In sports, we love to make comparisons. Comparisons are important for two reasons: they help us gain a better understanding of what we are seeing, and they help us project future success. Some comparisons are rooted in race and skin color (see Dirk Nowitzki and Larry Bird), while others are based on skills and physical appearance. It’s the second type of comparison that is valuable when evaluating talent for future success. In other words, in order to believe a player will be successful as a pro, it’s helpful to have seen someone similar who has already had success.
That brings us to UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer.
Trevor Bauer is an eccentric character who has been wildly successful for UCLA this season. He had one of the best seasons ever by a college pitcher, posting numbers comparable to Mark Prior, Stephen Strasburg, Jered Weaver, and David Price.
But there are a few drawbacks to Bauer.
Bauer is somewhat of an odd ball — he’s a guy who hasn’t changed his hat since joining UCLA as a freshman (check out a picture of it), he defies convention with his long-tossing, and he likes to complete games even if it means throwing over 130 pitches per start. The Post Game at Yahoo! Sports had an excellent write-up on Bauer that gives you an excellent look at him as a player, and I highly recommend the read. Bauer is also young, skinny, and lacking the bulky build scouts like to see in a pitcher. That raises some concerns about his durability.
But thanks to the success of Tim Lincecum, more scouts and teams are able to envision success at the Major League level for Bauer.
Bauer, as previously stated, has a similar physique to Lincecum (even if he is taller at 6’2″). Bauer is also eccentric, similar to Lincecum. His pitching motion is extremely similar to Lincecum’s as well; Bauer rocks back like Lincecum, curls his body up, and then uncoils with a large stride that catapults his arm forward, just like Lincecum (see video of him below). Even Bauer has stated his model is Tim Lincecum. But until there was a Tim Lincecum, you would have had scouts questioning Bauer’s build, diminutive stature, and ability to hold up over the course of a season. Now, after seeing Lincecum win two Cy Young Awards and dominate at the Major League level, it’s easy to project similar success for Bauer.
I didn’t need Tim Lincecum in order to believe in Bauer, because I believe in him for another reason. All the pitchers who have posted sub-2.00 ERAs in big-time college baseball (Strasburg, Mike Leake, Lincecum, Weaver, Prior) all had success at the Major League level. Bottom line? If you can dominate that well against college competition, you have the stuff to get out the best hitters in the world. But being similar to Tim Lincecum doesn’t hurt for people who had questions.
Here is a video of Trevor Bauer in action in case you’ve never seen him: