The second installment of my “Reimagining the 1987 draft” series is up at Hardball Times. In our alternate reality, the Padres don’t take Texas right-hander Kevin Garner with the 10th pick overall, choosing instead Florida high schooler Travis Fryman.
In this scenario, Fryman would have been the Padres’ third baseman during the Ken Caminiti years (Cammy never gets traded to San Diego because Steve Finley is with the White Sox, not the Astros). In a fun coincidence, Fryman’s most similar player according to Baseball-Reference is… you guessed it, Caminiti.
On the not-so-fun side, Caminiti was a much better player during his Padres tenure than Fryman was during that same stretch:
Player PA BA OBP SLG OPS+ WAR Fryman 2593 .276 .335 .447 100 12.1 Caminiti 2351 .295 .384 .540 146 18.6
I touch a bit on the Caminiti/Fryman comparison in the article and also marvel at the idea of Fryman and Gary Sheffield on the left side of the infield in ’92. One comparison I didn’t make but which strikes me as interesting is that between Fryman (who came up as a shortstop) and Khalil Greene. Here are their numbers through age 27 (per 162 games):
Player AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K BA OBP SLG OPS+ Fryman 637 89 175 35 5 22 100 60 141 .274 .336 .445 107 Greene 587 80 150 40 4 22 86 45 123 .254 .312 .444 102
Fryman moved off shortstop at age 24 and was flawed as a hitter in many of the same ways as Greene, albeit to a lesser degree. Fryman also didn’t have, as far as I know, personal issues that kept him from fulfilling his potential.
It’s not much of a stretch to say that Fryman is the player we hoped Greene would become. Then again, given the Padres’ poor track record in terms of developing young infielders, maybe Fryman wouldn’t have enjoyed the career he had. Or maybe the Padres would have traded him for that era’s equivalent of Brian Buchanan, say, Mike Simms?
Just a little something fun to ponder while we wait for this year’s Padres to snap out of their current funk. If you like geeking out on what might have been, read the article.