In the wake of the Matt Moore extension, revisit Nate's discussion of the perils of counting on pitching prospects and his remarks on the most promising southpaws.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Last week, the Rays signed young lefty Matt Moore to an extension that should prove to be team-friendly if he stays healthy, but as Nate discussed in an article which originally ran as a "Lies, Damned Lies" column on April 12, 2007, it's never safe to assume that a young pitcher's arm will remain intact.
A look at our article aging curve and the most prolific authors of BP's past and present.
Baseball Prospectus rests on a foundation laid in large part by dissecting baseball numbers, but we’ve rarely turned the same inquisitive statistical eye inward. That’s as it should be, since despite our occasional delusions of grandeur, we know that you come here to consume the sausage, not to see it made (the sausage, in this case, being baseball writing). Still, in light of our recent roster additions and ongoing Wayback Machine series, I thought it might be fun to see how far we—and by "we," I mean the site, since I haven’t been around all that long—have come by looking back at our article publication trends and most prolific authors since our online incarnation went live in 1997.
All told, we’ve published 12,500 pieces of writing on the site—a number that will have been eclipsed by the time you read this sentence. The discrepancy between that total and the recent article ID numbers that show up in our URLs can be attributed almost entirely to unpublished drafts. (For those of you hoping for a Great Lost BP Album, forget it—most of them are blank.) At last count, 195 souls have gone far enough wrong somewhere in life to receive their own Baseball Prospectus bylines (most recently Alan M. Nathan, who by all accounts is quite a respectable fellow in other respects).
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.
The first in a series of roundtables leading up to the release of the Top 50 Prospects list.
In the past, we've run those contributions as BP Roundtables after the list is announced in late February. This year, we'll be running a series of roundtables in advance of the list, leading up to the release of Baseball Prospectus 2005 in late February. The final list will be revealed here on February 22, and the book includes capsule evaluations of all 50 players, as well as 1500 others.
Let's compare J.J. Hardy and Bobby Crosby:
Player Age EqBA/EqOBP/EqSLG
Hardy 20 .240/.316/.380
Crosby 23 .273/.356/.490
Adjusted for park and league context, Crosby's numbers were much, much better. How to balance that against the age differential? I think the question becomes: How likely is it that Hardy will post a line of .273/.356/.490 or equivalent by the time that he's 23? It's possible, certainly, and it's also possible that he'll post a line even better than that. But I don't think that it's *probable*. That's a lot of improvement to make. PECOTA would put the possibility at somewhere around 25%, I'd think, and I think that's enough to render Crosby the stronger prospect.