Saturday, 26 February 2011

Prospect Rankings: Compare and Contrast

Here's a steaming pile of ultimately useless info for your Friday night as we look forward to the first official fake game of the year. What follows is something akin to the surveys used to rank college sports team during the season. I took four Jays-fan made lists and awarded points in the traditional manner (high to low) to come up with a consensus ranking, and separately I took for "unbiased" professional lists and did the same thing. the latter list produces a shorter consensus list because at least one of them didn't go beyond 10 names, still, I thought it was at least somewhat interesting to see how the two compare.

For comparison sake, I'll start with the pros. The four lists used here are Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, John Sickels, and Kieth Law (who only gives me 10 names to work with). I'd be happy to calculate in any others, if you direct me to them, in a future update - but these are the four most widely available team-specific lists. A total of 12 players were mentioned as Top 10 players between the four lists - here's how they ranked (using a 10 point high-to-low scale):

1. Drabek - 40
2. Lawrie - 35
3. Stewart - 23
4. McGuire - 22
4. d'Arnaud - 22
6. Arencibia - 21
7. Perez - 14
8. Gose - 13
9. Sanchez - 10
9. Wojciechowski - 10
11. Hechevarria - 9
12. Alvarez - 1

Ranking the fan-made lists was a bit more complex. The ones I used were my own (I know I'm not a go-to source but this is my damned project!), Jays Journal Top 50 (I'm guessing at their last three spots but the rankings won't change if I'm wrong), Batter's Box (written before Lawrie arrived and three others departed, for a total of 28 available names), and Bluebird Banters' Top 40. To control for the discrepancy in the number of players listed, I went with a 50 point scale which didn't create a major complication until I got to #25 - I'll explain later when things get hairy.
I'll say again here that I used what seems to me to be the three most well constructed and/or prominent fan-made lists I'm aware of. if you'd like to recommend others, I'd be happy to consider them (and of course glad to feed the beast by consuming yet another list!).

It's a bit useless to say this but 28 players made all four lists because everyone on the shortest list (BB) made all three other lists, albeit not always in the top 28. The Consensus List reaches 21 names before we have to start making adjustments for players who didn't make one list or another. By the time you get to 30 the adjustments get too complex for the list to be meaningful thereafter.

Here are the results:

1. Drabek - 200
2. Lawrie - 196
3. Stewart - 191
4. Arencibia - 187
5. Perez - 176
6. Hechevarria - 175
7. Gose - 174
8. McGuire - 170
9. d'Arnaud - 169
10. Sanchez - 164
11. Alvarez - 162
12. Marisnick - 159
13. Thames - 152
13. Wojciechowski - 152
15. Jimenez - 141
16. Syndergaard - 134
17. Jenkins - 130
17. Hutchinson - 130
19. Thon - 123
20. Sierra - 118
21. Mastroianni - 117
22. Cardona - 116*
23. Carreno - 103
24. Murphy - 102
25. Sweeney - 102**
26. Pierre - 97
27. Kenect - 96
28. Hawkins - 92***
29. McDade - 89
30. Cooper - 87****

(If you don't know who these people are, you probably need to read up some)

The guys with stars are the players who didn't make the Batter's Box list. Each of them are ranked according to the number of points they'd have had if they were #29 on that list, which obviously all of them couldn't have been. Notes to follow:

* Cardona had a 13 point cushion before he would have fallen below Carreno so this is a safe ranking.
** Sweeney beats out Pierre with five points to spare, so if he would have been at least #32 on that list then his place is secure here.
***Hawkins is in a much more tenuous position, just 3 points ahead of McDade - but I've know way of knowing where his rank would have been if the crew there had gone to, say, 40 names.
****This is the highest Cooper could have ranked, but no other player was close enough to make it questionable to include him.

Looking in detail at the latter list, and the lists which contributed to it, a few things jump out. The JJ list was very heavily skewed to younger prospects. For instance, Brad Mills ranked as high as #19 on one list, but didn't make the Top 50 for JJ. The BB list suffered a bit from changes in the system after it was published (I should note here that I arbitrarily assumed Lawrie would have been #2 on that list though he'd have had to miss the top five entirely to change the aggregate ranking). Also, the Southpaw list I used was the latest version, modified somewhat as information came in over the winter, which I intend to publish in the coming weeks - not the list i published last fall.
Exactly half the 30 names on the list have Joined the organization since Alex Anthopoulos took over. Which, by the way, is not crazy unusual. Prospect lists tend to look for the "next big thing" and new draftees/signing/acquisitions tend to get more attention. On a personal note, i thought I was being radical in my praise for Aaron Sanchez when i put out my original list, but over the winter there was a steady stream of plaudits for the young right hander.

The other interesting aspect of this exercise is the comparison between the pro list and the amateur list. Obviiously, one can't overlook that the views represented by the latter list are highly informed by the expressed views of the professionals (even when your list came out before the pro put out his list, you've still likely heard a lot about his views).

Nine of the top ten on each list also appeared in the top 10 of the other list. The pros rated 2010 draftees McGuire and Wojciechowski marginally higher than the fans, and the fans rate Adeiny and to a lesser extent Arencibia somewhat higher. The degree of consensus though, is pretty high.

And of course, as you compare any one contributing list to the consensus, one must remember that the further you get down the list the more the rankings are intuitive and less critical. The difference between the #21 guy and the number #29 guy are not usually nearly as great as the difference in the #1 and the #9.

In any case, submitted for your consideration.


Johnny G said...

Nice work, interesting to see our take on it vs the pros.

Blue Jays Daze - Mat Germain said...

Very nice write up and I'll be sure to link up to it. It's always fun to see who put who where and to see how things turn out, so I hope we'll get a follow up after the year's done (and the year after) to see how well we do! I know that we took our time to do it over at Jays Journal and did go young, for very good reason.

The Jays have so many young studs in the system now that we couldn't think of ranking a pitcher (like Mills) who we didn't feel belonged in the "prospect" category anymore. He had a horrible 2010, go a couple of runs in the majors and looked horrible each time, and we have our doubts that he'll be able to make it in The Show. We believed that he may wind up as yet another AAAA pitcher. We could be wrong, but that's our feeling on Mills.

Again, loved the write up and keep up the great work!


Mat - Jays Journal