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Bubba's only 24, but next year's #1 spot has to be reserved for Josh Vitters
Gettin' a little dusty in here. Excuse me while I go read this again
I hear this Mazara fellow is pretty good as well.
I think the system sucks, and everyone knows that it sucks, and that the logical thing for the team to do is suppress his service time......which sucks. Given that starting point, there are two recurring things in this episode that annoy me above all others:
1 --Theo's ridiculous claim in the press, on the record, that this for developmental reasons, and hey(!), he did the same thing to other players on the Red Sox, so it *must* really be for "baseball reasons."
2 -- Mainstream journalists printing this without calling Theo out overtly for these comments
In an era in which strikeouts are becoming an increasing part of the game, are strikeout-prone hitters like Williams and Anderson more or less likely to succeed? On the one hand, they may be less susceptible to getting into an 0-1 count which has been so damaging of late (see today's Rubbing Mud article); on the other hand, are they more likely to being exposed and reaching astronomical K rates? Very curious.
Robert, this is really good. Is it possible to look at years on list alongside age they first appeared on a list? I wonder if Sano's presence from a very young age -- because he was a foreigner who didn't need to play HS ball in the US -- should be looked at as a positive or a negative, given your findings.
I'm still trying to recover from Lewis Brinson not making the list or honorable mention, as I'd be shocked to see him in Top 50.
Great job, Bret!
Over/under on Taylor Guerrieri being top 50 at this time next year?
This is great -- I really learned something from this piece. Exactly what I've been waiting for you guys to do for a while.
This was excellent, and the promise of what is to come is even more exciting.
Josh -- have you ever thought about having some sort of pre-conference contest to determine who gets to follow you around? This is absolutely fantastic, but just giving this to the first, random person you see seems like you may end up helping someone that you may prefer not to. Perhaps more importantly, maybe there are others out there you'd rather help that don't have the chance.
You could make the pre-screening really fun, I'm sure.
I suspect that the Butler signing thinking is something along the lines of them expecting Butler to rapidly outhit his contract, and then trade him mid-season for valuable pieces.
That just causes some people to dump earlier, in our experience.
I'll reiterate from the previous article that the in-season salary cap and floor works exceptionally well in my league. To Mike's point about dead salary (e.g. prince this year), we have a clause that once a player goes on the DL, his salary can only count towards the floor to his owner at the time he goes on the DL. This prevents any accounting-type shenanigans because once Prince (in our example) hits the DL, he can no longer count for anyone else's salary floor.
Expensive busts that are not DL'ed are very few and far between.
We've found that this enables dump trades, but it's not excessive. Also, we use salary escalators that are far more modest than the ones Mike described; $3 raise per year.
Finally, minor leaguers, when traded in-season, automatically get activated, so they take up a major league (and keeper the following year) spot, so you lose almost all incentive to acquire them. In order for there to be integrity, minor leaguers really do need to be off limits.
The salary floor is critical on this front. Another very useful rule is automatic $3 salary bumps the following year for anyone traded mid-season. We've found that both of these rules are quite effective.
My long running keeper league has a $320 salary cap that rises to $330 after July 31st. Equally important, we have a salary floor that slides from $240 to $230 to insure that dump trades don't get excessive. We've found that this band works exceptionally well.
Forget waiting til the offseason, I'm amazed that they couldn't get more than this this year.
I doubt he'd make the next 32. Or perhaps the 32 after that. I love the Guerreri pick at the end of the round. Methinks he will be a force.
I understand, and please don't take this as a comment on you, because it's really meant as more of a cultural observation on the business of baseball, but doesn't that strike you as incredibly childish? Almost like a couple of high-schoolers waiting to see who calls who first. Team A drafts a player, so they must be somewhat interested, and then they don't call because of posturing? And player doesn't call team because of posturing? Just strikes me as odd.
In any event, great piece. Really liked it.
This is great stuff. Just curious: How come you never reached out to the Nats the entire time? Is it normal for players to wait until the teams call them to begin negotiating? I can't imagine approaching a deadline and not initiating a call, but maybe that's not how its done in baseball.
This is excellent. Not that much different than pro-caliber players for whom playing has become a job, watching amateurs drinking beers while manning first bar.
Not sure why you think #2 is so far fetched; my understanding is that this was the industry norm not that long ago.
Call me crazy, but I see a bit of Segura in Anderson.
Just curious: Is it possible that the fact that Urias is so ready so early makes us less likely to envision the type of development we'd normally expect from someone his age?
This is really, really great. If I'm reading between the lines, you guys took these down for a while in order to make meaningful upgrades. While it's never going to be perfect, my faith in BP is such that if you're happy publishing these, I can trust them.
Thanks for all the effort on this. Been waiting for this for a while.
On the home/road splits, I'd be keen to see how different fields accentuate specific skill sets. jfranco above talked about reaction time; I'd like to go a step further, i.e. what parks are better at reaction time vs others? What fields play faster in the outfield and the infield? Would the infield at a faster-playing park necessitate better reaction time among infielders?
I think Desmond Jennings is a candidate for "76." This may be the year he has meaningful impact in 4-5 categories.
I think that a lot of the explanations cited by Ben Lindbergh in his article on GMs at Grantland can be used to explain why the highest performing GMs don't get paid more.
As to Lewie's point about why Beane fetched so little 13 years ago, it could be because the market then had no real appreciation for Beane's skills. (Also, in order to hire a GM, one would need to have a vacancy or create one, which severely limits the supply of positions at a given time.)
My wife was born and raised outside the US. When I took her to her first baseball game in 1997, she was pretty underwhelmed by what I had assumed would be exiting elements of the game -- home runs, loud hits, etc. She was amazed, however, by all the routine plays. It was immediately striking to her that the infielders picked up the grounders, threw to the right bases, turned a couple of double plays, and got every runner out by a step.
Sometimes, you really need to take a step back and appreciate what's really great about our game.
I would also add that I'm shocked to see Harper as best contemporary arm. Certainly one of the strongest, but I doubt he makes my top 5. There was a time when Ankiel played next to him in CF where he didn't have the top arm in his own OF.
Ben and Brewers,
None of the biogenesis-implicated players failed any tests, and I have to believe that, with the advent of science, players are more concerned with the paper trails than actually getting caught by testing.
I know it's wrong to accuse w/o evidence, but I'm fascinated by the human behavior element. If a player is sufficiently convinced that PEDs help him enough to risk millions of dollars (if caught), is he suddenly going to stop after being caught once when it wasn't a failed test? Perhaps some players will and others won't, and if the teams are sufficiently on top of who is still using and who isn't, perhaps that is informing these contracts?
First of all, of course these are assumptions. But if you read enough Russel Carlton, you know that we can infer a lot from human behavior.
With regards to whether PEDs don't help much because a user was an average MLB player, I think that even the steroid advocates recognize that you need to compare to an individual baseline, that not everyone benefits equally, etc.
Why are we so quick to assume that the PED concerns aren't relevant to Cruz's discounted price? If we assume that teams are reasonably sophisticated in how they evaluate players, perhaps they think PED use affects certain players in a more pronounced fashion than others and, rightly or wrongly, think Cruz was a disproportionate beneficiary?
Another possibility is that some teams may have intelligence that certain players are going to keep cheating, while others will stop, which could speak to contracts given to certain players.
(Ducking over extreme contrarian stance but its never mentioned and deserves to be considered.)
To everyone who participated, let me voice my appreciation. This was really fun to read.
I know there were lots of people involved, but I am curious as to the thinking behind some of the higher fantasy-upside names that didn't crack the list. From a pitching perspective, Gohara and Tirado strike me as players I would have expected to go in a 140-player ML draft. On the offensive side, I would have thought that the 30 HR upside of Mazara and Guzman would have played out.
This is just fabulous -- thanks so much. The upgraded, dynasty-focused rankings make this nothing less than the best fantasy site out there -- an amazing thing to say about BP.
Question: doesn't Guzman deserve a little more love due to his upside? I would think that, even if there's only a 20 pct chance that he emerges as a 20-25+ HR guy, that would warrant a higher ranking.
Dave Winfield. Tall and athletic. And he could hit.
Just curious, and, admittedly, I haven't been following the legalities too closely, but it seems like the Braun arbitrator acted improperly in exonerating him; not only was Braun guilty, but the collector did what he was supposed to do, under the circumstances (store in a safe place until after weekend). Doesn't this give credibility to Arod's claim of arbitrator bias?
What would you need to believe to take Frazier ahead of Abreu? I expect Tanaka and Bryant to go 1-2 in my league and I'm still not sold on Abreu over Frazier. Is it all about ETA (not that that's not important, but I can be patient)? Is Kendrys Morales pre-injury a slam dunk over Frazier?
That is fine, and a legitimate stance (though one I disagree with). But there is no reasonable doubt that he didn't use; the only "question" is whether he knew what he was putting in his body.
Thanks for your response. While of course its "risky" to keep using PEDs after you've been caught, only the players know how long they've been using. If, for example, a player was caught once in a 10-year period, and is convinced that this is the difference between him being a major league player vs not being a major league player, I have to believe that he'll continue using.
Put it this way: All credible reports seem to indicate that use was widespread, yet how many players were actually suspended? If you are convinced that your financial future is in the balance and that further use is the difference between retiring in your 30s vs. working til your 60s -- and the only punishment is a second suspension which almost no users in history have ever received -- I'm betting that players who used once will use again after being caught.
To your other point, I would never suggest that front offices are actively encouraging use. I would hypothesize that the savvier front offices and scouting departments are aware that this is prevalent, felt powerless to stop it, turned a blind eye, and guess like many fans do.
Finally, wearing a Phiten necklace doesn't come with the risk of ruining one's reputation and career. To compare PED usage with superstition strikes me as excessively dismissive. I bet you there's not a single player in MLB that would touch a necklace like that if there was a 1-in-1,000 chance that he would get a PED-type punishment for being caught. There are many in MLB that take a much greater risk to consume PEDs.
Ben, while your takeaway seems to be that front offices don't think PEDs are terribly useful, my opinion is that the more likely takeaway is that they expect the players to continue to use them and to continue to avoid detection.
There is no way that so many players would continue to use and risk tarnishing their legacies if they weren't convinced that they helped.
Am I the only person who assumes Middlebrooks obstructed Craig with his legs on purpose? I *know* everyone on the Sox is denying it, but I can't believe that he wasn't trying to impede Craig's progress with his feet and hoping he wouldn't get caught.
Lifting your legs like that is not something one would normally do in the process of getting up or out of the way.
5x5 15 teams. Keeper with significant auction inflation. No one ever wins when punting a category.
I get that. My issue is that it is unprecedented in my league to win with less than 124 points, and it's virtually impossible to trade for enough closers to get 10+ points.
I find that counting on saves over the FAAB wire is at least as risky as paying for saves at the auction. Simply put, it is very difficult to find closers on the wire in deep, competitive leagues.
Pitchers have won it because the baseball writing fraternity that you (appropriately) criticize have chosen to give it to them.
My lean is to the Dan Brooks/jnossal approach that playing in meaningful games should account for something. I recognize that the fact that the Angels haven't had any important games since June is not at all the fault of Trout's, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't count.
While I don't think there should be a binary made playoffs/did not make playoffs divide, I do think that a player for a team team that's had a playoff odds of <10% for most of the year has a justified, perhaps unfair, disadvantage.
Late to the conversation here, but I have a separate question: If the Value-Add approach does not stabilize over time to align with the context neutral approach, am I to understand that clutch hitting is an actual skill that is predictive? Over a career, I would expect Cano to balance his poor performance in high leverage situations with outperformance. If, over an entire career, this does not balance out, do we really want to ignore it?
I agree with this, and have never understood why the Value Added approach never got more mainstream support. Shifts in run expectancy is an idea that most non-SABR inclined people can get their heads wrapped around. And why use linear weights when you can get the actual impact of a given play given the specific circumstance?
My instinct is that the lean for linear weights would come from a desire -- justified or not -- not to "punish" someone who comes up in a lower leverage situation. A single, after all, is a single, that thinking would go.
I think that approach oversimplifies what a single is. Circumstances do vary from AB to AB, and while some players may have more "Value Added" opportunity over the course of a season, that's a drawback to the methodology that I'm more comfortable living with. (Not really different, in principle, to a player who happens to play against tougher pitchers over a given year.)
If you were to become convinced somehow that Segura's power is real (and that he's a legit 22-year-old five-category guy), would he crack first round?
SC, of course it's not that simple. But there is an element of human nature at work here. Players don't go to incredible lengths to cheat and deny cheating if they don't think it gives them a potentially career-altering advantage. Now, one can say that just because all these players think it helps them doesn't make it so. But if the vast majority of players -- whether they use PEDs or they want PEDS out of the game -- believe that this gives PED users an advantage, I think it's a little indignant to claim otherwise because the code hasn't been cracked yet as to isolating the exact extent to which PEDs help each individual.
(Note: My "idignant" comment isn't meant for SC specifically but rather to the "apologist/pragmatists" in general....:))
This was an excellent piece. Well done.
Binghamton is just about 10 miles over PA border and a great place to watch a game. I remember seeing McCutchen when he played for Altoona at a game there in 2007, and in 2009 I got Carlos Santana's autograph. Good times.
Very curious about Kaleb Cowart. Is he going through a reasonable learning curve or has his stock really dropped?
Difference between Brinson's current (and even future) grades, and overall prospect potential are huge -- only future 70 grade is as overall prospect! Are there any other prospects that you can think of where the disparity between current performance and future potential is so great? Only one I can think of is Starling, but I suspect there are others.
Wow. Just wow. Excellent piece.
Have to say that other than the Ackley comment, these "scouts views" actually seem to be predictive and highlighting developments that are not obvious to casual fans. (This wasn't always the case last year.) keep up the great work!
Jason, what do you make of Josh Hamilton's jump? If memory serves, he jumped directly from A ball to the majors -- with a multi-year break in between. I don't know that Hamilton is considered to be a strong makeup guy, but is his talent so off-the-charts that it overcame the makeup issues? Would love your thoughts on Hamilton's jump, given the thought you've obviously given to players who can conceivably do it.
This is one of the first analyses I've read which acknowledges that the draft is only the first step, and that you can trade from surpluses in season. I have no idea how active expert-league owners are, but I totally identify with this approach for active leagues that have trading/waiver wire/etc. during the year.
I love Mark Anderson's Hamilton for MVP vote. Love it.
God I hope the PFM works at the auction this year. Last year was the first year it worked for me (out of at least 4-5). IIRC, there were significant technological upgrades made prior to draft season last year which made this possible; I really hope that this has been maintained.
Let me just say, that this is *exactly* the kind of thing I was hoping for in the new fantasy offerings. Of course we all know how to read Jason's lists and do our own translations to fantasy; quite frankly, my final prospect list may resemble his more than this one. But this is a tremendous supplement and I tip my cap to BP for this.
To me, the striking thing about this is that the entire move seems to be dictated by Span having to hit leadoff. So a guy coming off three consecutive years without clearing an OBP of .342 is dropping everyone in the lineup -- not just Harper -- down a spot. Why? Because he looks like a leadoff hitter.
For all the progress the fact-based baseball community has made over the years, it's important to look at decisions like this to remind us all how much more work there is to be done.
I don't think the tiers are that important, but 15 deep? Half of the starters in the league? This strikes me as being adequate for shallow leagues but I can't imagine BP subscribers aren't active in deeper leagues that cover all major league starters.
My guess is that people can now assume that he was, in fact, cheating last year, and that he is marginally less likely to cheat this year.
Yup. I'm in a deep mixed league -- 15 teams, 22 active roster spots, 5 bench, unlimited DL and 12-player minor leagues (where you don't have to activate them as soon as they get to majors). League is basically a hybrid of keeper/dynasty and gets all benefits of AL/NL-only in terms of depth, w/o the ridiculousness of how to deal with mid-season trades fom one league to another.
Possible. But I also think that someone whom by all accounts is one of the best ever at his position who was clearly kept out because of steroid suspicions would speak up vociferously about it, if he was clean.
Bottom line: Piazza's silence is not what I'd expect from someone who never cheated.
For Bonds and Clemens, there's not "some" evidence; there's overwhelming evidence.
For Piazza, there is, in fact, no substantive evience. But I am troubled by his (non) response. I would love to see Piazza come out and say something along the lines of "This is insane. I never used PEDs, never cheated, and I'm being unfairly tarnished due to the era I played in." I'm not saying that all players can do this, but that *is* how I would expect a completely clean player with no-doubt HOF numbers to behave. I understand that that's not a good enough reason not to vote for him, but I also understand why many people suspect him.
Put it this way: Lance Armstrong behaved like someone who cheated despite all the non-denial denials. And guess what? What many termed a "witch hunt" turned out to be justified.
I suspect that there's a strong correlation between those that think Piazza didn't cheat, and those that six months ago thought Armstrong didn't cheat. And I do think this should give some people pause before criticizing these voters.
This has nothing to do with what the bar is for hiding a comment, and it's not a small group of people. This may end up being both the most commented and minused thread in BP's august history. And what is all the vitriol directed at? The suggestion that confirmed cheaters should be banned from the HOF.
I agree that some of Andrews's comments may be needlessly antagonistic, but I must say that I identify with his general approach much more than the "since steroids didn't help everybody, I refuse to acknowledge that steroids helped some people disproportionately" line toed by too many above.
R.A., I agree with you. But this thread has me thinking that the tide is shifting. I was attracted to Sabermetrics in the early 80s, in part, because of Bill James's willingness to think differently than the conventional style. Based on the comments in this thread on this sabermetrically-inclined site, there is an astonishing groupthink that all PED users should be allowed because we can't keep all of them out. I don't pretend to know what the right thing is to do, but the collective certainty that many on this board are demonstrating (including a staffer or two) is.....surprising.
And please spare me all the apologistic notes cited so often; if it wasn't cheating, people wouldn't hide it. And for those that say that there's no proof against Clemens because he wasn't found guilty in court....you must think that Lance Armstrong is innocent as well because he never failed a test.
One more point, because Armstrong has been brought up above. Armstrong was one of the best cyclists in the world before he started cheating -- analogous to Bonds and Clemens. But now he is disgraced -- and deservedly so. I can only be left to conclude that 90+ percent of the staffers here (and a similar number of readers) are convinced that Armstrong belongs in the cycling equivalent of the HOF. I, for one, am glad that the general public disagrees with that.
Really, Paul? You don't think PEDs artificially inflated Barry Bonds's performance? I don't see how any thinking person can come to that conclusion.
I agree that not all steroids help all people equally. But ignoring all other evidence in specific cases with overwhelming visual evidence is not the proper reaction.
Not sure why everyone is so down on Andrews. I understand the thinking that HOF voting should ignore PED use, or suspected PED users, but to simply dismiss people that want to keep out confirmed PED users? Pretty small-minded.
As to Lance Armstrong, I think the analogy is pretty apt. He cheated, and he knew he cheated (which is why he did everything to hide it), as do the baseball cheaters. There's a reason the Bondses and Clemenses are denying; they know it was wrong. Im not advocating keeping out suspected cheaters (e.g. Piazza and Bagwell), but confirmed cheaters? To not accept the thinking that they should be kept out of the Hall?
Really curious: What is the argument against Raines? It's been pointed out elsewhere, but he was the best player in baseball for a number of years -- certainly among the top 3 -- and he compares very favorable to slam dunk HOFers like Gwynn.
I really, really enjoy your columns, but the McGwire and Raines omissions are truly mind boggling. It's as if someone I really, really trusted told me something so ludicrous that I would ever-so-slightly lose faith in the guy's sanity.
Plenty of people have cited numbers above, so let me just add this: There was never a moment in either's career where I didn't realize I was watching a future hall of famer.
Is there any way to incorporate the price range at which you think a player is keepable? For example Wieters may be a clear keep at $5 but a "no way" at $25. If you could, perhaps, add the range at which you think a player is worth keeping in deeper leagues, would be very useful.
Another example: In my deep league (~150 players kept), I can keep Ian Desmond at $15. I suspect that at $5 he's a slam dunk "yes" and at $30, he'd be a slam dunk "no." This added dimension would undoubtedly add work on your end, but I think it would be very useful.
This conversation may get buried, but I definitely stand by my statement. Amazing that in all the Hamilton hoopla, few people really grasp what it is that Hamilton has achieved. Ignoring completely the substance abuse issues, this is a guy who jumped from A ball to the major leagues with a three year gap (!) in the middle. Most players say they lose their timing if they don't picka bat up for a week; he went years without a bat in his hand and stepped into the majors and became an amazing, MVP-worthy player.
The lazy comp here would be Ted Williams, but Williams had established himself as the best hitter in the world before he left baseball for the war. If you think about what Hamilton has accomplished and watch him play, it's actually well within the realm of reason that he's the most talented player ever.
I understand that challenge, but I think tht Hamilton's case is so unique that it may warrant looking at it as such for the following reasons:
1 -- In terms of real learning curve, his actual MLB experience is where most MLBers younger than him would be. For example, the 26-year-old Billy Butler has more major league ABs than Hamilton. I think everyone agrees that Buter is an excellent hitter who will get better, yet he has more MLB expererience than Hamilton.
2 --Hamilton is a once-in-a-generation talent that could have made the majors at a very young age. I know it's controversial to say that he's the most talented player ever....but I think he's pretty close. As such, typical aging curves may be less relevant for him.
For example, many players learn to take a BB as they get older -- particularly supremely talented hitters (as oposed to supremely disciplined). Ken Griffey Jr., for example, was talented enough at a young age to get real MVP votes. But he got better at taking walks after he had a couple oof thousand MLB ABs under his belt. Hamilton may be at a comparable point on the learning curve.
Very curious as to what Hamilton's projections would look like if he'd started his career at an earlier age. For example, if he'd have out up the same exact numbers but started his learning curve at age 21-22 -- when his intrinsic talent level says he should have -- what would his projected WARP look like? I recognize the flaws in this approach, but I do think its worth looking at.
Can't overstate this. Yankees and Red Sox are eminently beatable now -- neither team has been as vulnerable in years -- and Jays are seizing opportunity.
I've already +1'ed above, but that's not enough. This was an excellent article. One of the most memorable I've read here.
"They showed a lot of hustle and grit in putting this together."
That line demonstrates 110% effort. It's also damn funny.
Ben and Jason -- thanks for the responsiveness.
What I found very useful in Kevin's coverage for fantasy purposes was his capsule approach to "good," "bad," best case scenario," etc. ETAs are less important since there's a lot of other variables there, and what's really important is getting a sense of how good they'll be -- not when they arrive. But the entirety of what Kevin provided enabled me to make reasonable guesses as to who will become strong fantasy players.
Jason -- I love your stuff, and I wouldn't expect you to change what makes you the writer you are. I don't think Kevin geared his writing for fantasy either. But KG definitely understood that a sub-segment of his readership was interested for fantasy purposes.
Bottom line: Getting a good sense for how good you think a player can become and how likely that is to happen is useful. Heck -- even Jason's latest "Off With Their Head" series has been useful for fantasy purposes.
I was wondering why Vitters was in there...
This is super important. I suspect that I wasn't alone in using Kevin's Top 20s, etc. for fantasy purposes. The "fantasy impact" assessment may be gratuitous, but the deep knowledge that Kevin provided helped me land Trout, Desmond Jennings, Carlos Santana (and, uh, Travis Snider) before they were on the radars of others in my deep fantasy league.
I'd strongly recommend keeping that fantasy players in mind when thinking about prospect coverage going forward.
My super-intense keeper league has a pretty solid counter to dumps: we have a salary minimum which every team needs to abide by (in addition to our cap).
Point is that a "0" is far fetched.
Bryce Harper has basically been a league average player. I understand that that's exceptional for a 19 year old, but he's an average MLB'er right now. If that's unrealistic for Machado -- and I accept KG's premise that it is -- why would the Orioles call him up?
Liked this piece. Interesting takeaway for me is that Turner was the only Top 50 prospect traded. (I know others have different lists, but this is still directionaly correct.) Is this unusual for a trade deadline -- that only one Top 50 guy gets traded?
Personal pet peeve alert: Why are we all referring to the one game play-in game as the playoffs? It seems to me that the winner of the two non-division-winners-with-the-best-records game will go *in to* the wild card round, so why are we calling them each wild card teams? When there was one, they were the wild card, but now that there are two, it strikes me that the one-game-winner is the wild card.
Historically, in a one-game playoff, we don't call both teams playoff teams; we say the winner made the postseason. Why are we changing it now?
This isn't getting lost; this is the reason people think Boras is pulling the strings! Appel did something that is very likely to cost him money in the short and long term, so that Boras could send a message that his players that fall will not capitulate.
Put it this way: this is very likely to cost Appel, yet there is long term benefit to Boras if he's able to successfully communicate that the Appels-of-the-future will need to fall to teams that pick low enough in the draft to make giving up two picks worthwhile.
No one here is suggesting that, Behemoth. What I am suggesting, is that Boras is completely within his rights -- morally and professionally -- to tell prospective new clients that he positions his firm a certain way, and that anyone who wants to retain him needs to understand that. Given that, I think it's perfectly understandable for Boras to tell someone like Appel something along the lines of "I'm happy to represent you as one of the best players in the draft. However, it's important for you to know that my firm is known for X and I intend to demand that a team forfeit draft picks for a player of your talents. If you are uncomfortable with that, you're probably best served by seeking other representation."
(In fact, I'd be surprised if a conversation along these lines did not take place.)
Does this make Scott Boras evil? Does this mean he brainwashed Appel into not signing? No and no. In fact, I would contend that Boras was well within his rights to do that, and that there is nothing at all untoward about this. Moreover, this would make it very clear that Appel knew exactly what he was getting into when he signed up with Boras.
However, I agree with the majority sentiment which seems to be that, in a vacuum, Appel likely made a mistake which cost himself millions down the road. From Boras's perspective, though, he was likely very upfront from the get go, and if Appel is uncomfortable with Boras's approach to new clients, he should not have retained him.
This is, of course, different than an existing client of many years telling Scott to do something else (e.g. reach a deal at below-market rates) because of other considerations.
Tannerg and Kevin,
I think you are both ignoring the dynamics of a not-yet professional signing with Boras. Someone who has been with Boras for a while (like Weaver) who makes a decision, after an established relationship exists, that he wants to settle for less than open market value....well of course the agent is going to oblige. However, it is eminently reasonable for Boras to tell a brand new client that his approach is X and that if the player wants Boras to represent him, then player has to be willing to live with Y. If said new client is uncomfortable with this, it is perfectly reasonable for Boras to tell him that then he can (and should) find other representation.
The established, elite professional services firms do this all the time; that is, they pick their clients. Once an existing client has a change in approach or philosophy, any reasonable lawyer/consultant/banker or agent will adapt to his client. But the dynamic is decidedly different at the outset, which is why comparing the Appel situation to Weaver is, in my view, inappropriate.
My sense of the Appel non-signing is that Boras is trying to demonstrate to teams that "his guys" that fall will insist on teams forfeiting a draft pick, and will not flinch. Teams that take Appel with the #8 pick will be reluctant to do that, as it's debatable whether Appel will deserve to be meaningfully better than #9 next year, not to mention the other pick they'd give up.
A team like the Yankees, OTOH, who would be forfeiting two picks near the end of the first round had Appel fallen to them, would likely have been more amenable to giving up the picks.
In short, Boras is trying to get his guys to fall to teams who would not forfeit high picks, and Appel was the sacrificial lamb this year to get the message across.
Come on. Everyone describes him as having the speed to be successful on pitchouts, pickoffs, etc. With all due respect, A ball pitchers and catchers -- while infinitely superior than 99.99 of us -- should not be able to catch someone like that 20+ times. Even when they know he's running. Just seems odd.
How about a 20-year-old Trout vs a 20-year-old Harper?
Just curious: Billy Hamilton has been caught stealing over 20 times this year, at A ball. How does a guy who can steal a base on a pickoff attempt, a guy whom all the scouts say has more speed than anyone, how does a guy like that get caught 20+ times with A ball pitchers and catchers?
BTW, I hope question above doesn't come across as snarky. Meant it sincerely -- i.e. do you think using a roster spot to withold someone from the rest of the league to protect a category is worthwhile.
(we have unlimited DL.)
Derek -- do you ever think about the value of keeping a player from the competition?
I'm in a very deep league but am blessed with strong MI starters -- Kelly Johnson, Ian Desmond and Rafael Furcal. I have Pennington -- who has real value given his steals -- on the bench. One can say that this is a "waste" of a bench spot, but I see value in keeping his steals away from others in the league; it's a tightly bunched category, and were he to fall in the wrong hands, it could easily cost me 1-3 points.
My guess is 1B defense. Heavily undervalued by Sabermetricians. A great one -- think Mattingly -- can save far more runs than the models give him credit for.
1 - L. I like the way he's stepping into pitch.
2 - L. Right side is clearly going to be a bouncer on the ground. While that may be a hit, would be silly to predict it as such
3 - L. Fatter pitch
4 - L. Ditto
5 - R. Hitter sitting on off speed stuff
6 - R. Much more hittable pitch
7 - L. Getting too tired to explain
8 - R. See above
9 - R. Catcher set up outside and pitcher missed inside, leading me to believe this was a mistake pitch.
Has Carlos Martinez's stock taken a hit this year? He was one of the more talked about players last year and it doesn't look like the world staff is particularly strong.
Maybe the Pedroia comps weren't so unfounded after all.
I'm in a super-intense keeper league that's been going strong for 15 years or soand we have unlimited DL spots. Can't imagine it any other way.
Great article. I remember that infield "single" vividly and it was pretty obvious at the time that it should have been an E-5.
I seem to recall reports coming out of Cincinnati that Dunn was far from "a good man." Does anyone recall reports of a team flight where he taunted Hamilton for his addictions?
Completely agree. There seems to be this groupthink amongst online baseball writers that congress is "wasting its time," etc., but lying under oath should be unforgivable.
Above response meant for Gweedoh, but since, I got your attention, Kevin, really? In a forced ranking, I understand that there are a bunch of those guys outside the top 10, but a bunch of them aren't #1s? Those are pretty high standards.
I understand that, but is there anyone who really wouldn't call Felix, for example, an ace?
I *know* that "true" aces are different than de facto aces, Kevin, and I've read you on more than one occasion write that there are no more than 10 "true" aces....but given that, who among the following is not a legitimate ace?
Halladay, Verlander, Kershaw, Felix, Lee, Hamels, Greinke, Sabathia, Gallardo, Cain, Lincecum, Lester, Strasburg, Price...I'm sure there are more. My point isn't that all of the above are equally elite; rather, that it would be very hard under any definition to say that any of them is not an ace, and I'm sure there are more.
BTW, this is not a mock: I really want to know if in your definition of "ace" there are those above who do not qualify.
But, at least in the case of Longoria, there was minimal major league experience to speak of. Put it another way: Do you really think that a player with zero major league experience would turn down a deal for half of what Kevin's talking about above -- say, 8 years and $50M for Trout? I'd have to believe that Trout -- or others in his situation -- would jump at that if they could. And if that assumption is accurate, it would be a mistake for a team to pay double that, just because he may end up being worth it.
To build on the point made above, it seems like these club officials looked at inferior players -- or players perceived to be inferior -- and applied a premium to those contracts. But why does no one take superior players -- e.g. Longoria, Braun -- and use that as a figurative cap on the contract? If anything, those are the more comparable players, since they're the ones locked up at a similar stage in their development. (Unlike Darvish, who is expected to provide top-of-the-rotation value from Day 1.)
I have to believe that an unproved minor leauger would jump at the chance to lock in tens of millions of guaranteed $$.
You had me til the "money doesn't buy championships" mistake. Of course it does. Not with 100% certainty, obviously, but all else equal, money does buy championships.
It's amazing how, with all the talk about Morris and the HOF, no one thought to do a piece like the one done here. Bravo.
Agree with all the commentary about you being one of the best here, but WHAT IS UP WITH TIM RAINES? At the time, he was obviously one of the 2-3 best players in baseball. I am really dumbfounded by this; Raines is, quite frankly, a better candidate than Larkin.
I remember -- don't ask me why -- Frank Viola in an interview talking about how he wasn't able to go to a family wedding because it was scheduled during the world series. I have no idea why I remember this.
"The problem is that to rebuild, and counteract the advantage that big market teams have through being able to spend heavily on free agents, it takes more talent than you can get through simply spending your quota of money in the draft."
Not that straightforward. When you draft earlier, you get better talent and a higher quota. This new system should prevent the distortions of players telling certain teams they won't sign with them so they can get to the organization they want. I *know* this rubs some people the wrong way -- in which other industry is an employee locked into an employer at the outset of his career? -- but this does address the issue that the draft was built for, namely, getting the best players to the weakest teams.
Say what you will about free market value, and I suspect Kevin Goldstein strongly disagrees, but it strikes me that this new system will better serve what the draft was intended to do: give the weakest teams the better amateur players. I'm not sure at all that I buy the argument that KC and Pittsburgh have used the draft to improve by virtue of being smarter, but even if the have, now, they no longer need to be "smarter;" teams are free to take the best player available with far reduced fears about whether that player will sign.
The one, quasi-legitimate claim I've heard from opponents is that this will discourage multi-sport stars from choosing baseball. This may or may not be true, but the lifetime earnings of a baseball player are so much larger than that of the NFL that if baseball loses an occasional Bubba Starling or Zach Lee because they're only willing to play baseball if they get a big signing bonus, that's a price I'm willing to live with.
I'd never heard of Parks before he came to BP, and he's now written 2-3 of the 10 best articles I've read here (and I've been reading since 1996). Damn that was a good article.
Interesting that the aces the scounts didn't foresee achieved greatness primarily via deception -- and not overpowering heat. I guess it's a lot easier to project classic, hard throwers than it is to project the Lee/Santana mold (i.e. guys that keep hitters off balance by changing speeds, and buckling knees with off-spreed stuff in the zone.)
Derek -- you are treading on thin ice by exposing my strategies!...:)
Wins in roto can be summarized as follows:
1 -- The starting pitcher gets the win roughly 70% of the time. This is consistent over time
2 -- Virtually all leagues are daily or weekly, meaning you should be able to sufficiently optimize to increase the likelihood of 35%/start.
If you play in a solid league -- admittedly, the majority don't but I suspect BP readers are in a different segment -- there should be an innings minimum and a starts maximum. I have no doubt that, on the margins, you can definitely strategize to get a number of incremental wins during a season, in what is often the tightest category.
Please, BP, don't let the tail wag the dog. Everything that Goldman just wrote is patently obvious to a mature adult. The tired refrains of a "revolving door" are more a reflection of those particular commenters than the readership at large. Put it this way: paid subscribers of a site that has efficient use of resources in MLB and has introduced the general readership to the concept of marginal cost/marginal win understands that you are running a business.
All the "boo hoo we want Joe" types are getting far more attention than they warrant. And if you subscribe to the axiom that management attention is finite, I'd rather the BP powers that be focus more on the product and less on giving oil to the squeaky wheels.
Keep up the great work. (Particularly on the fantasy stuff, which is what many, many people justify their subscriptions with.)
This was really excellent. Thanks to BP for this (and to Tom, of course).
HeavyHitter (and Ironhorse) are correct. While Ironhorse may have been over the top, his underlying point is legitimate.
The only quasi-justification for the teams in supressing players' development is that this is the natural outgrowth of the incentive structure around super-twos. Because all parties recognize this, I'd be stunned if this is still around in the next CBA. In my view, the Royals are taking a calculated risk that the super-twos will not exist in the next CBA, and that was the primary determinant in calling up Hosmer four weeks earlier. (As others have pointed out, it makes no sense otherwise, and I had a hard time digesting all the various justifications that didn't center on this.) I commend the Royals for taking the risk; gutsy call.
One thng that is constantly left out of the service time discussion is the requred major league AB to actualize one's potential. To use Hosmer as an example, I understand why the Royals would would want to delay his arbitraton clock. However, if you work under the assumption that you need a certan # of major league AB before you can really fulfll your potential, wouldn't it make sense to get as many of those under your belt as early as possible, so that the prospect (say, Hosmer, or Jennings) is as close to a finished product as possible when the team is ready to compete?
I hate to nitpick, because the direction is positive. I too, however, have every player mentioned here rostered in my league.
What would tthis look like without the "Tom Hicks factor" (Arod and Chan Ho Park)? Overall, nice work.
Add me to the chorus of people who consistently have 95% of people you cite here already rostered in their league. A few deep, deep recommendations would be much appreciated.
(BTW, a handful of such recs last year helped me win my league. Value Picks is one of my favorite resources at BP.)
Does this mean Cruz is a non-starter as closer?
Perhaps I missed this from a while ago, but what ever happened to the list of the Top 100 comps? I loved that feature.
Thanks very much for this. For some reason, I cannot see the percentile breakdowns -- have they been made available yet? To be clear, the "breakout" and "improve" likelihoods appear in percentage forms, but I don't see what the 90th percentile performance looks like relative to weighted average, etc.
Very glad to see this. It seems that people have become convinced that thin ESPN leagues are the "standard." While I agree that the majority are in those types of leagues, I am convinced that the majority of people that actually read those sites -- and certainly BP -- are in much deeper leagues. In my league, for example, virtually all of the "value picks" on BP are unavailable, and our ML systems are 12 players deep. I suspect this is more typical of BP readers.
I second the player card updates request. Too late for me for this year's draft, but it's been harped on by Nate Silver and others, justifiably, that the big advantage to PECOTA vs other systems is the *range* of possible outcomes; this is particularly usefule for fantasy purposes. Without the cards, we don't get the range of outcomes, and PECOTA's major advantage over the other systems is rendered non-existent.
Next year, please get the PFM and cards out as soon as conceivably possible.
In the constant interest of telling others when we are thrilled and telling the proprieter when we are not...
What about the PFM cards? In my keeper league, I decide how long to give a contract to a player based, in part, on how the player cards tell me he is likely to age. It seems that there's been tremendous investments in other parts of the BP universe, but the player cards are not yet ready, and many, many keeper league keepers are past due.
I don't know how much you use market research and focus groups to understand your customers' needs, and I, obviously, have no access to that proprietary information. But, if you do use these comments as a source of understanding what the customers want, please consider this a resounding request to focus on the needs of fantasy players. There are lots of great contyent streams on BP, but I suspect that many pay the $35/year because of PECOTA, PFM, and player cards (i.e. the fantasy stuff). Please, get that right early.
Is there any way to make it more effective in evaluating trade proposals?
I believe Matt Swartz looked at HFA a while back on this site and had some interesting findings. In any event, I still find it odd that baseball is the only sport where there is a structural advantage to being home -- getting to bat in the bottom half of the inning -- yet the HFA seems to be least pronounced.
Moreover, from watching NBA games, it would be hard to argue that the referees don't favor certain teams when at home.
For some reason, can't reply to Tango above, so I'll comment here:
Initially, when I plugged in saves as one of the five standard pitching categories but didn't specfy that I wanted relievers on my roster (instead opting for the standard nine pitchers w/o specifying relievers) the most valuable relievers came out as $2-3. I found this unrealistc, yet Ben said that he didn't think this was a bug. Regardless, it now has the top relievers n the $17-$20 range -- whether I specify 7 SPs and 2 RPs or 9 SPs, so this seems to be fixed.
Also, kudos to Ben and the team for enabling the adjusting of the positions requirements after initial output -- much appreciated.
Overall, despite rough first week of launch, PFM looks better than ever. Now about those player cards.....
Discussed this above, but there's two things with PFM that still bother me and I'd appreciate if it could be addressed:
1 -- Despite Ben's assertion, I find it very hard to believe that the top closers are worth no more than $2-$3 in leagues with saves. Yes, despite limited impact in other categories. Doesn't align with any other valuation system (including the PFM from 2004-2009)
2 -- Can we please get the ability to adjust league position requirements just like we can with other categories (e.g. salary allocation) after a team is uploaded? I really don't want to have to input 200 players every time I want to see how valuations differ when I use 2 RPs vs 3, etc.
OK -- I don't know if you want to call this a bug, but RPs seem to be unrealistically undervalued by the PFM -- even in league with saves as a category -- unless you explicitly set a number of RPs in your league format.
This strikes me as odd: If saves are a category, it should be enough to list 9 "pitchers" and the value of the highest rated RP should be more than a couple of dollars....
Wasn't like this in previous years.
(PFM user since 2004)
Is there any way to change the league "position counts" once they've been submitted? There doesn't seem to be an edit function there, and I'd hate to re-input everything I already have because of a minor tweak (# of RPs)
As someone who watches Hamilton quite a bit, I can tell you that there are balls that come off his bat that look like routine grounders to 2nd that the second basemen wave at. What I mean to say is that he hits the ball so hard, that what would be infield grounders for anyone else gets through to the OF for a single, and what would be a fly ball for anyone else gets out of the park.
(In fact, he hits some balls that the infielder misses by two feet that end up at the wall.)
People often confuse "in game" power being exclusively home runs and how far they are hit, but Hamilton -- who has the greatest in-game power I've ever seen, including Bo Jackson -- shows how raw power helps on singles as well.
The Hot spots blog updates for deeper leagues have been fantastic. Next big breakthrough, to my mind, would be a tool to evaluate trade proposals (beyond asking should I trade so-and-so for so-and-so). A robust tool that can be used in such a fashion is something I'd pay for.
Peeling the Onion.
(The visual for the cover could be really cool, with a combined onion and baseball, and the "truths" that get discovered the more you peel away the surface and get towards the core.)
You'll never satisfy everyone but....
1) The upgraded fantasy content has been stellar. In particular, the regular "value picks" posts have been extremely useful to me. Keep 'em coming
2) Make the PFM more relavant during the season. I don't know if this is relevant today -- and it's mearly a question of you marketing it more effectively -- or if there's real work to be done, but upgraded PECOTA projections + PFM that can be done to enable me to evaluate in-season roto trades would be great.
3) Expanding Goldstein's work. People who focus on prospects tend to overvalue them; people who ignore prospects tend to undervalue them. What would be fantastic is some blending of prospects and non-prospects in a way that's not done anywhere else. Immediate ideas that come to mind are expanding and periodically updating a Top 200 under 25 year-olds (prospects and players) -- essentially building off the "Top 10 under 25 year-olds" from the offseason Top 11 lists.
One more note: I suspect every one of your tens of thousands of subscribers has their favorite authors, and I'm no exception. (I particularly like Swartz and Goldstein and used to love Silver, Fox and Huckabay.) I leave it to your judgment to make sure that the most popular writers are the ones kept around. However, from a business perspective, it's important for me to say that, as much as I like lots of the writing here, I pay the premium rate for the fantasy content. And while it may be hard for professional writers to swallow, I suspect that many others agree with me. Please don't neglect the fantasy stuff; PFM upgrades and *actionable* colums/blogposts (value picks, SIERA updates, etc.) likely bring in a disproportionate percentage of your revenues.
The point of Kevin's article (as I understood it) wasn't to prove that an incremental $ may or may not be better spent at the draft in signing over-slot players; that may or may not be true (although I'm certainly not convinced of that from this piece).
Rather, it was to demonstrate that it is worthwhile for teams to spend more in the draft. Kevin wrote that "more often than not, they're worth it," and I am not convinced that's true.
Kevin, I normally love your stuff, but this seems like you cherry-picked specific over-slot players to support your hypothesis. I wonder how many over-slot bonuses Boras has garnered that, in hindsight, were unjustified.
Kevin -- you don't see Ethan Martin as someone who could take a significant step forward (not will, but could) this year? As a high school arm, how did he compare with the premier arms in last year's draft (e.g. Turner, Miller, etc.)?
Joe, I really don't understand this premise of Halladay having left money on the table. Yes, he left the guaranteed money on the table, but the strong likelihood is that he will play beyond 2013, meaning he will collect a salary commensurate with his skill set at that time. Indeed, signing a three-year contract instead of a six-year deal may get him more money in the long term.
I typically like your articles, but this foundation of him leaving 60M-100M on the table seems like a dubious hook on which to hang your hat.
I wouldn't dismiss the structural advantage that easily. Baseball is the only sport where the home team has this advantage -- and it doesn't necessarily play out only in the ninth inning. The old adage of "playing for the tie on the road and the win at home" makes some sense and it impacts the way the game is played by both teams in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings (e.g. pitching changes, playing for one run, etc.) Purely a hypothesis, but I'll be stunned if this isn't the primary determinant in the home field advantage.
This is really good and, wjile it may seem counterintuitive at first to a serious fan, actually makes sense. Out of the universe of ~25K (mostly casual) fans that come to a game, how many are really coming to see a given starter, as opposed to any number of other factors? Upon reflection, I'm not surprised that the neumber is fairly small.
What would be useful, however, is seeing how (and if) attendance declines for non-competitive teams -- particularly those that make dump/rebuilding trades -- after the trade deadline.
What about Moustakas? Number 2 pick from 2007 seems to be dissapointing in a way similar to #2 pick in '08 (Alvarez). Agree KG, or am I excessively down on Mous?
Agreed. Let me reiterate that even had Tim used a better metric, it likely wouldn't have changed the directional conclusion regarding shortstops (and other positional trends embedded in the graphs). Let's not lose the forest for the trees here.
And while I'm here, let me just add that I've seen enough from Tim and Matt S to know that I'd like to see both of them become regular contributers here -- regardless of who wins. There are a few other competitors who are turning in BP-worthy material on a regular basis as well.
I've read every entry for every week and this was the first time I've been moved to comment. Absolutely first rate work. One of the best pieces I've read on BP all year. While win shares as a metric may be very flawed, the use of it to measure percentage of value from each position over time coming from offense vs defense was brilliant in its simplicity. Really, really interesting findings, Tim.
But Butler will qualify at DH this year, so shouldn\'t we evaluate him relative to 1Bs?
Wither Billy Butler?
What\'s worse -- the writers thinking Volquez was a rookie, or the fact that they placed him second?
Yankees, 6/$148, 12/05