Mike uses evidence from 2008 top-prospect lists to evaluate the merits of targeting minor leaguers in "dump" trades.
Most fantasy web sites and other resources do little if any analysis on playing for next year, or what is known less elegantly as “dumping.” Some analysts refuse to even acknowledge that it is part of the game and advise that it is always best to trade with this year in mind and worry about future consequences next year.
In reality, if you’re in a keeper league, you will probably have to give up and play for next year sooner or later. If other teams are building rosters for 2014 around cheap players such as Bryce Harper, Matt Harvey, and Shelby Miller, and you are sitting back while your team languishes in seventh place with little hope of winning, you are not doing yourself any favors.
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As the Winter Meetings approach, Joe Nathan goes to Texas, Ty Wigginton joins the Phillies, the Marlins acquire another pitcher from Petco, the Indians re-sign Sizemore, the Royals keep Bruce Chen, the Rays and Mariners make a trade, and Freddy Garcia stays a Yankee.
Due to reader response, the annotated list continues with 21st through 31st best seasons of all time, featuring Mike Piazza, Ernie Banks, and more third basemen of the 1970s.
Our collection of BP-flavored single-season WARP scores currently goes back to 1950. Now that we’ve added fielding runs to the sortable choices, you can easily see the combination of offense and defense that made the top players during this period so valuable, and in some cases dragged them down from even higher perches.
On Monday, I used the newly revised list to take a look at the top 20 seasons of the last 60 years. Due to reader enthusiasm and the fact that I find this kind of thing to be tremendous fun, I’ve expanded the scope to include the top 50, continuing today with the player-seasons that rank 21 through 31.
21. Frank Robinson, OF, 1966: 11.0
Robinson, newly arrived with the Baltimore Orioles after the Reds called him “an old 30,” won the triple crown, joining Mickey Mantle ’56 and Carl Yastrzemski ’67 in the top 50. He picked up a unanimous MVP award, Given how much grief the voters have deservedly taken over the years, it’s reassuring to see how many of these great seasons have won. Of the top 11, the voters rewarded all but three, and one of those was Sammy Sosa's ’01, who the voters passed over in favor of Barry Bonds' ’01, which was even better. Here are the other occasions to this point in the rankings where the voters failed to reward one of the 20 best seasons in history:
A trip through our new 1950-and-up leaderboard, including a close look at our new-formula fielding runs.
Our collection of BP-flavored single-season WARP scores currently goes back to 1950. Now that we’ve added fielding runs to the sortable choices, you can easily see the combination of offense and defense that made the top players during this period so valuable, and in some cases dragged them down from even higher perches. Herein we traipse quickly through the 20 best players of the Truman-Eisenhower years and onward.
The fielding runs featured here are the product of our new revised formula developed by Colin Wyers. As Colin says, “The difficult part of any defensive metric is estimating the batted-ball distribution among fielders. Old FRAA used season-level data about things like pitcher handedness to figure out the distribution on a seasonal level, and prorated it out to individual fielders. Now, FRAA uses play-by-play data, which allows us to use more variables (like whether or not a fielder has to hold on a runner) and to assign responsibility to each fielder based on the games he actually played in.”
This version of FRAA avoids the pitfall of subjectivity inherent in zone-based ratings. “In contrast to other popular metrics, FRAA does not use any stringer-recorded observational data,” Colin explains. “Serious discrepancies have been noted between data providers, and research has shown that in larger samples use of that sort of batted-ball data introduces severe distortions in the metrics that impede accuracy. Without evidence that the batted-ball data has redeeming value in the short term, it seems imprudent to use that sort of data in our evaluation of player defense.”
With an abundance of trades over the winter, who is left to take over as the NL Central's top prospects?
Chicago Cubs How'd I do in 2010?: Of the five players given odds, three were not eligible for the this year's list; shortstop Starlin Castro (4-1) and right-hander Andrew Cashner (15-1) both saw their big-league timetables accelerated, while shortstop Hak-Ju Lee (10-1) went to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal. The eventual top prospect, outfielder Brett Jackson, got decent odds at (6-1), but the player with the best odds, third baseman Josh Vitters (3-1), saw his stock dip significantly.
The Jaffe Ugly MVP Predictor returns to forecast tight races for the award in both leagues.
Last year, our friends at ESPN tasked me with building an MVP predictor in the spirit of a system such as Bill James' Hall of Fame Monitor, one that awards points for various accomplishments in an attempt to identify who will win as opposed to who should win. Limiting my scope to the post-strike timeframe to take advantage of the fact that none of the ensuing winners were pitchers, that all of them save for the 2003 version of Alex Rodriguez came from teams that finished above .500, and that 22 of the 28 hailed from teams that qualified for the expanded postseason, I built a carefully-gerrymandered system—Jaffe's Ugly MVP Predictor (JUMP)—that could identify ("predict") 14 winners, and put 27 out of 28 winners in its top three in points for that year.
A look back and a look ahead to who could the top prosects in the senior circuit next year.
One of the most frequent questions I get, be it via e-mail, chats, or the comment sections in the articles, is which player on (insert team here) has the best shot at moving into the Top 101. That's a much different question from who is the best prospect not in the Top 101, as the focus need to move solely to growth potential. Building on last year's "Future Top Dogs" series, let's keep that category in this year's version, while also taking an honest look at last year's prognostications.