Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 3/26/12

From this morning's season preview of the Arizona Diamondbacks...

Burning Question
Who is a better comparison for Paul Goldschmidt: Ryan Howard, or Mark Reynolds?

These three players share two similar traits: a lot of power, and a lot of strikeouts. Reynolds and Howard are both abysmal defenders, while the jury is still out on Goldschmidt after only 48 games. When the Diamondbacks dumped Reynolds off on the Orioles last offseason, the team felt as if a weight was lifted from their shoulders, with his oodles of strikeouts and terrible defense banished from the team. Then, they brought up Goldschmidt near the end of the season, and it felt as if the noose was back around Arizona's neck.

But Goldschmidt's extremes aren't nearly as bad as Reynolds' extremes. Goldschmidt has 83 career homers in 315 minor league games, and added eight in his 48 games in the majors. His ISO numbers were in the .300 range in those three minor league seasons, while his ISO was just .224 in the majors. While his strikeout rate was a hair under 30% in the majors, his minor league high was 26.9%.

On the other hand, there's Reynolds. Over two seasons and just 143 games in the minors, he homered 37 times with an ISO that declined at each level he was at, finishing at .231 in 37 games at AA in 2007. Like Goldschmidt though, Reynolds didn't show an extreme strikeout tendency, with a minor league high of 29.1%. In the majors, Reynolds hasn't finished with a strikeout rate under 30%, but also has an ISO above .200 (.246 career, .284 career high).

Then, there's Ryan Howard. In his major league career, he has a career 27.4% strikeout rate, but has finished above 30% just once (2007, 30.7%). Early in his career, his ISO was astrominical (topping out at .346 in his 2006 MVP season), but it's declined as he's aged, with values of .229 and .235 in the last two seasons. His career ISO is .285. While a minor leaguer, Howard's career ISO was .250 (with a high of .350 in 2004 with Reading). His career minor league strikeout rate is 26.8%, and he never topped 30% (despite coming very close in 2004 with Reading at 29.7%).

What does this tell us? Well....not much. Looking at the raw numbers, I'm not sure if Reynolds or Howard is a very fair comparison for Goldschmidt. He had more power in the majors than Reynolds (but less than Howard), and struck out less than both him and Howard. It's worth nothing that Howard made his major league debut at age 24, and became a regular at age 25. Reynolds and Goldschmidt both debuted and became regulars at 23 (though both debuted just before turning 24). Howard had more than 2000 career minor league plate appearances, while Goldschmidt had under 1400 and Reynolds had just around 600. Howard's extra seasoning probably helped refine his game more than Reynolds, who was pushed to the majors quickly as a college draftee. 

Goldschmidt falls between the two of them. I don't think he'll be as strikeout happy as Reynolds, or as much of a masher as Howard. I think he'll settle in between the two of them, and there's nothing wrong with a guy who hits 30-35 homers while striking out 160-180 times. 

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This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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