Seems like I've heard Wily Mo compared to Sosa a lot recently, so I was curious to see whether the comparison was actually valid or if it was just based on their national origins and superficial physical similarity (WMP is actually bigger I think). Here are their stats from Baseball Reference:
I'm no sabermetrics guy, and I'd be interested in what that sort of analysis would reveal in this comparison, but to me the numbers look strikingly similar. The two players were about the same age when they broke into the majors--Sammy was 21 when he broke in with the White Sox in 1989, and our boy Mo was 20 when he started, 21 when he actually got significant playing time with the Reds.
Their 21-year old seasons (1989 for Sosa, 2003 for Mo) actually quite resemble one another. As I read it, they were both basically flailing at everything and not hitting much of it. The big difference seems to be that Mo's first 1,000 at-bats have been more exaggerated in two key respects: power and strikeouts. He does more of both! This might be a result of playing in GAB's modest dimensions, or it might be because Sammy was playing in the old White Sox field, which was reputedly a bit cavernous (I actually don't know if this is true). In any case, Mo seems to be both less disciplined and more powerful than Sammy at the same age (these two are also probably related--he swings harder more of the time). I guess from this perspective, WMP has both more upside AND more downside than Sammy.
What really strikes me beyond this is the way that Sammy's OBP and SLG begin to creep up through the first few years, clearly indicating that he has begun to 'figure it all out'. I think looking at his 1993 stats show that he major league pitching was less often fooling him in his fifth season. In any case, he had definitely become a force by the magical age of 26, when he posted career highs in nearly every category.
What should we take from this? Well, I think if this comparison is true (and the stats at least say it is no unfounded), then management should be careful when it considers trading Pena this year. As the first year he gets a full season of at-bats, 2006 may feature some struggles--but I think that by the end of the year we'll probably see something resembling Sosa's fifth year--maybe with a few more strikeouts and a few more homers. And we all know what happened when Sammy hit 30... scary.
My projections for Wily Mo in 2006, if healthy:
35 HR, 105 RBI, 160 SO, .255 BA
Get ready Cincinnati: we could have the best feast-or-famine superstar (and the best trade bait for young AL pitching) since Adam Dunn!