David's Blog

On this page, I'll share my thoughts, and any articles or information I think are of interest.  Feel free to use the comments section to join in the discussion!


Do you REALLY want your agent to “spar” with your team in the press?

 

Even IF he's right, how does his agent popping off like this this help maintain a good relationship with the people who will determine his future?

D-backs, agent spar over promotion of top pitching prospect Bradley

 

By Ken Rosenthal

4/15/2014 FoxSports.com

The agent for right-hander Archie Bradley, one of the game's top pitching prospects, says his client deserves to jump into the Arizona Diamondbacks' struggling rotation. D-backs general manager Kevin Towers disagrees.

The back-and-forth between the two reflects not only the strain of the D-backs' poor start but also the tension that exists over the perception that clubs sometimes hold down prospects because of service-time considerations.

"I think it's very apparent what is going on in Arizona," Bradley's agent, Jay Franklin, told FOX Sports on Monday night. "Every ballplayer that is playing minor league baseball works his tail off to get an opportunity to play in the big leagues.

"Archie Bradley has proven to the Diamondbacks organization that he has deserved that opportunity by keeping his mouth shut and letting his numbers speak for his chance to pitch in the major leagues."

Bradley, 21, has a 1.50 ERA in his first two starts for Triple-A Reno, with eight strikeouts and four walks in 12 innings. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, are 4-12 with a major-league-worst 7.16 rotation ERA.

Towers said in a telephone interview that the team's reluctance to promote Bradley does not stem from a desire to avoid starting the pitcher's service clock. (The team will need to keep Bradley in the minors through late April to delay his free agency by one season and through at least late May to ensure that he does not qualify for an extra year of arbitration.)

Instead, Towers cited two concerns:

* The pressure Bradley would face if the D-Backs promoted him in the middle of such a poor start.

* Bradley's struggles in his last two starts of spring training, including his final outing against Team Australia, in which he allowed three runs and nine baserunners and a homer in 3-2/3 innings.

"I would not bring him up in this environment the way we'€™re playing," Towers said. "I know how it would be perceived if he came up: 'Archie is going to save us.' I don'€™t want to do that to a 21-year-old kid.

"If it gets to the point where we straighten this thing out and it's a more positive environment here and he's throwing the ball well, we'll do it regardless of the clock."

To which Franklin replied: "Trust me, Archie thrives in that position. I've known him since he was 15 years old. He loves pressure."

But is Bradley, the seventh overall pick out of Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School, in 2011, truly ready for the majors?

He lost the competition for the fifth starter's job to right-hander Randall Delgado in spring training, and Towers indicated that he is not quite a finished product.

"In spring training, if he had continued to deal, we would have started (the season) with him," Towers said. "His fastball command was not there in spring training. He'll even admit that."

More than anything, though, Towers said he is trying to be protective of Bradley. He said it wouldn't be "fair" to promote the pitcher with the team struggling so badly.

"Things are not going great with our starting pitching," Towers said. "When the environment is better and he might help us win ballgames, we'll bring him up."

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/arizona-diamondbacks-agent-spar-over-promotion-of-top-pitching-prospect-archie-bradley-041414

 

“a clear example of a coaching staff putting their own interests over those of a pitcher”

 

 

ESPN.com
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Coaches erred in Rodon decision


By Keith Law

Those of you who follow me on Twitter saw me voice my displeasure over NC State's usage of left-hander Carlos Rodon, the best college player in this year's draft class, on Friday night. Rodon, who has pitched with a 50- or 55-rated fastball all year, was going on short rest on Friday, but showed up (paradoxically) with more velocity, sitting at 92-94 mph and touching 96. 

NC State then decided to push Rodon to 134 pitches, sending him back out to start his final inning after he'd already thrown 118 pitches, an acceptable, if upper-bound, number for a 21-year-old pitcher. This was a clear example of a coaching staff putting their own interests over those of a pitcher, a perfect example of moral hazard at work in amateur baseball, one that calls for regulation by the NCAA. 

The Wolfpack, despite having two of the best college players in the country this year, are 5-11 in the ACC so far (19-14 overall) and in danger of missing the NCAA tournament, a result that would be devastating given their talent level. The potential cost of missing the tournament is so high that the coaching staff has the incentive to try to win at all costs, including asking players to do things that may not be in their own best interests, such as throwing 134 pitches in one outing. Only one MLB pitcher did that in all of 2013: Tim Lincecum, in his July 13 no-hitter. (In fact, since the start of the 2010 season, only four MLB pitchers have thrown 134 or more pitches. Three were no-hitters, one was Brandon Morrow's 17-strikeout one-hitter in 2010, and all four spread those pitches over nine innings rather than Rodon's 7 2/3 innings.) 

Rodon has a potential $6-7 million payday in front of him, and putting him at any risk like this, real or perceived, is wrong. The reaction within the industry, among sources with whom I've spoken, was unanimously negative. Rodon shouldn't have been sent back out for the eighth inning, period. 

I hope there are no ill effects from this kind of outing, but it is inevitable that we will eventually see a pitcher used too heavily in his draft year and then blow out shortly thereafter, costing him a large payday. Causality is irrelevant at that point; the mere perception of misuse will lead to serious consequences -- from recruiting to a potential lawsuit -- for the coaching staff in question. That may be what it takes to get the NCAA involved to put a stop to this kind of nonsense.

http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/keith-law/post?id=2258

 

“as human beings, we look for causal relationships, but that doesn’t mean one exists,” 

 

The Season Tommy John Took

 

APRIL 11, 2014

by JONAH KERI

 

Earlier this week, rising star Matt Moore was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left pitching elbow. This is simultaneously shocking and all too familiar.

It’s shocking because Moore pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays, who until recently had enjoyed the best pitching health in baseball. From late 2005 to mid-2009, only one pitcher at any level of the organization, left-hander Jake McGee, went under the knife for Tommy John surgery, the lowest rate of reconstructive UCL surgery for any team. From May 2008 to August 2010, only one Rays starter at the big league level, Scott Kazmir, spent a single day on the disabled list, making Tampa Bay’s pitching staff the healthiest in baseball by a mile. (Both nuggets via The Extra 2%).

It’s familiar because Moore’s injury means he might need Tommy John surgery. Moore and the Rays are still debating whether rehab or surgery is the best option, but if the 24-year-old goes under the knife, he’ll become the latest in a running tally that’s on pace to shatter the record for the most Tommy John surgeries in a season.

According to research conducted by The Hardball Times and Beyond the Box Score writer Jon Roegele, eight pitchers at either the major league or minor level had undergone Tommy John by this date last year. The highest annual total in Roegele’s dataset came in 2012, when 58 pitchers had the operation; that year, 12 pitchers had undergone the surgery by this date.

When top Pirates pitching prospect Jameson Taillon had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, he became the 20th pitcher to suffer that fate in 2014. And that number is growing. Surgery is likely for Moore, but even if he opts against it, the ranks will swell when Braves reliever Cory Gearrin and Angels prospect Brian Moran have the procedure in the coming days. The 2014 season is on pace to annihilate the previous record for Tommy John surgeries in a calendar year.

What the hell is going on? How did so many (mostly young) pitchers get so badly hurt that they had to agree to a surgery that will prevent them from pitching for a year or more? And what can teams and players do to prevent this from continuing, or from worsening

When trying to pinpoint the cause of a medical epidemic in sports, asking Dr. James Andrews is the best place to start. The renowned orthopedic surgeon/ligament whisperer has performed countless operations on injured pitchers, football players, basketball players, and even pro wrestlers and is considered the foremost expert on elbow repair. In an interview with SiriusXM Radio’s Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette, the good doctor offered his read on the disturbing trend.

The big risk factor is year-round baseball,” Andrews said. “These kids are not just throwing year-round, they’re competing year-round, and they don’t have any time for recovery. And of course the showcases where they’re pitching for scouts, they try to overpitch, and they get hurt.”

That sentiment popped up again and again when I polled an array of talent evaluators, including general managers, assistant general managers, analytical front-office types, and others. Many pointed an accusatory finger at teenage pitchers getting the chance to perform in front of scouts in a way that wasn’t as prevalent in the pre-showcase era, and pitching in a way that might lead to injuries as a result.

The rise of Perfect Game baseball and other summer travel baseball has dramatically decreased the off time for younger players,” one American League executive said. “Kids are traveling all over the country from 8 years old on, and playing year-round. Colleges are recruiting younger and younger, and kids feel like if they don’t compete in every summer or fall event, they will lose their chance for exposure. That kind of exposure also leads to kids absolutely airing it out at max effort. When the section behind the plate is loaded with recruiters and scouts, kids absolutely take it up a notch and try to throw it through the backstop. The damage that is being done early can’t be undone by managing workloads once pitchers get into pro baseball.”

Kiley McDaniel, the scouting-oriented national baseball analyst for Scout.com, agreed. “This originated in the Dominican. In the DR, once you’re 17, you’re ‘old’ and don’t have as many opportunities to get rich or even sign at all, so the system is geared for both hitters and pitchers to peak as quickly as possible in terms of tools, with velocity being the biggest one for pitchers. Now that high school pitchers can get $5 million to $7 million and are scouted year-round from underclassmen ages, a first-world country has the right pressures in place to foster the same environment.”

Some observers have grown skeptical of the strength training methods pitchers use, particularly teenage pitchers.

It used to be that we didn’t see these injuries until they got into high-level professional baseball,” Dr. Andrews said. “But now, the majority of the injuries are either freshmen in college, or even some young kid in ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th grade in high school. These young kids are developing their bodies so quickly, and their ligament … isn’t strong enough to keep up with their body, and they’re tearing it.”

Dan Jennings got his first job in Major League Baseball as a scout with the Cincinnati Reds in 1986, then went on to become one of the game’s top talent evaluators over the next 28 years. He yearns for a time when young, developing athletes used methods other than maximum-weight bench presses and dead lifts to build strength.

Back in the day, you’d be pitching melons in a field, doing things with your hands — that’s how you built strength, from your elbows to your fingertips,” Jennings said. “Because of the new strength and conditioning programs, that’s been taken out. By the 10th grade, you’re told to focus only on football, or only on baseball; kids no longer play multiple sports. You get these specialized regimens where you build large muscle groups, but not the small muscles around the rotator and UCL. The large muscles get developed so large that when you try to decelerate, you can get badly hurt.”

Starting two years ago, Roegele wrote a series of articles seeking to solve the mystery of the rising Tommy John trend. Jeff Zimmerman and Brian Cartwright teamed up to produce another insightful Tommy John study in the 2013 Hardball Times Baseball Annual. You should read them all, since there’s a ton of excellent research in there, but if you want a CliffsNotes version, it’s this: Roegele found that “after controlling for pitching role and age, pitchers headed for Tommy John surgery threw all pitch types harder, and more fastballs and sliders than average.”

One National League executive echoed those findings. “Kids are throwing harder every year,” he said. “The 2014 draft class is almost historic in terms of power arms, and that speaks more to a change in culture away from pitchability and finesse and toward the biggest power stuff possible to light up radar guns and blow guys away. The harder you throw, the more torque you put on your elbow, the more likely you are to break down and get injured — and it’s happening at historic rates and happening to some of the best power pitchers in the game.”

The problem here is obvious: Teams aren’t going to stop coveting big, strong guys who throw hard. And even if they ignore the weight-training fiends who turn themselves into muscle-bound lunkheads, they’ll still want flamethrowers, which means they’ll still get burned.

There are several factors that lead to increased velocity,” one AL baseball operations official said. “I think what has happened is that, due to improved training and instruction, pitchers throw harder. Joints and related connective tissue are put under greater stress from the increased velocity. Many claim that they can reduce injury with ‘their program.’ There is no evidence to support those claims. I am afraid, in fact, that many of these programs — several of which are well designed — actually increase injuries. The conundrum is that they also improve performance.”

 

Though these common themes dominated most of the conversations I had regarding injuries and the surging rate of Tommy John surgeries, several respondents weighed in with their own theories. One AL executive said he and others in his front office have kicked around various ideas lately without coming across an aha moment.

Are pitchers rushing back from injuries?” he said. “Either rushing back from Tommy John or other injuries, as opposed to waiting it out longer? TJ used to be a set time period that you were down for. Now is there too much of a rush to get back earlier, to help for half a season or to start a season, instead of sitting it out long enough?”

Even when pitchers do take the requisite time to heal and rehab, a recent rash of second Tommy John surgeries (most notably for Oakland’s Jarrod Parker) has exacerbated industry concern.

We are coming into an era where a lot more pitchers have had TJ in high school, college, or their early professional career over the past decade,” another respondent said. “TJs are not good forever, and we are getting to the point where many pitchers had their first surgery somewhere between five and 10 years ago. We have also gotten a lot better at rehabbing surgeries the first time, to the point where guys are able to return to the mound as something very similar to what they were before. The more successful first surgeries we have, the more second surgeries we are going to have.”

One quantitatively leaning NL front-office member noted that advances in medical imaging have likely contributed to increased Tommy John rates.

Assessing UCL integrity is very difficult, but it’s easier than ever to identify partial tears that might lead a player to elect surgery rather than go the rehab route,” he said. “So as more young pitchers identify UCL issues and elect for surgery, we’ll probably see more and more second- or third-time TJs in the future.”

Like many other teams, that executive’s club conducts copious studies on everything from body type to biomechanics in order to spot trends that might prevent injuries. But he’s not saying what his team has found. And for all its efforts, that club has still dealt with plenty of pitcher surgeries over the past few years.

Unfortunately, limiting pitch counts and/or adhering to the so-calledVerducci Effect — which Baseball Prospectus writer Russell Carletondebunked last year — doesn’t guarantee a healthy outcome. Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, the two talented Braves starters who underwent their second Tommy John surgeries this spring and thrust Atlanta’s season into doubt, had relatively few miles on their arms before cracking the majors. They were both converted infielders, as was their teammate Gearrin.

The Pirates, who’ve become known lately as one of the most analytically inclined, detail-oriented organizations in the game, obsess over the tiniest details of a young pitcher’s routine in an effort to keep their prospects healthy. They put the best ones through biomechanical testing to promote ideal pitching mechanics, and they’ve gone much further than that.

Every two weeks we get a weight check,” said 22-year-old right-hander and 2010 fourth-round pick Nick Kingham in an interview withPittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Travis Sawchik. Weight checks are just the beginning, Kingham said. “We track our sleep, our water intake, our hydration and everything. Every day you have to do it. We have a point system, and you try to get as many points as you can. We are pretty heavy on health in this organization.”

Sawchik’s story was a well-researched, broad piece that touted the Pirates’ armada of top pitching prospects. A month and a day later, Taillon had his surgery. Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised, given the omen MLB GM turned MLB Network analyst John Hart dropped in the last paragraph: “Remember the Mets with the Big Three? With (Paul) Wilson and (Bill) Pulsipher and (Jason) Isringhausen, that whole group? Some years, some development systems, it works out better. For some others, it doesn’t work out at all.” Cite the infamous, massively touted, and ultimately failed “Generation K” and the baseball gods might not react kindly.

And really, despite all of this theorizing, the baseball gods might be the ones to blame. Maybe luck, or random variance, or whatever you want to call “shit happens” is the reason for all of this. Though we’re seeing more Tommy John surgeries than ever before, it’s usually a bad idea to make sweeping judgments at the moment when conditions are the most chaotic; we simply don’t know what the numbers will look like a year from now, five years from now, or 10 years from now.

I think, as human beings, we look for causal relationships, but that doesn’t mean one exists,” one stumped scout said. “It really could be heads coming up 12 times in a row. Completely meaningless.”

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/matt-moore-baseball-tommy-john-surgery-historic-rate/

 

“To be an impact organization,” Hoyer said, “you have to hit on those [later] guys and develop them.” 

 

To compete with Cards, Cubs have to strike gold deep in the draft

BY GORDON WITTENMYER April 12, 2014

 

ST. LOUIS — The Cubs are not shy about pointing out how popular their farm system has become with the baseball trade publications.

Their system is ranked anywhere from second to fourth heading toward the 2014 draft, depending on the outlet.

But just how much of that is a reflection of the player-development “machine” team president Theo Epstein talked about building when he took over the baseball operations in the fall of 2011?

And how much of it is a function of having a $30 million Cuban free agent in the system and of being so bad in recent years that they’ve had single-digit overall picks in the last three drafts?

The short answer is it’s far too early to tell just how good the new regime is at player development. And how well Javy Baez and Kris Bryant eventually perform in the big leagues will tell only part of the story.

Anybody can pick out a No. 1 selection and think that’s a great deal,” ex-Cubs general manager Dallas Green said during a recent conversation. “But you make 30 or 40 selections [in a draft], and three or four of those guys have gotta play. They’ve gotta be good players along the way. That’s what scouting is all about.

You can’t take 40 or 50 kids [each draft] and not have the 30th selection be a good player somewhere along the line.”

That’s where a team such as the Cardinals will hold a decided edge on the Cubs until Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and their scouting and minor-league staffs prove they can hang with their division rivals and the other big boys on baseball’s player-development block.

And with so little money coming into the baseball department these days relative to the revenues and market size, it has never been more critical to the Cubs creating big-league success again.

And they know it.

We always talk in the draft room about how you obviously can’t miss on your first-round picks,” Hoyer said. “You’ve got to really nail those because that’s where you get your impact talent. But the ability to get key contributors late in the draft, that’s really the mark of a good draft and of good scouting. The Cardinals obviously have done a great job of that.”

Baez, Bryant, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and C.J. Edwards are getting the attention, the pressure and the kinds of high marks that have elevated the Cubs in the farm-system rankings.

But until the Cubs develop an eighth-round All-Star (like the Cards’ Allen Craig), a 13th-round All-Star (Matt Carpenter), a 21st-round closer (Trevor Rosenthal) or a 23rd-round cleanup hitter (Matt Adams), the Epstein-Hoyer rebuilding job won’t be complete.

And it’ll be hard-pressed to catch up to an already well-oiled Cardinals development machine, which would again put the onus, as in years past, on significantly outspending their mid-market rivals to compete.

The success of our system is that we have every-day major-league players [acquired in the middle and late rounds],” Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said. “That’s giving us the ability to really have more sustainability because of the fact that we’re not picking in that top 10 every year.”

The Cardinals haven’t had a single-digit overall draft pick in 16 years, and they’ve had only 10 in what will be 50 June drafts this year.

Yet they had the top-ranked farm system, according to most analysts, as recently as last season.

You need to hit all over the place because all the [No.] 1s aren’t going to hit,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who became one of those first-round disappointments after being drafted ninth overall in 1975. “All the 3s aren’t going to hit. You’d like to think that all the $20 million players that you hire from the outside the organization [will succeed], but they don’t all hit. And you know that going in.”

That’s the reason Cubs brass always talks about volume in the minors. That’s why they’ll spend a lot more man hours on their 45th overall pick — and the 39 picks that come after that — than their fourth overall pick.

To be an impact organization,” Hoyer said, “you have to hit on those [later] guys and develop them.”

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/26770214-573/to-compete-with-cards-cubs-have-to-strike-gold-deep-in-the-draft.html

 

“ESPN brings up the rear”

Prospect's delight: Which top 100 list is best?

By Chris St. John  @stealofhome on Apr 11 2014

 

Prognosticators have been ranking prospects for at least two decades now. Which one is the best?

Introduction

Now what you read is not a test, I'm ranking prospect lists

And me, Rstats, and some math are gonna try to lift the mist

-Wonder Mike Trout

There has been some great analysis on how well Baseball America's prospect rankings translate to future success, see my Prospect Analysis page for examples from various writers around the web. Adam Foster at Project Prospect has done some work with this in his industry comparisons. However, BA isn't the only list around. Throughout the years, various rankings have come and gone. Out of all of these, which was the best prospect list?

Method

Check it out, it's the k-e-n-d-the-a-l-l

And the rest is t-a-u

You see, this is the code for the method of the post

And these reasons I'll bring to you

-Big Bank Hammerin' Hank

First, I compiled 166 prospect lists in the era from 1990 to 2010. I used 2010 as a cutoff to allow players four years to blossom in the major leagues. I found as many as I possibly could, knowing I missed many as well*. Once everything was compiled, the question becomes: how do you figure out which one is best? In my initial research into this, I found the book "Who's #1?" which suggests using Kendall's Tau or Spearman's weighted footrule when comparing ranked lists.

*If you have a list that you would like to be included in this, please e-mail me or contact me on Twitter @stealofhome.

Recently, Neil Paine used Spearman's rho on organizational prospect rankings at 538. However, I believe the fact that I have repeated rankings (I gave a rank of 101 to all prospects from the real list that did not appear on the historical lists) disallows me from using this.

I asked Tango the best way to do this and his idea was to create a fantasy draft for each year and allow each list to draft their first available player, then repeat this for each year and each possible order of drafting, with the list that drafted the highest average fWAR as the winner. This is probably the correct way to do this. However, if I waited until I had working code for this scenario, this research would not be completed until prospect lists (as well as me) were but a dim memory. However, if you are capable of putting that code together, I would be very interested in working with you to publish that research.

I landed on using Kendall's Tau for this analysis and will do my best to attempt to describe it. Note: I am not a professionally-trained statistician, so if you are and see any errors I make in my description, please let me know.

Kendall's tau shows how close two columns of rankings are to each other. It gives a range from -1 (meaning they are ranked in the opposite order) to 1 (they are the same). It compares the number of rankings below and above the rankings and takes into account ties. Here is a youtube video describing part of what it does, although this does not look at ties.

Since Kendall's Tau works by comparing one list to another, I had to find the "true" top 100 for each year. I did this by finding all players eligible for prospect lists each year and ranking them by their career fWAR. Then I compared that true top 100 list to the various prospect lists. This is an area that may need cleaning, as I don't have the proper data to do this perfectly.

If the player did not appear on the list in question, they received a ranking of 101. If the list went over 100 players, I only used their first 100 rankings. If a list ranked fewer than 100 players, I compared it with the true list of that length for that year (e.g., MLB's top 50 lists are only compared to the true top 50 prospects eligible that year). One more wrinkle in this analysis is that not all lists claim the same eligibility standards. Most rank anyone who would be a rookie, but there are some variations on that. This may hurt some lists in these places.

This is an interesting exercise in itself to see which prospects were missed and which players were lurking in the lower levels before exploding on the scene. For instance,Pedro Martinez had the best career of anyone eligible for prospect lists in 1991, but was nowhere to be found on BA's list. However, in 1992, he jumped into the top 10 with a strong performance in three levels of the minor leagues the previous year.

Name

True

BA

Pedro Martinez

1

101

Chipper Jones

2

49

Mike Mussina

3

19

Jeff Bagwell

4

32

Ivan Rodriguez

5

7

Andy Pettitte

6

101

Jim Thome

7

93

Jim Edmonds

9

101

Mike Piazza

10

101

Kenny Lofton

11

75

Jeff Kent

12

101

Luis Gonzalez

13

101

Brian Giles

14

101

Moises Alou

15

101

Jorge Posada

16

101

Bernie Williams

17

11

Carlos Delgado

18

101

Mariano Rivera

19

101

Chuck Knoblauch

20

72

BA did not have 11 of the top 20 eligible prospects in their 1991 list. However, many of these players were young at the time and did eventually appear on a BA top 100. Bernie Williams was ranked higher (11) than his true score (17). Jim Thome was ranked lower (93) than his true score (7). Kendall's Tau takes all of this into account and spits out a rank correlation of 0.157 - about average for the results I found.

Results

Well it's on and on and on on and on

This post don't stop until I make you yawn

-Master Dillon Gee

Before I get into the results, I want to add a personal note: Please do not use these rankings to trash writers who may rate poorly here. First, I believe this method can be improved upon, which may change the results a bit. Second, and most importantly, prospect analysis is really hard. These lists require hours of research and dedication, making phone calls and meeting scouts, poring over numbers, and doing whatever else it takes to rank players. These are a labor of love for each individual and it takes a lot of guts to put your name next to something that is both outdated almost immediately—thanks to the dynamic nature of young players—and destined to mostly fail-thanks to how hard the majors are.

With that said, here are the raw results after running Kendall's Tau on each of the lists in my database:

Year

Length

List

Tau

Tau+

2008

100

Rotowire

0.372

109

2008

100

Mound Talk

0.367

107

2008

100

Mound Talk Community

0.364

107

2008

100

Top Prospect Alert

0.355

104

2008

100

Baseball America

0.352

103

2008

100

Baseball Prospectus

0.348

102

2010

40

The Cardinal Nation

0.340

196

2008

100

ESPN

0.331

97

2007

50

MLB

0.330

137

2007

100

Fantasy Baseball Café

0.325

135

2008

100

Project Prospect

0.320

94

2007

50

Baseball Notebook Fantasy

0.316

131

2010

50

MLB

0.303

175

2002

50

John Sickels

0.297

390

2007

100

Mound Talk

0.289

119

2007

100

Minor League Ball Community

0.281

116

2007

100

FOX

0.278

115

2007

100

MLB

0.272

112

2007

100

Baseball Digest Daily

0.270

112

2007

100

Rotoworld

0.268

111

2007

100

Project Prospect

0.264

109

1997

100

Baseball America

0.263

114

2008

50

MLB

0.262

77

2009

100

Project Prospect

0.261

115

2004

50

CBS

0.260

160

2007

100

CBS

0.257

106

2007

100

Top Prospect Alert

0.256

106

2007

100

Baseball Prospectus

0.255

106

2009

100

ESPN

0.255

112

2001

40

Baseball Prospectus

0.249

185

2007

100

RotoJunkie

0.242

100

2009

100

Top Prospect Alert

0.241

106

2007

100

Baseball America

0.240

99

2005

50

MLB

0.239

139

2005

100

Minors First

0.233

135

2005

100

FOX

0.232

135

2005

100

RotoAmerica

0.229

133

2009

100

MLB Prospect Guide

0.228

100

2006

100

RotoJunkie

0.225

136

2009

50

MLB

0.225

99

2006

100

Rotoworld

0.225

136

2006

100

On Deck

0.222

134

2006

100

SI

0.220

133

2004

100

Rotoworld

0.220

135

2007

75

SI

0.219

90

1991

100

Spring Training

0.218

116

2006

100

RotoAmerica

0.216

130

2009

100

The Hardball Times Fantasy

0.214

94

2004

100

FOX

0.214

131

2010

100

Project Prospect

0.212

122

2006

100

FOX

0.208

126

2009

100

Baseball Prospectus

0.207

91

2005

100

Baseball America

0.206

120

2006

100

Baseball America

0.202

122

2003

50

Baseball Think Factory

0.201

178

2005

100

On Deck

0.200

116

1998

100

Spring Training

0.200

115

1997

100

Spring Training

0.199

86

1995

100

Baseball America

0.199

131

2006

100

FOX Fantasy

0.198

120

1993

100

Baseball America

0.198

134

2004

100

Spring Training

0.195

120

1999

40

Baseball Prospectus

0.194

230

2006

75

Inside the Dugout

0.192

116

2009

100

Baseball America

0.190

83

1999

50

Prospects, P, and Suspects

0.188

224

2004

100

Minors First

0.188

116

2005

100

SportsBlurb

0.187

109

2004

100

Ken Warren

0.185

114

2001

50

Lindy's

0.184

136

2004

100

Baseball America

0.183

113

2010

100

Dobber Baseball

0.180

104

2005

100

Rotoworld

0.179

104

2003

40

Baseball Prospectus

0.175

155

2004

100

On Deck

0.174

107

2007

50

Aaron Gleeman

0.173

71

2005

50

The Hardball Times

0.169

98

2004

100

The Sporting News

0.167

103

2010

100

Baseball America

0.166

96

2010

100

Baseball Intellect

0.164

95

1996

100

Baseball America

0.164

104

1991

100

Baseball America

0.157

84

2006

60

Bob Reed

0.156

94

1996

100

Spring Training

0.152

96

2006

100

Warm October Nights

0.152

92

2003

100

Rotowire

0.150

132

2010

100

AOL

0.148

86

1998

100

Baseball America

0.147

85

2010

100

MLB Prospect Guide

0.146

84

2006

50

The Hardball Times

0.146

88

2005

100

Diamond Futures

0.143

83

2006

50

Sporting News

0.142

85

2001

100

Baseball America

0.141

105

2007

100

Baseball Notebook

0.141

58

2006

100

Baseball Notebook

0.138

83

2005

60

Bob Reed

0.135

79

2006

75

Baseball Analysts

0.135

82

2003

100

Ken Warren

0.134

118

2003

100

Rotoworld

0.133

118

2010

100

Fangraphs

0.132

76

2003

100

Top Prospect Report

0.129

114

2005

100

CBS

0.129

75

2004

50

Rotowire

0.128

79

2003

100

The Sporting News Wheeler

0.124

110

2001

100

Ken Phelps

0.124

92

2003

100

Baseball America

0.123

108

2010

100

The Hardball Times Fantasy

0.122

71

1994

100

Baseball America

0.120

111

2010

100

Top Prospect Alert

0.119

69

2010

100

Baseball Prospectus

0.118

68

2007

100

Sports Weekly

0.116

48

2002

100

Baseball America

0.115

152

2004

100

Diamond Futures

0.111

68

2001

100

Team One

0.110

81

2004

90

Baseball Analysts

0.109

67

2001

100

CBS

0.109

81

2004

50

Baseball Prospectus

0.105

65

2004

50

MLB

0.105

65

1995

100

Spring Training

0.104

69

2001

100

Spring Training

0.104

77

2003

100

Minors First

0.102

90

2001

100

Top Prospect Alert

0.102

75

2010

100

ESPN

0.102

59

2006

100

Diamond Futures

0.101

61

1993

100

Spring Training

0.097

66

1994

100

Spring Training

0.097

89

2003

100

Ken Phelps

0.095

84

2004

50

The Hardball Times

0.094

58

2003

100

The Sporting News

0.093

82

2001

50

John Sickels

0.093

69

2002

100

Strike Three

0.087

114

2002

100

Spring Training

0.086

114

2002

40

Baseball Prospectus

0.086

113

2003

100

Strike Three

0.085

75

2005

50

Baseball Prospectus

0.083

49

2003

100

Prospect Report

0.080

71

2002

100

Top Prospect Alert

0.079

104

2006

50

Baseball Prospectus

0.075

45

1992

100

Spring Training

0.075

105

1999

100

Baseball America

0.074

88

2002

100

Prospect Watch

0.069

91

1992

100

Baseball America

0.067

95

2003

100

Spring Training

0.065

57

2000

100

Baseball America

0.064

255

1999

100

Shane Mills

0.062

73

1999

100

Spring Training

0.059

70

2002

100

Minors First

0.051

67

2002

100

Ken Warren

0.045

59

2000

100

Preview Sports

0.045

-177

2005

75

Baseball Analysts

0.043

25

2007

100

Diamond Futures

0.039

16

1990

100

Baseball America

0.038

139

2006

50

MLB

0.029

-18

2002

100

Ken Phelps

0.028

37

2000

40

Baseball Prospectus

0.024

94

2000

100

Spring Training

0.021

84

2002

100

The Sporting News

0.018

24

2002

100

Rotoworld

0.017

22

1990

100

Spring Training

0.016

61

2000

50

John Sickels

0.011

-45

2000

50

Ultimate

0.011

43

2002

100

MLB Prospects

0.010

13

2003

100

Creative Sports

0.009

-8

1999

100

Fastball

0.009

10

1999

100

CBS

0.004

-4

2000

80

Top Prospect Alert

0.000

2

Congratulations, John Sickels, your 2008 Rotowire list was the best of all time!

The first thing that jumps out from these results is that tau is very highly correlated to the year the list was posted. Since most lists are created from a very similar group of players each year, that is expected. What this really shows, then, is that 2007 and 2008 were good years for prospect lists in general. Because of that, I have also included a corrected tau, which accounts for the yearly average. This is tau divided by yearly tau times 100. This makes... John Sickels' 2002 Top 50 the best list.

This is what the average tau looks like by year:

Prospecttau

There is a cyclical trend here, where the average tau generally increases from 1990 to 1997, decreases to 2000, increases to 2008, and has decreased since then. This has to do with many of the top players graduating into the higher levels of the minors and gaining more national attention. This then creates better lists (e.g., Pedro Martinez going from unranked to the top 10 in 1991).

Finally, this table summarizes these results by list "voice." I have done my best to match these up, but let me know of any I missed:

Voice

Lists

Average of Tau

Average of Tau+

Mound Talk Community

1

0.364

107

The Cardinal Nation

1

0.340

196

Mound Talk

2

0.328

113

Fantasy Baseball Café

1

0.325

135

Baseball Notebook Fantasy

1

0.316

131

Minor League Ball Community

1

0.281

116

MLB

1

0.272

112

Baseball Digest Daily

1

0.270

112

Adam Foster

4

0.264

110

J.P. Schwartz

4

0.243

96

Jason Collette

2

0.234

118

Dayn Perry

4

0.233

127

Keith Law

3

0.229

89

David Regan

2

0.222

132

Mike Bornhorst

1

0.220

133

Jonathan Mayo

7

0.213

96

Kevin Goldstein

5

0.212

96

On Deck

3

0.199

119

John Sickels

4

0.193

131

Inside the Dugout

1

0.192

116

Prospects, P, and Suspects

1

0.188

224

SportsBlurb

1

0.187

109

Matt Garrioch

2

0.187

92

Lindy's

1

0.184

136

Dobber Baseball

1

0.180

104

Matthew Pouliot

6

0.174

104

Matt Hagen

2

0.168

82

Baseball Intellect

1

0.164

95

Aaron Gleeman

6

0.164

102

Baseball America

21

0.162

116

Warm October Nights

1

0.152

92

CBS

5

0.152

83

Frankie Piliere

1

0.148

86

Bob Reed

2

0.146

86

Mike Gullo

4

0.143

102

Sporting News

1

0.142

85

Baseball Notebook

2

0.140

71

Rotowire

2

0.139

106

Marc Hulet

1

0.132

76

Bryan Smith

4

0.127

66

Kevin Wheeler

1

0.124

110

Rany Jazayerli

8

0.124

117

Ken Warren

3

0.121

97

Sports Weekly

1

0.116

48

Spring Training

15

0.113

88

Team One

1

0.110

81

Diamond Futures

4

0.098

57

David Srinivasan

1

0.093

82

The Sporting News

2

0.092

63

David Cameron

2

0.086

95

Ken Phelps

3

0.082

71

Prospect Report

1

0.080

71

Prospect Watch

1

0.069

91

Shane Mills

1

0.062

73

Top Prospect Alert

3

0.060

60

Preview Sports

1

0.045

-177

Ultimate

1

0.011

43

MLB Prospects

1

0.010

13

Creative Sports

1

0.009

-8

Fastball

1

0.009

10

Project Prospect ranks the highest for absolute tau, but their lists cover a very good range of years for lists in general (2007-2010). When taking year into account, John Sickels (2000-2002) and Dayn Perry (2004-2007) look much better.

Conclusion

Have you ever read over an internet post

And the writer ain't no good?

I mean the grammar is sloppy, the words are mingled

And he can't be understood

-Wonder Mike Trout

The main purpose of this post is to get this research out there to begin a discussion about the best way to rank prospect lists. So how can we improve this? Is Kendall's Tau the best method to use? What is the best way to put all lists on equal footing? Should we account for the year? What about the length of the list? Let me know your ideas.

As it stands now, of lists ranked at least three times from 2007 to 2010-the most recent lists in this analysis- Jonathan Mayo (120) and Project Prospect (110) are the only lists to maintain an above-average rating. Top Prospect Alert comes in at 96 and Baseball America sits at 95, while Baseball Prospectus is at 92. ESPN brings up the rear at 89.

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/4/11/5597782/top-100-prospects-baseball-america-comparison

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