11 March 2013

How Many Prospects Will Become Stars? (AL Edition)

A couple days ago I revisited the article Scott McKinney wrote a couple years back showing the historical importance of being a ranked prospect by Baseball America in their top 100 prospect rankings.  He had enough data to feel it sufficient to boiling things down to every ten spots and subdivide that by pitcher or catcher.  For instance, 26th ranked Kevin Gausman stands to be a star player (an annual value above 2.5 WAR) 14.3% of the time.  By that, we mean that Kevin Gausman is part of an arbitrary historical grouping of pitchers that were ranked between 21st and 30th by Baseball America.  As a population (which contains a wide range of pitchers with different skill sets), individuals became star pitchers 14.3% of the time.  So, keep that in mind.  Gausman may indeed be an exceptional example of a 21-30 pitcher due to how powerful and polished his repertoire is or he may be exceptional in a poor way because his breaking ball is not above average.  However, it is not my interest to discern that in this post.  Also, this post is not interested in prospects past the top 100 even though they certainly have value and the potential to become stars.  They simply lie outside the scope here.

What this post is concerned with is looking at the projected outcome of stars on different teams.  I took the BA list and ran through the probability of the likelihoods of teams winding up with different numbers of star players as well the the potential for their ranked prospects to go bust:

AL East

Four Three Two One Zero Busted
Baltimore 0.0% 0.0% 3.8% 33.2% 63.0% 47.0%
Boston 0.1% 2.3% 14.4% 44.7% 38.5% 12.2%
New York (A) 0.1% 2.3% 15.3% 41.8% 40.6% 25.0%
Tampa Bay 0.0% 0.0% 6.1% 43.0% 47.0% 15.9%
Toronto 0.0% 0.0% 0.3% 12.3% 87.3% 69.7%

AL Central

Four Three Two One Zero Busted
Chicago (A) 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 8.4% 91.6% 83.3%
Cleveland 0.0% 0.0% 3.4% 30.1% 66.5% 39.1%
Detroit 0.0% 0.2% 5.2% 34.0% 60.6% 38.4%
Kansas City 0.0% 0.3% 6.3% 35.7% 57.7% 42.7%
Minnesota 0.7% 14.4% 26.4% 38.9% 19.4% 4.4%

AL West

Four Three Two One Zero Busted
Houston 0.5% 10.4% 16.9% 42.9% 29.2% 8.2%
LAAA 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 22.1% 77.9% 70.6%
Oakland 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 16.7% 83.3% 68.0%
Seattle 0.5% 7.6% 19.4% 42.8% 29.6% 11.8%
Texas 0.1% 1.0% 33.9% 25.8% 39.3% 12.2%

As mentioned in our previous posts using the Victor Wang methodology or with McKinney's work, position players tend to pan out moreso than pitchers.  No, pitchers are not a lucky crap shoot in finding value, but they certainly are a more volatile commodity.

The three teams that did worst in this assessment, Chicago, Toronto, and Oakland, have to hope that their unranked prospects develop into valuable pieces.  Oakland has a very strong and deep post-100 prospect group.  To a lesser extent, so does Toronto.  Chicago however is quite shallow.


Bret said...

After watching Bundy and Gausman Saturday night it is pretty clear to me Gausman is ahead in terms of development. He has a much better out pitch and a much better idea at the moment of how to attack hitters.

Ortiz starting the season on the DL also, I don't see where Boston improved from last year. Will Victorino be better than Ross was? Stephen Drew is already hurt. Don't see it. Jackie Bradley Jr. may well be a good player because of his speed and defense but he looks to be about 4 feet tall. I question whether his patience will work nearly as well at the big league level since he isn't a power threat at all and will get attacked.

Matt P said...

What would be interesting is to look at how Baseball America did from 1990-1999 and from 2000-2009 to see if there's any improvement.

I've done a few calculations and I'm convinced that Baseball America has improved significantly in that time frame.

If you look at just pitchers that made it to the bigs, then the #1-#10 prospects improved on average by about a win per year in the 2000-2010 time frame.

If you look at pitchers success rate then Baseball America has shown great improvement.

If you look at WAR per 150 innings, the stat that I think I like best then well...

Pitching prospects in the top 1-10 are about three and a half times more likely to be a star from the 2000-2009 rankings then the 1990-1999 rankings. The 2000-2009 prospects have a 40% chance to be superior and a 31.5% chance to be average. This compares to a 11.7% chance to be superior and a 35.2% chance to be average that BA had from 1990-1999.

Prospects in the 11-20 range had a 19% chance to be superior in 1990-1999 and a 34% chance in 2000-2009. Given that BA got really lucky with its 1990-1999 numbers, that's impressive.

Prospects in the 21-30 range had a 28% chance to be superior in 2000-2009 compared to a 7% chance in 1990-1999. They were also slightly more likely to be average in the 2000-2009 timeframe rather then the 1990-1999.

Prospects in the 31-40 range had a 10.5% chance to be superior in 2000-2009 compared to a 2.7% chance in 1990-1999. They were more likely to be average in 1990-1999 though, with a 38.8% to 31.5% edge.

Prospects in the 41-50 range were twice as likely to be superior in 2000-2009 then in 1990-1999(14.8% to 7.3%). They were more likely to be average also in 2000-2009 (27.7% to 22%).

BA got very unlucky in 2000-2009 with prospects in the 51-60 as 30.6% didn't even throw twenty innings in the majors and were complete busts. But the ones that made it were far more likely to be superior then the ones in 1990-1999.

It begins to even out around this point. For prospects from 61-100, the 2000-2009 numbers were better but not by so much then the 1990-1999.

I did use a different method then the author of the article you cited. What he did is a bit complicated. Still, given the results with the methods I've used I don't forsee a significant difference.

I haven't done this for position players yet and you may want to check my work to make sure I didn't screw something up. In addition, it's also possible that BA simply got lucky from 2000-2009 or was unlucky from 1990-1999.

But it's far more likely that using 1990-1999 in these calculations is a mistake because they've gotten better.