac thanks to his 2015 major-league role, but it’s hard to call a backup catcher role “impactful.” Still, one trade makes him an MLB starter, while Pentecost is still rehabbing his labrum tear. Susac likely has at least a two-year advantage on Pentecost in terms of affecting fantasy leagues.
Advantage: Susac

Overall

Susac wins the battle 5-4-1, unless you’re actually counting the Cool Name category, in which case it’s a dead heat. Ultimately though, it’s a relatively close call and depending on what your needs are for the position, you could make a case for either guy. I think I’d have sided with the rankings taking Pentecost ahead of Susac going into this, but I am much more ambivalent now. Susac could have a lot going for him if he gets playing time, which is the big question here. Still, Martin’s signing impacts Pentecost’s future playing time too, so it’s not an all-out disadvantage for Susac. Without knowing the composition of my team otherwise, I’d take Susac if forced to choose.
And the winner is… Andrew Susac.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
dcapofari
1/09
I like this debate between these two. Very interesting to see how they grow. Max for me, but only because he might take over the Bond movies for Daniel Craig in 2017
rweiler
1/09
Susac's name keeps coming up as a potential trade chip for a true left fielder since the Giants don't have much to bargain with, so I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see Susac be a starter for somebody in 2015. Or maybe the Giants will use him in LF eliminating his value as a catcher. Sure, he can't run a lick, but how much worse could he be than Travis Ishikawa or Mike Morse?
TheArtfulDodger
1/09
In the field? Dramatically.