It is our privilege to present the slate of competitors in the first-ever edition of Prospectus Idol. The objective of this competition is to find a new Baseball Prospectus columnist, but it is also an exercise in learning, from the authors for the benefit of the audience (ideally), as well as by the authors and judges from one another. As Kevin Goldstein initially laid out in his introducing the competition and explaining the basic rules for entry, this also represents a potential gateway to work within the baseball industry itself, given the increasing number of former contributors who have already landed jobs with the various clubs.
Clearly, there’s the potential for plenty to be at stake for the contestants; there’s also going to be a lot of opportunities for Baseball Prospectus subscribers in general to make a significant difference. By using your power as the voting public to evaluate and vote for the competitors themselves, you will help shape the future content on the site. In the weeks to come, starting with next week’s first round of competition, we want to encourage you, the voters, to participate actively by commenting on the articles themselves, making a case for which ones you like and why, and helping sustain a debate on the questions these articles will inevitably raise.
Among the hundreds upon hundreds of entries which we ended up reading, there was surprisingly easy agreement on a slate of competitors. However, that is not to say that the process didn’t lead to at least one complication: Jeremy Greenhouse withdrew from the competition due to a previous commitment, the outcome of which he was not aware of when he entered. The Tufts student’s work was deserving and an early pick of the panel of judges, so we felt he was deserving of seeing his work and getting the title of “Finalist.” Greenhouse will not be continuing on in the competition and was replaced in the field (although we’re declining to publicly identify the alternate). We want to congratulate Jeremy and wish him the best of luck with that other things he’s doing
Without more ado, here are the initial competitors, with a little information about them, as well as their winning entries. [Ed. Note: As with all of subsequent Idol articles, these are published with nothing more than formatting of the tables and graphics, but without any corrections or editing.]
Bio and Entry: “Major League Equivalencies”
Bio and Entry: “Payroll by Position”
Bio and Entry: “Seeing is Believing”
Bio and Entry: “Rays Relish First Taste of October”
Bio and Entry: “Derek Hollandaise Sauce”
Bio and Entry: “Ibanez Contract Analysis”
Bio and Entry: “Back of the Envelope”
Bio and Entry: “Does Organizational Depth Really Matter?”
Bio and Entry: “To Pronk, or not to Pronk? That is the Fantasy Question”
Bio and Entry: “The Gibbons Conundrum”
Bio and Entry: “Why Teams Do Not Spend More on the Draft”
Finally, having picked our slate of finalists, we communicated the rules for their first competition:
Greetings finalists! Again, congrats on being one of the final ten. Now, the real work begins. You have to prove yourself to the judges and the voters week in, week out. The winner will have done it ten times, so push yourself, do your best work, and leave it all on the page.
Each week will have a “theme” much like American Idol. We’ll have mentors, guest judges, and some twists that will prove you deserve to stand beside the rest of us at BP. We’ll have your winning entries posted at BP on Sunday, but this is just a “get to know you,” there won’t be voting. We want people to see why we selected you.
This week’s theme is “The Basics.” A couple years ago, we ran a series of “BP Basics” that attempted to explain what we do at BP to some of our newer readers. You’ll be doing the same thing. Craft an article around one statistic or concept and explain it. Use examples. Don’t be condescending, but make it so that your average baseball fan isn’t going to lose it in the calculations. Please limit these to 1500 words, though this is a “soft” limit-you can go a bit over or use graphics without penalty. Use some sense; 1600 words is pushing it, 2000 is going to get sent back.
This article will be due in no later than noon on Friday, and will be posted for reading and voting on Sunday. We’ll announce who’s been voted off on Tuesday afternoon, at which time you’ll get your next assignment. That will then be due the following Friday, and so on.
So … there’s your assignment. Use the tools you have, be creative and good luck.