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Remember this from last year? We do. That’s why we decided to do it again.

Here’s the intro from the 2014 round of U25 rankings:

For this exercise, we're each going to rank our top 30 U25 fantasy players by division before we collaborate on a top-150 list once this portion of the project is complete. For each division, we'll give you our individual rankings and then discuss any major discrepancies in our rankings, talk about some sleepers we wanted to rank higher and take cheap shots at each other along the way. It will be like the TINO podcast, but for your eyes, complete with an imaginary Bret Sayre breaking up our fights.

You get the idea, then. Players have to be born after April 1st, 1989 to qualify. We’ll link to last year’s divisional rankings in each piece so you can compare for yourself: 2014 AL East U25 Dynasty Ranking.

Ben's Rankings

Craig's Rankings

1. Xander Bogaerts, SS, BOS

1. Xander Bogaerts, SS, BOS

2. Manny Machado, 3B, BAL

2. Mookie Betts, OF, BOS

3. Mookie Betts, OF, BOS

3. Manny Machado, 3B, BAL

4. Yoan Moncada, INF, BOS

4. Yoan Moncada, INF, BOS

5. Matt Moore, SP, TB

5. Drew Smyly, SP, TB

6. Marcus Stroman, SP, TOR

6. Jake Odorizzi, SP, TB

7. Dylan Bundy, SP, BAL

7. Dalton Pompey, CF, TOR

8. Kevin Gausman, SP, BAL

8. Blake Swihart, C, BOS

9. Jake Odorizzi, SP, TB

9. Matt Moore, SP, TB

10. Blake Swihart, C, BOS

10. Kevin Gausman, SP, BAL

11. Aaron Sanchez, P, TOR

11. Daniel Norris, SP, TOR

12. Dalton Pompey, OF, TOR

12. Aaron Judge, OF, NYY

13. Drew Smyly, SP, TB

13. Dylan Bundy, SP, BAL

14. Aaron Judge, OF, NYY

14. Steven Souza, Jr., OF, TB

15. Daniel Norris, SP, TOR

15. Aaron Sanchez, SP, TOR

16. Drew Hutchison, SP, TOR

16. Marcus Stroman, SP, TOR

17. Hunter Harvey, SP, BAL

17. Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, BOS

18. Henry Owens, SP, BOS

18. Hunter Harvey, SP, BAL

19. Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, BOS

19. Devon Travis, 2B, TOR

20. Steven Souza, OF, TB

20. Henry Owens, SP, BOS

21. Jeff Hoffman, SP, TOR

21. Jeff Hoffman, SP, TOR

22. Rafael Devers, 3B, BOS

22. Manuel Margot, CF, BOS

23. Manuel Margot, OF, BOS

23. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, BAL

24. Jonathan Schoop, 2B, BAL

24. Drew Hutchison, SP, TOR

25. Nathan Eovaldi, SP, NYY

25. Luis Severino, P, NYY

26. Nick Franklin, UT, TB

26. Brent Honeywell, SP, TB

27. Luis Severino, P, NYY

27. Rafael Devers, 3B, BOS

28. Daniel Robertson, INF, TB

28. Nick Franklin, 2B/SS, TB

29. Garin Cecchini, 3B/OF, BOS

29. Blake Snell, SP, TB

30. Chance Sisco, C, BAL

30. Taylor Guerrieri, SP, TB

Disagreement One: Devon Travis

Ben: Travis was great in Double-A last year, has been great in the majors so far this year and has hit at every level. He also plays second base for a good team in a great park, so I get it. He would’ve been somewhere in my next five players listed. But Travis doesn’t project to do anything particularly well from a fantasy perspective. Yes, he already has six homers, but it’d be surprising to see him surpass, say, 12-15 on a regular basis. He’s not a speedster, and while he’s received some praise for his bat-to-ball skills, he’s never profiled as a true plus hitter, either. Maybe the sum of the parts is greater than the whole here, especially playing in Toronto, but I have a hard time placing a guy I see as a borderline starter in a 20-team league ahead of prospects like Hoffman, Margot, Severino and Devers, who could all be impact guys even if they’re not here now.

Craig: I guess I wonder what a guy who hits 12-15 homers, steals 10-plus bases, and hits say .260 or so is worth? I’m not necessarily tied to my rankings, as our offline discussions recognize that these rankings fall apart rather quickly, and while there is some depth in the teens and beyond, it’s hard to separate what goes where. The guy is contributing at the major-league level right now, and to your point, he’s hit everywhere he’s been. I don’t even consider myself a Travis believer (the band is okay, though) but I can’t argue with present value, and even substantial regression to the levels mentioned would represent somewhat significant value in leagues that care about this type of player.

Ben: Well, that’s the thing. Neither of us has ever been big Travis believers, and it seems like you’re letting a hot start really factor in heavily here. Would you have ranked Travis ahead of the prospects I mentioned six weeks ago? I guess you can argue that you would’ve, but I don’t buy it. I think .260 with 12-15 homers and 10-plus bases is the best case for Travis in each category (maybe the average can be a bit higher), and I’m not super optimistic that all comes together on a regular basis. I’d certainly rather have him than Anthony Gose, at least, so maybe AA is a ninja again.

Craig: No, I wouldn’t have, but I also wouldn’t have thought he’d break with the team and earn significant playing time either, as he’d only played a partial season at Double-A. I think it’s less the numbers that are affecting me than what I’ve seen from him, and that’s a guy who can legitimately hit. I’m not talking about a .300 hitter by any means, but I don’t think .260 is too high a threshold to hit. I do think you’re underselling the speed. He’s not a burner and his minor league stolen base totals are highly misleading, but low-end double-digit totals are within reach. Even Mark Anderson’s scouting report, which only gave him a 45 for his speed recognized that his instincts help that play up into the 10-15 stolen base range. Again, I think we agree that there’s nothing special here, but it might just be a different valuation on what a guy like Travis is worth. Also, let’s not forget my boy Gose is OPSing over 800 right now.

Imaginary Bret: [Blows whistle]. I’m calling a Devon Travel because this conversation has carried on long enough. Basketball.

Disagreement Two: Nate Eovaldi

Craig: Basically, I just don’t think he’s all that good. I had some high hopes for him as a Dodgers draftee/prospect thanks to a huge fastball that he could hold deep into games. The problem is he’s mostly that same guy. He’s developed the slider a bit, and will mix in a curveball but he has no weapon against left-handed hitters and his fastball, as big as it is, remains far too hittable. You don’t lead the league in hits given up by accident, and putting the dude in Yankee Stadium isn’t doing him any favors.

Ben: I also don’t think he’s very good. Like, at all. Even when I thought he’d be in pitcher-friendly Marlins Park, I viewed him as a marginally rosterable starter in 14-team leagues. That’s gone down with his move to the AL and to Yankee Stadium. But—and this is really the central point to my argument—he’s pitching in the majors. The bottom of this list is really weak, and Eovaldi at least has a *chance* to perform closer to his FIP from last year, which was down at 3.37 and is at 3.27 currently. I certainly don’t think he’s going to post a sub-3.50 ERA, but it’s not crazy to think he could hover a bit below 4.00 while striking out, like, 150 batters. That’s really boring and eminently replaceable, but at a certain point we need to weigh present value. Plus, given CC’s demise and Tanaka’s arm, Eovaldi could be the Yankees’ ace shortly. An ace, Craig.

Craig: Damning with faint praise there. I don’t disagree with the stat line, but a 4.00 ERA these days is almost radioactive. The strikeouts are fine but you’re better off streaming the position than plugging a likely 4.00 ERA guy in. Eminently replaceable is 100 percent right, and if that’s the case, I don’t see any cause to value him over guys who could contribute down the line. If he’s waiver wire material, than he’s not on the list, as far as I’m concerned.

Ben: He’s still a safer bet to provide some fantasy value than guys like Honeywell, Snell and Guerrieri. Sure, you could twist that logic into “never take the prospect,” but these are inherently subjective rankings and at a certain point you have to decide that average MLBers are worth more than guys who might someday be No. 3/4 starters. I guess this is really where league size matters, too. If we’re ranking for a 10-team league, sure, fire Eovaldi into the sun. In a 20-team league, give me Eovaldi over SP prospects who are on the outside looking in of most top-100 lists. I really hate you for making me defend Eovaldi.

Imaginary Bret: More like Eo-fail-di at this point. Dad humor ftw.

Ben’s One Player He Wanted to Rank Higher: Luis Severino

The stuff is so, so good. Yes, he’s a Yankee, but he’d be super fun to watch if he could stay in the rotation with his 70 fastball and promising secondaries. But I just can’t buy that body and delivery as a long-term starter right now, even with the success of other short starters across the league. I hope I’m wrong, because he’d be a potential no. 3 fantasy starter even in Yankee Stadium. But I don’t think I’m wrong, and with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances ahead of him in the ‘pen, it would be tough for him to see many saves anytime soon if he does have to relieve. I’m looking for and willing to buy into any positive signs, though.

Craig’s One Player He Wanted to Rank Higher: Chance Sisco

My love for catchers who can hit is no secret, so this should come as no surprise. I love Sisco’s hit tool and he’s athletic enough to play a more palatable position than first base should he not stick behind the plate. Still, I’m working on becoming more wary of catchers’ timetable to contribution moreso than just their timetable to the majors. Catchers seem to take more time for their bats to come around at the major league level, and given his presence in the lower minors, it just didn’t make sense to rank him over some closer-to-the-majors options.

Ben, say something nice about Craig: He’s good at getting people to say he’s not good at things. Moscow Mules are decent.

Craig, say something nice about Ben: People say the eyes are the window to the soul, and in Ben’s case that means beautiful but empty on both counts.

Thank you for reading

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carlbrownson
4/29
Devon Travis is evidence that sometime you should, in fact, scout the box score.
BenC22
4/29
I'd argue this comment is evidence that people are still easily seduced by small sample size.
tylersnotes
4/29
i certainly wouldn't buy high on travis at this point, but he is guaranteeing himself playing time on a good team with a good lineup. He's basically Nick Franklin or Scooter Gennett in a lineup that will get him more scoring opportunities. The same logic that applies to why Eovaldi made your list, Ben, applies to Devon Travis. Do you really love hard throwing 5th starters THAT MUCH more than average 2b's?
huztlers
4/29
How many of these players' buzz is based off of small sample size? What have any of them ever done for a sustained period of time?
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
really, in the scheme of things, our entire lives our small sample sized. what are we doing here? why do we bother?
BenC22
4/29
They're also arbitrary endpoints
carlbrownson
4/29
This is a guy who's hit 350 or so with good secondary skills and some power for parts of three years now across several levels. His major league sample size is small, but there's a solid minor league sample to look at. The question to me is whether you should pay more attention to your "eyes" or to numbers. BP has gone all-in on the eyes half of that story lately with minor league players, which is ironic because BP is famous in the first place for pointing out to us that numbers could show where our eyes were mistaken with major league players for some time now. Remember how many people believed that Jose Altuve was not a major league second baseman? They were believing their eyes rather than the numbers. Eyes can fail. Numbers can fail. Opinions may differ. But I'll take the over on that .260 and 12 HR's projection if it were a friendly bet.
carlbrownson
4/29
To be clear, I'm not saying you shouldn't trust your eyes. I'm saying that scouting and stats need to be balanced with minor leaguers just like they are with major leaguers, or guys who don't look like you expect will slip through the cracks. Any approach that called Devon Travis the fourth best 2B prospect in the Detroit system two years ago was giving undue weight to half that equation.
BenC22
4/29
I don't think this is a revolutionary concept. As Craig said, looking at MiLB stat lines is a good way to signal to yourself that maybe you should take another or a deeper look at a player. No one disputes that. Saying Travis was the fourth-best 2B prospect in the Tigers system two years ago doesn't mean anyone ignored the stats. It just means at the time, we thought three 2B prospects were better. Maybe they even *were* better back then, and Travis has just taken steps forward. Prospects change. If they didn't, this would be no fun. Altuve is a fine cherry-picked example, but I'm willing to bet I can find one or two minor leaguers with great stat lines who scouts didn't like who didn't pan out.
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
If you read the content from the prospect team here, you'll know numbers and production are mentioned all the time. No one is throwing out statistics and it's disingenuous to suggest that we are. The reason statistics are devalued at the minor league level is that the end-goal of the minor leagues is development and not production. You see pitchers have their best weapons limited in-game, which can not only negatively impact their numbers but enhance others. You see guys being taught new positions which can tax their focus at the plate, as well as time devoted to hitting. You see horrid defense resulting in hits that shouldn't be, moreso than in the majors. You can't just waltz in here holding up a printout of Devon Travis' minor league numbers and say "you should have known!" I linked to Mark Anderson's scouting report on him and it didn't trash him. He's an interesting player who can continue to grow and develop. You might take the over on the projection and that's fine. I think he'll absolutely hit over those figures in some years, but we're talking a baseline. It's great that you'll take the over on those figures, but you're not really supporting that notion for any other reason than "stats." I by no means intend to say that scouting is the be all and end all. Statistics should absolutely be married with what we see, but at the minor league level, because of the reasons listed above, stats shouldn't be taken at face value.
carlbrownson
4/29
I never said take them at face value. I'm saying you might be undervaluing them. Or course a guy can't be expected to hit in the majors like he does in the minors, for a thousand reasons, but if a guy is consistently outhitting his minor league competition, and he doesn't "look" like he should be, there are two different ways to go with that. I'm saying that you may have gone the wrong way with Travis. I might be wrong; time will tell. I do think hitters are different than pitchers in this way. If a pitcher is killing the minors with an 86-mph fastball, maybe trust your eyes.
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
But you're not providing any reason for it. Saying we're undervaluing it because of Travis ignores all the guys who hit the snot out of the ball at lower levels but *did* fail in the majors, and it's doing so based on Travis' month of play. Obviously the potential remains that certain players are undervalued, but unless you have some insight as to why that may be happening beyond "he hit in the minors" it's not really a viable argument.
carlbrownson
4/29
Actually, my whole point is that stats ARE a reason. If you don't see a reason in stats, you're proving my point. Now, are stats a fallible reason? Yes. So is scouting. But his stats have been extraordinary, and should have been given more weight.
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
I'm not proving your point. I'm pointing to the history of guys who have failed with good stats and saying it's inadequate as a point to say "should have been given more weight' because it's scattershot. We already incorporate performance to a degree, and it's an imperfect one to be sure. But arbitrarily saying "more weight should be given" is meaningless. How much? and why? and to which stats should the most weight be given? Why should we pay more attention to a guy with a one-month hot streak than the guys who have come before him and failed. "stats" can't be a reason. It's too broad with little application.
carlbrownson
4/29
How many scouting darlings have failed? How many stats darlings have failed? (That looks like a stats question.) Both are scattershots. I suspect there are more Bubba Starlings than Mike Hessmans in the world, but at the very least there are plenty of both. Which is to say that you can't dismiss a factor because people who have that factor sometimes or even usually fail. Prospects of every stripe usually fail.
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
And I've not quoted scouts as a be all nor end all! I've said multiple times you need to consider both, so I'd appreciate you not pretending otherwise. No one is dismissing a factor. You're say "they should be weighted differently" but providing no reason as to why, except to point at a small sample size example, which is begging the question. You can't just say Devon Travis is the reason. Is there something that differentiated him from the other guys who tear up minor leagues but fail?
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
sorry - tautology - not begging the question. Fingers moved faster than the brain there.
carlbrownson
4/29
It's actually what logicians call an inference to the best explanation: what reason was there to not have him in the top 10 of Toronto's system this year? By stats he should have been there, so there must have been a non-stats reason. A tautology is when you assert something of itself, like John Lennon's "There's nothing you can do that can't be done." (I teach logic for a living - I'm a philosophy professor.) Maybe I did that, but I don't see it.
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
apologies for the misuse, but I wouldn't call it anything close to the best explanation. You're asking fantasy writers who weren't involved to explain why other people didn't put him on a prospect list. I can't help you there, beyond the explanation that is "they thought the other talent was more deserving." That would be a great question for you to go ask the people who created the list. in my opinion you're saying "devon travis proves stats should be factored in more, and pressed for why you seem to be saying 'devon travis.'" Perhaps not a tautology but circular logic to say the least. You've answered very few of my questions on specifics or why things should be weighted differently. If we weight stats more, we're just undervaluing other players while perhaps catching a few more Devon Travis' (which assumes that scouts were wrong on him, which isn't *necessarily* the case). Why is that better?
carlbrownson
4/29
Fair point. I suppose I think I see a trend and am holding up Devon Travis as an example of it. There are other examples I've noticed, some in the other direction. Jorge Alfaro's arm gets a lot of love, justifiably, but what real statistical effect is a catcher's arm going to have on a baseball team? (He has other good tools, of course.) Altuve. Lots of Cardinals prospects who were never prospects. You're completely right that examples do not an argument make, but BP made a point of emphasizing "putting eyes" on players under Jason Parks, and when you emphasize one hing more, you are thereby deemphasizing other things. To fill out an argument, you're right that I'd need more than scattered examples. I'd need a huge data set, probably, and a comparative analysis of groups. I'm not about to do that. I just suspect a trend, in part because BP said as much under Parks.
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
absolutely! Cardinals guys are good example, Matt Carpenter. Some guys absolutely just hit, and we definitely miss on some of them here at BP. How much Alfaro's arm affects a game is... well, it depends. We've seen Yadier Molina's effect on the running game and that can have real value, but it might *need* to be on Yadi's level to have a tangible effect and that's the open question. Alfaro's footwork can also make his arm play down, so it all just depends. The reason Alfaro remains so high on lists despite obvious risk is because *if* it happens to click, it's a middle of the order bat at one of the most valuable positions. The upside is massive, value wise. That said, I think there are reasons to distance yourself from that profile and invest in guys who just hit. But the question remains, how valuable are those profiles with limited defensive value (this applies to Travis and his range - good hands though) and what happens if that hit tool isn't what we thought? Basically, if Chris Johnson hits like he's capable - he's a super useful guy to have on the team. If he has a down year like 2014, he might be a negative impact. Judging those guys versus toolsier players who have to have more go wrong, is a tough thing to do, and no doubt could possibly be done better. On some level though, you're just never going to be right on everyone.
carlbrownson
4/29
Totally agree with all of that. At some level, YJCPB, I guess ...
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
also fwiw, I'm sure I'm coming across harsher than I intend. I think this is a fun discussion. I love to argue.
carlbrownson
4/29
Likewise - I think it's fun too. And you're not at all - I'm enjoying it.
carlbrownson
4/29
Obviously stats become more of a reason the more sustained they are. One good season of stats in A-ball isn't much or a reason. Parts of three throughout the higher levels and into a month in the majors starts to look like a better reason.
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
and his prospect status rose over the course of that time! We're already doing what you're talking about. You seem to be saying we didn't do it enough based on a three week major league performance, and that's not something that's particularly reasonable.
carlbrownson
4/29
Did he make the top ten of Toronto's system this year? Why not? You're right - mentioning his stats is vague. But we both know what they are/were, so it seemed unnecessary.
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
No, you shouldn't scout the box score. If you want to use the box score as a legend and investigate further, then that's fine. But the performance discussed (.260/10+sb/10-12 HR) is not far from what scouting reports indicated on the way up. What changed for me was the timetable of that contribution, hence his inclusion. Look at how or why a result is being achieved, not just what occurred.
tylersnotes
4/29
i was going to make a tim beckham joke but dude is actually older than 25 and now i'm just kinda sad
johnwood427
4/29
why isn't Bobby Bonds on these lists?
rry2222
4/29
I would rank Steven Souza higher than he appears on these lists. If he performs at his 50% percentile PECOTA, 24 HR and 25 SBs seems more valuable to me than, for example, Pompey's empty 25 steals.
TheArtfulDodger
4/29
this begs the question a bit. That's assuming we agree that PECOTA's 50th percentile projection is reasonable. I won't speak for Ben, but I don't think it is.
BenC22
4/29
Agreed. If I thought he'd do that, he'd be higher.
heterodude
4/29
Was this article written before or after Brent Honeywell outclassed Low A batters with a second consecutive one-hit start? He's due for a promotion, but I could see him moving up the prospect lists soon.
Muboshgu
4/29
Re: Nathan Eovaldi Larry Rothschild has had great success in his career improving K rates for his pitchers. The Yankees as a team lately have been prioritizing big tall power pitchers. Eovaldi fits the mold to a T, and so far (SSS, of course) his K/9 has improved. We'll see where he sits at the end of a bigger sample, but I'm bullish.
Anchovies
4/30
Can I get thoughts on why Judge is so high? Biggest surprise, but if you're both relatively in agreement maybe I'm the one who's out to lunch.