Archive for Essential

Valuing the 2017 Top 100 Prospects

Earlier this morning, Eric Longenhagen rolled out his list of the top-100 prospects in baseball, with Red Sox-turned-White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada at the top of his rankings. Helpfully, Eric’s rankings include the FV grade for each player, so that we can see that he really does see a difference between Moncada and the rest of the pack, as Moncada was the only prospect in the sport to garner a 70 grade.

As Eric notes in his piece, the grade is really the more important number here, as the ordinal ranking can create some false sense of separation, where players might be 20 or 30 spots apart on the list but offer fairly similar expected future value. The FV tiers do a good job of conveying where the real differences lay, highlighting those instances when Eric actually does see a significant difference between players, versus simply having to put a similar group of prospects in some order regardless of the strength of his feelings about those rankings.

But while the FV scale is helpful in binning players, it doesn’t do much to convey the differences between the tiers themselves. How much more valuable is a 60 than a 55? Or is a team better off with one elite 65 or 70 FV prospect or a multitude of 50-55 types? These are interesting questions, and ones that teams themselves have to answer on a regular basis.

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2017 Top 100 Prospects

Below is my list of the top-100 prospects in baseball. Each prospect has a brief scouting summary here with links to the full team reports embedded in their names where applicable. Those without links will have them added as I cover the remaining farm systems. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources, as well as from my own observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

Note that prospects below are ranked overall and that they also lie within tiers demarcated by their FV grades. I think there’s plenty of room for argument within the tiers, and part of the reason I like FV is because it can illustrate how an on-paper gap that seems large may not actually be. The gap between prospect No. 3 on this list, Amed Rosario, and prospect No. 33, Delvin Perez, is 30 spots but the difference between their talent/risk/proximity profiles is quite large. The gap between Perez and prospect No. 63, Kyle Tucker, is also 30 numerical places but the gap in talent is relatively small. Below the list is a brief rundown of names of 50 FV prospects who didn’t make the 100. This same comparative principle applies to them.   -Eric Longenhagen

70 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Cuba
Age 22 Height 6’2 Weight 205 Bat/Throw B/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/60 60/60 40/60 70/70 40/50 70/70

Scouting Summary
The tools are deafening. Moncada is a plus-plus runner with plus-plus arm strength, plus raw power and an advanced idea of the strike zone. He’s going to strike out, and there are some within the industry concerned about how much. That said, I think it’s important to consider that while Moncada was K-ing a lot late last year he was also a 21-year old who had played for just a month and a half above A-ball and, during a large chunk of that time, was learning a new position. The stat-based projection systems, KATOH and otherwise, seem comfortable with it, and so am I. I think he’ll provide rare power and patience while playing a premium position — he’s looked fine at second base in my looks this spring — and, while it might take adjustment at the big-league level, I think he’ll eventually be the best of this crop of minor leaguers.

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Introducing FanGraphs Residency

Over the last few years, the quantity of terrific baseball writing has exploded online, with a widening variety of publishers putting out interesting commentary and analysis about the game we all love. While we are proud of the work we do here at FanGraphs, there are a lot of people putting out fantastic pieces at other outlets, and we’ve long had a desire to connect some of these great baseball writers with our audience, and help you guys discover other talented scribes to whom you may not have been exposed before.

So, today, we’re proud to announce the FanGraphs Residency program. We’ve reached out to a number of writers we like, and will be giving them an opportunity to publish their work here on FanGraphs during a given month. The number and types of articles they publish will vary, as we’ll mix in research, analysis, and commentary, and our hope is that the different voices to which the program will give a platform will help provide a wide array of content. With different kinds of writers taking turns, we think there’s a good chance everyone will find a new voice to follow, and that this program will help provide some additional exposure to those who have been doing good work at outlets who might not get as much traffic as FanGraphs does.

We’re excited to launch this program by announcing our Resident for the month of March: Kate Preusser. Kate is currently the Managing Editor at Lookout Landing, and if you purchased the 2017 Hardball Times Annual, you likely enjoyed her AL West review, which was highlighted by Paul Swydan as one of his favorite chapters in the book. She also co-hosts the Icosahedron Podcast, and we think you’re going to enjoy getting to read more of her work here during the month of March.

Along with the written articles, each resident will also be joining Carson for an episode of FanGraphs Audio during their month with us, so you’ll get to hear their voices, as well as read their work, during their time here. We hope that this combination will allow you to get to know writers of whom you may not previously have been aware, and hopefully you follow them at their other outlets after their residency here is finished.

We should note that we’re using the residency term more to describe the short-term nature of this position, and won’t be working our residents to the bone in the way that medical residents are sometimes used. These are also paid positions, so we’re not simply asking these writers to provide content to us in exchange for exposure; we believe they are quality writers who deserve larger audiences, and we simply want to give them that opportunity.

We’re excited about this program, and hope that you guys enjoy what each resident brings to the site, as well. Some of the names who are lined up for this summer will already be familiar to you, while others will likely be new, and we think this mix of voices and perspectives will help round out the content that our staff currently provides on a daily basis.

If you have someone you’d like to nominate for a residency position, we’d love to hear about them; you can email residency@fangraphs.com to suggest a writer for a future spot here. This position is designed primarily for those who already have shown that they can provide quality published content, but if you know someone who may not yet have had an opportunity to publish their work but has interesting and insightful things to say about baseball, we’d be happy to consider them as well. If you’re a writer who is interested in a spot, we will ask that you do not nominate yourselves for a residency position, but instead be referred by someone who has enjoyed your work and thinks you would benefit from access to a wider audience.

A few hours from now, you’ll be reading Kate’s first piece here on FanGraphs, and we think you’ll enjoy getting to know her (or know her writing a bit more) over the next month. We hope this program can be a win for both interesting writers and our audience, and look forward to connecting you all with people we think you might really enjoy.


FanGraphs and InstaGraphs Articles Are Now Mobile-Friendly

If you’re reading this on your phone, it might look a little different than it did yesterday. (And if not, you should check it out!) The FanGraphs and InstaGraphs blogs are now responsive and mobile-friendly. (RotoGraphs will be soon, as well.) We wanted to give you a heads up that we are in the process of incrementally updating parts of the site so that it fits better on your phone.

We are also working on improving our navigation by updating the menu system.

We are designing the site to work on newer browsers, so it might not render properly on Internet Explorer 10 or earlier, Safari 6 or earlier, along with pre-2014 builds of Chrome or Firefox.

If you notice any bugs, please let us know either in the comments below or on Twitter.


FanGraphs on Tour With Pitch Talks 2017

Last year, we joined up with the Pitch Talks crew for a three-city U.S. tour, and had a blast in Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago. The response was clear, so instead of just hitting up a few cities this year, the tour is expanding to 16 dates, and we’re covering a good chunk of the country from April through August. Here’s the current tour schedule.

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2017 MLB Arbitration Visualization

It’s that time of year again! This past Friday was the filing deadline for arbitration-eligible player contract offers. Once these numbers are published, I like to create a data visualization showing the difference between the team and player contract filings. (See the 2016 version here.) If you are unfamiliar with the arbitration process here’s the quick explanation from last year:

Teams and players file salary figures for one-year contracts, then an arbitration panel awards the player either with the contract offered by the team or the contract for which the player filed. More details of the arbitration process can be found here. Most players will sign a contract before numbers are exchanged or before the hearing, so only a handful of players actually go through the entire arbitration process each year.

The compiled team and player contract-filings data used in the graph can be found at MLB Trade Rumors.

Three colored dots represent a different type of signing: yellow represents a mutually-agreed contract signed to avoid arbitration, red represents the award of the team’s offer in arbitration, and blue represents the award of the player’s offer. A gray line represents the difference in player and team filings. Only players with whom teams exchanged numbers on January 13, 2017 will have grey lines. These can be filtered by clicking the “Filed” button.

The “Signed” button filters out players who have signed a contract for 2017; this will change as arbitration hearings occur. Finally, “All” includes every player represented in the graph. This year Jake Arrieta and Bryce Harper had the two largest contracts ($15.367M and $13.625M, respectively), but they both signed contracts before the filing deadline. This causes changes on the x-axis scale on the “Signed” and “All” tabs compared to the “Filed” tab, which is scaled to contracts under $10M.

The chart is sorted either by contract value or by the midpoint of the arbitration filings. The midpoint is the average of the two contracts and determines which contract the arbitrator awards based on his assessment of the relevant player’s value. The final contract value takes precedent over the midpoint since this represents the resolved value. Contract extension details will be written out over the data points. For our purposes, an extension is a multiyear deal that can’t be shown on the graph, since we are looking only single-year contracts for 2017.

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2017 FAN Projections!

The 2017 FAN Projection ballots are now open!

Before you can project any players, you’ll have to select the team you follow most closely towards the top of the screen. If you really don’t follow a team, just pick one. You’ll only have to do this once.

After you’ve selected a team, there are 9 categories for pitchers and 10 categories for position players. Pick the values in the drop-down boxes closest to what you think the player will do in 2017, hit the submit button and you’re done! If you made a mistake, you can always go back and change your selection at any time.

Please note that everything this year is a rate stat. You’re projecting 2B+3B, HR, SB, and Fielding as a measure of 150 games (basically a full season). The player’s previous stats are shown per 150 games in the projection ballot too. This will make changing playing time projections much easier as you’ll only have to change the games played portion.

That’s really all there is to it. You can filter players by team, or if you go to the player pages, you can project players individually. If you want to see all the players you’ve projected, you can click on the “My Rankings” button which will show you only what you specifically projected a player to do.

Fan Projections will show up on the player pages after there have been 5 ballots submitted.

If you do notice any issues, please let us know.


2017 FanGraphs Chat Schedule

With the new year, you’ve probably noticed a few new things around here. For one, you can now help support the site with an ad-free membership, which is a pretty neat thing for both you and us. If you’re a heavy user of the site, it’s a great way to keep us in business but also make your FanGraphs experience more enjoyable.

And supporting us allows us to do things like hire Travis Sawchik, who made his debut as a staff writer last week, and has already made himself an integral part of the staff with pieces like the one he wrote this morning on home-field advantage. We’re really excited to have Travis here, and think he’s going to help make 2017 a great year for FanGraphs.

And we want you guys to get to know him better as well, so starting today, Travis is going to be taking over the Monday chat, and will be answering your questions starting at 12pm ET.

But don’t worry, fans of the Dan Szymborski chat; he’s not going away, he’s just moving. Dan will now be chatting on Wednesdays at 2pm ET, which should also lead to more Dan Szymborski chats, since there are fewer Wednesday holidays, so if you enjoy the Szymborski chat, you’ll probably have more of them in 2017.

So, that leaves us with the following chat schedule for 2017. All times listed are in eastern time.

Monday, 12 pm: Travis Sawchik
Tuesday, 12 pm: Eric Longenhagen
Tuesday, 9 pm: Paul Swydan and Jeff Zimmerman
Wednesday: 12 pm: Dave Cameron
Wednesday, 2 pm: Dan Szymborski
Thursday, 12 pm: Eno Sarris
Friday, 12 pm: Jeff Sullivan
Friday, 3 pm: Paul Sporer (RotoGraphs chat)

We hope you enjoy the chats, and we look forward to talking with you all this coming year.


Introducing Ad Free Membership

Today we’re introducing a new form of FanGraphs Membership: Ad Free Membership. With Ad Free Membership, you become a full-fledged member of the site and you will not see a single third-party advertisement on the FanGraphs website so long as you maintain your membership. The price of Ad Free Membership is $50 per year.

If you are already a FanGraphs Member, you’ll be able to easily upgrade your membership at a pro-rated rate, depending on how much time you have left before your renewal date. Just select the new “Ad Free Yearly Membership” and hit the Sign Up Now button.

To give everyone a sense for what Ad Free Membership looks like, we’re going to put the site into Ad Free mode for all users through Monday. We hope you’ll like what you see. I know for the few of us who have been beta testing the product, we can attest that it really does make a noticeable difference in both the speed and responsiveness of the site.

Let me give you some details on why we’ve decided to do this. Earlier this year we introduced FanGraphs Membership, and we are incredibly thankful for everyone who has decided to become a member thus far! FanGraphs Membership is a way for you to help fund the site’s current operations and its future growth. If you think we’re doing a good job and you’d like to support our efforts, it’s a great way to show your support.

However, even with FanGraphs Membership, the majority of our revenue comes from advertising. Without advertising, there is no way the site could continue to operate. This has become a bit of a double-edged sword for us. As online advertising technology has advanced, it has also become more resource intensive, taking up both processing power and bandwidth. While there are movements within the online advertising industry to combat advertising bloat, we want to give our users a way to avoid ads completely, without cutting off the revenue stream which is essential for FanGraphs to operate. Ad Free Membership does exactly that.

We rely on various advertising networks to provide ads to us, and we do our best to vet all of these networks to make sure they’re not serving intrusive or malicious ads. But, even the most diligent ad networks have intrusive ads that slip through the cracks. Tracking down intrusive ads has more or less become a game of whack-a-mole for us over the past few years. Intrusive ads annoy us just as much as they annoy you, and we are constantly trying to make sure the advertising experience on FanGraphs is acceptable.

We will remain completely committed to having a non-intrusive advertising experience for those who would prefer not to become Ad Free Members.

It would be disingenuous of me to not mention ad-blocking. Ad-blocking is a real problem for us, but we also understand the many reasons people decide to install ad-blockers. If you are using an ad-blocker and you regularly visit FanGraphs, I urge you to become an Ad Free Member. There is now a real option for you that will help us continue to bring you high quality baseball content, without ads.

As we’ve stated before in our previous membership posts, Ad Free Membership, or any type of FanGraphs Membership is not a paywall. Whether you decide to be a member or not, all the content on FanGraphs remains available to you. We are incredibly thankful to the entire FanGraphs community for supporting us over the years and hope that we can continue to earn your support going forward.


Our Most Popular Pieces of 2016

Every year, we run lots of pieces here in the FanGraphs family of blogs. We take a look at the “best” of them each week, but that’s fairly subjective, and there’s also an effort to spread the love, since a true “best of” post would just be 10-15 articles by Jeff Sullivan every week, and that wouldn’t be an entertaining exercise. Not even for Jeff.

This article is something we try to do every year, though sometimes I forget. This is all about the numbers — which posts were the most popular? We’ll do an overall top 15, since we do 15 posts for the “best of” post, with some honorable mentions as well. We’ll start at No. 15, because if nothing else, I want to make you scroll you down the page a little. Just in case it’s not clear, this top-15 list is going to be limited to pieces which were posted in 2016.

No. 15 (Mar. 29)
Let’s Find Rusney Castillo a New Home, by Dave Cameron
Sadly, Rusney Castillo did not find a new home, though he did hit better in the second half in Triple-A. I’m still not ready to give up on him, but Boston’s outfield is beyond crowded, so this story might not have a happy ending.

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Splits Leaderboards!

Here it is: the split leaderboards! Now, you can create custom splits using multiple splits, much like you can on the player pages — except now in the form of an entire leaderboard, and accessible directly from the leaderboard menu.

splits-leaderboards-full

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Filtering Options Have Been Added to the Splits Tool

This past season we debuted our custom splits tool for players, and over the weekend, we updated the tool to include filtering options. These filtering options allow you to remove the lines of stats which don’t meet a specific criteria.

splits-tool

For example, if you wanted to view only those seasons in which Dexter Fowler recorded more than 200 plate appearances at home, you can add a filter for that. You could also add a filter to see the seasons where Fowler had over a 20% strikeout rate on those splits. This filter also works if you group by months, weeks and games, so, for example, you could return all the games in which a player had three or more hits. Filters act like the splits in that they can be combined and customized.

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A Long-Needed Update on Reliability

It’s been over a year now since Sean Dolinar and I published our article(s) on reliability and uncertainty in baseball stats. When we wrote that, we had the intention of running reliability numbers for even more statistics, including pitching statistics, of which we had included none.

That didn’t happen. So a little while ago, when I was practicing honing my Python skills by rewriting our code in, well, Python (it was originally in R), I figured, “Hey, why not go back and do this for a bunch more stats?” That did happen. Sean was/is swamped making the site infinitely better, though, so I was on my own rewriting the code.

In case you need a refresher, never read our original article, and/or don’t want to now, here’s a quick description of reliability and uncertainty: reliability is a coefficient between 0 and 1 that gives a sense of the consistency of a statistic. A higher reliability means that there’s less uncertainty in the measurement. Reliability will go up with a larger sample size, so the reliability for strikeout rate after 100 plate appearances is going to be much lower than the reliability for strikeout rate at 600. Reliability also changes depending on which stat is being measured. Since strikeout rate is obviously a more talent-based stat than hit-by-pitch rate (well, maybe not for everybody), the reliability is going to be higher for strikeouts given two identical samples. You can think of it like strikeouts “stabilize” quicker than hit-by-pitches.

Reliability can be used to regress a player’s stats to the mean and then to create error bars around that, giving a confidence interval of the player’s true talent. To continue with the strikeout example, I’ll add another point — namely that, the more plate appearances a player has recorded, the closer the estimate of his true talent will be to the strikeout rate he’s running at the time. In fact, strikeout rate is so reliable that, after a full season’s worth of plate appearances, a player’s strikeout rate will probably be almost exactly reflective of his true talent. The same cannot be said for many other stats, like line drive rate, which is mostly random; the reliability for LD% never gets very high, even after a full season’s worth of batted balls.

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FanGraphs on Facebook Live

Live from wherever we live: it’s FanGraphs Live (on Facebook)!

New to our chat lineup will be video chats via Facebook Live. Various writers will pop our Facebook page to recap or preview games, answer your question or talk about events with which we’re involved in video form. Want to ask a question? Just comment on the video and we’ll see it.

Hang tight with us as we work out some the kinks in the system. As we get going, we might run into some technology struggles, such as not being able to see the comments. Dave Cameron and Jeff Sullivan figured that one out last time though while on the road!

Lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen will pop in to give updates and thoughts on various players he’s seen recently, as well.

Keep an eye on our Twitter for alerts on when we’ll have a new Live chat and be sure to follow our Facebook page to be able to tune in.


Custom Date Range Added to Splits Tool

A few weeks ago we added a custom splits tool to our player pages. This weekend, we added the ability to select a specific date range. To do this, we added the “Time Frame” control bar, which now contains all date-related splits and controls.

The “Filter” menu is the old “Time Frame” splits menu. This gives you the option to view plate appearances occurring in a month or season half, and the day or night time-of-day split. These are different from a custom date range. Choosing the “May” split in the filter menu will display plate appearances from every May. This would be used for getting career stats in May.

Date Range Splits Tool

To look at splits from a specific date, there’s a drop-down calendar with which you can select the start date and end date. This will limit the splits to those specific days. This can be useful if you want to look at splits after a player returns from an injury, a trade or an adjustment. We’ve also included preset ranges like the last 30 days or the past calendar year.

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New Interactive Splits Tool!

We’ve created an interactive splits tool that allows you to create your own custom reports by combining splits of various metrics. All the splits that FanGraphs hosts are featured here, along with some new ones — including times through the order, outs and day/night.

The controls have three different sections: stats, splits and group by.

Kris Bryant Splits Tool Overview

The “Stats” bar allows you to toggle between the three different groups of stats we currently host on a player’s split page. This isn’t too different from the standard, advanced and batted-ball tabs we feature elsewhere on the site.

The “Splits” bar is the most important control within the splits tool; this is where you can select which splits are applied. When no splits are applied, you’ll get the full season stats. When a split is applied like “vs. LHP,” you’ll get only the plate appearances against a left-handed pitcher. If you add another split like “Groundballs,” you’ll get all ground balls against left-handed pitchers. As you add splits from different categories, you’ll narrow the number of plate appearances.

Kris Bryant Splits Menu

The splits which are applied appear as blue blocks above the table. If you wish to remove a split, either click the “X” on the split or unselect it within its menu.

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FanGraphs Is Expanding Its Social Media Presence

Please welcome Michelle Jay to FanGraphs. You’ll generally find Michelle behind any type of camera lens or social media app. No matter which hat she is wearing at a particular time, we are excited to have her on board.

Dear readers, allow me to introduce you to the latest ways to find content from across FanGraphs’s family of blogs. You may already follow us on Twitter (@fangraphs) or Facebook (/fangraphs). Through those channels, we’ve been providing you a stream of nearly every single article published as they are published to the site. We’ll still continue to do that. But, now you’ll see some extra content, things you’ll get only by following us on social media.
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New FanGraphs T-Shirts and Apparel!

Recently, we started running out of t-shirts. As such, we thought it was high time to design some new ones. And design them we did. But we didn’t just stop at t-shirts. Oh no, constant reader, we went the extra mile this time. In addition to t-shirts, which now are available in both men’s and women’s sizes, we now have raglan t-shirts (again, both men’s and woman’s kinds), zip hoodie sweatshirts, baby onesies and hats. You might think of this as the holiday season come many months earlier than normal. And you’d be right.

The person we have to thank for all of this shiny new garb is Aaron Gershman of Creative Sentencing, who you should absolutely hire for your next design project.

Let’s take a look at the designs, which are available for purchase at this very moment.

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An Improved KATOH Top-100 List

Back in January, I made some tweaks to my KATOH projection system, and have been using that updated model for the past several months. That model was unquestionably better than the previous versions, but it left me unsatisfied. While it addressed many of the flaws from previous iterations, there was still a lot of information it wasn’t taking into account.

I’ve been plugging away behind the scenes, and finally have a new version KATOH to share with the world. In what follows, you’ll find some detail on the new model, including its notable updates. I’ll be using this model in all of my prospect analysis from this point forward. Below, you’ll find a quick run-through of the notable tweaks, followed by an updated top-100 list.

*****

Added Features

Choosing projection window based on level, rather than age

In my previous model, I projected out based on a player’s age. If a player were 22, I projected him through age 28; If he were 24, I projected through age 30. This resulted in KATOH undervaluing players who were old for their level. The goal of KATOH is to predict the value a player will generate during his six-plus years of team control. By projecting a 22-year-old through age 28, KATOH failed to capture some of that value in cases where the 22-year-old was still in A-ball.

This time around, I chose my windows based on level, rather than age. I projected the next six seasons for players in Triple-A. I did the next seven for players in Double-A, eight for A-ballers, and nine for Rookie ballers.

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2016 Trade Value: #1 to #10

2016 TRADE VALUE SERIES
Introduction
Hon. Mention
#41-50
#31-40
#21-30
#11-20

And now here we are. After ticking through 40 of the most valuable players in baseball, we’ve come to the top 10, and what a remarkable list of players it is. The wave of young talent that has poured into baseball makes this group the best crop of talent I think I’ve ever seen in doing this exercise, and for the first time in a long time, there was actually a real question about who would rank #1. The top four, in fact, shifted around numerous times, and I didn’t settle on their final order until yesterday. And even at #5 and #6, you could make a legitimate argument that they belong in the conversation. This is a deep, strong, elite group of young players. With these kinds of stars already dominating at an early age, baseball looks to be in very good hands for the foreseeable future.

As a reminder for those who didn’t read the first four parts of the series, we’ve significantly upgraded the way we’re presenting the information this year. On the individual player tables, the Guaranteed Dollars and Team Control WAR — which are provided by Dan Szymborski’s ZIPS projections — rows give you an idea of what kind of production and costs a team could expect going forward, though to be clear, we’re not counting the rest of 2016 in those numbers; they’re just included for reference of what a player’s future status looks like. And as a reminder, we’re not ranking players based on those projections, as teams aren’t going to just make trades based on the ZIPS forecasts. That said, they’re a useful tool to provide some context about what a player might do for the next few years.

With those items covered, let’s get to it. Here is my take on the 10 most valuable assets in baseball.

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