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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 675

post #20221 of 77526
isn't for your phone/tablet?
post #20222 of 77526
geez laugh.gifmean.gif
O-H-I-O

CAVALIERS - INDIANS - BROWNS - BUCKEYES
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O-H-I-O

CAVALIERS - INDIANS - BROWNS - BUCKEYES
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post #20223 of 77526


Cubs throwbacks for 2014 pimp.gif
post #20224 of 77526
Can they throwback to their last WS champions?
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

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A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

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post #20225 of 77526
Quote:
Originally Posted by Th3RealF0lkBlu3s View Post

Can they throwback to their last WS champions?

Free behind the plate seats for anyone still alive from their last win?
MLB Los Angeles Dodgers
NFL Denver Broncos
NBA Los Angeles Lakers
USC Trojans
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MLB Los Angeles Dodgers
NFL Denver Broncos
NBA Los Angeles Lakers
USC Trojans
Reply
post #20226 of 77526
Developers really can't think RBI Baseball is a viable competitor to The Show, can they?
New York Yankees | New York Jets
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New York Yankees | New York Jets
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post #20227 of 77526
Quote:
Originally Posted by macbk View Post

Developers really can't think RBI Baseball is a viable competitor to The Show, can they?

 

 

They're not trying to compete with The Show, just offer an alternative to it.

 

It's not going to be a pure sim baseball from what I've read. Case in point there are only 16 players per team.

post #20228 of 77526
Quote:
Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post



Cubs throwbacks for 2014 pimp.gif


Damn i love baseball!
Kicks 4 Sale |Seattle Seahawks |Seattle Mariners |LA Lakers (Long live the Supersonics) | Instagram = Jetliferivas
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Kicks 4 Sale |Seattle Seahawks |Seattle Mariners |LA Lakers (Long live the Supersonics) | Instagram = Jetliferivas
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post #20229 of 77526
Quote:
Originally Posted by dakid23 View Post

Damn i love baseball!


tqdCDsG.gif
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
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Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
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post #20230 of 77526
More RBI Baseball details for those wondering:
Quote:
R.B.I. 14 features real baseball players — 16 on each of the 30 MLB clubs, a total of 480 — each of them appears in one of three body types.

Three (modes) are available: You'll be able to play one-off exhibition games, take a team through a season (a full 162 games or less) or start at the beginning of the postseason. Each team has three jerseys — home, road and alternate — and you can gain access to a fourth uniform, a retro jersey, by completing a challenge in the season mode. "The modes we have right now are in line with the expectation of R.B.I. It's very important for us to make sure that the gameplay experience stays true to the core of the entire era and the genre," said Leece, when asked about the basic setup.

Any Xbox 360- or Xbox One-owning fans of simulation baseball video games should disabuse themselves of the notion that R.B.I. 14 will serve as a competitor to MLB 14 The Show. MLB Advanced Media is aiming for something different — something that hews closer to the simpler sports games of the '80s and '90s. "It's going to be very true to the roots of the brand, of R.B.I. Baseball," said Jamie Leece, vice president of games for MLB Advanced Media. "It will be fast-paced; games can be played in under 20 minutes. From a user control standpoint, fans will find the controls to be 'classic,' reminiscent of the two-button controls from games of that generation."

R.B.I. 14's developers are taking advantage of the massive trove of data that MLB Advanced Media collects during every real-life baseball game, and using it as the basis of player skill and behavior in the game.

The rep said the game will initially launch simultaneously on PS3, Xbox 360, Android and iOS in "early April," with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions to follow soon afterward. MLB Advanced Media has not yet confirmed the prices for the various versions of R.B.I. 14, but a spokesperson told Polygon that it will only be released digitally on all platforms.

R.B.I. 14 doesn't feature online play
post #20231 of 77526
Thread Starter 
Zack Wheeler’s Catching and Zack Wheeler’s Pitching.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Before Matt Harvey was hurt, he was virtually perfect. Before Matt Harvey was perfect, he was imperfect, just another talented young pitcher a bit rough around the edges. The emergence of Harvey took a few of the spotlights away from Zack Wheeler, but Harvey going down bumped Wheeler front and center. Wheeler, now, is the great hope for 2014, and should he be able to reach his lofty potential, then come 2015 one might observe one of the rarest of breeds, that being the optimistic Mets fan. Harvey’s an ace if he can come back healthy. Wheeler’s an ace if he can just polish his game. It’s exciting to root for a team with two aces.

But to be sure, Wheeler has more in common with the imperfect Harvey than with the perfect Harvey. The numbers suggest he’s still an adjustment or two away from becoming the pitcher prospect types have dreamed about. Wheeler always walked hitters in the minors, but the strikeouts were there to pick him up. He continued walking hitters upon reaching the majors, but the strikeouts were present in lesser numbers. What we can tell is that Wheeler needs to throw some more strikes. Another thing we can tell is that that statement deserves an asterisk.

There’s no question Wheeler needs to work on his command. He’s admitted as much on multiple occasions, and it’s all about mechanical consistency. Almost everything’s about mechanical consistency, and it’s a lot easier to talk about it than it is to achieve it, but Wheeler’s a work in progress. Most pitchers are. He’s young.

But as long as we’re going to talk about Zack Wheeler’s performance, we need to give some consideration to the context. His command could be better. His big-league receivers could’ve been better. Wheeler spent a lot of time throwing to John Buck and Anthony Recker before Travis d’Arnaud was promoted, and last year, Buck and Recker were two of the worst pitch-receivers in baseball.

According to Matthew Carruth’s data, Recker was worth 1.5 strikes below average per game with the Mets. Buck was worth 1.7 strikes below average per game with the Mets. Only a small number of catchers were worse, and that allowed d’Arnaud to look like a massive improvement even though he was right on the mean. For a sense of what this meant to Wheeler, consider the following table:

zTkB oTkS
Wheeler 20% 4.7%
Lg. Average 14% 7.1%
The numbers:

zTkB: rate of pitches in the zone called balls
oTkS: rate of pitches out of the zone called strikes
Wheeler lost some strikes in the zone, and he lost some strikes out of it. If you just plug in league-average numbers, then Wheeler would’ve gained about 35 strikes, lifting his strike rate roughly two percentage points. Now, the receiving got better upon d’Arnaud’s promotion. Throwing to Buck and Recker, Wheeler threw 60.4% strikes, and his expected strike total was 2.8 strikes below average per start. Throwing to d’Arnaud, Wheeler threw 62.5% strikes, and his expected strike total was 0.5 strikes below average per start. A better receiver made Zack Wheeler better, but damage had already been done. At least, that’s what’s suggested.

I got a little curious. When a pitcher isn’t getting the benefit of the doubt, oftentimes it’s because of the catcher. But other times it’s because of the pitcher, as a borderline strike is harder to frame if it’s thrown to the opposite edge from the intended target. Was Zack Wheeler just not getting calls, or was he not getting calls because he was missing spots by a lot? I decided to pull up and .gif Wheeler’s called balls that were closest to the center of the strike zone. This evidence is just anecdotal, and it isn’t conclusive of anything, but it gave me some ideas. These .gifs are presented in no particular order.



That’s a missed spot, but also a terrible job of receiving. In fairness, the pitch was like 98 mph.



The strike zone’s smaller when a runner is on the move because the catcher is reacting as he’s making the catch. Wheeler pitched to an edge, but then it was out of his hands.



Nothing wrong with this location. Stabby action by the catcher.



Similar to above, although here Wheeler missed a little more in. He still caught the plate, according to PITCHf/x.



Location wasn’t pinpoint, but it was close. Catcher’s body does a weird little…. I don’t know — hop?



Really good breaking ball.



This was just a borderline call that didn’t go his way.
These .gifs don’t feature Zack Wheeler throwing all over the place. Granted, the process of finding these pitches was in part selective for pitches that weren’t all that wild, but it seems to me Wheeler could’ve had some better luck with his pitches on and around the edges. His strikes should improve just by getting to throw more to d’Arnaud. To whatever extent Wheeler was partially responsible for his own called strike zone, it would be hard for that situation to be worse in this coming season.

But that’s a lot of words about a small part of the story. Even after accounting for Wheeler’s receivers in 2013, it’s still pretty clear he could stand to make some command improvements. He could be reasonably effective as is, but with some steps forward the league could be Wheeler’s figurative oyster. In the majors, he threw just over 61% of his pitches for strikes. It was the same story in Triple-A. It was the same story in Triple-A the season before. Wheeler threw too many balls at the age of 23. How have pitchers like this progressed in the recent past?

I was asked recently if I thought Wheeler could go all Clayton Kershaw, since Kershaw also struggled with consistent strikes in the beginning. Kershaw’s a great example of a guy who just eliminated walks from his shrinking list of weaknesses, but when Kershaw was Wheeler’s age he walked 54 batters in 33 starts. Age has to count for something, and we might as well stick with 23. Let’s check out some recent 23-year-olds.

I identified starting pitchers who were 23 somewhere between 2002-2011. Then I started to narrow the pool. I set a walk-rate minimum of 9%. I set a strikeout-rate minimum of 16%, and a contact-rate minimum of 76%. The idea was to get a group of pitchers who had some command issues, but who demonstrated true strikeout ability. I was left looking at 25 names, from CC Sabathia to Casey Coleman.

In their age-23 seasons, the pitchers averaged 10.7% walks, 19.4% strikeouts, and 79.2% contact. Last season, Wheeler came in at 10.7%, 19.5% and 79.7%. On that basis, it looks like a good comparison pool.

I then looked at what those same pitchers did in the following two years, spanning 24 to 25 years old. As a group, unweighted, they averaged 8.9% walks, 19.8% strikeouts, and 79.3% contact. Ten of the 25 pitchers were worth at least 5 WAR during the two years. Five were worth at least 8 WAR.

Only Coleman was a minor contributor, in terms of innings. Joba Chamberlain moved to the bullpen. So did Marc Rzepczynski. Most of the pitchers stayed as starters, and a few more names would be Tim Lincecum, David Price and Jon Lester.

Only 12 of the 25 pitchers lifted their strikeout rates. However, 19 of them lowered their walk rates by at least one percentage point, and 15 lowered their walk rates by at least two percentage points. Six pitchers lowered their walk rates by more than three percentage points. Lester in particular took a massive step forward. Alex Cobb‘s is an interesting name, but then with him you have to consider the Jose Molina factor.

What I’m looking at is a list with a lot of talented names. Ubaldo Jimenez. Jaime Garcia. Justin Masterson. Edwin Jackson. But there’s also, say, Robinson Tejada. Oliver Perez. Scott Olsen. Andrew Miller. Some of the pitchers have become more effective by throwing more strikes. Some of the pitchers have been effective while still fighting command inconsistency. Some of the pitchers never quite made it. Of course, in general terms, this will be the conclusion of any such study.

With Wheeler, I’m pretty confident projecting an improvement in his walk rate. Even beyond having a different receiver, I mean. Most of the pitchers in the pool improved their walk rates, and pitchers have a tendency to improve in this area over time after debuting. In that regard, I expect Wheeler to take a step forward. What I don’t expect is a breakout season, as those are basically unprojectable. Wheeler ought to move toward being more good. I’m more skeptical that he’ll ever be great, but thankfully for the Mets, Matt Harvey still exists, and Wheeler could play a mean second fiddle. And if he manages to make the leap, like Harvey did, then don’t let anyone tell you the Mets never have good luck. They do have some good luck, in between all the bad.

Ranking the Minor League Systems by Impact: #16-30.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
One of the many rites of the baseball offseason is the publication of minor league prospect and organizational rankings. It’s my turn to take a swipe at this process, and I’m going to take a little bit of a different tack. The organizations will be ranked from top to bottom, and a key word that you will see over and over again is “impact”. Each team’s inner core of impact prospects – those that project as likely above average major league regulars – will drive each team’s ranking, though the number of non-impact regulars and the system’s total number of viable future big leaguers will also play a role. Today, systems 16 through 30.

Below, each team will have a brief section, containing the following information:
- IMPACT – The number of impact prospects currently in the system, followed by their names in alpha order, with top-tier impact guys in ALL CAPS.
- Other 2013 Impact – A listing of other players on the team’s prior year impact prospect list, with the positive (in the majors) or negative (downgraded prospect status) reason they are no longer on the impact list.
- Strength/Weakness – Self explanatory
- Depth Ratio – The number of total viable MLB prospects in the organizations divided by the average number of viable prospects in a system.
- One I Like More – A prospect I like more than the industry consensus, and why.
- One I Like Less – A prospect I like less than the industry consensus, and why.
- Observation – One takeaway, big-picture thought on the organization at this moment in time.

A couple of words regarding the methodology used here – a combination of analytical and traditional scouting methods were utilized. A Top 10 or Top 30 organizational list approach can obscure the difference between very strong and very weak systems. Holding all players to the same age and performance thresholds enables one to more easily cut each system’s prospects into tiers. I have seen many of the players discussed below in person, but far from all of them. That’s where video, MILBtv, scouting reports and other forms of research come in. There’s also a healthy dose of gut feel. The older, professional players who never played in a team’s minor league system – the Masahiro Tanakas, the Jose Abreus, etc., were not included in this analysis. Enough of this……let’s get on with the rankings.

16 – Arizona Diamondbacks
- IMPACT (2) – RHP ARCHIE BRADLEY, SS Chris Owings
- Other 2013 Impact – LHP Patrick Corbin (MLB), 3B Matt Davidson (CWS; non-impact MLB regular), CF Adam Eaton (MLB), LHP David Holmberg (CIN; non-impact MLB regular), LHP Tyler Skaggs (MLB)
- Strength/Weakness – Impact talent has been thinned dramatically by trades of Davidson, Eaton, Holmberg and Skaggs over the past calendar year, with the resulting level of improvement of the major league club open to debate. RHP remains an area of strength thanks to Bradley and RHP Braden Shipley, who sits just outside of the impact group. OF and LHP are the system’s leanest areas.
- Depth Ratio – 0.93
- One I Like More – RHP Matt Stites – Is dicing through the system as a reliever, with a career ERA of 1.53 and a 150/19 K/BB in 135 IP. Stuff plays up, could find himself in the big league pen sometime this season.
- One I Like Less – RHP Jose Martinez – Like the stuff, not sold on the size or lack of performance to date. Still a pup, too early to consider him an impact guy.
- Observation – Diamondbacks gambled a significant portion of their impact talent on what would seem to be modest big league gains. Club does retain ready supply of quick-to-majors relief talent in Stites, Jake Barrett and Jimmy Sherfy.

17 – Cincinnati Reds
- IMPACT (3) – RF Phillip Ervin, RHP ROBERT STEPHENSON, LF Jesse Winker
- Other 2013 Impact – CF Billy Hamilton (non-impact MLB regular)
- Strength/Weakness – Outfield depth is solid, infield depth is almost non-existent. Depth of non-impact regular group is fairly weak, though Billy Hamilton is as close to an impact guy as anyone in that category.
- Depth Ratio – 1.00
- One I Like More – RHP Jon Moscot – Went an amazing 2-14, 4.59, in the California League last year, albeit with solid peripherals. Was much better at the Double-A level as a 21-year-old in his first full pro season. Projects as a durable mid-rotation starter.
- One I Like Less – Hamilton. Must emphasize that I do like Hamilton, but not as an “impact” guy, as there are simply too many questions with the bat. There is Vince Coleman upside here, but Coleman sure did make a lot of outs.
- Observation – A very top-heavy system – Stephenson is one of the best pitching prospects in the game, and Ervin can really hit. System is trending downward, as much of its bulk has been moved for major league upgrades in recent seasons.

18 – San Francisco Giants
- IMPACT (5) – LHP Ty Blach, RHP Clayton Blackburn, RHP KYLE CRICK, LHP Edwin Escobar, LHP Adalberto Mejia
- Other 2013 Impact – None
- Strength/Weakness – Exceptional high-end pitching depth, especially from the left side. Position player depth is almost nonexistent, and there are few future MLB regular contributors beyond the impact group.
- Depth Ratio – 0.93
- One I Like More – Blackburn. Perennially underrated by most evaluators, likely due in part to his doughy frame, but Blackburn has carried the load and dominated both A-ball levels. His stuff is solid, and his command is better. Success at the upper levels in 2014 will advance his case.
- One I Like Less – RHP Chris Stratton – 2012 1st rounder was fairly pedestrian at Low-A Augusta last season, and just hasn’t been the same before or after his draft year at Mississippi State.
- Observation – We’re getting down to only truly flawed systems at this point. The Giants have a genuine strength in impact-level starting pitching depth, and have come a long way since their system hit rock-bottom two or three years back. There just aren’t many future potential everyday position players on hand, however.

19 – Detroit Tigers
- IMPACT (5) – 3B Nick Castellanos, LHP Robbie Ray, RHP Bruce Rondon, RHP Jake Thompson, 2B Devon Travis
- Other 2013 Impact – None
- Strength/Weakness – As usual, the Tigers possess more than their fair share of hard throwers, especially bullpen types. Middle infield depth is adequate, but overall position player depth is quite lacking. There aren’t many potential regulars behind the impact group.
- Depth Ratio – 0.89
- One I Like More – Ray. While I am not about to suggest that I approve of the Doug Fister trade from the Tigers’ perspective, I will say that Ray is legit, and has a bright MLB future, most likely as a starter. He should slide into Drew Smyly‘s 2013 role before long.
- One I Like Less – UT Hernan Perez – Simply cannot see him hitting. Projects as an Eduardo Escobar type, a fringe utilityman.
- Observation – I’m probably higher on this system than most, and believe that they are on the right track after a few years near the bottom of such rankings. Expect them to graduate most of their impact guys to the big leagues in 2014, likely lowering their 2015 ranking.

20 – New York Yankees
- IMPACT (1) – C Gary Sanchez
- Other 2013 Impact – RF Tyler Austin (non-impact MLB regular)
- Strength/Weakness – With Sanchez, JR Murphy and Peter O’Brien, the Yankees possess solid catching depth, though one or two may need to move off of the position in the majors. There may not be a single future MLB regular starting pitcher in the system at present.
- Depth Ratio – 1.13
- One I Like More – O’Brien. A future position switch is likely, but his power is very real and plays anywhere if he can make a bit more consistent contact.
- One I Like Less – CF Mason Williams – Hasn’t hit a lick since undergoing shoulder surgery in 2012. A big leaguer, yes, thanks to his defensive ability, but can’t buy him as an impact guy or even as a regular until he shows more with the bat.
- Observation – This system would rank even lower if not for a glut of interesting talent that toiled in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2014 – remember the names of SS Thairo Estrada, SS Abiatal Avelino, 3B Miguel Andujar and 2B Gosuke Katoh – and expect one or more to take a step forward this season. The Yanks are also primed to spend big bucks internationally this year to get their ranking up to snuff.

21 – Philadelphia Phillies
- IMPACT (4) – LHP Jesse Biddle, SS JP Crawford, 3B Maikel Franco, RHP Severino Gonzalez
- Other 2013 Impact – None
- Strength/Weakness – No real areas of depth here, ranking is salvaged by a solid impact group. In fact, the ranking would be much lower if not for the drafting of stud SS prospect Crawford in the 1st round last season, coupled with Franco’s breakout season. There are few projected MLB regulars beyond the impact group, particularly among starting pitchers.
- Depth Ratio – 0.82
- One I Like More – S.Gonzalez. He smoked three levels in 2013, finishing up with a solid AA outing at age 20. His VSL numbers evoke the Mariners’ Erasmo Ramirez, another extreme strikethrower with surprisingly good stuff, and Gonzalez got more done in his first year stateside.
- One I Like Less – RHP Ethan Martin – Martin is what he has always been – a big arm just feeling his way pitching-wise. See him as a 6th-7th inning reliever at best, not an impact guy.
- Observation – Another top-heavy system, but I cannot emphasize enough how much I like JP Crawford – think Jimmy Rollins.

22 – Oakland Athletics
- IMPACT (2) – CF Billy McKinney, SS ADDISON RUSSELL
- Other 2013 Impact – 3B Miles Head (no longer projects as a regular), RHP Dan Straily (MLB)
- Strength/Weakness – Addison Russell is the system’s primary strength – without him this is a bottom-five system for sure. There are few future MLB regulars in the system, though the A’s solid track record in getting the most from their prospects’ talent offers hope. Beyond 2013 1st rounder McKinney, there is very little OF help.
- Depth Ratio – 0.87
- One I Like More – LHP Chris Kohler – Really like the A’s 2013 supplemental 3rd rounder. Well-proportioned lefty with three now MLB offerings, dominated the hitter-friendly AZL rookie ball environment and should move up quickly.
- One I Like Less – RHP Michael Ynoa – He’s finally healthy and showing flashes of the talent that got paid $4.25 million, but still has a very long road ahead. A solid lottery ticket, but not an impact prospect in my opinion.
- Observation – Russell is the key to the system, he represents as much of a system’s total value as any prospect in the game. You can’t rank a system with a top-tier, premium position guy too close to the bottom of the pile.

23 – Tampa Bay Rays
- IMPACT (2) – SS Hak-Ju Lee, RHP Jake Odorizzi
- Other 2013 Impact – RHP Chris Archer (MLB), RHP Taylor Guerrieri (Inj; non-impact MLB regular), CF Wil Myers (MLB)
- Strength/Weakness – As usual, the Rays’ starting pitching depth is solid, with RHPs Guerrieri, Alex Colome and recently acquired Matt Andriese behind Odorizzi. Beyond CF Andrew Toles, there is limited MLB regular quality OF. Longball power is not an organizational strength.
- Depth Ratio – 1.13
- One I Like More – Andriese. Acquired from the Padres in a rare five-for-two prospect challenge trade, Andriese projects as an inning-eating, ground ball machine starter, and isn’t far away.
- One I Like Less – LHP Enny Romero – I do like him, but he has posted poor K/BB ratios the last two seasons, and he doesn’t possess the contact management skills to overcome this. See him as more of a potential low-end starter.
- Observation – The Rays system had reached its recent low-water mark, so they made that interesting depth-building deal with the Padres that should help both clubs. Still, it feels odd to see their system ranked so low, despite their many early-round draft whiffs in recent years. A David Price deal could shake things up a bit.

24 – Toronto Blue Jays
- IMPACT (2) – RHP Roberto Osuna, RHP Marcus Stroman
- Other 2013 Impact – RHP Aaron Sanchez (non-impact MLB regular)
- Strength/Weakness – Starting pitching depth is solid, position player depth very lean behind SS Franklin Barreto.
- Depth Ratio – 0.87
- One I Like More – Osuna. Yes, he had Tommy John surgery last summer, but this guy is electric. His large frame is somewhat of a concern, but he was on his way to becoming one of the game’s premier pitching prospects prior to his injury.
- One I Like Less – CF DJ Davis – Sure, he can fly and flashes surprising pop, but he’s as raw as they come and struggles to make consistent contact. The ceiling is high, but his status as even a future MLB regular is far from certain at this point.
- Observation – Not too long ago, this was an emerging top-tier system. Then they went all-in on 2013, made the Jose Reyes-Mark Buehrle trade with the Marlins, as well as a couple smaller win-now deals, and here we are. Their position player portfolio ranks among the game’s leanest, though the top handful of pitchers still offer plenty of hope for Jays fans.

25 – Chicago White Sox
- IMPACT (1) – SS Marcus Semien
- Other 2013 Impact – RF Courtney Hawkins (non-impact MLB regular)
- Strength/Weakness – This system has actually made a solid step forward with the acquisition of 1B/3B Matt Davidson, who resides just outside the impact group, and a strong 2013 draft that netted them SS Tim Anderson, RHP Tyler Danish and CF Jacob May in the first three rounds. That said, the impact talent level is low, as even Semien barely rises to that level.
- Depth Ratio – 1.09
- One I Like More – Semien. A gut feel guy here. He’s just a baseball player, good at everything, though not always looking pretty doing it. The type of guy who tends to find himself on the winning side.
- One I Like Less – RHP Chris Beck – Though he fared better after a late-season promotion to AA, I just can’t wrap my head around his poor High-A K rate (57 in 119 IP). See him as a future pen guy.
- Observation – After a long fallow period, this system is showing signs of life. Besides the mostly “performer” types listed above, traditional tools guys like 2B Micah Johnson and 2012 1st rounder Hawkins also offer hope for the future.

26 – Miami Marlins
- IMPACT (3) – LHP Andrew Heaney, CF Jake Marisnick, 3B Colin Moran
- Other 2013 Impact – RHP Jose Fernandez (MLB), LHP Justin Nicolino (non-impact MLB regular), CF Christian Yelich (MLB)
- Strength/Weakness – Beyond the two impact hitters, there is nothing resembling a future MLB regular among the position players. On the other hand, pitching depth is quite solid, with Nicolino and fellow lefties Brian Flynn and Adam Conley lined up behind Heaney. RHP depth isn’t nearly as strong.
- Depth Ratio – 0.82
- One I Like More – RHP Nick Wittgren – Has never overwhelmed stuff-wise, but it has always played up, to the tune of a 110/15 K/BB ratio in 89 IP as a pro, with an 0.91 ERA. A quick mover.
- One I Like Less – 2B Avery Romero – A 2012 3rd round high school draftee at age 19, he has amassed just 34 full-season league at-bats since, with just five hits. Nothing to hang your hat on, tools-wise. Could fall through the cracks with another uneventful season.
- Observation – Tough to be too hard on the Marlins, as their total pre-2013 teardown pushed a bunch of interesting prospects to the majors prematurely. They need to reload, particularly on the position player side, where pickings are slim behind Moran and Marisnick.

27 – Atlanta Braves
- IMPACT- RHP Lucas Sims
- Other 2013 Impact – RHP Julio Teheran (MLB)
- Strength/Weakness – RHP is the closest thing to a strength in the system. There is very little offensive punch, as their two best position player prospects, C Christian Bethancourt and SS Jose Peraza, are both defensively oriented.
- Depth Ratio – 0.89
- One I Like More – Peraza. Though his defense is ahead of his bat, he’s far from a zero offensively, hitting .288-.341-.371 with 64 steals as a teenager in a full-season league last season. Another such year makes him an impact guy.
- One I Like Less – RHP JR Graham – Missed most of 2013 with a shoulder injury, and hasn’t logged an inning above AA at age 24. A ground ball guy, my guess is that he winds up in the pen as a 6th-7th inning type, not an impact type.
- Observation – Can’t be too hard on the Braves either, as their collection of young, entrenched MLB talent ranks among the very best in the game. Their next high impact homegrown MLB hitter might not even be in their system yet, however.

28 – Washington Nationals
- IMPACT (2) – RHP AJ Cole, RHP Lucas Giolito
- Other 2013 Impact – CF Brian Goodwin (non-impact MLB regular), 2B Anthony Rendon (MLB)
- Strength/Weakness – Two really good pitching prospects, including one potential stud in Giolito at the top, but quite possibly not a single other MLB regular anywhere else in the system.
- Depth Ratio – 0.87
- One I Like More – SS/3B Zach Walters – Had a very odd offensive line in 2013, batting .253-.286-.517 with 29 HR and a poor 13***** K/BB ratio. If he can smooth out the rough edges, that kind of power that can spot in the middle of the field will play at the MLB level.
- One I Like Less – LHP Sammy Solis – Has been a medical train wreck going back to his amateur days, and has pitched all of 160 relatively ordinary innings in four years as a pro. The stuff has gone backward as well – I’m not counting on an MLB future for Solis.
- Observation – The Nats swing for the fences in the draft, and value quality over quantity in their system, and it has served them well, as they turned high picks into Strasburg/Harper/Rendon/Giolito. Now that they’re picking lower, they need to find an alternate path to success.

29 – Milwaukee Brewers
- IMPACT (0)
- Other 2013 Impact – None
- Strengths/Weaknesses – From the above two blank lines it is apparent that a lack of premium talent is the Brewers’ chief weakness. That said, they have made some recent strides in adding future non-impact MLB regular talent, with 2013 2nd round RHP Devin Williams a potential near-term graduate to the impact class.
- Depth Ratio – 0.82
- One I Like More – Williams. Taijuan Walker immediately comes to mind when discussing Williams – both were raw, athletic, low-mileage, high-ceiling power guys when drafted. Williams is not in Walker’s class, but he can become this lean system’s top prospect in short order.
- One I Like Less – RHP John Hellweg – Huge body, huge arm, running it up into the upper-90′s at times, but has simply never taken even a moderate step forward command-wise. Even his K rates have taken a hit in the upper minors.
- Observation – The Brewers need to grow their own impact talent, and they simply do not have it on hand in the minor leagues at present. The addition of Williams and SS Orlando Arcia, 19, already a vet of a full year in a full-season league, are baby steps in the right direction.

30 – Los Angeles Angels
- IMPACT (1) – RHP RJ Alvarez
- Other 2013 Impact – None
- Strengths/Weaknesses – Not much to discuss strength-wise, as their only impact prospect is a reliever. There may not be a single future regular MLB starting pitcher in the system. In Taylor Lindsey and Alex Yarbrough, they do possess a pair of 2B prospects who could eventually start in the major leagues.
- Depth Ratio – 0.87
- One I Like More – Alvarez. He may be a reliever, but he’s a dominant one. He had 79 K in 49 High-A IP last season, and pushes 100 MPH with his heater. He’s a quick return on investment guy who could force his way to Anaheim quite soon.
- One I Like Less – 1B CJ Cron – He’s an all-or-nothing masher whose utter lack of plate discipline has hindered him from reaching his power upside. Lacks a true position, and has a lengthy injury history.
- Observation – Not much to see here, but drafting Mike Trout after over two-thirds of the teams in the game passed buys you an awful lot of mulligans. They have drafted some other solid guys in recent years – Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs, to name two – but have moved them to bolster their major league club.

How the Best Tools Translate to the Majors: A Partial Study.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
As perhaps indicated by the piece I published here in the fall concerning the relationship between scouting grades and wins, one of my particular interests — and, I would argue, one of the more compelling frontiers of baseball research currently — is the examination of how a prospect’s scouting profile relates, in a concrete and objective way, to the production that might be expected of him at the major-league level. My assumption is that many, if not all, professional organizations have a means by which to assess such a thing — perhaps some in a less, others in a more, formal way. The bonuses they extend to amateur players indicate that some manner of valuation exists. For the public, however, the process by which such valuations are established is rather opaque.

The intention of this post is to add very, very slightly to the extant body of research on this topic. It (i.e. this post) has its genesis in a pastime that probably won’t be unfamiliar to the reader — namely, flipping through the pages of a Baseball America Prospect Handbook (a text with regard to which I’ve documented my emotional emotions elsewhere). As the reader will probably know, for each organization, the editors of Baseball America identify which prospects within that organization feature the best of this or that tool: Best Hitter for Average, Best Power Hitter, Best Strike-Zone Discipline, etc.

“How,” I said aloud to myself, because my life is full predominantly of sadness, “how might the prospects with the greatest ability to hit for average compare to the ones with most power compare to the ones with best plate discipline once all of these players have eventually graduated to the majors (or, alternatively, have not graduated to the majors, from lack of opportunity/talent)?” Phrased differently: how have the best tools translated to major-league production?

Obviously, for the players who appear in the 2014 edition of the Handbook, such a question is unanswerable. Were one to examine players who’ve had sufficient time to produce a major-league resume, however, such an endeavor would be possible. Fortunately, BA has been assembling such lists for a while — and lists of each organizations best tools are available online going back to 2005, it appears.

Accordingly, 2005 is where I decided to begin this very small thing. What I did, simply, was to record which players were distinguished for the following traits within their respective organizations:

Best Hitter for Average
Best Power Hitter
Best Strike-Zone Discipline
Fastest Baserunner
Best Athlete
After assembling a list of all Best Tool players from each of the 30 organizations, I produced five separate custom leaderboards with the metrics that might be most relevant to assessing the quality of a major leaguer. That information appears below, in a number of forms and accompanied by mediocre commentary.

Before we consider that data, it’s important to note that there are probably about a thousand caveats that ought to be made regarding this exercise. For one: these Best Tool lists represent a distillation of opinions from scouts and other industry contacts. Educated opinions, of course, but opinions nonetheless. Naturally, there’s a lack of absolute precision. For two: just as in 2014, talent wasn’t distributed evenly in 2005 among all 30 organizations. Toronto’s top power-hitting prospect in 2005 (Guillermo Quiroz) was never regarded as having the same sort of home-run potential as Milwaukee’s top power prospect from then (i.e. Prince Fielder). For three: owing to how the data here represents only a single year’s worth of prospects, the present work is hardly exhaustive.

Below are five leaderboards, each containing the players who (a) were distinguished by Baseball America for possessing one of the five relevant tools named above and (b) also recorded at least a single plate appearance in the majors. Players are sorted by career WAR to date. Also included are the number of players demonstrating the relevant tool to have graduated to the majors and the numbers of those players to have recorded at least 5.0 WAR over the course of their respective career. HRC% denotes home runs on contact (that is, home runs per ball batted into fair play); WAR550, meanwhile, denotes WAR for every 550 plate appearances of a player’s career.

Best Hitters for Average
Graduated to Majors: 27
Number Above 5.0 WAR: 15
Name PA BB% K% HRC% BABIP wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR WAR550
Joe Mauer 5060 12.2% 11.1% 2.7% .349 134 11.1 222.4 42.0 44.0 4.8
Curtis Granderson 5044 10.2% 23.1% 6.4% .305 118 27.6 136.4 22.3 33.2 3.6
Joey Votto 3790 14.9% 18.5% 6.2% .359 156 -11.4 240.1 -44.1 33.0 4.8
Ian Kinsler 4791 9.6% 11.9% 4.1% .281 111 39.8 104.9 18.2 29.1 3.3
Michael Bourn 3941 8.5% 20.6% 1.0% .342 92 53.4 14.9 66.5 21.7 3.0
Aaron Hill 4814 6.9% 13.1% 3.5% .291 101 6.8 14.5 27.8 20.6 2.4
Nick Markakis 5256 9.3% 13.1% 3.1% .317 113 5.9 89.3 -65.8 20.0 2.1
Rickie Weeks 4414 10.6% 23.3% 4.8% .302 107 21.3 61.1 -35.0 17.2 2.1
Carlos Quentin 3092 9.1% 15.6% 6.4% .258 124 -5.6 81.0 -78.3 10.8 1.9
Nate McLouth 3575 9.8% 16.9% 3.8% .279 101 33.8 37.3 -52.2 10.4 1.6
Billy Butler 4208 9.2% 14.3% 3.7% .327 120 -37.0 62.2 -108.8 9.8 1.3
Melky Cabrera 4236 7.2% 12.1% 2.1% .310 99 1.2 -7.8 -46.8 8.9 1.2
Ryan Sweeney 2112 8.0% 14.6% 1.2% .320 96 0.8 -10.4 19.2 8.0 2.1
Jeff Francoeur 4959 5.0% 18.3% 3.7% .297 88 -11.2 -81.2 -19.2 6.2 0.7
Matt Murton 1058 8.8% 14.1% 3.6% .312 101 1.7 3.4 16.3 5.4 2.8
Brandon Moss 1550 8.8% 25.7% 6.5% .304 113 -9.5 12.7 -23.5 4.3 1.5
Casey Kotchman 3412 7.8% 9.9% 2.5% .271 93 -25.1 -54.9 -31.9 2.7 0.4
Ian Stewart 1620 10.3% 27.3% 5.8% .290 83 -2.1 -33.9 5.9 2.5 0.8
Jeremy Reed 1376 7.3% 14.2% 1.1% .289 78 0.1 -36.8 10.4 2.0 0.8
Jeremy Hermida 2261 9.6% 22.9% 4.3% .314 96 -9.4 -18.6 -38.6 1.8 0.4
Blake DeWitt 1247 8.6% 15.6% 2.2% .292 87 0.1 -18.9 -3.0 1.8 0.8
Brendan Harris 1876 7.0% 18.3% 2.4% .301 85 2.8 -30.7 -17.4 1.5 0.4
Josh Barfield 1075 4.1% 17.5% 1.9% .307 75 9.4 -24.6 -0.9 1.1 0.6
Chris Burke 1443 7.8% 16.8% 2.1% .277 76 5.9 -38.1 -2.5 0.8 0.3
Michael Aubrey 145 6.9% 10.3% 5.0% .254 96 -1.0 -1.8 -2.5 0.1 0.4
Delmon Young 3936 4.2% 17.9% 3.3% .322 96 -10.2 -27.7 -114.8 -1.2 -0.2
Omar Quintanilla 1131 8.3% 20.6% 1.0% .278 52 0.8 -64.7 11.7 -1.7 -0.8
Average 3016 8.5% 16.9% 3.5% .302 100 3.7 23.3 -16.5 10.9 2.0
Best Power Hitters
Graduated to Majors: 23
Number Above 5.0 WAR: 6
Name PA BB% K% HRC% BABIP wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR WAR550
Joey Votto 3790 14.9% 18.5% 6.2% .359 156 -11.4 240.1 -44.1 33.0 4.8
Prince Fielder 5612 12.9% 17.5% 7.3% .303 140 -44.2 229.0 -142.2 27.7 2.7
Ryan Howard 5018 11.7% 27.9% 10.3% .324 130 -38.9 152.3 -110.0 20.4 2.2
Carlos Quentin 3092 9.1% 15.6% 6.4% .258 124 -5.6 81.0 -78.3 10.8 1.9
Billy Butler 4208 9.2% 14.3% 3.7% .327 120 -37.0 62.2 -108.8 9.8 1.3
Nate Schierholtz 1892 6.0% 17.1% 3.1% .299 98 4.6 0.3 -3.4 5.9 1.7
Chris Duncan 1317 12.1% 24.0% 6.5% .307 111 1.3 21.1 -32.0 3.2 1.3
Ian Stewart 1620 10.3% 27.3% 5.8% .290 83 -2.1 -33.9 5.9 2.5 0.8
Dan Johnson 1556 13.2% 14.8% 5.0% .243 101 -4.4 -1.9 -28.7 2.2 0.8
Dallas McPherson 414 6.5% 32.1% 7.1% .319 92 -2.0 -6.2 4.0 1.2 1.6
Jason Botts 326 11.7% 33.1% 2.8% .349 76 -0.7 -10.6 4.8 0.5 0.8
Jon Knott 37 13.5% 24.3% 4.3% .227 75 -0.5 -1.8 0.6 0.0 0.0
Walter Young 37 10.8% 18.9% 3.8% .360 113 -0.6 0.0 -1.2 0.0 0.0
Josh Fields 796 8.7% 29.5% 6.9% .298 86 -3.6 -17.4 -10.9 -0.1 -0.1
Joel Guzman 62 8.1% 19.4% 0.0% .295 68 0.1 -2.5 -1.0 -0.1 -0.9
Wladimir Balentien 559 7.9% 26.7% 4.1% .279 72 1.5 -18.0 -2.8 -0.2 -0.2
Scott Moore 430 6.5% 24.4% 5.4% .285 88 -0.8 -7.3 -9.2 -0.2 -0.3
Brad Snyder 37 2.7% 48.6% 0.0% .333 -5 0.0 -4.6 1.5 -0.2 -3.0
Mike Restovich 297 9.4% 22.9% 3.0% .299 82 -0.3 -7.4 -7.5 -0.5 -0.9
Delmon Young 3936 4.2% 17.9% 3.3% .322 96 -10.2 -27.7 -114.8 -1.2 -0.2
Brad Eldred 299 5.7% 36.5% 8.7% .266 71 -1.0 -12.1 -11.3 -1.4 -2.6
Guillermo Quiroz 377 5.8% 22.5% 1.1% .257 43 -3.5 -29.9 2.5 -1.5 -2.2
Andy Marte 924 7.3% 19.2% 2.9% .252 67 -3.5 -41.5 -10.3 -2.1 -1.3
Average 1593 9.1% 24.0% 4.7% .298 91 -7.1 24.5 -30.3 4.8 1.6
Best Strike-Zone Discipline-ers
Graduated to Majors: 25
Number Above 5.0 WAR: 13
Name PA BB% K% HRC% BABIP wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR WAR550
Dustin Pedroia 4548 9.3% 8.9% 2.7% .314 119 3.8 105.7 75.6 34.4 4.2
Curtis Granderson 5044 10.2% 23.1% 6.4% .305 118 27.6 136.4 22.3 33.2 3.6
Joey Votto 3790 14.9% 18.5% 6.2% .359 156 -11.4 240.1 -44.1 33.0 4.8
Prince Fielder 5612 12.9% 17.5% 7.3% .303 140 -44.2 229.0 -142.2 27.7 2.7
Nick Swisher 5647 13.2% 21.4% 6.3% .291 119 -5.3 126.5 -44.5 27.7 2.7
Michael Bourn 3941 8.5% 20.6% 1.0% .342 92 53.4 14.9 66.5 21.7 3.0
Josh Willingham 4252 11.8% 22.0% 6.4% .294 123 -7.3 111.2 -85.9 16.8 2.2
Billy Butler 4208 9.2% 14.3% 3.7% .327 120 -37.0 62.2 -108.8 9.8 1.3
Ryan Church 2128 8.8% 21.6% 3.8% .319 102 -0.3 7.2 9.6 8.6 2.2
Garrett Atkins 3273 8.9% 13.7% 3.9% .305 99 -6.5 -6.5 -31.5 6.9 1.2
Rajai Davis 2640 5.7% 17.1% 1.3% .317 87 41.6 1.5 -22.1 6.8 1.4
Matt Murton 1058 8.8% 14.1% 3.6% .312 101 1.7 3.4 16.3 5.4 2.8
Jeff Keppinger 3156 6.3% 6.8% 1.6% .290 92 -7.6 -36.9 -12.6 5.4 0.9
Fred Lewis 1763 9.6% 22.1% 2.2% .337 100 8.8 9.9 -22.5 4.5 1.4
Conor Jackson 2485 10.1% 11.7% 2.7% .290 98 2.6 -3.7 -45.8 3.3 0.7
Jason Kubel 3707 9.1% 20.9% 5.4% .302 107 -14.5 17.6 -113.7 2.7 0.4
Casey Kotchman 3412 7.8% 9.9% 2.5% .271 93 -25.1 -54.9 -31.9 2.7 0.4
Jeremy Reed 1376 7.3% 14.2% 1.1% .289 78 0.1 -36.8 10.4 2.0 0.8
Elliot Johnson 806 6.7% 26.2% 2.2% .288 65 2.5 -30.5 8.2 0.4 0.3
Michael Aubrey 145 6.9% 10.3% 5.0% .254 96 -1.0 -1.8 -2.5 0.1 0.4
Val Majewski 13 0.0% 7.7% 0.0% .167 -11 0.3 -1.5 0.6 0.0 0.0
John Gall 56 1.8% 25.0% 4.9% .289 74 -0.6 -2.5 -0.7 -0.1 -1.0
Paul McAnulty 275 13.1% 26.5% 3.6% .263 77 1.5 -6.5 -3.6 -0.1 -0.2
Todd Self 49 6.1% 18.4% 2.7% .229 45 -0.6 -4.0 -0.2 -0.3 -3.4
Russ Adams 993 8.6% 11.9% 2.2% .264 78 0.2 -27.2 -17.7 -1.0 -0.6
Average 2575 8.6% 17.0% 3.5% .293 95 -0.7 34.1 -20.8 10.1 2.1
Fastest Baserunners
Graduated to Majors: 17
Number Above 5.0 WAR: 7
Name PA BB% K% HRC% BABIP wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR WAR550
Hanley Ramirez 4760 9.5% 16.6% 5.1% .334 132 28.1 217.4 -6.5 37.1 4.3
Michael Bourn 3941 8.5% 20.6% 1.0% .342 92 53.4 14.9 66.5 21.7 3.0
Denard Span 3333 8.9% 11.9% 1.0% .318 103 18.0 32.2 37.5 18.5 3.1
Chris Young 3963 10.0% 22.9% 5.4% .274 94 17.3 -14.2 29.8 15.0 2.1
Gregor Blanco 1800 11.7% 19.8% 0.8% .325 93 9.4 -6.2 16.0 7.1 2.2
Rajai Davis 2640 5.7% 17.1% 1.3% .317 87 41.6 1.5 -22.1 6.8 1.4
Willy Taveras 2644 5.1% 14.8% 0.4% .323 68 39.1 -66.4 37.7 5.8 1.2
Joey Gathright 1329 7.3% 16.0% 0.1% .318 71 9.9 -39.4 24.7 3.0 1.2
Jason Repko 779 6.7% 25.0% 3.0% .288 72 8.4 -18.4 15.6 2.3 1.6
Jerry Owens 430 7.0% 16.7% 0.3% .319 65 7.6 -11.1 6.7 1.0 1.3
Jamal Strong 26 7.7% 23.1% 0.0% .294 72 0.5 -0.4 0.6 0.1 2.1
Freddy Guzman 102 3.9% 16.7% 1.2% .244 41 1.2 -6.5 4.3 0.1 0.5
Dave Krynzel 54 5.6% 33.3% 0.0% .300 36 0.3 -4.2 2.2 0.0 0.0
Mel Stocker 3 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% .000 -100 0.6 -0.3 0.1 0.0 0.0
Freddie Bynum 377 4.2% 28.6% 2.4% .321 64 -0.1 -16.9 -1.5 -0.5 -0.7
Eric Reed 68 4.4% 23.5% 0.0% .133 -36 0.9 -11.1 3.6 -0.5 -4.0
Ramon Nivar 133 3.0% 14.3% 0.0% .262 30 -0.2 -11.8 -5.2 -1.2 -5.0
Average 1552 6.4% 18.9% 1.3% .277 58 13.9 3.5 12.4 6.8 2.4
Best Athlete
Graduated to Majors: 20
Number Above 5.0 WAR: 6
Name PA BB% K% HRC% BABIP wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR WAR550
Hanley Ramirez 4760 9.5% 16.6% 5.1% .334 132 28.1 217.4 -6.5 37.1 4.3
Matt Kemp 3897 8.0% 23.6% 5.9% .352 126 18.3 138.1 -63.8 20.6 2.9
Denard Span 3333 8.9% 11.9% 1.0% .318 103 18.0 32.2 37.5 18.5 3.1
Chris Young 3963 10.0% 22.9% 5.4% .274 94 17.3 -14.2 29.8 15.0 2.1
Brendan Ryan 2645 7.1% 16.0% 0.9% .279 71 15.2 -75.4 80.5 9.3 1.9
Jeff Francoeur 4959 5.0% 18.3% 3.7% .297 88 -11.2 -81.2 -19.2 6.2 0.7
Fred Lewis 1763 9.6% 22.1% 2.2% .337 100 8.8 9.9 -22.5 4.5 1.4
Elijah Dukes 970 13.3% 20.3% 4.8% .279 105 -3.1 3.5 -13.0 2.3 1.3
Joaquin Arias 855 3.4% 13.5% 0.8% .309 81 3.4 -15.6 -2.1 1.0 0.6
Jerry Owens 430 7.0% 16.7% 0.3% .319 65 7.6 -11.1 6.7 1.0 1.3
Ben Johnson 253 10.7% 27.7% 4.5% .299 92 -0.9 -3.5 2.5 0.8 1.7
Charlton Jimerson 9 0.0% 33.3% 33.3% .500 305 0.6 3.0 0.0 0.3 18.3
Lastings Milledge 1659 6.3% 17.3% 2.6% .312 92 -4.7 -22.0 -31.3 0.2 0.1
Jai Miller 73 5.5% 39.7% 5.0% .378 79 0.2 -1.7 -0.1 0.1 0.8
Dave Krynzel 54 5.6% 33.3% 0.0% .300 36 0.3 -4.2 2.2 0.0 0.0
Matt Tuiasosopo 401 9.5% 31.7% 5.1% .283 79 -2.0 -12.1 -4.4 -0.3 -0.4
Greg Golson 42 2.4% 23.8% 0.0% .258 20 -0.1 -4.3 -0.3 -0.3 -3.9
Reggie Abercrombie 421 5.0% 29.2% 3.2% .301 61 1.6 -19.9 -0.2 -0.5 -0.7
Felix Pie 1082 6.5% 21.0% 2.2% .300 72 3.6 -32.7 -13.4 -1.1 -0.6
Chris Nelson 820 5.9% 23.0% 2.7% .335 81 -0.5 -18.2 -27.8 -2.1 -1.4
Average 1619 7.0% 23.1% 4.4% .318 94 5.0 4.4 -2.3 5.6 1.9
The various sizes of these leaderboards probably help to offer at least an initial idea of the degree to which certain tools have portended major-league success. Among the 30 prospects regarded as best at hitting for average in their respective organizations in 2005, 27 have graduated to the majors — and 26 of them (i.e. all but Michael Aubrey) have recorded at least 1000 major-league plate appearances. Of the prospects designated as their respective organization’s fastest runner, on the other hand, only 17 have ever recorded a major-league plate appearance — of those, only nine have tallied 1000 plate appearances to date, suggesting that the prospects from that group have been less valuable to their respective clubs.

While I’ve included the averages for each group at the bottom of all the leaderboards above, those numbers have limited utility for our concerns here, as they pertain only to those prospects who eventually graduated to the majors. They’re not entirely without use, those figures; however, if our aim is to assess the future production of all the Best Tool prospects, it’s better to find the median figures, instead, for all 30 players named by BA in each tool category.

With that in mind, I’ve included below a table including the median figures (or 15th-best, at least) for several relevant metrics among each tool category.
Tool PA BB% K% HRC% wRC+ WAR
ATH 401 5.5% 27.7% 1.0% 72 0.0
AVG 3092 8.5% 16.9% 3.3% 96 5.4
DIS 2128 8.6% 18.5% 2.7% 93 3.3
POW 414 7.9% 24.4% 3.7% 82 -0.1
RUN 54 3.9% 25.0% 0.0% 30 -0.5
Now, in lieu of further serious commentary, here are some observations presented by means of bullet point:

An inspection of the data above suggests that there is a considerable division in production between the prospects recognized for their capacity to hit for average and demonstrate plate discipline (on the one hand) and the prospects notable for their power, speed, and/or athleticism (on the other). The former two groups have been useful, by and large, at the major-league level; the latter three groups, decidedly less so.
Despite the fact that the players noted for their footspeed have graduated the fewest players to the majors and produced by far the lowest park-adjusted batting lines, they’ve still approximated the best power hitters and athletes in terms of overall value, compensating for their shortcomings as batters with much better baserunning and defensive figures than the prospects from the other four groups.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the power-hitting group has produced the best results in terms of home runs on contact, with a median figure of 3.7%.
Also probably not surprising: the group recognized for its plate discipline has recorded the highest median walk rate, at 8.6%.
Three players were designated as possessing three of the five best tools in their respective organization: Michael Bourn, Billy Butler, and Joey Votto. That triumvirate has combined for about 65 wins to date over ca. 12,000 career plate appearances — or about 3.0 WAR for every 550 plate appearances.

Ervin Santana Accepts Qualifying Offer from Braves, Basically.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Around the start of the offseason, there was talk that Nelson Cruz was after a $75-million contract. He eventually settled for $8 million. At the same time, there was talk that Ervin Santana was after a $100-million contract. He’s now settled for $14.1 million. Put those numbers together and you have $175 million requested and $22.1 million received. That difference of $153 million is the amount for which the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury. So, that’s some perspective.

Santana reached a one-year agreement with the Braves Tuesday, and it became official early Wednesday. Over the weekend, all the talk was about how Santana would be choosing between the Orioles and the Blue Jays, but then the Braves developed a desperate need, with Kris Medlen preparing for probable Tommy John surgery. In need of a starting pitcher, the Braves signed pretty much the only available free-agent starting pitcher, and so Santana will pitch in the National League for the first time in his career. Probably, that’s a big reason why he made the decision he did.

Lately it became clear to Santana and his representation that he wasn’t going to get anywhere near the kind of contract he wanted. While he eventually lowered his demands to something like the four-year pitcher contracts we saw, things took too long to get to that point, and Santana was left as the odd man out. One of the “advantages” of remaining available into spring training is that injuries can create a sudden need, as has happened here, but Santana still wound up with a one-year commitment. The goal now is to try to build value to re-enter free agency in the fall. Also to win, but Santana wants to prove to the market that he can be both healthy and effective and that his 2013 wasn’t a fluke.

For those reasons, Atlanta’s a sensible fit. Atlanta, Baltimore, and Toronto were all offering similar amounts for one year. Right now, Atlanta has by far the highest playoff odds of the group. The Braves are looking at baseball’s second-weakest projected schedule, while the Orioles and Jays are looking at two of the three toughest. And the Braves play in a more pitcher-friendly park in the NL, which could and should be of assistance with regard to Santana’s demonstrated dinger habit.

One way of looking at this: Baltimore plays with a homer factor of 110. Toronto plays with a homer factor of 107. Atlanta plays with a homer factor of 97. Another way of looking at this: over the past five years, Orioles starters have allowed 30 homers per 200 innings. Jays starters have allowed 27. Braves starters have allowed 19. What the Braves didn’t offer Santana was the promise of more money right away. But they did offer the softest landing, which increases Santana’s longer-term earning potential. Even though everyone’s aware of park adjustments, Santana could look a lot better coming off a year in Atlanta than a year in the AL East.

Interestingly, Santana expressed that he wanted to sign soon, so he could get in camp. Had he waited to sign until after opening day, he wouldn’t have been eligible for a qualifying offer after the year. As is, he could end up right back in the same boat, in the event that he pitches well. But then, that would guarantee at least $15-16 million, and as Ubaldo Jimenez demonstrated, a decent starter can still get a good contract despite a qualifying offer provided his expectations are reasonable. In Santana’s mind, seven months from now he’ll be coming off his second consecutive strong season, which would make him more trustworthy. There’s also the chance Atlanta wouldn’t extend a qualifying offer even if Santana pitched well, due to budgetary limitations. Santana ended up with a modest deal, but there’s still some upside here for the player. There’s just more for the team than there usually is.

I got it in my head yesterday that the Braves would poke around for alternatives, rather than give up a first-round draft pick. Zach Britton, for one example, is out of options and maybe without a starting job. In retrospect, I was overthinking it. Santana was available for one year. The Braves had a definite need. The Braves are in a competitive position. And, a year from now, the Braves might well get a pick back if Santana signs somewhere else. They’ll lose, for certain, a late first-rounder, but there’s the potential for a future compensation pick, and a late first-rounder is also only a little more valuable than an early second-rounder. The obvious course was the obvious course: the Braves settled on the one guy they could get for money.

What Santana isn’t is Kris Medlen. Steamer likes Santana a little bit more, but ZiPS prefers Medlen and the Fans prefer Medlen, and Medlen’s coming off a couple years of really good pitching. But Santana’s close to that good, so if you figure Medlen is done for the season, it’s as simple as a one-for-one swap. Then the Braves are just a little bit worse than they were a week ago. And had they not done this, they would’ve dropped further in the projected standings, further away from the Nationals and closer to the heart of the Wild Card competition. Where the Braves are on the win curve, it was vital for them to replace Medlen with someone at least close to as talented.

On our playoff odds page, the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Nationals lead the way in the NL, as projected division champs. In fourth are the Braves, pre-Santana, a little ahead of the Giants and Pirates. Behind them are the Diamondbacks. Without Santana, and without Medlen, the Braves would’ve dropped into the pack. With Santana, they ought to maintain an edge, to say nothing of keeping within reach of the Nationals. Santana’s the equivalent of several percentage points of playoff probability, and though it’s less exciting for the Braves to more or less just restore what their odds were, think of this as a trip to the dentist to repair a cavity. When you’re healthy, you don’t have cavities. When you have a cavity, you can try to live with it, but it can get real bad. Getting a filling costs money, and it just makes you back into what you used to be, but you can’t focus on the zero displacement. You have to keep in mind the alternative, and the alternative is more money in your pocket and a really bad toothache.

Santana wasn’t the only way the Braves could’ve gone. But he might’ve been the best pitcher they could get without giving up prospect resources, and they’re in a position where they can win this very year. So it makes sense for them to have given Santana the equivalent of the qualifying offer, and it makes sense for Santana to go to Atlanta instead of his other options, given what those options were. If Santana pitches poorly this season, nobody wins. If Santana gets hurt this season, nobody wins. That’s why players like to go after longer-term security. But if Santana can just pitch like himself, then everyone’s a winner, and who’s more likely to pitch like Ervin Santana than Ervin Santana?

So How Many Starters Does a Team Need, Then?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Watching the Braves rotation grab appendages has been tough this spring. Kris Medlen has ligament damage in his elbow, Brandon Beachy has biceps soreness, and Mike Minor survived a scarred urethra only to encounter shoulder soreness. None of the three is a lock to make the opening day rotation. And this is a team that brought two veteran free agents in for depth and had extra youth at the back end of their rotation. They might be fine without Ervin Santana, but yet that team does inspire a question. How many major-league ready starting pitchers should a competitive team field in a given year?

Starting from a theoretical angle, the answer seems almost easy. Any given starter has a 40% chance of hitting the disabled list at any given time, so if they all happen to hit the disabled list at the same time, you’ll want nine starting pitchers — .4 times eight is 3.2 missing starters and we’re talking worst-case scenarios here. You might have a young team. Younger pitchers can have as little as a 35% chance of hitting the DL in a given year (every year adds 1%) — a young rotation might only need eight. Both of those numbers feel like a lot. It also seems very unlikely that one team would see three guys go down at one time, to say nothing about 3.2 or 2.4 guys.

Well, how about that likelihood of multiple injuries at once then. Thanks to Jeff Zimmerman‘s excellent work, we know that teams averaged 360 days lost to the DL from their starters, in six trips. Knowing that there will be six trips to the DL that average 60 days long, can we find out how likely it is that two (or more) starters will be on the DL at one time? Matt Murphy helped slice the data, and it looks like the following things are true of the average team in a given year, given the information above:

* There’s an 11% likelihood that two starters will be injured at the same time.
* There’s a 4% likelihood that three starters will be injured at the same time.
* Teams will need to use an eighth starter for a six games a season, on average.
* There’s even a 1% likelihood that *four* starters will be injured at the same time.
* Even if a team only suffers four 60-day DL stints, that team will only have a complete opening day rotation for 36 games (22% of the season).

Apparently I can’t read! The above is the case if only two starters are injured on a given team!! Here’s what the average team (six DL stints, 360 days) will suffer:

*10% likelihood that 4+ starters will be hurt at the same time (.082+.016+.001)
*32% likelihood that 3+ starters will be hurt (0.22 for exactly 3, plus the 4+ injured pitchers above)
*65% likelihood that at least 2 starters will be hurt at any given point in the season (105 games)

But we also know that year-long absences are skewing the data on some level. One 180-day stint from one pitcher is not the same as three 60-day stints. How about an empirical, retrospective angle?

We know from Jeff Sullivan’s excellent work that teams need about 32 starts from pitchers that weren’t in their top five. But how many people filled those posts? Answer: a lot. Since 2011, the average team has seen ten different pitchers start a game for them over the course of a single season.

The Rockies have needed 13 pitchers a season over the last three seasons, but they did try some different things with their rotation, so maybe they are an extreme case. It’s even more/less impressive that the Orioles have gone with a five-man rotation and needed more than 12 pitchers a year since the beginning of the 2011 season. But that might be about trying to find something that worked more than dealing with injury or depth concerns.

But it’s the Jays that show us a worst-case scenario when it comes to an injury-riddled staff. We know how many days they’ve lost to injury, and how they ranked in baseball last year, and now we know that they’ve needed, on average, 12.3 pitchers a year over the past three years.

The Braves had Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy, Kris Medlen, Alex Wood, David Hale, Gavin Floyd and Freddy Garcia lined up on their depth chart this year and it seemed like enough. Now it looks like it might not have been enough, even in a normal year where all the injuries didn’t happen at exactly the same time.

The Value of Impact Prospects.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
One of the annual rites of baseball’s offseason is the publication of top prospect lists, organizational rankings, etc.. Over the next few days, my own personal rankings of each team’s minor league systems will appear here on FanGraphs. First, though, I’m going to give you a feel for the methodology – and some of the philosophy – behind them.

Baseball talent evaluation is unique in many respects when compared to the other major sports. An amateur scout can be looking at players ranging anywhere from 16 to 23 years old, and has to somehow put those players into a singular context to justify an organization’s investment in them. With virtually no exception, no amateur player can compete at the major league level without navigating at least part of a minor league system consisting of six or seven levels, excluding the Latin American rookie leagues. Football or basketball draftees, even if they are leaving college early, must compete for NFL or NBA spots immediately – if they can’t, they stay in school, or don’t get drafted. In baseball, there is projection to take into account, or lack thereof. A scout is given a radar gun and a stopwatch to capture the measurables, but it’s his mind, his entrepreneurial spirit and his gut that sells him on the players he recommends, signs, and – hopefully – watches progress toward the major leagues.

About those measurables – any one of us could go to a local high school game and be reasonably well entertained. With any luck, the competition is fairly matched, some modicum of talent jumps out at you on the part of a couple players on either side, and you go home happy. Next time you do this, bring a stopwatch. Then consider that the average major league righthanded hitter gets from home to first in 4.3 seconds, the average major league baserunner takes 3.30 seconds from his lead at first base to arrive at second base, and that the average major league catcher takes 2.00 seconds from the time a pitch hits his glove until his throw arrives at the second base bag. If you have access to a radar gun, or someone who owns one, consider that the average major league fastball is about 91-92 MPH, and the best major league hitters can strike the ball with exit speeds peaking at 10 to 15 MPH higher than that.

Defensively, a player is expected to be able to cover a wide range of ground and convert balls hit that hard by humans who run that fast into outs. Hitting ability, power production, defensive ability, arm strength, foot speed – these are the five basic raw tools graded by scouts. The vast majority of the players you would be watching in that local high school game will never be able to do any one of those things at that level, let alone a combination thereof that would eventually enable them to reach the major leagues. And the final twist is that the one guy who might get there, just might be the youngest and smallest guy on that field, say a 5’7″, 140, freshman second baseman on the varsity team who can’t do any of those things now, but has mastered the nuances of the game at a young age, and who is just waiting for his physical ship to come in.

Now let’s turn away from the tools for a second and talk about performance. Bill James proved long ago that minor league statistics are a very good indicator of future major league success. Since you’re reading this site, however, you know that not all stats are created equal, and adjustments must be made for a age, ballpark, quality of competition, etc.. The farther you get away from the major leagues, the less stats matter. In the amateur draft, there is very little use for high school stats, though I sure don’t want to draft a high school hitter who’s striking out a ton against high school pitching, or a high school pitcher who isn’t striking out many high school hitters.

College stats are more helpful, but even then, there are wide variations in strength of schedule, among other factors. With the aluminum bat removed from the equation, real power stands out much better now, and the availability of more detailed batted-ball information helps you identify extreme ground ball or popup generators among the pitching population before they enter the professional game.

Stats start to really matter once a player is drafted and enters the professional ranks. It’s not necessarily just the traditional homers, RBI, batting average type stats, however. Can a player consistently put the ball in play against professional pitching? Can he hit it with major league authority, or at least project to do so once fully developed physically? Can he do so to all fields? The numbers, in conjunction with the scouting eye, can answer such questions. Can a pitcher miss professional bats? Can he do so with multiple pitches? How does he get the opposite hand out? How does he manage contact? Again, the numbers, with the assistance of the scouting eye can answer these questions.

Sometimes it’s the scouting eye that takes the lead when evaluating a prospect, sometimes it’s the numbers. Take a look at Sandy Koufax’s major league career – he didn’t become “Sandy Koufax” until late in his career, and in the modern era, would have likely left the Dodgers as a free agent before he did so. The stuff was always there, however, and experience, coaching and talent all eventually came together in the five-year flourish that punctuated his career. On the other hand, I think back to guys like Dustin Pedroia and Jered Weaver in the draft – their raw tools didn’t stand out, but their numbers sure did. Peeling back the scouting layers, you uncover things like Pedroia’s off-the-charts eyesight, and Weaver’s superior popup-inducing ability that marked them as standouts very early in the game. The numbers inform the eyes, and the eyes inform the numbers.

In the next few days, you are going to read the word “impact” a great deal as I refer to prospects and to minor league systems. This is what all 30 teams are striving to find in the amateur population – players that move the needle by themselves, who will be among the top players at their position for an extended period of time. You should be able to envision an impact prospect making an All Star at some point, or being a third starter or better, or being a quality closer. The amateur population is the only source of impact talent that is legitimately open to all 30 clubs, as not all can pay the going rate for free agent impact talent. People can talk about the deep pockets of the Yankees and other franchises, but just remember that the last time the Bronx Bombers were on top, they got there thanks to homegrown impact talent – the core group of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, etc., that made it possible for them to spend their millions on luxuries at other positions.

As much as teams strive for such talent, the fact is that there are very few impact players in any given draft, or class of Latin American signings. You are drilling a bunch of wells to hit oil just a few times. To have a strong minor league system, you need to have some impact – but you also need to have a critical mass of future regulars, or at least core contributors – guys who make the trains run on time, fill out the back of your rotation or the middle of your bullpen, or man the larger half of a platoon. My rankings will be driven by impact, but will guided by bulk, and underlying depth. Beyond that, you need your to have niche guys, bullpen specialists or limited-dimension bench players, or spare guys to add to trades to fill specific areas of need. Depth in niche types, more than anything else is a tiebreaker between systems with similar upper-end talent, and no more than that.

It’s the impact guys who can change organizations. No one remembers anyone else the Cardinals drafted within five years in either direction of when they selected Albert Pujols on the 13th round. He changed their organization. The Angels do not fare very well in my system rankings, but they took Mike Trout near the bottom of the first round a few years back – that changed their organization. In recent years, teams have begun to more carefully guard their impact prospects. Though the occasional Wil Myers will change hands, teams have come to realize the extreme value of homegrown, cost-controlled talent, to the point that they may even value it a bit too much. The fact remains, however, that free agent classes are getting leaner and leaner, as more and more teams are growing their own, and then locking them up.

An impact guy combines now tools and production with youth relative to the league, and gets bonus points for playing quality defense, especially at the difficult end of the defensive spectrum. If a prospect falls short in one or more of those areas, he needs to make up for it in the others. If he’s lacking in too many areas, he’s just not an impact talent. The farther away that a prospect is from the major leagues, the higher the bar to be considered an impact prospect. An awful lot can go wrong between the Appalachian League and the majors. The relative age aspect cannot be underestimated – that’s where the projection comes in.

A guy like Jimmy Rollins was always among the very youngest players at each minor league level. He didn’t hit many homers in the minors. His physical ship came in, and lo and behold, MVP Award, 30-homer season, may have a borderline Hall of Fame case someday. The line is a very blurry one between the bottom of the impact group and the top of the non-impact regular group. I had to make some tough calls, some of which I will almost certainly be wrong on – that’s just the nature of the beast in the baseball prospect evaluation business. When in doubt, go with your gut.

The object of the game is to win at the major league level. Some of the best organizations in the game, current contenders who use their assets most efficiently, are in the lower regions of these rankings, while some perennial major league also-rans rank much higher. No matter – this is just a snapshot at a point in time of where each team stands in a very significant area. It is now the job of each team to take the impact talent currently in their organization, develop it to the best of their ability, and hopefully make the right decisions as to who stays and goes. For a team with a good minor league system, there is always hope, and isn’t hope the one thing that just about every baseball fan has going for them at this time of year?
post #20232 of 77526
Saw the Baez homer last night, his swing is freaking blurry. His hands move, suddenly his swing is done and he's leaving the box. Jesus.

Sooooon. pimp.gif
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post #20233 of 77526
Carlos Correa hit a bomb today.

Dear god, please let him be similar to Tulo as in a bigger shortstop that takes.

There have also been rumors that's the Astros will keep Appel with the major league team till right before the regular season starts to allow him to throw in exhibition games at minute maid park.
post #20234 of 77526
Quote:
Originally Posted by CP1708 View Post

Saw the Baez homer last night, his swing is freaking blurry. His hands move, suddenly his swing is done and he's leaving the box. Jesus.

Sooooon. pimp.gif

Mike Olt raked last night too. Them Cubbies comin' up!
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post #20235 of 77526
Thread Starter 
Hopefully they don't just rush Baez because he has a good spring.

Olt should get thrown in right away. It's time to see if he's got it or the improvements are just SSS.

Cards (shocked to say) really mishandling this Tavares situation mean.gif
post #20236 of 77526
Got tickets to the Dodgers and Mariners already.

I need to pick up M's Vs Yankees tickets. It will be my last time watching Jeter.
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Kicks 4 Sale |Seattle Seahawks |Seattle Mariners |LA Lakers (Long live the Supersonics) | Instagram = Jetliferivas
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post #20237 of 77526
post #20238 of 77526
So, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen both likely getting Tommy john surgery :/

We're in trouble.
post #20239 of 77526
^ go after brad penny
post #20240 of 77526
Didn't Beachy just come back from Tommy John? Damn.
post #20241 of 77526
Thread Starter 
Teheran, Minor, Wood and Santana are good enough and the NL is weak enough to carry them for a bit. I think they eventually end up with Samardzija and evaluate everything again next off season. You're gonna have two guys coming off and you're gonna have guys like Shields, Cueto, Gallardo and Lester on the market and the potential of Price.
post #20242 of 77526
The Jays are doomed.
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post #20243 of 77526

TODAY I GOT TIME BRUV

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TODAY I GOT TIME BRUV

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post #20244 of 77526
What can they offer us for Smarjaihfwsfbjidgjkbv???
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post #20245 of 77526
^ the bad Upton and Uggla
post #20246 of 77526
Quote:
Originally Posted by mfreshm View Post

So, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen both likely getting Tommy john surgery :/

We're in trouble.

Sick to my stomach

Was looking forward to our pitching staff putting in work mean.gif
post #20247 of 77526
Hand the NL east to the Nats pimp.gif


Pray to god our bats don't slump like they did last season mean.gif
post #20248 of 77526
Drew to the Tigers? Looks like Iglesias is out for most of 2014.
post #20249 of 77526
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Marcus View Post

Hand the NL east to the Nats pimp.gif

My NL pick for the World Series. Against some team for the AL West. laugh.gif I like the Angels, but their pitching depth worries me.
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post #20250 of 77526
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Marcus View Post

Hand the NL east to the Nats pimp.gif


Pray to god our bats don't slump like they did last season mean.gif


I think ATL will give them a run, though.
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
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NikeTalk › NikeTalk Forums › The Lounge › Sports & Training › 2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions.