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Most similar players traded for each other

Posted by Andy on December 17, 2010

Following on to our fun with Similarity Scores, reader Rick Jennings wrote in with the following trivia question:

Name a player who was traded for his own most-similar player.

Click through for the answer, or see if you can come up with it on your own first.

Marquis Grissom's most similar 10 players:

  1. Devon White (904)
  2. Amos Otis (903)
  3. Cesar Cedeno (888)
  4. Willie Davis (879)
  5. Jose Cruz (874)
  6. Gary Matthews (873)
  7. Felipe Alou (866)
  8. Chet Lemon (864)
  9. B.J. Surhoff (859)
  10. Dusty Baker (857)

And, from Grissom's transaction register:

February 24, 2001: Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers with a player to be named later to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Devon White. The Milwaukee Brewerssent Ruddy Lugo (June 1, 2001) to the Los Angeles Dodgers to complete the trade.

There you have it--Devon White, the player most similar to Grissom, was on the other side of a 2001 trade for Grissom. Incidentally, Grissom is only #4 on White's most-similar players list, with Amos Otis taking the top spot.

Thanks to Rick for this neat find. I spent a bunch of time trying to find other examples but couldn't. Can you come up with any others? I'd even accept players appearing anywhere in the 10 most similar (career-wise).

47 Responses to “Most similar players traded for each other”

  1. Jim Leefers Says:

    I would say Harry Chiti was traded for the player most similar to himself in April 1962 when the Mets traded him to the Indians for a player to be named. The Indians returned Chiti in June to complete the deal.

  2. steven Says:

    How about Bob Uecker for Pat Corrales? Bill White and Dick Groat were throw-ins from the Cards to the Phils in that 1965 transaction, while Alex Johnson and Art Mahaffey joined Corrales in St. louis.

  3. REMPART Says:

    Does anyone know the weights for the single season pitcher similarity scores uses in his Baseball Handbook to check his projections?

  4. Jeff Trotter Says:

    I'm gonna keep digging on this over the next few days, but I do have one that sort of works.

    In May of 1998, Todd Zeile was part of a mega-deal that sent him and Mike Piazza from the Dodgers to the Marlins in exchange for Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Jim Eisenreich and Bobby Bonilla.

    Bonilla is listed at the 9th most similar player to Zeile. Zeile does not appear on Bonilla's list.

    So this only works on one player and it took a multi-player deal of established guys to make it happen. It's not perfect, but I wanted to give myself a success of sorts to keep me motivated.

  5. Library Dave Says:

    In 1993, Dan Miceli was traded as part of a deal for Stan Belinda, who shows up at #9 in his most similar list.

    And in the "close, but no cigar" category, we have Jeff Parrett, whose #4 most similar is Dale Murray, but was traded for Dale Murphy.

  6. Jeff Trotter Says:

    Got one that really works. In 1992, the Twins traded prospect Denny Neagle to Pittsburgh for John Smiley.

    Smiley is 6th on Denny Neagle's list. Neagle is 9th on Smiley's.

    This may not be quite what the spirit of the list is about as Neagle ended up similar to Smiley rather than being similar when they were swapped for each other, but it does work.

  7. Andy Says:

    Jeff, nicely done. I forgot to put in my original post that I suspected the prospect-for-veteran trade would likely be the best way to make this work, as its fairly rare for players with similar stats at the same position to be traded for each other, and the Sim Score algorithm favors guys who play the same position.

    If guys were at similar points in their careers, it would look like what Rob Neyer calls a "challenge trade" of guys who play the same position.

  8. Jeff Trotter Says:

    Rick Auerbach and the great Mario Mendoza were swapped as parts of a multi-player deal between Texas and Seattle in 1980. Each appears on the list of the other.

    Last trade I'll use where you really can't call it a swap of one guy for another.

  9. w.k. kortas Says:

    The Giants and Cards made a trade in '32 which sent Gus Mancuso to the Cards and Bob O' Farrell to the Giants; O' Farrell is #6 on Mancuso's comp list, while Mancuso is #1 on O' Farrell's

  10. Jeff Trotter Says:

    In 2002 Guillermo Mota went from the Expos to the Dodgers. The Expos received a pair of minor leaguers, one of whom was Matt Herges.

    Mota does not appear on Herges's list, but Matt is 7th on Mota's.

  11. w.k. kortas Says:

    One more: Whitey Herzog went from KC to Baltimore in '61 in a deal that included Al Pilarcik; Pilarcik is #3 on Whitey's comp list, and he is #1 on Pilarcik's.

  12. Jeff Trotter Says:

    Fall of 1986 the Yankees traded prospects, including Doug Drabek, to the Pirates for Rick Rhoden (coming off an All-Star game appearance that season).

    Drabek is #2 on Rhoden's list. Rhoden is #3 on Drabek's.

  13. Detroit Michael Says:

    Regarding post #1,

    Dickie Noles was traded for himself too. That's pretty clearly not what Andy was asking about, but it's an interesting tangent.

  14. Dvd Avins Says:

    Grissom was also in a trade involving Kenny Lofton, who's not on his list, but they were notably similar and were the same age.

  15. StephenH Says:

    I know this one is a reach, but when Bobby Murcer was traded for Bobby Bonds, they were both 29 years old. And while neither appears on each others most similar list, when you look at Murcer and Bonds most similar players at age 29, Reggie Smith appears on both of their lists. Smith as the most similar to Murcer and 4th most similar to Bonds. In my mind that makes Murcer and Bonds pretty similar.

  16. Alex S Says:

    This isn't quite relevant to the topic, but Jerry Koosman, who made the final out of the 1969 World Series for the NYM was traded by the Mets for Jesse Orosco, who made the final out of the 1986 World Series for the NYM.

  17. StephenH Says:

    June 14, 1956: Red Schoendienst was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals with a player to be named later, Jackie Brandt, Dick Littlefield and Bill Sarni to the New York Giants for Al Dark, Ray Katt, Don Liddle and Whitey Lockman. The St. Louis Cardinals sent Gordon Jones (October 1, 1956) to the New York Giants to complete the trade.

    Al Dark is #8 on Schoendienst's most similar list. Shoendienst does not appear on Dark's most similar list.

    appearing on both player's most similar list are: Grudlielanek (1 for Dark, 10 for Red), Dick Bartell (3 for Dark, 2 for Red) and Tony Fernandez (2 for Dark, 1 for Red).

  18. StephenH Says:

    Here is one I found trying to find a different trade.. This was under Eddie Stanky's transactions. It appears that Ray Sanders was traded for himself. Although this web site doesn't list him as being with the the Dodgers either in the majors or minors.

    # March 6, 1948: Traded by the Boston Braves with a player to be named later, Bama Rowell and $40,000 to the Brooklyn Dodgers for a player to be named later and Eddie Stanky. The Boston Braves sent $60,000 (April 18, 1948) to the Brooklyn Dodgers to complete the trade. The Brooklyn Dodgers sent Ray Sanders (April 18, 1948) to the Boston Braves to complete the trade.

  19. Andy Patton Says:

    Alex Arias was traded on December 11, 2001 by the Padres with Ben Davis and Wascar Serrano to the Seattle Mariners for Tom Lampkin, Brett Tomko, Ramon Vazquez and cash.

    Ramon Vazquez is second on Alex Arias's list, and Alex Arias appears 4th on Ramon Vazquez's.

    very amazed i found one as quickly as I did, even though other players were included.

  20. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    March 17, 1992: Denny Neagle was traded by the Minnesota Twins with Midre Cummings to the Pittsburgh Pirates for John Smiley.

    Smiley is #6 on Neagle’s sim-score list, and Neagle is #9 on Smiley’s.

  21. steveg44 Says:

    Same Name - Same Game
    On Dec 2 ,1937, Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers made a trade
    with Gee Walker and Dixie Walker changing teams.
    Gee is #3 on Dixie's list and Dixie is #2 on Gee's list

  22. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    Regarding players traded for themselves, current Jays utility infielder John McDonald was also traded for himself as was Brad Gulden.

    Is this a complete list of players traded for themselves?
    Harry Chiti
    Brad Gulden
    Dickie Noles
    John McDonald

  23. Jimbo Says:

    As a Canadian who watched alot of Blue Jays and Expos fans, it's funny to think that statistically White and Grissom were quite similar, when stylistically, they were very different.

    White was left handed, and he was smooth in the field with long strides, and a tall and lean body. Grissom was the opposite of all those things.

  24. Mike Gaber Says:

    All the mentions about "players to be named later" reminds me of Jose Uribe..

    "The ultimate player to be named later"

    In February 1985, Uribe, David Green, Dave LaPoint and Gary Rajsich were dealt to the San Francisco Giants for Jack Clark. Between the time of the initial trade and his delivery, he changed his name from José González Uribe (Uribe is his mother's maiden name; González is his father's name. See Spanish naming customs) to just José Uribe because, as he put it, "There are too many Gonzálezes in baseball!" Thus, he was humorously referred to as "the player to be named later"[1] and sometimes "the ultimate player to be named later"[2], a quote attributed to coach Rocky Bridges.

  25. dodgerdave Says:

    Rick Rhoden and Doug Drabek were traded for each other. Rhoden's similarity score for Drabek is 955.

  26. MrBryan Says:

    Clint Courtney was also traded for himself.

  27. Mr. GJG Says:

    I was going to site the Murcer/Bonds trade of 1975 and see that #15 beat me to it.
    As a Yankee fan, I remeber that trade like it was yesterday.
    Here were two superstar outfielders traded for each other after each having an off year.
    It just wasn't something that happened very often.
    Bonds played one year in NY, had a 30/30 season and was traded to the Angels for Micky Rivers and Ed Figeroa and the Yankees were off and running, winning 3 straight pennants and 2 WS.

  28. Jeff J. Says:



    Archie Corbin
    Gorman Thomas
    Mark Ross
    Mike Gonzalez
    Anastacio Martinez
    Rob Ducey

  29. Bob Hulsey Says:

    The Houston Astros and Montreal Expos traded backup catchers in 1984, with George Bjorkman and Tom Weighaus trading places. Neither had enough time in the majors to rate a "similar to" chart apparently. Bjorkman (.227 BA) had a better brief cup of coffee than Weighaus (.000) did in the Show.

  30. BSK Says:

    Time will tell, but the Alex Gonzalez for Escobar trade this past summer COULD make this list one day.

  31. ZinnBeck Says:

    Today I stumbled across a good one to fit this category.

    Albie Pearson straight up for Lenny Green.

    Pearson is 4th on Greens list.
    Green is 2nd on Pearsons list.

  32. dukeofflatbush Says:

    When I saw this post's heading, I immediately went to Todd Zeile's page, knowin g he was involved in numerous trades. Unfortunately the only real close hit, was between him and Bonilla, even though that trade involved a lot of other players. Just a glance at their stats, and I'd think Bonilla (9th) would of been higher on Zeile's SC, but I was amazed at some of the names that were involved in that trade. It got me thinking, I wonder what trade in baseball history, had players who produced the most in their careers. That '98 trade may be the most for HRs. Just the 4 big names produced almost 1,500 HRs (Bonilla, Zeile, Piazza, Sheffield). Add Esienreich and Johnson, that's almost 1,700?

    Also, earlier in his career, Zeile was in a trade that involved the oft moved Mike Morgan.
    Those two guys were involved in so many trades over the years, it might be fun to try and determine how many players were affected by that one move. I think combined, Morgan and Zeile played for 23 MLB teams.

  33. Jeff Trotter Says:

    Found another one.

    On December 1st, 1998, the Dodgers traded Charles Johnson and Roger Cedeno to the Mets for Todd Hundley.

    Hundley is 5th on Johnson's list, while C.J. is first on Hundley's.

    Two interesting things about this swap. First, Johnson never played for the Mets as they traded him to Baltimore that same day for Armando Benitez.

    Secondly, Johnson was a pretty good player. He made a couple of All-Star teams and won 4 straight Gold Gloves at catcher. Despite that, he was always getting traded. He was part of the mega deal between the Dodgers and Marlins that sent Mike Piazza to Florida and brought Gary Sheffield to L.A.

    As noted he was swapped from L.A. to New York to Baltimore in trades that involved All-Stars moving between the 3 teams.

    He went from Baltimore to the White Sox along with Harold Baines in a trade deadline deal during the 2000 season.

    After ending up back on the Marlins he was traded to Colorado with Preston Wilson for Mike Hampton and Juan Pierre.

    Finally at the end of his career the Rockies traded him to Boston for Byung Hyun Kim. He never played for the BoSox, who actually released him that same day, and ended up playing the first few months of 2005 with Tampa before retiring.

    For a talented guy who provided a HR threat and good defense at catcher, he moved around a lot.

  34. Andy Says:

    I never understood why the Red Sox released Johnson after that trade. It's not like the NBA, where they just wanted to clear cap space. By releasing him the same day as the trade, it suggests that the release was premeditated, but that's just not something you ever hear of.

  35. Jeff Trotter Says:

    They're coming fast and furious now.

    July 31, 2002 The Rockies trade Todd Hollandsworth and Dennys Reyes to the Rangers for Gabe Kapler and Jason Romano.

    Hollandsworth is 4th on Kapler's list. Kapler is 6th for Hollandsworth.

  36. dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ 34 Andy.

    Is it possible the Redsox were hoping to get compensated for someone picking him up from waivers via draft picks, or maybe, after accepting the Rays contract, they didn't have to pay him...?
    I'm not sure of all the rules involving a player's release, but you are right, something certainly seems rotten in Fenmark.

  37. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Unrelated and silly.
    Alex Gonzalez is # 1 on Alex Gonzlez's similarity score and vice versa.

  38. John Autin Says:

    @37, Duke -- Bravo! Not only are the Alex Gonzalezes each other's most similar player, but:
    -- Each has exactly 137 career HRs.
    -- They're the only two by that name ever to play in the majors.

    We'll have to enjoy their similarity while it lasts, since only one remains active.

  39. dukeofflatbush Says:

    With all due respect Mr. Autin, I believe the plural is spelled Gonzali...
    bad joke, sorry.

  40. Jeff Trotter Says:

    I read a couple of articles about Charles Johnson/Byung Hyun Kim trade. It was painted as a situation where both teams were looking to dump bad contracts.

    Not sure why each team wouldn't have just released their player.

  41. Jeff Trotter Says:

    Found an interesting match that doesn't fit this list.

    In 2009 Dave Clark managed the last 13 games for the Houston Astros. On the Stros roster was Jason Michaels.

    Jason Michaels is #1 on Dave Clark's list and Clark is 3rd on Jason's.

  42. Jeff Trotter Says:

    I'm going through the current managers, and I actually found a couple of other guys who have managed someone from their most similar list.

    Bruce Bochy managed Wiki Gonzalez with the Padres from 1999 to 2003. Wiki is 5th on Bochy's list.

    Assuming he is on the Pirates' opening day roster, Lastings Milledge will be managed by Clint Hurdle. Right now Milledge is 4th on Hurdle's list.

    There a several more managers who did play at the big league level, but didn't play long enough to generate a list of similar players.

  43. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    I actually found a couple of other guys who have managed someone from their most similar list.

    If we're going to play it that way, how about Walt Alston and Rod Miller?

  44. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    I must file an official protest to the original post indicating that Marquis Grissom was traded for his "most similar" player, Devon White. The trade also involved a player to be named later, who turned out to be Ruddy Lugo, whose "most similar" comparisons do not include either Mr. Grissom or Mr. White. Unless a more definite protocol is provided by the sitemasters, I have invoked the long-established Kevin Bacon "Six Degrees of Separation" process in order to further define the true value of the trade. In clicking Mr. Lugo's #1 "most similar" player link, and doing so for each of the players found in five successive links, neither Mr. Grissom nor Mr. White is found in any of these lists. This would indicate the inclusion of Mr. Lugo in the trade must mandate a value of "0" be incorporated into the original Grissom-White comparison in order to determine the true trade value, thus cutting in half the original "904" value posted in Mr. Grissom's list to a more accurate "452." The fact that searches for "Kevin Bacon" on this website results in "0 searches found" does not, I believe, reduce the validity of my research. I stand corrected if Mr. Bacon ever appeared in a baseball movie in which it appears he can actually play the game, unlike the Gary Cooper/Lou Gehrig camera tricks or the Anthony Perkins/Jimmy Piersall fiasco.
    See now, this is what happens when I have too much free computer time on my hands......

  45. Uncle Mike’s Friday BROWSing: The “And to All a Good Night” Edition | Hire Jim Essian Says:

    [...] are the most-similar players ever traded for one another? Greg Maddux and Cesar Izturis definitely come to [...]

  46. Friday Links (24 Dec 10) – Ducksnorts Says:

    [...] Most similar players traded for each other (Baseball-Reference). Be sure to read the comments, which include a reference to the December 2001 trade that saw the Padres send Alex Arias (among others) to Seattle for Ramon Vazquez (among others). [...]

  47. Jon C Says:

    This isn't a trade, but I think it's worth noting: Prior to 1989 season, the LA Dodger's Steve Sax signed as a FA with the NY Yankees as a replacement for Willie Randolph. Randolph also was a FA, and signed with the Dodgers. Randolph was Sax's #1 most similar player and vice versa for the 1989 season.