2013 Trade Value: Just Missed the Cut

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing the 2013 version of my annual Trade Value list, a project I’ve been doing since 2005 after borrowing the idea from Bill Simmons. I moved the trade value list to FanGraphs in 2008, and it’s been an annual series here ever since. If you missed our retrospective on last year’s list, you can review the entire list, and the lessons we might be able to learn from those names, in this post from Friday.

Coming in a few hours, we’ll introduce the first five players — well, I guess, technically the last five, since we’re working in reverse order — and we’ll do ten players per day all week, culminating in the top five on Friday afternoon. However, before we get into the guys who made the list, I figured it would be worthwhile to do a post on the guys who just missed the cut. This was a tough list to crack, and there were a lot of high quality players who just ended up on the outside of the bubble for one reason or another.

Rather than turning all future posts into a discussion of guys who haven’t yet appeared, this post will hopefully answer some questions as to why a player won’t appear on in the rest of the series. And it isn’t because I hate your favorite team. I promise. In fact, a lot of the guys who just missed the cut are personal favorites of mine, and most of them made some previous iteration of the list before I finalized the order. But, with only 50 spots, someone had to just miss the cut. Here are the guys who didn’t quite make it.

The Last Cut

Max Scherzer

I went back and forth on Scherzer a lot. He’s developed into a legitimate #1 starter at 28-years-old, and is probably the odds on favorite to win the AL Cy Young at this point. His walks are down, his strikeouts are up, and he’s even pitching deeper into games now that he’s become more efficient with his pitches. There’s nothing to not like here.

Except for his remaining years of team control. Or year, really. Unless the Tigers can get him signed to a now very pricey contract extension, Scherzer will be a free agent after the 2014 season. Teams would absolutely love to acquire Scherzer, and they’d pay through the nose to get him, but the trade returns of previous players traded with just a year and change left on their deals isn’t so great. As free agency grows this close, teams begin to balk at surrendering elite young talent for what amounts to a slightly longer term rental.

Scherzer’s dominant 2013 season is going to put him in the catbird seat this winter. He’ll either be able to extract a mint from the Tigers, or he’ll be just one year away from hitting the open market. And that would be enough to scare teams off from trading any of the 50 guys who will appear on the list for him. As good as Scherzer is, the looming free agency would do a serious number on his trade value, and pushes him just off the list.

The Infielders Who May or May Not Hit

Brett Lawrie, Matt Carpenter, Josh Donaldson, Andrelton Simmons, Jose Iglesias, Didi Gregorius, Everth Cabrera, Brandon Crawford, Howie Kendrick, Jedd Gyorko

This is a mixture of different kinds of players, but in the end, I couldn’t convince myself that any of them were definitely going to hit well enough going forward to be consistent impact players in the future. All of them have shown the potential to be terrific all-around players, playing skill positions while also contributing offensively, sometimes in a big way. A few of them are among the absolute best defensive players in the game, and don’t even need to be good hitters in order to be fantastically valuable.

But, as I noted on Friday, this is the kind of player that I was probably a little too aggressive in ranking a year ago. Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, and Alcides Escobar were all representatives of this “they’re great if they hit” group last summer, and since that list was published, we’ve seen all three really struggle at the plate.

These guys are mostly high floor, low risk players because of what they can do to help a team win even when the offense isn’t there, but the future of their offensive performance is really what would drive them to be high value players, and in each case, it’s a question that hasn’t been fully answered yet. I’d imagine that several of these players will keep hitting well over the next year and prove they belonged all along, but picking out which ones will hit and which ones won’t is not an easy job. There’s a lot of valuable players here, but there’s offensive question marks as well, and I think those questions would — for now — limit their value until the track record is a little bit stronger.

The Under-Powered Corners

Freddie Freeman, Alex Gordon, Kyle Seager

These guys are very good players who probably would have made the list if they had accumulated their value in a different manner. They’re all valuable assets, but they each play a corner position, and they get a lot of their value from non-HR events. The traditional mindsets about power at the corners is still pervasive in many front offices, and teams are less interested in giving up value for doubles, walks, and defense from a position where they’ve been trained to look for long balls.

Eventually, these predetermined roles for positions will fade away, and players will just be viewed for their overall contribution rather than how well they conform to a mold, but trade value reflects the market as it is, and the market still puts a significant premium on power. Freeman and Seager are young enough to think that perhaps they might develop more as they get older — and to be fair to Seager, he’s already showing more home run ability in the first half of 2013 — but I can’t quite see them getting commanding a king’s ransom with their current set of skills, even as those skills make them very good players.

Get On Base, Then We’ll Talk

Domonic Brown, Adam Jones, Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes

Just because the market values power doesn’t mean it doesn’t penalize you for making a lot of outs. These are four of the most dynamic outfielders in the game from a tools perspective, and each of them have shown tremendous raw power. It’s easy to dream about what all of them could be. It is hard to overlook what each of them is at the moment, and that is a power hitter who simply doesn’t get on base enough to truly be an elite offensive force.

As a center fielder, Jones doesn’t have to be a top notch hitter, but defensive metrics have never loved his defense and he’s only getting older. Given that he now has a pretty nice paycheck, the bar is higher for Jones than others, and offensively, he’s not quite clearing it.

Brown, Bruce, and Cespedes are cheaper, but come with their own warts. Brown’s big league track record is very short, and as a corner outfielder, his .320 OBP doesn’t cut it. Bruce, now 26-years-old, hasn’t really improved in the last four years, and is starting to reach the stage where he looks like he is what he is. Cespedes has regressed from his dynamite rookie season, and only has two years left on his contract before he hits free agency, as he negotiated an early out in order to sign with the A’s. Teams would love to have any of these four players, but their various warts push them just outside the top 50.

Pitchers Give Me Trust Issues

Jordan Zimmermann, Derek Holland, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Minor, Doug Fister

These guys are terrific young pitchers. They’ve all pitched at near-ace level for a while now. But man, pitchers. They get hurt. Their stuff goes away. They forget how to throw strikes. They’re all one pitch away from being worthless. The house is sparkly, but the foundation is grains of sand held together by leftover Elmer’s glue. I’d love to have all of them, but I don’t trust any of them as long term building blocks, and I think Major League teams would rather not pay a premium for not-quite-elite pitchers either.

I Have No Idea What To Do With You

Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp

Last year, these guys ranked #6 and #7 respectively; this year, I’m not putting either one in the Top 50. I’m sure there are teams out there who would gamble on Braun avoiding suspension and Kemp’s shoulder healing, but I have no idea what they’d pay in order to take those risks, especially considering that both of them have over $100 million in future commitments still coming their way.

Maybe in a year, BioGenesis will be behind us and Kemp will look like an MVP again, and omitting two of the game’s premier talents will look stupid. Right now, though, I just can’t imagine a Major League GM having the stones to give up serious talent in order to acquire either of these guys. It would take some kind of serious conviction that their present problems are temporary, and I just don’t know how you have that conviction from afar. So, this year, with their issues currently front and center, both fall short. What the future looks like for these two, I just don’t think we know, and given their contracts, it just seems like too much to ask a team to absorb that kind of high priced unknown.

Others Who Fell Off The List

Jered Weaver, Mike Moustakas, Justin Upton, Joey Votto, Dylan Bundy, Ian Kinsler, Mark Trumbo, Pablo Sandoval, Matt Wieters, Johnny Cueto, Starlin Castro, Matt Holliday, Ben Zobrist, Robinson Cano, Alcides Escobar, Matt Cain, Yovani Gallardo, Elvis Andrus

Votto was the only one of this group that was particularly close to making it, but since the 2012 list was published, he missed most of last season’s second half with a knee injury, has hit for less power, and had the most team friendly part of his contract expire. The rest have either had performance or injury issues over the last calendar year, or in Cano’s case, gotten so close to free agency that their trade value has been significantly diminished.

Coming Later Today: #50-#46 and #45-#41




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

96 Responses to “2013 Trade Value: Just Missed the Cut”

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  1. Pr says:

    Seems like there should be a category of prospects that barely missed it. Dave, in your chat you named Profar, Bogaerts, and Buxton as making the list i think. I would think a guy like Oscar Taveras would be a “just miss the cut” guy, no?

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  2. Josh M says:

    Is josh Donaldson in the wrong section? Also, I’d like to hear more on your decision to drop Wieters from the list.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Now 27, hasn’t taken any steps forward offensively, a year closer to free agency, pitch framing research suggests the non-arm/blocking parts of his defense might be overrated.

      He’s only got two years left of team control after this one. He hasn’t yet turned into what people thought he would have, and he’s running out of time. Quality player, but his trade value is diminishing.

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      • rageon says:

        pitch framing research suggests the non-arm/blocking parts of his defense might be overrated.

        What am I missing about pitch-framing research that would apply to a thirdbaseman?

        hasn’t taken any steps forward offensively

        .300 wOBP in 2012, .387 wOBP in 2013.

        Are we talking about the same Josh Donaldson??

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    • Balthazar says:

      This is a good discussion which frames your reasoning, Dave, and I find the rationales as you present them line up for me also. It’s hard to see any of these guys as amongst the _identifiably_ rated 50 highest trade commodities amongst baseball players. Lots of ceiling here, but real questions about the guy reaching that or risk to projection in other respects. Uncertainty has to attach a discount.

      Taking another slant on that, I found myself thinking, who are the best values, then amongst the near-misses? The guys most likely to reach a higher ceiling than one would comfortably project for them at this point (or to be worth their contracts for the older guys)? I’d settle on Votto, Jordan Z, Jay Bruce, Dylan Bundy, and all three of the shrewdly grouped Underpowered Corners. Dominic Brown and Matt Carpenter might, just, join that cohort with another year of good performance. Fister has been pretty consistent with what he does, too, just about the best No. 2 guy around; doesn’t project for the Ks to get a No. 1′s package, but whose GB rates make him better between the lines than many guys who will.

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  3. Joshua says:

    The sentence “Brown, Brown, and Cespedes are cheaper, but come with their own warts” should read “Brown, Bruce…

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  4. Bodhizefa says:

    How scared are the Tigers right now in terms of having just signed Verlander and watching Scherzer break out while Verlander may already be declining?

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    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      Verlander’s also been more durable than Scherzer. I’d be more scared of signing Scherzer for 10 years than Verlander.

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    • Ron says:

      A bunch of great pitchers have had a bad year here and there and recover fine. Maybe he has lost some control, I don’t know about his velocity but whatever it is it may just be a thing he adjusts to. I don’t think we have seen enough to determine if Verlander is declining or just slumping. However, even if his is declining he has to decline a long ways so I don’t think the Tigers are too concerned.

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      • The Party Bird says:

        I’m not sure why people are even commenting about his velocity – he’s still in the top 10 among starters, which is frankly astonishing to begin with since he is known to intentionally throw at significantly reduced velocity in early/low leverage situations. Indeed, his top-end velocity is comparable to or better than most of the folks ahead of him on the list – the only starter that really has him beat at top-end velocity this year is Matt Harvey.

        What has been more worrying is the decrease in fastball command, which was evident even in his no-hit bid against Texas on Sunday.

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  5. Brian says:

    The third paragraph for “Get On Base, Then We’ll Talk” lists “Brown” twice instead of Bruce.

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  6. Fabian says:

    I get that Braun’s status is in Limbo, but if I understand the CBA correctly, suspensions for PEDs are without pay, so the risk of dealing for him and then missing him for 100 (or however many it will be) games at least comes with a very nice insurance. The skills are still there, even if he has struggled, but you’d need a GM who does not care much about public opinion to pull that one off!

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  7. Baltar says:

    It is difficult for me to believe that Scherzer and Votto don’t belong on the list. There are many instances of teams giving up a top prospect for even half a season of players not as good as those two.
    In fairness, I cannot definitevely say they do belong on the list until I see the list. Also, these are two moot points, as Detroit and Cincinnati are not about to trade these players.

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    • dirtbag says:

      I don’t think you’ve looked at Votto’s contract. He’ll still have a $25M salary guaranteed 10 years from now.

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  8. dtpollitt says:

    My oh my no Joey Votto on the top 50? Alex Gordon has been worth 14+ WAR over the last 3 years and is in the peak 28 age. Both of these surprise me.

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    • Tommy says:

      Gordon more than Votto for me, That 200+ mil that Votto has coming is pretty hefty and knocks the market down to maybe 6 teams that can swing that commitment.

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    • Stuck in a slump says:

      I totally get Gordon being left off; the guy is a corner outfielder who doesn’t do typical COF things. He doesn’t hit HR’s, in fact he’s only cracked 20 once and looks to fall short again. He also doesn’t steal tons of bases either, so unlike a Choo who can go 20-20, you’re looking at a guy that will go 15-15, and his ISO has dropped each year since his 2011 peak.

      He’s a very good player, but he’s not your prototypical COF, and that hurts his value a bit, especially when teams know that they can get similar, if not better, production out of a guy like Choo that wont cost them as much talent to get at the end of the year.

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    • Dylan says:

      Completely disagree with Votto not making it if this list is actually trying to rank trade value, and not what the trade value should be. The Brewers, Reds, Rockies, Tigers, and a couple of other teams that are escaping me right now have made it perfectly clear that elite players on long term contracts are something they value. Yes, he’ll be overpaid in 10 years. But who knows, the game is making more money, maybe he won’t be THAT overpaid. Right now, he’s pretty significantly underpaid, and money now is worth more than money later. He should be on the list, and decently high.

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      • jmarsh says:

        My thoughts exactly. The game is flush with cash right now and star power is the best way to win championships. Obviously you’re not going to trade a Trout/Harper/Machado for Votto, but there are many teams who would overpay Votto later in a chance to get a flag now.

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      • Balthazar says:

        To me, Joey Votto is No. 51. But that said, you’re discounting the risks. He’s starting to get injuries. The power has had a drop. He’s got ten years guaranteed in ink at $$$. There is a very real risk that an acquiring team might get _nothing_ back for the last five years of that contract. I don’t expect Votto to fall of a cliff, no, but you can’t say that there are no signs of risk creeping into his forward valuation. The signs are there. I’d bet on Votto to turn in 3-4 great seasons going forward, given his past, and that has real, and high, value. But you also have a risk of _multiple_ years of much reduced value. That just inherently takes a player down. It’s not so much a question of a club like LAD not being able to pay the money, it’s have the non-performance ruin a season going forward that is the risk.

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  9. Jaack says:

    Oh man. Andrelton Simmons is not in the top 15. Prepare for crucifixion.

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    • Anon21 says:

      Hey man, we know you can’t read. No need to come in and announce it every time Andrelton Simmons comes up.

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    • KJ says:

      The Andrelton Simmons jokes are REALLY tiring. He’s one of the best defenders (+24 DRS) in major league baseball right now but his bat has yet to catch up. Even if it never does he still has a lot of value. However, I doubt that even the most homer-ish Braves thinks he has a top 50 trade value.

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      • Jaack says:

        Check last year’s trade value list comments. There were advocates for Simmons after he only had about 100 PAs in the majors.

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        • KJ says:

          You are still making lame jokes because of what a few fans thought LAST YEAR? Move on, it’s over….the joke isn’t funny any longer.

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        • TKDC says:

          Monica Lewinsky jokes aren’t really funny anymore either.

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        • TD says:

          No, Braves fans do this all the time, virtually everywhere. Even the first response complaining about the joke was prefaced with a completely unnecessary statement about how good Simmons is.

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      • chuckb says:

        Dave was flayed last year for having the audacity to suggest that Simmons fell just short. The joke here was entirely justified. Some people take it far too personally, as though they’ve just been personally insulted, when their favorite player doesn’t fall on this list exactly where they think he should fall.

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        • KJ says:

          The joke may have been funny the first 50 or so times it has been repeated in Cameron’s chats. It has gotten old.

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        • Dingbat says:

          Do you know what’s even more tiring than old jokes? Complaining about old jokes three times in one post.

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        • TD says:

          Almost as old as the Simmons worship, which is ongoing.

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      • Wobatus says:

        He is borderline top 50. In 139 career games, he’s put up 4 WAR. Sure, it’s all fielding pretty much, but what a fielder. His bat hasn’t been very good but he makes contact and has some pop (11 homers in those 139 games). He does have awful tendency to hit pop-ups. Still, there are some building blocks to improve upon.

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        • TD says:

          Pop as measured by home run total rather than than ISO (.105). No, you people are completely rational when it comes to Simmons.

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        • Alex says:

          A .105 ISO is actually “some pop” for a guy who makes contact as much as Simmons does. Of the guys with a lower K% this season, only Kinsler has a higher ISO.

          IIRC Wobatus isn’t even a Braves fan, and the fact you took the comment “some pop” as being some ridiculous homer statement kind of shows how ridiculous the other side of this argument can get (I won’t comment on the pro Simmons side).

          It’s not really hard to see why some people are so high on Simmons. In less than a seasons worth of games, he has already accumulated 4.0 fWAR and 6.0 bWAR. He has the 8th best K% in baseball since he came into the majors. Oh and did I mention his off the charts defensive value? Fun fact, over the past 2 seasons Simmons has 30% more DRS than any other player in baseball despite playing in less than 55% of the games over that time period.

          The truth of the matter is that Simmons would have been a no doubt selection if FG used DRS instead of UZR. I don’t think there is anyway Dave leaves Simmons off this list if his 4 fWAR were replaced with his 6 bWAR. That’s in less than 140 career games in spite of offensive numbers that can’t really get any worse going forward.

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        • Wobatus says:

          Yeah, thanks Alex, just a baseball fan. A Mets fan as far as rooting interest, but I don’t have a dog in this fight other than to say i think Simmons is pretty valuable. Although not so much for my fantasy team. yeah, i know, no one cares about my fantasy team.

          As far as home run pop over ISO i didn’t really think about it that much, but I do think given his low K rates and some demonstrated ability to hit home runs, his bat has room for growth, more so, than, say, Alcides Escobar, who has slightly higher K rates than Simmons and less pop, er, a lower ISO.

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    • Alex says:

      How original. And yes, being deserving of a top 50 spot is virtually the same as being deserving of a top 15 spot. Also, way to ignore a primary argument last year which was that Simmons was clearly more deserving than Escobar, who made the list. Amazingly enough, Alcides Escobar started hitting like Alcides Escobar again and that pick looks horrendous in retrospect.

      Anyway, Simmons should be in the top 50 without a doubt. I don’t know how this is even up for debate. He’s on pace for 3 fWAR and 5 bWAR. He’s doing that despite a .249 BABIP that appears to be an obvious outlier compared to the rest of his professional career. Even with seemingly terrible luck on batted balls, he has still been among the more valuable SS in the game and he’s still only 23. Oh and he’s under team control for 5.5 more years and he will be incredibly underpaid through arbitration since they pretty much ignore defensive ability.

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  10. Tommy says:

    This is great, it would also be cool if you could write up the players in the top 50 from last year who wee traded and how the return measured up

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  11. Daniel says:

    I’m surprised that Brett Lawrie’s stock has remained high enough for him to just miss the cut.

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    • Wobatus says:

      He’s been injured this year (which doesn’t increase his value, but it doesn’t appear chronic) and has a 104 wRC+ through age 23 (which was better prior to being dragged down by this season’s injury-plagued numbers). He’s a good fielder. So through his age 22 year, prior to this year, he was about a 5 WAR player over just a shade more than a full season.

      He’s still young. I’m not surprised he’s a shade off and thought maybe he’d still be on the back end.

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      • Daniel says:

        Yeah but his wRC+ was a lot better before the start of the 2012 season too. That 2011 explosion is getting further away.

        I’m not writing him off but I would have thought he had more to prove than his ranking here would suggest.

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        • Wobatus says:

          True. He was still about a league average hitter and a good fielder last year at 22. It just pales in comparison to what he did in 2011.

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        • Daniel says:

          So was Starlin Castro but he dropped way off the list and deservedly so. That’s what I don’t understand about Lawrie. I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong. I just find it interesting,

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  12. mlstarr says:

    So was Corbin not close to the list?

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    • Don't See How says:

      If these guys: Jordan Zimmermann, Derek Holland, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Minor, Doug Fister, aren’t on the list, then Corbin definitely isn’t.

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      • mlstarr says:

        I’m surprised he wasn’t close (hence my question) given his service time and cost. But a pitcher’s a pitcher, and he doesn’t have a long track record of expectations at his current production levels I guess. So we’ll see what, 14-15 pitchers maybe? I’m really surprised Holland missed the list.

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      • Dirck says:

        The younger age and cheaper cost would definitely work to Corbin’s advantage vs, the pitchers named ,but the lack of a proven track record works against him .

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      • Patrick says:

        Corbin should be on the list as much as Shelby Miller and Jose Fernandez. And Julio Teheran is another rookie who is performing at near the same level as Miller and Fernandez. Teheran is nowhere to be found in this list.

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  13. Wobatus says:

    I made a pitch for Carpenter and Donaldson, and also thought Seager and Lawrie might make it. Same with Brown. It’ll be interesting to see who did make it. But the explanations seem sound. We’re talking trade value given what GMs want. And i understand being a bit leery about guys who haven’t done it with the bat over a period of time, or are not power guys at a perceived power position.

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    • Theodore says:

      I think those first two are the biggest errors.

      They’re both top 10 in WAR so far this year and are both under team control until 2018 and 2019, respectively.

      While they may be a bit older (both are 27), that actually makes their value enormous as they’re going to be making pennies over the course of their peak production years.

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  14. Gregory says:

    Jones’ OBP is league-average, but his power is well above it, giving him a 122 wRC+ compared to a ML-average 102 for outfielders. Though OBP does matter more than SLG, I notice you consistently do not give much creedence to the latter.

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    • Stuck in a slump says:

      An interesting note about comparing OBP vs SLG and wRC+:

      CarGo and Choo have the same wRC+ scores since 2011.

      CarGo 300/368/542 ISO 242 BB% 9.4 K% 21.4 wOBA 386
      Choo 278/381/436 ISO 158 BB% 11.7 K% 21.0 wOBA 361
      +22/-13/+106 +84 -2.3 +0.4 -25

      If you ask me, wRC+ might be a little off. It is supposed to be based off of wOBA, but I don’t see how CarGo and Choo can be the same offensively. So I see your argument here, however, Jones’ 4.4 BB% since 2011 would be enough to scare me off as a GM from giving too much for him and keeps him from being truly elite.

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      • Park Effects? says:

        I think that Park Effects might account for the big difference in the raw numbers. wOBA is not adjusted, but wRC+ is, so the Coors Effect is present in CarGo’s wOBA.

        At least, I think so. I could look it up, but I’m lazy.

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      • Colin says:

        wRC+ is park adjusted. CarGo plays in Denver.

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        • Stuck in a slump says:

          So far this season though CarGo has a reverse split in his Home/Away numbers and caries a line of 302/370/610 with a 153 wRC+.

          Choo, also in a very hitter friendly park has been dismal on the road while tearing it up in GABP. He carries a line of 287/425/468 with a 152 wRC+

          Does 55 points of OBP really outweigh 142 points of SLG?

          I’m not saying that Choo’s season is bad, or that he isn’t an elite player so far this season, but I would think that there would be more of a gap given the large difference in SLG vs OBP. I’m just not sure if the estimated value of OBP = SLG * 1.8 is that accurate since a BB is less valuable than a hit (regardless as to TB gained), and then when you factor in baserunning into wRC+ CarGo appears to be at a significant advantage when looking at just the raw numbers.

          Though on the topic of park adjustments, are the park factors taken into account for handedness? because if so, then Choo’s numbers might be all wrong as he’s more similar to a RHH in his batting profile than a LHH which changes significantly for Progressive field.

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        • Andrew says:

          Your point about Choo’s park factors is interesting, but I have to imagine that CarGo’s actual home/road splits don’t matter much. It just means he is adding less value at home than on the road.

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      • Jason B says:

        “+22/-13/+106 +84 -2.3 +0.4 -25″

        I have no idea what this means…bingo?

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        • discollama says:

          the -25 was supposed to be +25, but the numbers were supposed to have been formatted to line up to the numbers above, however the formatting was lost.

          It’s the difference between the two players’ numbers. It’s meant to show that there isn’t that significant of a difference in favor of Choo for me to see them having equal wRC+ value.

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  15. Otter says:

    I get what you’re saying with Kemp but I think both Chicago teams would be interested. I think the Yankees, Phillies and pretty much ever big market team would be very interested too.

    Kemp doesn’t make much sense for, say, the Royals, Indians or Pirates of the world; but he’d probably be a decent gamble for the big market teams.

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    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      Sure but if he’s a “gamble” then they might not pay as much for him as for a “non-gamble”.

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    • Franco says:

      Right, those teams would take him for a bag of balls but they’re not trading top prospects for an expensive question mark.

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  16. Mariners2001 says:

    I get Kyle Seager not making it, but I also think he’s easily the most underrated player in the game. He might not have a stand-out tool, but he’s consistently good at everything (contact, power, plate discipline, defense, speed, etc.). Hopefully the Mariners will sign him to a long-term, team-friendly deal.

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    • Detroit Michael says:

      I think Ben Zobrist is still the most under-rated player in the game, but Seager is in the conversation.

      2012: 5 HRs at home + 15 HRs on the road
      2013 YTD: 6 HRs at home + 9 HRs on on the road

      Much of the improvement may be because Safeco is playing more like a home run park due to closer fences and avoiding last season’s cold weather in San Franscisco and Seattle.

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  17. saucypony says:

    Take a look, Dave, I think you meant ‘pervasive’ rather than ‘persuasive’.

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  18. Bubba says:

    Does Mike Trout have any trade value?

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  19. Dylan says:

    I get why Scherzer’s not on there. I really do. And he presents a perfect example of why lists like this are difficult: I doubt the Rays would trade Price for Scherzer.

    But I think most teams would give more for Scherzer than for Price at this point, or more than they’d give for Verlander. Carlos Beltran, with less than 70 games left, got the Mets Zach Wheeler. Exceptional players have large value, even without a lot of time left. And Scherzer has an extra year beyond that.

    I think most teams would give more for 1.5 years of Scherzer than they would for Verlander, Beltre, or Price.

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  20. Nick O says:

    I advocated Reddick making it last year, so maybe I should just keep quiet and defer to Dave on this one, but I’m a bit surprised Donaldson didn’t make the list. Donaldson completely re-vamped his approach and swing after being demoted last year, switched to 3B full time, and has hit .303/.371/.503 in 140 games since (not to mention raking in AAA after the demotion). His true talent level seems to be, at the very least, above average hitter and plus defender at a position in the middle of the defensive spectrum. And if you’re inclined to believe that makeup has anything to do with being able to sustain an improved performance, Donaldson seems to pass that test as well. It’s not like Donaldson’s hot streak has been BABIP-fueled like the shortstops or he’s been merely slightly above average at the plate like Lawrie – he’s been raking and playing excellent D for the last calendar year.

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    • Matt says:

      The thing about Donaldson is you don’t even have to make the “he’s revamped his game” argument to include him on this list.

      Just take his career line, early struggles included, and he’s a 5 win player in his prime, with two pre-arb years left. He should be in the top 50.

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  21. pitnick says:

    Surprised not to see Brandon Belt lumped in with Freeman, et al.

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  22. RaoulDuke says:

    You should repost the 2005 column with some “Director’s” commentary.

    “D. Concentrate on degrees. For instance, neither the Marlins nor Cardinals would pull the trigger on an Pujols-Cabrera trade. But at the very least, the Marlins say, “Wow, Albert Pujols is available?” while the Cardinals would say, “There’s no way we’re trading Pujols.” That counts in the big scheme of things.”

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  23. DarkKnight says:

    I think that a savvy GM would know that Kyle Seager was originally a second baseman, moved due to (at the time) the presence of Dustin Ackley. Seager was a 2B all through college. The majority of his MiLB innings were at 2B. ANd in very limited time at 2B in the pros he was fantastic on defense.

    A savvy GM could easily look at Seager and say “I can get that kind of offense, and plus defense, at 2B? That guy’s got crazy value.” And he’d be right.

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  24. Nick P says:

    Anyone have insight into why Trumbo is listed in the last group? Dave listed injury and performance issues, as well proximity to free agency as reasons why that set of players were grouped together. Trumbo doesnt appear to me to readily fit into any of those categories. Over the last couple seasons he has been healthy and produced plenty of offense. Many of his counting stats look better than his rate stats, but a guy who can hit 30+ HRs, and drive in 90+ RBI while hitting right around league average should have some value. Is it just his impending arbitration eligibility? Maybe there is something I am not seeing, and maybe someone can point it out.

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    • DarkKnight says:

      I’d think it’s easy enough. He makes a ton of outs. an OBP hovering around 300 is damaging. Guys like Jones and Cespedes in the one of the higher groups get some additional credit for defense, but Trumbo is mostly a 1B (and poor outfielder) who makes a lot of outs. His power gets him in the discussion, but thats as far as it goes.

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  25. Jason Hickey says:

    Can we get some more thoughts on your Votto omission, just can’t wrap my head around it. Maybe if it were a top 25.

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    • Kevin says:

      Yeah, omitting Votto is probably the worse mistake I have ever seen Dave make on this site, with the possible amusing exception of his love for James Loney in the linked 2008 article (although I am somewhat new to the site). The only thing I can imagine happened was that Dave was either 1) spooked by how much Pujols has regressed and is equating Votto with Pujols or 2) is evaluating WAR linearly, which would be a mistake. In either case, suggesting E5 in Toronto is worth more in trade because of his contract than one of the 5 best hitters in baseball is cringe-worthy. When you add to it that there are a dearth of talented first-base prospects on the horizon… I really don’t get it.

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  26. Scott says:

    Dave, would you consider the 42 honorable mentions to be the next 42 players you didn’t include?

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  27. Patrick says:

    Dave, where do you see Julio Teheran in all of this? He’s been getting better as the season goes on. Almost pitched a no-hitter.

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  28. Danny says:

    On the surface, I agree with the comments about Corbin’s lack of a proven track record. But if you compare his numbers this year to Harvey’s, there is very little difference, once you get past Harvey’s higher strikeout rate. Take a look. And with his contract, Corbin should have been top 20, at a minimum.

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