In his address to the media on Thursday, Bryce Harper made a comparison that got people a little excited.
Bryce thinks Bryson Stott is a mix of J.J Hardy and Brandon Crawford in the field and a Garrett Anderson type at the plate, which would be amazing.— Jack Fritz (@JackFritzWIP) February 25, 2021
Boy howdy do those names bring back some memories. Of course Crawford is still playing, but Hardy and Anderson are names from a bygone era, relics of the past when baseball players rubbed dirt on injuries and didn’t need a concussion protocol.
Have I made you feel old yet?
Now, spring is the season for making proclamations of this variety. Someone is always going to be really good and this comparison is no different. Harper and Stott are well known friends and workout buddies, both spending copious amounts of time together in Las Vegas in the offseason. Harper has seen Stott working out almost every day, so he does have first hand knowledge of what he has been looking like during those workouts, but you’ll have to pardon the fanbase if they take this comparison with a hefty grain of salt. Stott’s scouting reports are nowhere near as glowing, though they aren’t exactly terrible. From Baseball Prospectus this year:
Stott’s college performance at UNLV far outpaced his tools, but he’s a well-rounded two-way infielder whose hit and power tools should play at least to average with a strong approach making the total package at the plate play up. The swing can be a little timing-heavy with a double toe tap that gets him out of sync and cuts off some of the above-average raw, but he will then put a charge into plus velocity when you don’t expect it. So there’s some additional upside in the bat despite the polished college profile. Stott’s unlikely to stick at shortstop long term, but could play there once a week or so, and the arm is strong enough to handle third, and he’s rangy enough to handle second. Nothing sticks out as a clear plus or carrying tool, which will mean performance up the minor league ladder will be important to narrow our confidence interval on Stott landing in Philly as a good regular.
It’s not the most exciting of scouting reports, but it’s also not the worst. There seems to be a solid average player in there, something resembling a good 2-4 WAR player consistently.
Glancing at Anderson’s Baseball Reference page and you can begin to remember what type of player he was. It’s easy to forget, but Anderson was one of those guys that you would never classify as “great”, but was one of those solid players that get glossed over on a team.
Using B-Ref’s new advanced statistics, you can see that Anderson was usually above average on offense, posting a 110 rBAT+ during a six year peak from 1999-2004. He put up 18.4 bWAR during this time, not star worthy level, but also something that would be a great outcome from any Phillies draft pick let along Stott. The outfield defense, based on what we have now, doesn’t look like anything too horrible, meaning it all came together for Anderson to have a 17 year career where he made a few All-Star teams, finished in the top five in MVP voting once and basically gave his team good, solid baseball.
Hardy would be a more direct comparison since he played the same position that Stott looks to try and play in the majors. Hardy’s B-Ref page is also something that brings back a lot memories of the type of player that he was: a sure handed shortstop that gave the team some pop at the plate. His seven year peak, 2007-2013, is one that almost defines “average” with the bat. A .261/.312/.433 slash line with 144 home runs and 463 RBI led to a 98 OPS+ and 20.7 bWAR, solid but spectacular numbers. Hardy, like Anderson, almost never walked (career 6.5 BB%), but also rarely struck out (15.2 K%). As stated before, he was a solid offensive player, but what he was really remembered for was his glove.
In that seven year peak, Hardy won two Gold Gloves. However, they came at the end of that run, 2012-13, and if stretched a bit, could included a third Gold Glove (2014) that ended up being his third in a row. It was plays like this that got him the honors.
Harper comparing Stott to a three-time Gold Glover?
These two players are remember fondly by their team’s fanbases as being those underrated players that the national press never seemed to take notice of. Both have been inducted into their former team’s version of the Hall of Fame, Anderson with Los Angeles, Hardy in Milwaukee. They didn’t blow you away, they didn’t grab the headlines with 5, 6, 7 WAR seasons, but they were solid enough that they made a few All-Star games, a couple of Silver Sluggers, and some Gold Gloves.
So what does all of this mean, other than the fact that I like Garret Anderson and wanted to write something about him? If Bryson Stott can carve out a career that anywhere near resembles one of these two players, that’s a solid win for the team. Were he projected for some kind of superstardom, it’s unlikely he would have lasted in the draft to the Phillies anyway. The fact that he dropped probably is due to the fact that, as the scouting report says, he’s not going to blow you away with any of his tools. Rather he’ll be solid-to-good with all of them. That’s something that the team can use, something they can work with, especially if they continue to remain spooked by the luxury tax (if it is still around past 2021). Again, we’ll have to take the “wait and see” approach to proclamations like this, but if does come about, we should all feel happy.