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  1. Is 3.1 WAR from rookies good? I see 8 teams on the fangraphs leaderboards who have more than that just from either pitchers or hitters. I don’t have time to calculate how many have more combined. Is 3.1 WAR from 12 players good? You don’t actually demonstrate that it’s all that impressive to build the 19th ranked bullpen by WAR with lesser prospects. They’re 24th by xFIP. Congrats?

    All that said, the trades Kenny Williams have made this season have been armed robbery.

    Comment by byron — August 22, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

  2. like the brett myers deal? WE Houstonians think that was a good deal for us as well!

    Comment by illinibob — August 22, 2012 @ 2:25 pm


    Comment by Criminal Profiler — August 22, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  4. It’s not particularly good in an absolute sense but it is surprising that the worst ranked system has produced the most value from rookie players. it’s a surprising outcome; that’s the point of the article not that this amazing production from 12 players.

    Comment by Peter — August 22, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

  5. They haven’t produced the most value from rookie players; they’ve produced no better than 9th, and potentially much lower.

    Comment by byron — August 22, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  6. Protip: read the first sentence of the article; it often contains the main point.

    Comment by Peter — August 22, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

  7. Does this lend itself to the lack of credibility of major Baseball Websites Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus? Or even a constant East Coast bias?

    Comment by PRO SPORTS ROSTERS — August 22, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  8. you’re right; they just outperformed the top 3 orgs coming into the season.

    Comment by Peter — August 22, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  9. and no it doesn’t impugn the credibilty of any of those. one data point against does not render something meaningless when it has many many more data points in its favor. it shows that modeling production over a small sample is really difficult but we already knew that.

    Comment by Peter — August 22, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

  10. Peter, thank you for that helpful advice. Unfortunately, the author does nothing to substantiate the argument he makes in the first sentence. “They did a lot of this! Here’s how much they did, with absolutely no context that indicates that was actually a lot.”

    Comment by byron — August 22, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

  11. Peter nailed the point of the article. For more context, five rookie hitters and eight rookie pitchers have accumulated more than 2.0 WAR this year… so rookies (not named Mike Trout) have not made huge impacts in their rookie season and tend not to be huge difference makers right away…

    Really, I’d say teams would hope for rookies to be league average at worst during a rookie campaign.

    Comment by Marc Hulet — August 22, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

  12. Mike Trout has still out produced all of these team’s rookies combined.

    Comment by 81 — August 22, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  13. So the 3.1 WAR is 1.1 from Addison Reed, who all of the prospect rankers acknowledged was the one good prospect in the system. 1.9 from Jose Quintana, who was a free agent they picked up at the start of this year. And then 0.1 WAR from everyone else.

    I don’t really see the surprise here, other than Quintana (who they didn’t develop much, if at all) coming out of nowhere and providing the value he has. I’d say Quintana is more of a shrewd signing than a credit to their Minor League system.

    I think all the prospect guys would have said Addison Reed could possibly produce 1.1 WAR at this point in the season, and it’s not too impressive that the rest of the rookies have been replacement level. So where did BA/BP/Keith Law/Fangraphs go wrong in evaluating the White Sox system? Basically just Quintana, right?

    Comment by Mike — August 22, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  14. I’m not sure that this proves anything other than they have gotten more value than the very little that was expected. Using your own numbers, they have 3.1 WAR from 12 guys but 3.0 from Quintana and Reed, so 10 other guys combine for a whopping 0.1 WAR.

    This sort of sounds like the meatballs I hear on the score lately talking about what a great job KW has done. It’s true that he has managed to plug a lot of holes and acquire useful parts for very little and he is to be commended for that. However, he must also be held accountable for the fact that when he needed a third baseman (Youkilis), seventh starting pitcher (Liriano), right handed reliever (Meyers) and even a fourth outfielder (Wise) or utility infielder (Hudson) he had to go outside of the system to acquire them because they have nothing useful in the minors. He has been the GM more than long enough that every player in the organization is “his.” So basically he has done a good job covering up his own inadequacies. That is not a viable plan for long term success.

    Speaking of long term? Who’s playing third next year? Or filling out the rotation if Quintana turns back into a pumpkin, they trade Floyd, Danks doesn’t recover fast enough or Humber keeps being Humber? Who is catching? Who plays first when age finally catches up with Konerko? What if Rios or Dunn play like 2011 instead of 2012? What if Beckham continues to be Beckham? They really don’t have a single answer to any of these questions. Dan Johnson, Charlie Leesman and Dylan Axelrod are not answers and those are the best players in the minors.

    As a White Sox fan, this year has been a very pleasant surprise and I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. I just don’t think that it really vindicates the farm system at all and I still dread the future.

    Comment by MikeS — August 22, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  15. I don’t think so. I think it depends on how you look at it. For instance, with the White Sox, almost all of those rookies are role players with exception to Quintana. Right now, we’re talking about these guys providing tremendous depth to the bench this season. So it has a lot to do with how the rookies have been used. Quintana has been nice in a starting role so far, so he might turn the corner, but none of these guys were projected as having lasting careers in starting positions. It’s still too early to tell.

    Comment by baty — August 22, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  16. The White Sox rookies are 22nd in xFIP. Their pitching rookies are 5th in WAR. So they’ve gotten a lot of innings of above-replacement-but-not-good rookies. Is that good? Is that better than you’d expect? What’s your evidence backing up those assertions?

    Comment by byron — August 22, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  17. sorry that was in reply to PSR

    Comment by baty — August 22, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  18. Amen… althought you know Reinsdorf puts loyalty before accountability.

    Considering there seems to be no forethought, I would guess that next year they’ll move Viciedo back to 3B and trade Sale (I believe Kenny is obligated to trade at least one fan favorite per year) if they don’t move him back to the bullpen first.

    Comment by James — August 22, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

  19. I was just thinking this morning that if they ever part ways with him, they would replace him with, I dunno, Darryl Boston?

    Comment by MikeS — August 22, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  20. I would generally agree with this MikeS.

    I think Marc’s first sentence is really what drives the point here: “The Chicago White Sox organization has done an outstanding job of squeezing every ounce of value out of its prospects this season.” That’s probably true, but the sad thing is that “every ounce of value” essentially equates to a net of almost zero value from 10 guys. They’re getting nobody performances from a bunch of nobodies.

    Comment by steex — August 22, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

  21. You may not be able to get blood from a turnip, but the White Sox have gotten as much blood as possible from said turnips.

    Comment by Eriq Jaffe — August 22, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  22. It’s probably true, but the author makes no attempt to demonstrate that it’s true, unless he’s elsewhere shown that system rankings usually correlate with same-year rookie WAR, and has determined what the expected same-year rookie WAR is typically for systems ranked last. That sounds like a study worth Fangraphs’ time, though my bet would be on the null hypothesis.

    Comment by byron — August 22, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  23. But they also traded a bunch of dudes for a bunch of valuable veterans. I would posit that trading a prospect for a guy that produces is the same thing as getting that production from the prospect.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — August 22, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

  24. Farm system rankings shouldn’t reflect your rookie output. That doesn’t even make sense. I mean, it kind of does, but what team is going to trot out their top 5 rookies? Jurickson Profar, Julio Teheran, Dylan Bundy, these guys aren’t seeing much playing time.

    I guess from a “surprise” standpoint, as in, they have SOMETHING out of rookies it’s a good thinkg.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — August 22, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  25. The White Sox/Don Cooper/Juan Nieves taught Quintana his cutter. Considering he was a minor league free agent in the offseason and now the cutter is basically the reason he’s a decent pitcher, the White Sox probably did have a lot to do with him developing into a major leaguer. Not all prospect development has to be in a slow cooker or something.

    Comment by larry — August 22, 2012 @ 6:57 pm

  26. This is kind of a silly article since rankings of farm systems are based on quality of prospects and depth of prospects throughout the organization’s system. Just because the Padres, Blue Jays and Rays systems were ranked higher than the White Sox doesn’t necessarily mean that they have more players ready to play in the majors in 2012 than the White Sox. There is no correlation and really should be no correlation between rookie WAR and farm system rankings. For instance the Jays system was highly ranked because of the incredible number of high ceiling pitching prospects they have in A-ball. Obviously these pitching prospects cannot help the Blue Jays with their injury problems in the current year. To me the reasoning in this article is very flawed.

    Comment by Prof550 — August 22, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

  27. There is no correlation and really should be no correlation between rookie WAR and farm system rankings.

    Making a statement like that really needs data to support it.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a weak correlation, but I would be very surprised if no correlation exists.

    Comment by Anon — August 23, 2012 @ 9:33 am

  28. while i agree with your point that judging these rankings over a small sample is dumb, you are missing a key element of bias intrisict to those rankings–the top systems are valued as such because they have the most *star* potential.

    there is, of course, nothing wrong with valuing potential stars more than sure-thing #3/4 starters/bullpen arms as star talent more often than not drives long-term team success. any system ranking that doesn’t have trout or harper/stras at the top isn’t worth anything.

    however, if you’re a team with ML talent picking 15-30 every year in the draft, it’s absolutely essential that you produce unexciting but nonetheless important roster depth. rather than going to the open market to find a 2WAR #4 starter–a joe blanton or carl pavano–if your organization can produce this, you’re netting yourself significant cost savings that can frankly be better allocated to other team needs.

    all of this to say–unexciting prospects can often be quite useful.

    Comment by jcxy — August 23, 2012 @ 10:17 am

  29. i should be clearer– i’m not saying that the sox should have been ranked higher in the preseason– a bottom 1/5 ranking seems/seemed very fitting regardless of rookie crop performance. rather, there is something laudatory (as the article suggests) about maximizing your limited resources–turning scraps into a 123 OPS+ 3b is anthopoulian, right? and letting don cooper work his magic with roster filler…i mean, that’s not that surprising by now, is it?

    Comment by jcxy — August 23, 2012 @ 10:42 am

  30. The trade for Youkilis was fantastic, but the article isn’t about that. The article in no way demonstrates that the White Sox “maximized” anything to do with their prospects. It says they did, then says how many WAR their rookies have accumulated, without providing any reasoning as to how that demonstrates “maximizing.” How do we know they shouldn’t have 4.5 WAR?

    Comment by byron — August 23, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

  31. Gosh, if only there were an analytical baseball site around that could run some of that data, instead of throwing out completely unsupported assertions.

    Comment by byron — August 23, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

  32. I should be clearer: it’s the author of this post that started assuming there’s a link between rankings and same-year WAR, not Prof550.

    Comment by byron — August 23, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  33. fair point about the scope of the article and my use of “maximize”. i seem to have gone off tangentially.

    Comment by jcxy — August 23, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

  34. I just see the comments as not wanting to give KW any credit regardless of the success or outcome.

    Comment by Larry — August 24, 2012 @ 5:08 am

  35. So how about that global warming?

    Comment by tj — August 24, 2012 @ 7:24 am

  36. So your stance is that Kenny Williams is not a good GM capable of maintaining long term success? You do realize that only 7 teams in all of baseball have better records than the White Sox in the 12 years he has been GM, right? Under his watch the White Sox have never suffered back to back losing seasons.
    You give him a back handed compliment on his in season acquisitions this year (which have been brilliant btw) saying other teams would get the same output from minor league call ups than the Sox have from these trades which is ridiculous. Please share with me the teams that have called up minor league players that have contributed to a contending team this year with the same impact the Sox have gotten out of these trades? Probably not going to find those teams/guys. There is a reason why so much activity happens before the trade deadline and why few are ever really blockbuster deals containing star players. Most are for replacement players for someone who is injured, an upgrade over what they have on their big league roster (or have down in the minors), or simply adding some depth to their bench.
    Kenny Williams is one of the best GM’s in all of baseball. His win-loss record is proof of that and honestly that is the ONLY thing that matters.

    Comment by bearsoxfan — August 24, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

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