How many game could a team of all rookies win? Think about it for a minute, pick a number, and then read on.
One of the chapters I wrote for Extra Innings was about the ways that perennial losers like the Pirates and Royals get broken, and how they might eventually go about getting fixed. “Getting younger” is sometimes seen as a solution, and often it’s at least a step along the way. But early on in the chapter, I noted that youth isn’t always an immediate answer, writing, “All else being equal, a younger team is preferable to an older one, since younger players generally cost less and offer more room for improvement, but a roster composed of players who haven’t yet hit their primes is at least as unlikely to succeed as a team of players who’ve left their primes behind.” Comparing the average ages of teams that finished above or below .500, or that won or lost over 100 games, I concluded, “Too little inexperience can be even more toxic to a team than too much experience.”
It’s easy to explain why many young teams lose a lot of games: they’re learning on the job, with few players in their prime and a limited supply of highly touted and/or major-league-ready rookies. But for a few minutes, let’s ignore the way the real world works and imagine a young team too talented to occur in nature. If we could form an entire team for 2013 out of rookie-eligible players from any organization, which rookies would we pick? And armed with only the best young players in baseball, how many games would our all-rookie roster win?
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