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The Comparison That Fell To Earth: Davis And Durazo

Kudos to Jeff Pearlman for pointing out that both Erubiel Durazo and Ike Davis are carbon-based life forms. I assume this was the underlying premise of his post comparing the two, since otherwise the differences between these players makes a comparison awfully silly.

Pearlman quotes a friend of his in Starbucks as saying: "Ike will be DHing in Cleveland within three years. I concur. Guys like Davis are a dime a dozen. He’ll hit 20 home runs, drive in 80, strike out a lot while hitting .260."

It's hard to know where to begin with this. Let's start with offense, I suppose. Davis, having just turned 23, and with just 769 minor-league at-bats, was one of those .260-20-80 guys this past season, in his first chance to face major league pitchers.He hit .264-19-71 in 147 games. So for Pearlman's forecast to come true, Davis will need to show zero improvement in his age 24 season and beyond. There's no guarantee that he will, of course, but why does Pearlman think he is completely finished developing, when he's taken enormous steps forward in both 2009 and 2010?

But the bigger issue here, naturally, is the idea that Davis, one of the best defenders at first base in the game in 2010, will be a DH in three years. This would mean that while he made zero strides offensively, his defense would regress so completely in his age 24-26 season that a team wouldn't find a spot for him in the field. Again, not remotely clear why Pearlman feels this way, either.

And Durazo, remember, was an utter disaster in the field. He also couldn't stay healthy, the biggest impediment to his success, and something Davis simply hasn't faced in his career.

The career arcs of Durazo and Davis are enormously different, too. Durazo played in the Mexican League until he was 25, while Davis was drafted out of college. So we don't even have apples-to-apples stat comparisons for the two available for another two years.

Just for fun, though: Durazo posted an OPS of 1.193 in Double-A, doing so at 25 in a ridiculous hitters' park in El Paso. Davis posted a .951 OPS in Double-A, doing so at 22 in a neutral run environment. The huge difference in age and park factors evens that up pretty nicely.

In short, though: if Ike Davis becomes Erubiel Durazo offensively, with a plus glove and the ability to stay healthy, that's not an overhyped prospect. That's a cornerstone.

Unfortunately, the basis for assuming equivalency between the two is as solid as the basis for claiming Davis will be a DH in three years.