The word “doppelganger” might be a little strong here, but it is true that for the New York Mets and all over baseball, players on different MLB teams sometimes resemble each other. No two players are ever created exactly equal, but baseball players often fit into certain “molds” or “profiles” that tend to be replicated throughout the league.
There are plenty of MLB players across different teams that are similar in name only. Take Will Smith, the Los Angeles Dodgers catcher, and Will Smith, the Atlanta Braves reliever. One homered off the other in the postseason last year (I’ll let you figure out who did what). There are also two MLB relievers named Josh Smith, both of whom were on the Miami Marlins at the same time in 2020.
Besides just with their names, baseball players can evoke each other with their appearance, pitching arsenal, and defensive prowess, among other things. Here are three player pairs, one Mets and one non-Mets player, that I think on the surface profile similarly. I look forward to seeing how alike these players really are after doing some digging.
Mets/non-Mets matchup: Noah Syndergaard and Tyler Glasnow
When I think about “right-handed power pitchers” (besides Jacob deGrom) with plus-velocity on all of their pitches and devastating strikeout-worthy stuff, these two pitchers come to mind. Noah Syndergaard has a better overall track record than Tyler Glasnow, with one more season in the league and a career ERA that is over a run lower than Glasnow’s. Though I love the ERA statistic as much as the next person, their overall career ERAs do not tell the whole story when examining the similarities between these two pitchers.
Both of them came into the league throwing over 95 mph with ease, and with a plus curveball to boot. Syndergaard has since become more of a mixed bag with his pitches, weaving in sinkers, changeups, and sliders much more as his career has progressed. Glasnow sticks more to a fastball/curveball mix with the occasional changeup thrown in, and in 2021 he has begun experimenting with a slider/cutter combo that he has dubbed “the slutter.”
In 2019, the two were near the top of several velocity-related pitching leaderboards, with the caveat that Glasnow’s season was shortened due to injury. In average fastball velocity across all pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched, Syndergaard’s 97.8 mph ranked 4th, while Glasnow’s 96.9 mph was tied for 14th. In changeup velocity within that same group of pitchers, Glasnow ranked #1 in all of baseball with an average changeup of 92.6 mph, while Syndergaard ranked sixth with a 91.1 mph changeup.
Something else interesting to note is that both Glasnow and Syndergaard have pitched much better during the day than at night during their careers. Their career ERAs are both at least two-thirds of a run lower in day starts than night starts — Syndergaard’s night ERA is 3.59 vs. a 2.77 mark in day starts, for a 0.82 run difference, while Glasnow’s night and day ERAs are 4.50 and 3.84, respectively, for a 0.66 run difference. Perhaps in the future, one of them will snatch the “Sunshine Superman” nickname away from deGrom, who currently sports a 1.88 career ERA in day games.
Glasnow and Syndergaard have also been frequently featured by Rob Friedman, aka “Pitching Ninja,” on Twitter.
Aside from those statistical similarities, both starters have several intangibles in common. They are tall, imposing, right-handed presences on the mound, Glasnow standing at 6-foot-8 and Syndergaard at 6-foot-6. They were both traded away from the team that drafted them, and both have pitched in one World Series in their careers. Of course, they also both have notably fantastic hair. Despite their outstanding pitching arsenals, neither pitcher has come super close to winning a Cy Young award, though Syndergaard knocked on the door by finishing 8th in the 2016 NL Cy Young voting.
I think of Glasnow as similar in potential dominance to Syndergaard, but with less pinpoint control (his career walk rate of 4.1 BB/9 is nearly double Syndergaard’s career mark of 2.1 BB/9). It’s hard to come up with a true counterpart to Thor elsewhere in MLB, but these two pitchers are similar enough that examining their careers side-by-side is, at the very least, a fun exercise in going down baseball-related rabbit holes.