Chavez vs. Bonds

The Baseball Savant gets carried away with Eric Chavez, comparing his numbers through age 26 to Barry Bonds:

The only real difference between the two at this point is that Bonds was showing a greater degree of plate discipline at this early stage than is Chavez. On the other hand, Chavez is showing much more power than Bonds at this point.

Link via Pinto. Of course, Bonds through age 26 had won back-to-back MVP awards; Chavez has never placed in the top 10 in the balloting. That’s because the offensive context Chavez plays in is radically different; for example, the rough measure of OPS+ shows Chavez at 131, 122, 132 and 132 the past four years, compared to 147, 125, 170 and 161 for Bonds.
Even if you ignore context, though, the comparison doesn’t hold. Chavez missed 37 games to injury last season, something that didn’t happen to Bonds until he was 34. And the comparison totally overlooks a factor of great significance in projecting player development: speed. Chavez has stolen 14 bases and grounded into 35 double plays the past two years, compared to 97 steals and 16 GIDP for Bonds at the same age. (As to the plate discipline, Chavez has drawn 90+ walks once; Bonds had done it three years running). Even with just the raw numbers, you could see several reasons why Chavez’ future as a hitter – even ignoring the post-2000 Bonds surge, which is entirely without precedent – shouldn’t be compared to Barry Bonds.