Comparing the Pros to the Kids

Backyard Baseball is the game that launched many millennials into the world of sports. More importantly, it helped children bridge the gap between underlying intangibles and performance metrics. Even if Pablo Sanchez had an 0-10 start to the season it would be ok because you know things will turn around, he is and will always be the best in the game.

When Haugbro joined the league and changed the team name of “Ender her Gregoriously” to the iconic “Humongous Melonheads”, it got me reminiscing about my childhood. Unfortunately, the next generation of sports students will not be able to “play with the pros as kids”. So the point of this post is to objectively use statistics to compare each Backyard kid to a current pro. Here are the rules:

  1. I used Backyard Sports 2001 (the best version)
  2. For the purposes of this, I ignored the pitching statistic
  3. Time range: 2016 – 2017 YTD
  4. Fangraphs stats used – Batting, Spd, Fielding (all found here)
  5. I Used Spd instead of BaseRunning because Spd also helps while fielding
  6. I ignored Bryce Harper, due to his injury plagued 2016
  7. If two backyard players had the same major league player, the one with the highest compatibility percentage won
  8. The compatability ranking is how accurate the comparison is

So let’s all have a schoolyard pick’em, head out to Parks Department Field #2, and listen to Sunny Day as she take us down memory lane and we compare modern day MLB players with the most iconic game of many of our childhoods.

Pablo Sanchez – Mookie Betts (94.2% compatibility)

Let us take a second to marvel at the greatness that is Pablo Sanchez. This is the lowest compatibility percentage of all players in this list, as nobody MLB player can compare to the “Secret Weapon”. He is the very top player with the bat and the leather and he doesn’t run despacito. He can’t speak a lick of English, but the closest we can get to the best all around player in the MLB today is Mookie Betts.

Pete Wheeler – Starling Marte (94.7% compatability)

Pete Wheeler has top speed, a plus bat, and above average fielding. Even though he looks like he’s constantly in a state of falling, this kid can flat out fly. While this compares favorably to Starling Marte, there is no word on whether Wheeler has been caught taking any drugs. Maybe some prescription ones might actually help.

Kiesha Phillips – Mike Trout (97.8% compatability)

The only other player who has a 9+ bat and speed besides Pablo, Kiesha Phillips compares favorably to the best player in today’s game, Mike Trout. Even though she is the size of a left tackle, Kiesha has that sneaky type of speed. Despite that, Keisha’s mid-tier defense makes her the Mike Trout of the backyard. Much like Trout, Kiesha strikes fear into her opponents just by standing at the plate.

Annie Frazier – Freddie Freeman (99.3% compatability)

Despite the sneaky power and speed, Annie Frazier with her sandals and rainbow shirt may not have been the first player you looked at. However, those who stuck with her were no doubt rewarded. “Flipper” and Freeman are both left-handed power bats that can anchor the middle of the lineup.

Jocinda Smith – Kris Bryant (94.9% compatability)

Despite being an odd choice for the player in the opening cinematic, Jocinda has incredible power and plus fielding. The cockiest 12 year old on the block with the self-given nickname “MVP”, Jocinda and Bryant may both be the faces of their sport (despite Keisha and Trout being much better). Jocinda and Bryant both also look much older than what the back of the baseball card says (Jocinda is at least 17, let’s get some proof).

Achmed Khan – Josh Donaldson (97.6% compatability)

There is no doubt that Achmed Khan is rocking out under those 1980’s headphones that still refuse to be connected to anything but a CD player. Best guesses as to what he’s actually listening to range from Slipknot to Motley Crue. That sounds like the type of punk/headsmashing music that Donaldson would psych himself up with before stepping to the plate.

Stephanie Morgan – Anthony Rendon (99.8% compatability)

Stephanie Morgan’s stats are fairly average. In fact, her best position is probably goalie on the soccer pitch. She chirps at other players like a drunken sailor and goes through bubble gum like Keisha goes through shirt sizes (Backyard Football says 3XL). Not sure how any of this compares to Anthony Rendon, but at least the mid-tier stats add up.

Sally Dobbs – Corey Seager (99.9% compatability)

Sally Dobbs, jack of all trades and “The Boss” of none. One of the more forgettable players in the game (the creators seriously must have tried to make the most unspectacular character ever), Dobbs and Seager are B to B+ at almost everything. Serviceable, but sometimes you would rather just draft the super tall kid with toothpicks as legs to see what will happen. Speaking of which…

Ernie Steele – Dustin Pedroia (98.4% compatability)

Steele’s a master of the leather. He is someone who can rob a home run just by standing in front of the right field hedge at Eckman Acres. He had a natural advantage while playing at Steele Stadium (the best field) and doesn’t have the age questions surrounding his greatness like Jocinda does. Remarkably the same height as Pedroia at age 13, Ernie only weighs 97 lbs.

Mikey Thomas – Miguel Cabrera (96.1% compatability)

I’m excited about this one for multiple reasons. First, Mikey in Spanish is Miguel. Second, these two players actually look alike (seriously, look it up). Thomas was one of those players you drafted only because you needed some power and only had him and Ronny Dobbs left. You would shove him in right field and hope it doesn’t come back to bite you. The other consideration was trying to figure out what was going on with “Nugget’s” nose. Did he always have a cold? Year-round alergies? Deviated septum? Whatever the reason, it was disgusting thinking about the other kids sharing a bat with him.

Luanne Lui – Trea Turner (99.6% compatability)

Luanne has been running around with her teddy bear for the last 16 years. With all of the dirt, grass, and sweat, that thing must be disgusting by now. Maybe that teddy does hamper her fielding just a bit. To be fair “Lulu” is more of a pitcher, but the top speed, plus bat, and minus speed makes her like Trea “the burner” Turner.

Vicki Kawaguchi – Billy Hamilton (97.3% compatability)

Vicki is the worst hitter in the game. It’s like her parents tricked her into showing up at the baseball field by telling her that she was really going to dance lessons. What she (severely) lacks in batting, Kawaguchi makes up with the top glove and ++ running. It’s almost as if her legs work extra well to make up for her brother’s lack of legs (ok he has legs, they just don’t work). The comparison to Billy Hamilton is almost uncanny (minus the tutu).

Dante Robinson – Byron Buxton (99.8% compatability)

Let’s get one thing straight, Dante can’t really hit the ball. The rest of the tools scream “good prospect” but the bat has just never developed in the Backyard League. His walk-up animation was the reason draft Dante, as you never knew what food was hiding in his large afro. While Buxton doesn’t quite have the appetite of Robinson, the plus speed and glove make this one check out.

Maria Luna – George Springer (99.7% compatability)

Maria Luna is pretty unspectacular. It’s almost like the game designers needed an extra character and decided to clone Luanne Lui and change her ethnicity. She is average at everything, much like a poor man’s Stephanie Morgan. I guess that means that George Springer is a poor man’s Anthony Rendon?

Tony Delvecchio – Brandon Belt (99.8% compatability)

Let’s face it, the main reason why Tony was picked for most teams was the hair, the tee, and the lollipop. He probably smoked a cigar between innings while calling his Uncle in the Bronx to discuss “the family business”. While Belt isn’t as flashy (or flashy at all, really), both players represent a plus bat and glove while being above average running around the base paths.

Reese Worthington – Travis Janikowski (99.8% compatability)

Reese is one of the smaller boys available in the Backyard League. With a below average bat and only above average wheels and glove, he seems to be more of a bench player than everyday starter. The origin of the nickname “Big Toe” is thankfully a mystery, but one can wonder how big that toe actually is. The lack of power makes every stadium look like Tin Can Alley (no home runs there), much like Janikowski’s home field of Petco Park.

Jorge Garcia – Nelson Cruz (99.7% compatability)

Jorge Garcia was one of the most annoying player in the game. Everything he said just reeked of pompousness yet he still couldn’t play baseball. Jorge was the kid whose dad paid for five baseball lessons a week to fulfill some sort of misplaced desire to make his kid live out the life of a major leaguer. Except Jorge was never good enough to make it that far. He had a decent stick, but the running and fielding suffered most likely due to restrictive movement by his “expensive trousers”. By the way, Jorge’s swing is absolutely ridiculous and needs to be exterminated from the league. Nelson’s power and lack of speed and fielding make this one work.

Dmitri Petrovich – Daniel Murphy (99.8% compatability)

No doubt about it, “Paste” with his pocket protector is the biggest nerd in the game. He was the kid who obsessed over launch angles and exit velocity and would constantly retool his swing.Somewhat like Daniel Murphy did in the 2nd half of 2015. Dmitri’s strong legs were useful in both soccer and football, yet he always seemed misplace out there in the field. Maybe this comparison is better than I thought.

Billy Jean Blackwood – Joey Votto (99.7% compatability)

Potentially related to Marky Dubois (below), Billy Jean Blackwood and her bell bottom jeans have some sneaky power to them. This ole country bumpkin must have some great genes (get it??? Billy Jean, bell bottom jeans, genes) because she rivals Ernie as tallest player in the Backyard League. Not sure if she can take a walk Votto, but she would have some pretty good range at 1B because of her “crazy legs”, despite her dropping most balls that come her way.

Lisa Crocket – Tyler Naquin (99.9% compatability)

The Backyard League doesn’t do any favors to people with glasses. This is the 3rd (and final) kid with glasses and each one dresses nerdy, acts nerdy, and says nerdy things. With plus speed but below average fielding and bat, Lisa Crocket is a very raw prospect at this stage in her career. She is still practicing her inside the park homerun, which is honestly the only thing I know about Tyler Naquin.

Amir Khan – Yoenis Cespedes (99.6% compatability)

Amir’s bat doesn’t compare favorably to his brothers, but he still has above average power and speed (despite the below average fielding). I would even say that the arm is pretty on point as a comparison to Cespedes too (even though it was not measured). Maybe skinny little brother Amir will be compared to skinny little brother Yoelkis Cespedes in the future.

Marky Dubois – Adrian Beltre (98.0% compatability)

When mentioned, most people don’t know who Marks Dubois is, so you have to follow it up with “the kid with the frog” and everyone automatically remembers. Dubois represents a grotesque interpretation of the lower half of the United States, which is probably the reason we will never get a backyard game again. Seriously, a game today could never represent a boy who looks like the product of two cousins and a large sheet of denim (Dan Straily). Dubois is not a great baseball player, probably because he grew up playing in the local bog and having to hand craft all of his equipment. In fact, this is all pretty insulating to Adrian Beltre to be compared to the frog boy.

Ronny Dobbs – Matt Carpenter (99.4% compatibility)

Ronny Dobbs, the baked potato with a neck. He’s one of the worst fielders in the game and doesn’t really pack enough with his bat or feet to ever warrant being drafted. His slight stature even made him difficult to see while he was sitting on the bleachers waiting for his turn to not be drafted. Any grown man being compared to Ronny Dobbs is insulting, but maybe if Matt Carpenter wanted to be compared to someone better he would actually hit and field better.

Kenny Kawaguchi – Gregor Blanco (99.8% compatibility)

Look, Kenny wasn’t the best player in the game by any measure. However, the fact that he was able to play without the use of his legs was both equally impressive and illegal. To see that chair come rumbling down the line directly towards the first baseman’s ankle lead to plenty of potentially ugly scenarios. In today’s day and age that thing would probably be motorized and Kenny would look like he had a rocket strapped to him. Pete Wheeler with wheels. Until then, he’s just Gregor Blanco.

Ashley Weber – Nick Castellanos (99.9% compatibility)

Sidney Webber – Aledmys Diaz (99.8% compatibility)

Ashley and Sidney Webber get one post together. Nobody can tell the difference between the two twins and neither are good enough to warrant anyone caring. I do wonder about whether the twins would have some sort of super twin power if they were ever on the same team. They get matched with two players on the left side of the diamond with average bats and speed with terrible gloves.

Ricky Johnson – Alcides Escobar (98.7% compatibility)

Ricky is the worst hitter in the game. You would think that a boy who is that tall would be able to pack a bigger punch than Gretchen Hasselhoff at the plate, but guess again! With plus speed and below average fielding, “Fella” compares favorably to the worst qualified hitter in the MLB, Alcides Escobar.

Gretchen Hasselhoff – Ben Revere (99.2% compatibility)

Gretchen is not nearly as good in the Backyard League as her father was in Knight Rider or Baywatch. She has plus speed but below average fielding and atrocious hitting. She has a mouth like Stephanie Morgan, but is always encouraging to her teammates and opponents. Her wheels definitely help her get on base, but she compares to oft-injured CF Ben Revere.

Angela Delvecchio – J.D. Martinez (96.3% compatibility)

This almost isn’t fair because Tony’s younger sister is really the Clayton Kershaw of the league. However, her bat does hold it’s own (if you can find a place to hide her on the field). It’s almost as if she doesn’t bring a glove to the stadium. Andrew McCutchen was actually the worst fielder, but J.D. was a very close second (and compared better to Delvecchio’s hitting and running stats).

Kimmy Eckman – Tyler Flowers (99.6% compatibility)

Kimmy Eckman is statistically the worst player in the Backyard League. This may explain why she was discontinued after the 2006 version of the game. She doesn’t do anything well, so there really has never been a reason to draft her. Maybe she would be decent at pitch framing? Maybe the game developers would be more kind to her then. That is the only thing keeping Tyler Flowers in the league after all.

In the great words of Vinny the Gooch “Aloha means goodbye, baby.”

All Backyard pictures from


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