Baines will keep his England place on Tuesday against Ukraine with Cole ruled out due to injury.
Distin said: "It's difficult for me to compare both players because I only see Ashley Cole from bits of games that I see on TV, from highlights and from when we play against him, but I see Bainesy working every day.
"It wouldn't be fair of me to try to compare both players but from what I've seen of Bainesy, he's an amazing player.
"The guy impresses me. He's always there, always working hard, always doing more than his job. He has qualities going forward, defending, everything."