Now that the team-by-team player rankings are over, Kevin tallies everything and ranks the organizations themselves.
I began by assigning points to each team for the talent it has, giving points at differing levels within the Excellent, Very Good, and Good labels used in the recently completed Top 10 lists. Additional points were granted for average prospects, as well as talent beyond their top 10 that would qualify for that level. The rankings you see here reflect the total raw points. In order to have a little fun with this, and in an attempt to provide some additional information, I then split the talent between hitting and pitching, found the average amount of hitting and pitching points, and then calculated the number of standard deviations above or below that average. Presto! Instant 20-80 scores for each category.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Two fantasy experts go back and forth on the value of young pitchers.
So I'm looking at my disastrous AL LABR pitching staff (King Felix, Shawn Chacon, Daniel Cabrera, Chad Orvella, Mike MacDougal--I'm leaving out Joel Zumaya and Curt Schilling because they can't by themselves undo the damage), and I'm thinking: "Why didn't I go with the all rookie plan?" Six or seven bucks on Francisco Liriano, a few more on Justin Verlander, stick with Zumaya for a buck, maybe throw three or four at Jon Papelbon, a buck on Jered Weaver, and I'd be all set. I could even have rounded out the staff with Jon Lester and Jeremy Sowers on reserve. When in recent memory have so many rookie pitchers in the AL, facing the DH every time through the order, had such fantastic seasons? Probably never. And for that reason, the idea of drafting all rookie pitchers never occurred to me. But should it have? Was there something special about Verlander's or Liriano's minor-league numbers that should have told me these guys would be instant successes?
The minor league season is half over, and Kevin runs through the American League with an eye on the end-of-the-year rankings.
The minor league regular season is over at the end of
August, which means we've reached the halfway mark. Let's take a look at whose
stock has risen and fallen, who the candidates are to be each team's top prospect
in my postseason rankings, and what unresolved questions need to be answered as
we officially move into summer.
Kevin kicks off a look at the systems of every division in the majors, beginning with the AL Central.
This is part one of a six-part series in which I'll look at all 30 major league systems, arranged by division. I'll talk about what's working, what's not, and identify a few names to look out for (or beware of) in 2006.
A closer look at the validity of one of BP's best-known theories.
Everything in prospect analysis is relative. Pretty much everyone agrees that some discount needs to be applied to pitching prospects. Baseball America isn't treating Mike Pelfrey like he's Justin Upton, and rest assured that we wouldn't trade Matt Cain for Trevor Plouffe. But figuring out exactly what the discount rate should be is something that hasn't really been resolved. Traditional prospect analysis almost certainly isn't discounting enough, and I've come to believe that Baseball Prospectus isn't discounting enough, either. Although the amateur draft has seen a substantial correction--perhaps even an overcorrection--pitching prospects are still treated in trade talks like they're black chips at the Bellagio.
We take a look inside the selection criteria for assembling our Top 50 Prospects list.
For example, BP's Top 50 from 2005, while not without flaws, was better than most. Sure there were pitchers ranked highly (Richie Gardner and Adam Miller) who succumbed to arm injuries. We had thought that Willy Aybar (#34) would develop some power by now and that Edwin Jackson (#45) would improve from his sub-par 2004. Despite those missteps, Baseball Prospectus is proud of the work that went into that list as well as the 2006 version.
With a verifiable cornucopia of prospect lists out in cyberspace, there of course exists a vast array of philosophies governing the compilation of these lists. The king of prospect sites, Baseball America, ranks prospects based on scouting reports, tools, upside, age vs. level of competition and performance. Other sites lean heavily on a player's walk rate. Take, for example, the case of second baseman Travis Denker, in the Dodgers' system. After Denker hit .310/.417/.556 in Low A as a 20-year-old, many sites had him among their top 50 and, in one case, much higher. With a BB/PA rate of .147, Denker has exhibited unusual plate discipline for a young prospect. However, what these lofty rankings ignored were his stone hands, iron glove, .155 EqA upon his promotion to High-A that year, and his PECOTA projections. When different ranking systems rate some pieces of the puzzle higher than other systems, wildly differing outcomes will result.
Jeremy Reed had the best year of any player in the minors last year and has a very high probability of being an excellent player. I think a top-five ranking would be a just reward, and consistent with our emphasis on performance rather than tools. I absolutely do not understand why Reed would rank below Alexis Rios. He is Rios' equal in every attribute except for plate discipline, where he has a substantial advantage, and his PECOTA profile is considerably better. I don't think a couple of good weeks in Puerto Rico are enough to overcome that. Weeks is a stud and I think the objections to him are a bit overstated. I would like to get a scouting report or two on his defense, since his numbers were quite bad. I'm also not on board with the fear of ranking pitching prospects highly, though I'm sure there will be advocates for the opposite point of view. I think the *top* tier of pitching prospects is unusually good this year as compared with the top tier of hitting prospects, and I think we should make adjustments accordingly. If you want to get a bit more analytical about it, I don't think it's a matter of our overrating the risk associated with pitching prospects so much as it is our *underrating* the risk associated with offensive prospects, especially offensive prospects who have yet to reach Double-A. I like Marte a lot, and he has no real negatives, but placing him as high as #2 implies a scouting judgment of sorts; his numbers were good, but not overwhelming.
In preparing the annual top prospect list for Baseball Prospectus 2004, BP authors participated in the annual extended roundtable discussion of baseball's top prospects. The ranking and review process balanced translated statistics, scouting reports, and injury reports with the strong personal opinions of BP's finest…all with the goal of putting together the "best damn prospect list the world has ever seen." In Part I today we'll listen in on the discussion of the top prospects among pitchers, catchers, first basemen and second basemen. Parts II through IV will run Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We'll also unveil the final list Tuesday, with the Top 50 prospects (we've expanded from prior years' Top 40) revealed. Rany Jazayerli will be along to discuss the Top 50 list and the process that went into compiling it in Tuesday night's Chat.
For this study, I estimated career VORP for the BA's top 100 prospects from 1990 through 1997, that is, those who have had at least five years to prove themselves. I used the rule of thumb that 10 runs of value moves one game into the win column. This is what I found: