Like Father Like Son

Young boys often look up to their fathers while growing up.  A lot of time they want to be just like their old man.  Even when that means being a Major League baseball player.  While this is expected, very few actually can make it to the big leagues like their dads, and if they do, they may not make much of an impact.  A study by the NCAA showed that the odds of a high school kid playing baseball going on to play in the Majors is 0.015%.  Now considering that fact, think of how rare it must be for TWO players to make it in the same family.  Today you can see a few examples, and we will look at some notable ones this season and if the father or son with end up having the better career.

Travis Shaw and Jeff Shaw:

Maybe its because we are in the moment, but people may have forgotten that Travis’s dad, Jeff Shaw, played 12 seasons in the MLB amassing a 6.7 career Fangraphs WAR.  Jeff was highly regarded coming


out of high school.  1986 was the last time there was a separate amateur draft and Jeff was the first selection that year.  He was a two time All-Star including his final year in 2001 where he saved 43 games.  He ended his career with a 3.54 ERA but a 4.09 FIP.  Despite being an All-Star, he decided to retire at the end of the season to spend more time with family.  About a decade an a half later Travis broke into the MLB.  Currently, Travis has blown by his dad with a career WAR of 9.8 with many more years to play.  Shaw started his career in Boston before being traded to the Brewers in the 2016 offseason.  The Red Sox really were high on Shaw as they first drafted him in the 32nd round of the 2008 draft but Shaw did not sign.  In 2009 the Red Sox again took him but this time in the 9th round, where Shaw then signed.  Shaw is now heading into his age 29 season.  An estimate of playing 6 more seasons with an average WAR of 2 for those seasons would put him at a career 15.8 WAR.  Combined with his dad puts them at above a 21 WAR.

Bo Bichette and Dante Bichette:

Bo is currently the 11th best prospect according to MLB Pipeline.  As a middle infielder, he has progressed quickly in the minors showing the ability to swipe bases and hit for a high average.  While scouts rank his raw power as a 60, he has not shown the ability to transfer that into the games.  He


spreads the ball around hitting to the opposite field over 40% of the time the past two seasons.  His FB% has increased slightly each of the past three seasons.  One could project that while continuing to hit fly balls and maybe an adjustment to pull the ball more, he could hit for around 20 home runs in the big leagues someday.  That, along with his speed, make him a real 20/20 threat each season and the reason he is a top prospect in all of baseball.  How was his old man?  Dante Bichette played 13 MLB seasons amassing an 8.9 WAR throughout his career.  Dante was an outfielder who had a great bat and decent speed but was an AWFUL defender.  To put it in perspective, he had a 30/30 season in 1996 and only had WAR of 0.9 on the season!  His offense, however, was really good.  He had 7 straight seasons where he hit over 20 home runs and over 100 RBIs.  Throughout his career, he had a 104 wRC+.  While Bo may not have the same power his dad had, a 30/30 season is somewhat of a ceiling for Bo.  Assuming that Bo plays better defense than his dad (hard to be worse), Bo should easily pass his dad’s career WAR within his first 5 years in the league.  It is unfortunate that Dante played most of his career in the NL when he was custom made for a DH position.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Vladimir Guerrero:

This is a big one.  This duo could be the best father-son duo in baseball since Bobby and Barry Bonds.  It seemed hard to believe that Hall of Famer Vlad Sr. could have a son who might be considered BETTER than him.  Many people believe this could be true.  Vlad Jr. is the number one ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline and it isn’t even close.  Literally, Blue Jays fans paid more attention to this kid than they did the pro team last season.  He has a future value of 70 according to Fangraphs while maxing out at raw power receiving an 80 grade.  It is very rare to receive the max grade of 80 in any category.  Let’s take a look at his dad’s numbers to see what Vlad Jr. is up against.

Vlad Sr. put up a 54.6 Fangraphs WAR throughout his 15 MLB seasons.  Everyone is pretty aware of what Vlad was known for.  1) Not wearing batting gloves, and 2) hitting EVERYTHING:

His career contact rate is 81% and his career outside the zone contact rate is 72.6%.  Others have had high contact rates like this, however, they did not hit with the overall quality that Vlad did making him a Hall of Fame ballplayer.  Now, what is Vlad Jr. up to?  As mentioned before, Vlad Jr. has a pretty impressive scouting report that is making people think he is already better than his dad. Currently, through his first three seasons in the minors, Vlad Jr. is walking more than he is striking out while also putting up a wRC+ in the upper 100s and displaying power.  Vlad Jr. is the kind of player who could be a 30/20 player for multiple seasons.  He has a strong arm, but projects to be an average fielder at 3B.  His dad was never a great defender either making them about equal in that regard.  While it is difficult to say Vlad Jr. will be better than his dad when all said and done before we have seen him take a pitch in the big leagues, it is hard to deny his ceiling is way higher.

These are just three cases of the many out there. Other current players whose dads have played pro ball include Dee Gordon, Robinson Cano, Cam Bedrosian, and Eric Young Jr.


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