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.
Wright or Marte, Marte or Wright. I love 'em both. I've put Andy Marte ahead for the moment, because of the 10-month age difference and because scouts seem to like him a lot more, but I really feel strongly that David Wright's as complete a prospect as there is in the game. I'd love to hear comments comparing the two, and Nate, I'd love to see what their PECOTA comps look like. Nobody else is that impressive. Dallas McPherson put up some serious numbers last year, and while some of that was in The Hangar in Rancho Cucamonga, he hit .314/.426/.569 in Arkansas. He doesn't have a great defensive reputation, but it's not terrible either, and he clearly outhit everyone else on this list. I don't know if anyone else deserves Top 50 consideration. I know people love the Greek God of Walks, but he hit .165/.295/.248 in Triple-A, over a 32-game sample. Of course, his full-season OBP was still .446, so... Chad Tracy hit .324 and his defense took a big step forward, but he doesn't do much more than hit singles, and it was Tucson. I respect that he's had two good seasons in a row, but he was in El Paso in 2002, so I'm not sure that means anything either. And as much as I hyped him a year ago, I have to concede that Brendan Harris may not be quite as good as I thought he was. But he's still a better prospect than almost anyone gives him credit for.
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: