Comparing Gregory Polanco to Barry Bonds, Andrew McCutchen, and Ryan Braun


Andrew McCutchen didn’t do what Gregory Polanco is doing in Triple-A.

Gregory Polanco is doing serious work in his first full season in Triple-A, but just how does it compare to the final seasons of AAA baseball for Andrew McCutchen, Barry Bonds and Ryan Braun?    We dug it up for you in today’s episode of The Gregory Polanco Daily Drool.

Most everyone realizes the numbers for Polanco are damn impressive, but just how do they compare?  We were surprised at what we found.

Gregory Polanco career minor league stats from Baseball Reference.

Barry Bonds hit 16 homers in his 1986 rookie season with a .746 OPS.  Bonds hit pretty well in Triple-A Hawaii of the Pacific Coast League, but not like Polanco is doing right now.  Bonds came up after 186 plate appearances in AAA Hawaii, Polanco now sits at 190 plate appearances.  It’s insane to compare the two players, but people have called us worse names before.  It seemed like a good idea to get Bonds to the bigs so the team could prepare for their eventual heart breaking losses to the Atlanta Braves.

In 2009, Andrew McCutchen got the call to Pittsburgh after gold glover Nate McLouth was traded to those hated Atlanta Braves.  The trade sent the Pittsburgh faithful into a frenzy, but at the time it was our dream come true.

Look at McCutchen’s final season in Indianapolis and you will see Cutch didn’t produce like Polanco is doing right now.

Cutch spent three years at AAA and in his final year, he had 99 total bases in 219 plate appearances before joining that awful ’09 Pirates club.  The crazy thing is that Polanco hasn’t even been in Triple-A for a complete year yet, and he has 101 total bases in 181 plate appearances.

One fact that GM Neal Huntington is correct about is that when he did arrive, McCutchen was ready to provide a significant impact.  The first year numbers from Cutch were significant and the Pittsburgh faithful never missed McLouth.

A player that was in a similar situation to Polanco is Ryan Braun.  The Brewers slugger put up monster numbers his final season in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.

Ryan Braun minor league numbers

The Brewers fifth overall pick out of Miami in 2005 tore AAA apart, even more so than Polanco is doing at Indianapolis.   When he was called to the big leagues, he didn’t slow down.  Braun ended up the rookie of the year in 2007.  Braun had made just 134 plate appearances in AAA. In this excellent post Kyle Lobner of Brew Crew Ball did a great job at looking at how teams screw themselves with the arbitration clock.

"But with that said, if the Brewers have prospects that are ready and the team would be better off by having them on the roster, then they should be here and the team can cross 2012’s arbitration bridge when they come to it."

What Braun did in 2007 was tremendous.  The Brewers saw that Braun was producing and also realized that the players they had blocking him were awful.  The Pirates sent Nate McLouth packing to Atlanta and got Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke in a package deal that cleared the way for McCutchen. The challenge for the Pirates is that the mostly hollow numbers they are receiving from right field seems to satisfy them.

The Pirates tried to sign Polanco in spring training and word leaked that Jose Tabata and Travis Snider were on the block.   Polanco said no thanks and the Bucs have been stuck with Tabata, Snider and recently Josh Harrison trying to deliver from the right field spot in the Bucs lineup.  They haven’t been awful like the Brewers players blocking Braun in 2007, but none of them should have delayed Polanco’s arrival.  In their last ten games, Snider is hitting .211 while Tabata has put up a .303 average and Harrison is hitting at a .370 clip and on the season is at an .881OPS.

But in the end, everyone knows the only thing delaying Polanco’s arrival is money.

What Polanco will do in 2014 is anyone’s guess, but it certainly won’t match Braun as there simply isn’t enough season left to do so.    The only question we have is like we wrote yesterday, how many games under .500 will the Bucs be when Polanco finally does arrive and how will that pressure impact the young talent.