We are coming. To your city. If you live in. One of these cities.
One of my favorite things about being a part of Baseball Prospectus is interacting with you, our readers. You are an extension of what we do—with a collective, driving thirst for baseball knowledge that is unparalleled on the internet. And while talking to you all either in our chats, comments section, Bat Signal, or various social media platforms is great, we like to get out there and see you in person as well. Yes, you. So each year, we schedule a number of ballpark events so we can all hang out together in the cathedrals of our collective choosing.
How many top-ranked shortstop prospects actually go on to play shortstop in the majors?
Last weekend the Twins announced that their top prospect Nick Gordon, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, would cease playing exclusively shortstop and begin spending some time at second base as well. Positional versatility is not a bad thing, but Gordon’s draft stock was based on the belief that he was a shortstop, period, so the fact that there’s uncertainty about his ability to stick there before he even got to Double-A is discouraging. As a rail-thin 21-year-old with a poor walk rate and just five home runs in 293 games as a pro, Gordon will likely need to have significant defensive value to be a big-league asset.
Gordon’s older brother, Dee Gordon, was also a top prospect as a shortstop who later moved to second base. Dee, who cracked BP’s top 101 prospects list in 2010 and 2011, remained a shortstop long enough to log 147 major-league starts there in 2011-2013, but then shifted to second base full time in 2014 and hasn’t played shortstop since. When talk of little brother Nick possibly moving off shortstop got louder a couple weeks ago, Dee spoke up, telling Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: “I’m not their front office, but my brother is a shortstop and it’s going to be tough for him to play second.”
Which young hitters does PECOTA see as having breakout potential in 2017?
“Breakout” can mean different things to different people. It can mean a prospect or untested young big leaguer establishing himself as a valuable regular. It can mean a relative unknown becoming an impact player. It can mean a well-known star making the leap to full-blown superstar, perhaps even following up a “breakout” one year with an even bigger “breakout” the next. Your own definition may vary, but in PECOTA’s case “breakout” is all about out-performing track records.
PECOTA projects Minnesota to improve by an MLB-high 21 games. How?
Every year around this time Baseball Prospectus releases the full slate of PECOTA projections for players and teams. And every year around this time those projections upset a handful of fan bases that feel disrespected or overlooked by the numbers that were crunched. Some fan bases are briefly annoyed and then brush it off, while others—and especially those like the Orioles and Royals who’ve been through this same dance with PECOTA several times before—take serious offense. Such is the life of a system designed to predict (or at least project) the future.
PECOTA loves Miguel Sano, but that might be because it doesn't know any better.
You are perfectly entitled to be optimistic about Miguel Sano. That’s the most important thing to say. Sano was a huge prospect when he signed out of the Dominican Republic. Everyone believed he would eventually hit for enormous power, retain some thick-bodied athleticism, and generally display a natural gift for baseball that would help him overcome his considerable deficiencies. That remains a possible outcome, and indeed the fact that he’s risen all the way through the minors and played a bit more than a year’s worth of big-league games while making unbelievably hard contact has only boosted the odds of that.
Brian Dozier is still in Minnesota, but maybe the Dodgers and the Twins were right to balk at a deal.
Last week I attended SportCon, a day-long convention on analytics in sports put on by an organization called MinneAnalytics. There were six seminar sessions throughout the day at the enclosed downtown campus of St. Thomas University in Minneapolis. I was sitting in an auditorium/lecture hall early in the afternoon, waiting for new Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey to walk in for a panel on how teams use analytical information in coaching and advance scouting, when Ken Rosenthal’s Twitter feed told me what business Falvey had concluded prior to making the short trip from Target Field to the conference: The Dodgers and Twins had reached a semi-official impasse, and Brian Dozier was (however flimsily) assured of remaining in Minnesota for a while.
That "news" is sorry succor for the news-starved fans of the baseball offseason and it rippled through the room like word that the keg has run dry at a wedding reception. If the convention were at Loyola Marymount instead of St. Thomas, it’s fair to guess that the tone would have been the same. Twins fans have wanted this deal for most of the winter. Dodgers fans have approached it cautiously, hugging their prospects tightly but with a measure of anticipation, too. Neither front office will endear themselves to large swaths of their fan base by walking away from the bargaining table. The Twins are still likely to be a losing team in 2017 and the aggressive rebuild Falvey and general manager Thad Levine have hinted at seems on hold until Dozier is dealt.