KATOH’s Top 100 List: Now Incorporating Multiple Years

Back in November, I published a top-100 prospect list that was generated by my KATOH projection system. Since that time, I’ve done some tinkering to improve the model. So even though we just did this, like, barely even two months ago, I’m back with another list for you. In addition to yielding lower AICs and R^2s and whatnot, this version also feels better in terms of the projections themselves. There aren’t as many head-scratchers as before, which suggests I’m moving in the right direction. There are still players who feel too high to me and others who feel too low to me, though I’d argue that’s not always necessarily a bad thing.

There’s still room for improvement. That will always be the case. But I think I’ve reached a point where I’ve gotten most of the low hanging fruit. This isn’t to say I’ll stop trying to make improvements, but don’t expect anything drastic anytime soon. This is the version I’m prepared to go to war with in 2016 (for now, at least). It’s not perfect, but I think it’s a sizable step in the right direction. Below, you’ll find a brief writeup of the changes, followed by a brand new top 100.

Moving Beyond WAR Through Age-28

In the past, a few commenters rightly pointed out that projecting a WAR total through age-28 wasn’t all that informative for some prospects. For a guy who’s already 25, his WAR through age-28 captures at most three years of team control, while it might capture all of a 21-year-old’s control years. In this iteration, I made my output a bit more flexible. For players 22 and younger, I still forecast WAR through age-28. But I expanded my horizons for players 23 and older, and now project the next six years. So 23-year-olds get a WAR thru 29, 24-year-olds get a WAR through 30, etc.

Obviously, this change benefits the players who are 23 and older. Aaron Judge, for example, grades out more favorably than he did in the past. (Though, he still fell just short of the top 100.) Jon Gray also benefited a good deal. This adjustment also makes age a bit less important in general. So the guys who have little going for them other than being uber young for their level don’t rise to the top as much. I’m looking at you, Samir Duenez. For now, at least, I’m calling the final output “WAR Thru First Six MLB Years,” even though that isn’t exactly what it’s projecting.

Other Tweaks

Players with very high stolen-base totals look better in my updated version. Burners like Tim Anderson, Jorge Mateo and Yoan Moncada benefit most from this change. Additionally, strikeout rate for hitters matters slightly less than in the previous version. Foiled again, Mr. Duenez. This tweak benefits strikeout machines like Joey Gallo. I’ll note that a hitter’s strikeout rate is still very important, but is noticeably (noticeably to me, at least) less important than in the last iteration.

Multiple Years of Data

This is the big one. For the first time, KATOH takes into account multiple years of data, rather than relying on only the most recent year. I came up with a weighting system by generating WAR values for historical players, and then regressing them against actual WAR totals. So guys who were great in 2015, but less great in 2014 aren’t automatically favored over players with longer track records. Max Kepler, who topped the list last time, is the name that comes to mind here. Best of all, I no longer need to cite “2014 KATOH” and “2015 KATOH” every time, which was confusing for everyone — including me. All players who logged at least 200 plate appearances or batters faced in 2014 have projections that consider multiple years.

So here goes. Again, I’m scouting the stat line, so this isn’t gospel. Take my math as seriously as you please. Minimum 300 minor league PA or BF in 2015 to qualify.

KATOH’s Top 100 List
Rank Player Position Team WAR Thru First Six MLB Years
1 J.P. Crawford SS Phillies 15.3
2 Jose Peraza 2B Reds 14.9
3 Orlando Arcia SS Brewers 14.0
4 Corey Seager SS Dodgers 12.3
5 Ozhaino Albies SS Braves 12.2
6 Julio Urias P Dodgers 12.0
7 Max Kepler OF Twins 11.9
8 Ruddy Giron SS Padres 11.6
9 Chance Sisco C Orioles 10.6
10 Manuel Margot OF Padres 10.5
11 Gleyber Torres SS Cubs 10.3
12 Jose Berrios P Twins 10.0
13 Tyler Glasnow P Pirates 9.5
14 Nomar Mazara OF Rangers 8.8
15 Trea Turner SS Nationals 8.8
16 Mallex Smith OF Braves 8.6
17 Lucas Giolito P Nationals 8.4
18 Jake Bauers 1B Rays 8.2
19 Alex Verdugo OF Dodgers 8.1
20 Alex Reyes P Cardinals 7.6
21 Gary Sanchez C Yankees 7.6
22 Alen Hanson 2B Pirates 7.4
23 Franklin Barreto SS Athletics 7.4
24 Ramon Flores OF Brewers 7.4
25 Trevor Story SS Rockies 7.2
26 A.J. Reed 1B Astros 7.1
27 Jorge Mateo SS Yankees 6.9
28 Clayton Blackburn P Giants 6.8
29 Jacob Nottingham C Athletics 6.8
30 Joey Gallo 3B Rangers 6.7
31 Michael De Leon SS Rangers 6.7
32 Cole Tucker SS Pirates 6.6
33 Reese Mcguire C Pirates 6.6
34 Dom Nunez C Rockies 6.2
35 Richard Urena SS Blue Jays 6.2
36 Tim Anderson SS White Sox 6.0
37 Kevin Padlo 3B Rays 5.9
38 Jorge Polanco SS Twins 5.9
39 Jesse Winker OF Reds 5.9
40 Willy Adames SS Rays 5.9
41 Gavin Cecchini SS Mets 5.8
42 Lewis Brinson OF Rangers 5.8
43 Byron Buxton OF Twins 5.7
44 Austin Barnes C Dodgers 5.3
45 Brett Phillips OF Brewers 5.2
46 Albert Almora OF Cubs 5.2
47 Nick Gordon SS Twins 5.2
48 Tyler Wade SS Yankees 5.2
49 Jamie Westbrook 2B Diamondbacks 5.1
50 Sam Travis 1B Red Sox 5.1
51 Austin Meadows OF Pirates 5.1
52 Ronald Torreyes SS Angels 5.1
53 Tony Kemp 2B Astros 5.0
54 Rafael Devers 3B Red Sox 4.9
55 Forrest Wall 2B Rockies 4.9
56 Andrew Aplin OF Astros 4.9
57 Micah Johnson 2B Dodgers 4.8
58 Josh Hader P Brewers 4.8
59 Francis Martes P Astros 4.8
60 Nick Williams OF Phillies 4.8
61 Matt Olson 1B Athletics 4.7
62 Renato Nunez 3B Athletics 4.7
63 Blake Snell P Rays 4.6
64 Oscar Mercado SS Cardinals 4.6
65 Cristhian Adames SS Rockies 4.4
66 Amed Rosario SS Mets 4.4
67 Josh Bell 1B Pirates 4.4
68 Andrew Knapp C Phillies 4.4
69 Isan Diaz SS Diamondbacks 4.3
70 Hanser Alberto SS Rangers 4.3
71 Jacob Faria P Rays 4.2
72 Willson Contreras C Cubs 4.2
73 Zach Lee P Dodgers 4.1
74 Cheslor Cuthbert 3B Royals 4.1
75 Boog Powell OF Mariners 4.0
76 Brandon Nimmo OF Mets 4.0
77 Yoan Moncada 2B Red Sox 4.0
78 Christian Arroyo SS Giants 4.0
79 Daniel Robertson SS Rays 4.0
80 Raul Mondesi SS Royals 3.9
81 Edwin Diaz P Mariners 3.9
82 Willi Castro SS Indians 3.9
83 Daniel Castro SS Braves 3.9
84 Michael Fulmer P Tigers 3.8
85 Jose De Leon P Dodgers 3.8
86 Cody Reed P Reds 3.8
87 Francisco Mejia C Indians 3.8
88 Yairo Munoz SS Athletics 3.7
89 Jomar Reyes 3B Orioles 3.7
90 Dylan Cozens OF Phillies 3.7
91 Bobby Bradley 1B Indians 3.7
92 Bradley Zimmer OF Indians 3.7
93 Jose Rondon SS Padres 3.7
94 Alex Bregman SS Astros 3.6
95 Jack Reinheimer SS Diamondbacks 3.6
96 Brent Honeywell P Rays 3.6
97 Franmil Reyes OF Padres 3.6
98 Jon Gray P Rockies 3.5
99 Zach Davies P Brewers 3.5
100 Taylor Lindsey 2B Padres 3.5

And so Marlins fans don’t feel left out…

Rank Player Position Team KATOH
207 Kendry Flores P Marlins 2.0

…Sorry.



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Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.


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Phillies113
Member
Member
4 months 43 minutes ago

“In addition to yielding lower AICs…”

I didn’t know KATOH could help out diabetics.

ejfagan
Member
ejfagan
3 months 29 days ago

As someone currently doing some non-parametric event history modeling for an academic paper, the mention of Akaike’s Information Criterion pleases me.

Jim in Maine
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Jim in Maine
4 months 36 minutes ago

#57 Micah Johnson, 2B listed with the Reds is with the Dodgers.

Cory Settoon
Member
4 months 35 minutes ago

Great stuff Chris.

What’s with all of the middle infield love? It is because of defense and its project-ability?

mapsamountainrange
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mapsamountainrange
4 months 34 minutes ago

Wow, why does KATOH like Peraza so much? As a Reds fan I hope it’s right, but why does it diverge so much from general public perception?

Cory Settoon
Member
3 months 29 days ago

Steamer likes him too. Has him as a cheaper Dee Gordon if you look at the Steamer/600 projections. I couldn’t find what team he was on in ZiPS to see what it said.

The Dude of NY
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The Dude of NY
3 months 29 days ago

ZiPS for Jose Peraza in CIncinnati. pic.twitter.com/XFl58Hy0Me— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) December 16, 2015

The Dude of NY
Member
The Dude of NY
3 months 29 days ago

^ZiPS projections for Peraza until 2021 (age 28 season). 12.4 cumulative WAR. More pessimistic, but would still be #4 on the list.

tz
Member
tz
4 months 31 minutes ago

This is awesome. Including multiple years of data had to be a tougher fitting exercise, but should bear more robust estimates going forward.

Thanks Chris!

AlexTheGreat
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AlexTheGreat
4 months 29 minutes ago

Any chance we could get the full list?

Nathaniel Dawson
Member
Nathaniel Dawson
3 months 29 days ago

This, Yes!

I would love to see the list extend down to 0 WAR (if it works that way). I regularly follow the minor leagues of my favorite team, and I’d love to see who might be in the 0-3.5 WAR range.

dvandergWS
Member
dvandergWS
4 months 26 minutes ago

Can you make the table sortable by position and team?

sakiehl
Member
sakiehl
4 months 6 minutes ago

Look up the chrome extension “Table Capture”. You can take any table on a website and make a quick google doc out of it.

Click the icon in your URL bar and it will list out all the tables on the page. The KATOH table is (101 x 5)

STLScott319
Member
STLScott319
4 months 13 minutes ago

HI Chris!

I love your work. I really do. Not to sound like a troll or a jerk, I do think your previous version of KATOH was better before you put the strikeout penalty. If you look at this list, it is really shortstop heavy on guys who make contact. Making contact is great, but the harder the contact the better. Especially now, where shortstop seems to be going through a renaissance of sorts with Correa, Seager, Bogaerts, etc Again, wish I had your math smarts!

the flu
Member
Member
the flu
3 months 28 days ago

Maybe I’m misunderstanding or you’re talking about an even earlier version of KATOH, but per the article:

“Additionally, strikeout rate for hitters matters slightly less than in the previous version. Foiled again, Mr. Duenez. This tweak benefits strikeout machines like Joey Gallo. I’ll note that a hitter’s strikeout rate is still very important, but is noticeably (noticeably to me, at least) less important than in the last iteration.”

So, this version should be less heavy with high contact guys, right?

JoeyBats
Member
JoeyBats
4 months 5 minutes ago

Hi Chris,

Any way to separate the WAR out by Offensive WAR and Defensive WAR? That would be great for fantasy purposes to sort by Offensive WAR. Also, any thoughts to why Byron Buxton is so low? I would think he’d be higher as the top rated prospect and his high regarded defensive WAR. Thanks!

Emcee Peepants
Member
Member
Emcee Peepants
3 months 29 days ago

Is there any way you could redo the calculations so that Jake Bauers is ranked #24? Asking for a friend…

Ivdown
Member
Ivdown
3 months 29 days ago

Damnit, Chloe…

formerly matt w
Member
formerly matt w
3 months 29 days ago

Thanks for posting the new model and list, Chris!

As a Pirates fan I’m surprised to see Alen Hanson ranking so high; I wouldn’t have thought his stat line scouted that well. Is it that he has a relatively high chance of making some impact in the majors?

mrmaddness
Member
mrmaddness
3 months 29 days ago

Any reason why Steven Matz doesn’t make this list now? I see Jon Gray makes the list, but Matz has had more success in the minors than Gray.

Mike K
Member
Mike K
3 months 29 days ago

Perhaps I missed this in an earlier post (and I’m too lazy to look), but what are playing time assumptions for these players when computing their expected WAR in next 6 years? Is there any benefit to adding a WAR/500 (PA for hitters or BF for pitchers) column?

Looking at Gary Sanchez for example, and he would average between 1.2 and 1.3 WAR per year, which comparing to 2015 catcher leader boards would have him solidly in the middle of that 10-20 range of catchers (about average). But is he getting that 1.2 WAR as a backup C/occasional DH getting 300 PA a year? Or is he getting that as a regular C with 500PA a year?

Thanks, this is great work!

evo34
Member
evo34
3 months 29 days ago

TO follow up on that, is handedness of better taken into consideration when projecting future playing time — either explicitly or baked-in? I.e., lefty hitters are much more likely to platoon than to become full-time starters.

Alex Chamberlain
Member
3 months 29 days ago

You know I <3 it, Chris.

One concern: 34 of 100 names are shortstops. So either we’re in the golden age of shortstop prospects, or the positional premium is a little too high. (Or maybe it’s always this way, and I’m just not fully in tune.)

Paul22
Member
Paul22
3 months 29 days ago

The positional adjustments in WAR make it extremely biased for SS and anyone who plays a middle of the diamond position. I would love to see a WAR minus the positional adjustment since for many prospects the position they play in MLB may not be the same as what the play in the minors, not to mention there is evidence that the positional adjustments are too extreme at the low and high end (ag SS vs 1B)

evo34
Member
evo34
3 months 29 days ago

The defensive WAR is spoiling the soup here.

oh Hal
Member
oh Hal
3 months 28 days ago

Here, there and everywhere.

vicfirth98
Member
Member
vicfirth98
3 months 29 days ago

Chris, thank you. Thank you so much. You have made my morning and perhaps my whole life. Keep up the good work!!!

realitypolice
Member
realitypolice
3 months 29 days ago

As always, I appreciate your work. Fun to think about the guys who really push my buttons, and figure out what might be in their favor. (I’m particularly alarmed/perplexed/shocked that Taylor Lindsey, who probably shouldn’t make a roster out of spring, somehow popped up at #100.)

One thought on helping to compare gala apples to red delicious in this this table: any way to distinguish which players have multiple years of data included and which don’t? I suspect that being able to quickly sort them will be especially helpful in the future when looking for trends in what is and isn’t working in your system.

evo34
Member
evo34
3 months 29 days ago

Ideally, columns for career IP/PA and career seasons would be nice.

Jack B
Member
Jack B
3 months 29 days ago

This is great Chris, I really like the KATOH system and the updates seem very worthwhile. I’d like to see some feature added for what players would project at if they have to move down the defensive spectrum from their current prospect positions. I understand that projecting defense based on MiL is near impossible statistically, so it makes sense to assume average defense for each position. But could we perhaps get a second column that shows projected WAR if the prospect were to instead end up at their second most likely position? If you want to go even further with it, you could do a final projection that weighs the probability of the player sticking at their projected position, even if it’s a non-scientific subjective system going based on scouting reports, although I don’t know how feasible that would be for you.

For example, Chance Sisco is #9 in this iteration of KATOH as a C. He’s generally viewed as a good hitter as a catcher, and KATOH loves him in that sense, but most evaluators think he doesn’t have enough defensive chops to stay there. He also likely doesn’t have enough power to play 1B, which is why most prospect lists have him outside the top 100. Where would he fall on the KATOH list if he were instead a 1B? I think showing that sort of data would go a long way toward validating the KATOH system as a prospect evaluation tool, to fix some of the issues that come with dealing with defensive value.

Another question I have – outfielders on the list are only listed as OF. Are you giving more projected defensive value to those who profile as CF than those who profile as corner OF? I’d prefer to see the OF group split up into CF and LF/RF classes.

Dan Rausch
Member
Dan Rausch
3 months 29 days ago

I don’t know if this is meaningful or not, but your projected WAR numbers are very close to the historical WAR values for BA’s top-100 lists calculated by Jeff Zimmerman in this year’s Hardball Times Annual. Historically, the top 3 or so have outperformed your projection by quite a bit, but the remainder are very close to your projection.

Jeff Zimmerman
Member
Member
3 months 29 days ago

One note, I bet this year’s class is a little weak in their projection compared to other seasons.

Mayo's Mets
Member
Mayo's Mets
3 months 29 days ago

So is it possible to re-cast last years Top 100 using the same method? And then compare YOY. It would be career-to-date 2014 vs career-to-date 2015. I understand not wanting to compare individual years but I still would like to see who went up or down from last year. Make sense?

evo34
Member
evo34
3 months 29 days ago

Chris: Are the minor league stats you use as inputs still not park adjusted?

Arrmagon
Member
Arrmagon
3 months 29 days ago

Thank you for the honorable mention.

Damaso
Member
Damaso
3 months 29 days ago

I’m going to assume that Anthony Alford ranks #101 until proved otherwise.

rasouddress
Member
rasouddress
3 months 28 days ago

The Angels designated their only guy on the list for assignment. If we end up losing him, is Tyler Deloach still our top prospect on your list and where does said “top” prospect fall?

HarryLives
Member
HarryLives
3 months 28 days ago

I like the tweaks in the update. If there weren’t reason enough already, Padlo coming in at #37 (about 45 spots higher than he did in the previous KATOH version) might make Rockies’ fans wonder about the recent Dickerson/Padlo for McGee/Marquez swap.

Have you considered using a player’s age and level (or maybe just his level) to determine the age cutoff for his WAR totals? For instance, a 23-year-old in AAA would be projected through age 29 (23 + 6 years), while a 23-year-old in AA would be projected through age 30 (23 + 7 years) and a 23-year-old in A+ would be projected through age 31 (23 + 8 years). This might not make much of a difference, but it does seem to fit a bit better with the ages through which we expect prospects to accrue value during their team-control years (at least intuitively).

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