Archive for the ‘retrospectives’ Category

Just Another Reminder that Strasburg and Wieters Aren’t Hall of Famers Yet

May 19, 2009

So here I was flipping through Baseball Prospectus 2005 in preparation for a quick piece on the quickly-devolving tragedy that is the career of Rickie Weeks, and I noticed something:

  1. Andy Marte.
  2. Delmon Young.
  3. Felix Hernandez.
  4. Dallas McPherson.
  5. Casey Kotchman.

That’s right. Those are the first five names that appeared on BP’s “Top 50 Prospects” list, about 51 months ago.

Now, let me say up front that I have nothing but respect for the fine people at BP (as you know if you’ve read, well, anything I’ve written here) and for this article’s author, Rany Jazayerli (as you know if you’ve checked out the blogroll to the right).

And the point of this isn’t that they got it wrong. Baseball America’s list had Mauer as the top prospect (who was no longer eligible by BP’s standards–he was the “Top Prospect Emeritus,” and I’d say that was a pretty decent call), but otherwise had a very similar look to it; minors uber-expert John Sickels was still doing the ESPN thing back then, and frankly, his top 5 hitter list is looking even worse than BP’s. In short, I don’t think BP did any better or worse than they should have in 2005 (incidentally, I can’t find my Baseball Prospecti 2004 or 2006 right now; anybody want to share the Top 5 from those years? Edit: found it! Check the comments.). But the fact remains that even by top-prospect-list standards, this one is looking really, really bad. Let’s review:

  1. Andy Marte (BA #9, Sickels #1): Rany’s writeup on Marte seems almost defensive — yeah, we really picked this guy, hear us out! — and now that’s looking a little silly. He’s currently back to knocking the cover off the ball in the minors (.343/.380/.614 through 22 games in Triple-A), but he’ll have to keep it up for quite a while before the big club in Cleveland forgets his .211/.265/.337, 56 OPS+ showing in a full season’s worth of big league PA. He might play again, might even start, but if he’s a star, it’ll be the biggest turnaround this side of Josh Hamilton.
  2. Delmon Young (BA #3, Sickels #4): Rany says “Marte and Young were the only two players seriously considered for our top spot.” They were right in line with everybody else on Delmon; BA went on to rank him #1 in 2006 and #3 in ’07. I have no further comment at this time.
  3. Felix Hernandez (BA #2, Sickels #1 among pitchers): Damn good, and it’s almost impossible to believe/remember he’s still only 23. They got one right, though it remains to be seen whether he’s really the top pitcher in the list (see more candidates below).
  4. Dallas McPherson (BA #12, Sickels #9): already nearly 25 when Rany was writing, the “most polished power bat of any player in the minor leagues” has a .298 career OBP and somehow lost the Marlins’ starting 3B job to Emilio Benifacio, so now I guess he’s in the Giants’ system. He did have a lot of power — 18 HR in 399 MLB PA — but the “polish” seemed to be lacking.
  5. Casey Kotchman (BA #6, Sickels #7): Here was your professional-hitter-and-gold-glove-first-baseman du jour, your Mark Grace or John Olerud for the 21st century. He did have a pretty solid and Grace-like first full season at age 24 in 2007 — .296/.372/.467, only 11 HR but 37 doubles — but then slipped in 2008 and was dealt to the Braves halfway through in the Mark Teixeira deal. Still only 26 and currently hitting .296/.362/.448, he might be a solid regular for several years now…but if so, he’ll likely be Overbay or Casey, not Grace or Olerud. Defense looks as good as advertised, however.

Other unnotables include Joel Guzman, #7 (62 big-league PA) and Eric Duncan, #13 (0 big-league PA). But should we get to the good players now? Wait ’til you see who’s bringing up the rear…

14. Scott Kazmir: posted a 116 ERA+ right there in 2005, at age 21, and didn’t look back. Well, not until ’09.

20. Chad Billingsley:
took off in 2006 at age 21. This kid might be the most underrated superstar in the game right now.

21. Ian Kinsler:
then a shortstop, Rany noted that he “projects as a slugging second baseman” without a ton of defense, so +2 for Rany. There was some thought then that his big 2004 in the minors was a fluke, just as there was some thought that his big 2008 in the majors was a fluke. Signs point to “no.”

24. Hanley Ramirez:
And in retrospect, there’s your true #1. Rany’s full of praise for him; his low ranking seems to stem from a very off 2003 and being blocked at shortstop by Edgar Renteria in Boston. BA ranked him #10.

26. Curtis Granderson:
“was not blessed with outstanding tools.”

38. Ryan Howard:
“almost guaranteed to find himself in another uniform before he gets an opportunity–maybe even before you read this.” Thome was blocking him in Philly at the time. They kept the right big guy.

39. Cole Hamels:
downgraded for injury risk.

44. Brian McCann:
just a good catch by them, really. McCann never once had a single-season minor league OPS as high as his big-league career OPS of .859. Oddly, BA also ranked him at exactly #44.

and, last and apparently least…

49(tie). Dustin Pedroia:
heh. Tied with someone named Mitch Einertson (who has yet to make it past Double-A) for the very last spot, in what was labeled a fierce “competition for our coveted slot of Mr. Irrelevant.” Little dudes in baseball: wildly underrated right up until the exact moment that they become wildly overrated.

Rany’s writeup seems resigned to the fact that Pedroia will never make the bigs, but notes that “PECOTA (admittedly thrown off by the small sample size) projects Pedroia to have more value over the next five years than any other prospect in baseball.”

BA’s list was a top 100 (as is BP’s, nowadays), and yet Lil’ Pedey goes unranked. Score one for PECOTA!