The 2012 Trade Value List, in Retrospect

Next week, I’m rolling out the latest version of our annual trade value series. Before we get into this year’s list, though, I think it’s instructive to look back at where players were ranked a year ago, and see if there are any lessons to be learned from the placement of various players. I would rather learn from history than repeat it.

Let’s just start with the list itself.


Ranking Player Position Team
1 Mike Trout OF Angels
2 Bryce Harper OF Nationals
3 Andrew McCutchen OF Pirates
4 Evan Longoria 3B Rays
5 Giancarlo Stanton OF Marlins
6 Ryan Braun OF Brewers
7 Matt Kemp OF Dodgers
8 Stephen Strasburg SP Nationals
9 Jason Heyward OF Braves
10 Jose Bautista OF Blue Jays
11 Troy Tulowitzki SS Rockies
12 Buster Posey C Giants
13 Jered Weaver SP Angels
14 Justin Verlander SP Tigers
15 Brett Lawrie 3B Blue Jays
16 Clayton Kershaw SP Dodgers
17 Felix Hernandez SP Mariners
18 Miguel Cabrera 3B Tigers
19 Madison Bumgarner SP Giants
20 David Price SP Rays
21 Gio Gonzalez SP Nationals
22 Mike Moustakas 3B Royals
23 Justin Upton OF Diamondbacks
24 Matt Moore SP Rays
25 Jason Kipnis 2B Indians
26 Joey Votto 1B Reds
27 Carlos Gonzalez OF Rockies
28 Jurickson Profar SS Rangers
29 Dylan Bundy SP Orioles
30 Ian Kinsler 2B Rangers
31 Chris Sale SP White Sox
32 Mark Trumbo 1B/OF Angels
33 Austin Jackson OF Tigers
34 Dustin Pedroia 2B Red Sox
35 Pablo Sandoval 3B Giants
36 Jay Bruce OF Reds
37 Wil Myers OF Royals
38 Matt Wieters C Orioles
39 Alex Gordon OF Royals
40 Johnny Cueto SP Reds
41 Starlin Castro SS Cubs
42 Yu Darvish SP Rangers
43 Adam Jones OF Orioles
44 Matt Holliday OF Cardinals
45 Ben Zobrist 2B/OF Rays
46 Robinson Cano 2B Yankees
47 Alcides Escobar SS Royals
48 Matt Cain SP Giants
49 Yovani Gallardo SP Brewers
50 Elvis Andrus SS Rangers

Players Whose Stock Has Fallen Significantly

Braun (#6), Kemp (#7), Weaver (#13), Lawrie (#15), Moustakas (#22), Upton (#23), Bundy (#29), Kinsler (#30), Trumbo (#32), Wieters (#38), Cueto (#40), Castro (#41), Escobar (#47), Gallardo (#49), Andrus (#50)

There are basically two types of players on that list (with Braun and Kinsler being the notable outliers): pitchers who got injured or have seen their stuff decline and young players who just haven’t hit much since the list was published.

Pitcher injuries are a fact of life, and short of just leaving out every hurler, I’m not sure there’s much to be learned from there. Jered Weaver’s contract probably got too much weight in pushing him ahead of younger pitchers with better stuff, but Weaver had been terrific in the first half of the year, and there’s only so much we can do to forecast future pitcher health.

The young hitters, though, might tell us something. In pretty much each case — Trumbo excepted — they are guys who could be terrific players as long as they hit at even an average level. They played up the middle positions or were terrific corner defenders, and they were almost universally elite prospects who showed real offensive potential in the minors. They were at a point in their aging curve where improvement could be expected, and they were already good players who looked like they could become great ones if the bat took a step forward.

Instead, the bats have either stagnated or gone backwards, and this group is a reminder that young players don’t all improve at the same rates, and a league average hitter in his early 20s is a league average hitter because he’s showing some kind of offensive deficiency, which may or may not improve. There’s a reason that hitters are the hardest things to scout, because there are a lot of things about hitting that aren’t physical, and only become apparent with experience.

This year, I’m probably going to grade players of this type a little more conservatively. The best players in the game are those who can play premium positions while also hitting, but it also can be difficult to look at young players at premium positions and figure out just which ones are indeed going to hit.

Players Whose Stock Has Risen Significantly

Posey (#12), Hernandez (#17), Gonzalez (#27), Sale (#31), Darvish (#42)

This is inherently a much shorter list, because time erodes a player’s trade value by taking away a year of team control — which is often at a well below market salary — and moves the player closer to free agency. Most players on the list are going to lose trade value every season unless they show real improvement over the past year, or sign a new contract that is far enough below the market price that it improves their value as an asset.

Posey and Hernandez both signed long term deals that bought out a bunch of free agent years, and while both extensions were pricey, they’re now elite players under team control for many seasons, with free agency no longer looming as a potential escape route. Sale signed a much cheaper extension, since he wasn’t anywhere near free agency, but also continues to dominate. Gonzalez, at age-27, is having his best season yet, while Darvish has shown better command and has pitched more like the #1 starter Texas expected than he did in the first half of last year.

Beyond that, though, the big jumps come from guys who didn’t make the list last year. We’ll talk more about those guys next week.

Overall Takeaway

While you’ll always look back and wonder why you missed something that seems obvious in retrospect, overall, I’m fairly happy with last year’s list. The most significant change in the evaluation process was to penalize star players on big contracts much less than I had in previous versions — all the money flowing into the game has made these players much more valuable — and in general, I think those guys have held their value pretty well. With most Major League teams now having access to decent sized revenue streams and the rise of the long term extension for elite players, it’s no longer so easy to purchase high quality talent in free agency, so trading for an impact player with long term control — even at high salaries — is more appealing than it used to be.

Of course, guys like Matt Kemp show the downside of this kind of player. A year ago, he looked like one of the game’s very best players, signed to a below market deal that covered most of the seasons which he should be expected to produce at a high level. A year later, he’s costing the Dodgers $20 million per year to play like the replacement level outfielder when he’s not on the DL. Kemp’s value has plunged over the last calendar year, to the point where a guy who almost made the top five last year is on the bubble for this year’s list.

Basically, there is no such thing as as a risk free asset. Everyone gets hurt, and even great players can stop playing like great players with little or no warning. When evaluating a player’s trade value, teams have to make the best bets they can, but the failure rate of even the best assets reminds us how unpredictable baseball really is.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Froglegs Jackson
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Froglegs Jackson
3 years 13 days ago

I’m surprised Chris Sale didn’t fall into the ‘Players Whose Stock Has Risen Significantly’ category. He signed a team friendly contract before the year started, and he’s also performing better than he did last season.

Balthazar
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Balthazar
3 years 12 days ago

The conceptual adjustments for selection criteria seem good.

The reduction of the Pricey Contract Penalty seems particularly in order. The rationales for this in recent years’ commentary were valid, but with increasing media revenue streams it has never looked easier to move Big Long deals if they guy is producing at a needed position.

With young guys, I can’t say I’ve been too much of a fan in overvaluing the potential to improve. Hitting in the majors is _hard_. Present performance really matters more than minor league numbers and athleticism (not that those _don’t_ matter). If a guys batted ball results, especially LD rate and, yes, BABIP, seem to be significantly low relative to gaudy discipline and contact numbers, there probably needs to be a bigger discount in projection than at present. That particularly matters in trade value; a guy’s initial org may be able to wait out the learning curve but an acquiring team needs more certainty because they’re giving up more than just playing time to make the bet. To me Heyward has always been ‘overvalued,’ and by that same token Profar really should be several ranks lower than his minor results. Somebody like Nick Franklin comes up a few notches to me because, while he may not stay that good, performance DOES matter, and his results line up with his demonstrated minor league disciplin, contact, and punch. Profar’s ceiling may be higher, but Franklin’s reality is likely surer, and that’s what I’d be looking for in trade.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 12 days ago

Hey ward had a 134 wRC+ in the majors for a full season at age 20. Franklin’s done 123 for a quarter season at age 22. Last year Heyward did a full season at 120 wRC+ at 22. I think you are using 20/20 hindsight here. Sure, it’s feasible Franklin will be better now that heyward has had a relatively mediocreseason at 21 and in the midst of a mediocre (for him) half season at 23, but I’m not sure why you always thought he was overrated. His career wRC+ coming into this season and through age 22 was around where Franklin is at the same age but with a much smaller body of work. You might have said the same thing about Dustin Ackley being better than Heyward in 2011.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 12 days ago

And I may have misread you. You were comparing Franklin to Profar, not Heyward necessarily.

Balthazar
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Balthazar
3 years 12 days ago

So Wobatus, I was _not_ specifically comparing the two players, no. That said, using a single stat, particularly a composite one like wRC+ as a way of judging a player’s value does not get at issues like projection, and furthermore is a particularly poor way of comparing different players’ projections. How did the guy get that number? How did that pattern compare to his results in the minors, and what was expected? Where are the holes in his bat an his game? Those are the issues.

Heyward’s annointment as a superstar impending really is only leveraged off just under 200 ABs in the second half of 09 in AA. Yes, Heyward was a very good prospect and an excellent athlete before that, but that was the first time he really translated his tools into impact batting that selected elite level. His performance once he hit the bigs raised multiple flags, not necessarily that he would struggle to the extent that he has but that his projection as a elite guy had some issues. Heyward’s excellent BB%’s held up, and have been the best part about his game; they proved out as real ability. However, his K% took a big jump. His LD% was disappointing for a supposedly elite bat. He was heavily a groundball hitter who made use of his speed, and would have to really retool his swing for high-end to project him as a high ISO guy; certainly he wasn’t elite at the start. Despite GB swing and speed, Heyward didn’t kill it for BA; that 20%K rate got in the way among other things. In short, Heyward’s superhigh contact and mucho sock in AA didn’t really make the jump _and_ those no-shows fit HOW he was batting: it wasn’t luck or anything like that.

Sure, Heyward was _far_ from a bust in 2010. My point is that projecting him to take a big step forward from his rookie season rested on somewhat shaky ground. Heyward has retooled his swing, and turned himself into a flyball guy; he’s a good enough athlete and batsman, and that’s to his credit. . . . But the outcomes just aren’t elite. His doubles totals are disappointing for a guy with his speed. He’s had one good year with some HR pop out of it, in between two pretty poor years. He’s never hit for that great of an average, and as a flyball hitter who doesn’t consistently reach the seats it’s hard to see that he will, either. Yes, he hasn’t reached his physical peak. Yes, he’s an elite corner defender. No, his he’s not a good base stealer and evidently has abandoned that part of his game. What we really see is that Jason Heyward 2013-forward looks a lot more like what we would project out of his numbers in the low minors rather than his half-season of minor eliteness.

BTW Franklin’s LD% and HR/FB ratios _did_ make the jump out of the minors: he squares the pellet up. That’s something that speaks to _his_ projectibilty as the league adjusts. Franklin also had a demonstrated history in the minors of being over-aggressive upon promotion—but then adjusting to the level’s adjustments. That history of adaptability is something to factor in trying to figure out ‘what he’s really worth.’

I’m not going through this to pick on Heyward. The point in hindsight, though, is to go a _re-analysis of the numbers_ to see what their pattern was, not what his single aggregates were. There were some questions to answer, and Heyward’s meagre 2011 was a significant, partial answer to them. He didn’t strike me as likely to reach the high end of projections which would be required to be the 9th most valuable trade asset in the game. YMMV of course. Projecting the hit tool is tough to do, no question.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 12 days ago

Thanks Balthasar. I see where you are getting at. Although line drive rate tends to be a but fluctuating. But I can see where one might think tha Franklin is showing better ability to square the ball the Heyward. Heyward’s overall package still seems promising to me for potential growth.

Dan Ugglas Forearm
Member
Dan Ugglas Forearm
3 years 12 days ago

As Heyward’s FB% has risen, so has his HR total. Anyone that strong will hit the ball out a significant amount as long as they get it in the air. 2011 was injury plaged. 2013 is injury plagued. It is a bit disappointing to have to put off true assessments because we haven’t seen a consistent showing of his true talent. But I agree that his outlook is much better than his current results. He needs to hit LHP better, and he needs to cut down on the K’s. I’m not ready to say he’s abandoned base stealing, but so far, it looks like 2012 was the aberration in that regard. His defense will always keep him useful. But I agree that he was pegged for much greater than “useful”.

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 10 days ago

Though it’s early yet, I would think Wil Myers’ value would be up due to actually playing well in the majors, though in a SSS.

John
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John
3 years 13 days ago

No love for Starling Marte?

chuckb
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chuckb
3 years 13 days ago

Seriously? This is last year’s list.

Jay29
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Jay29
3 years 13 days ago

I suspect that, over 6 months in, John’s subconscious has still not fully accepted that 2012 is in the past.

commenter #1
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commenter #1
3 years 11 days ago

reading: it’s hard

LantermanC
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LantermanC
3 years 13 days ago

Can I ask, is Puig even on the list, or is too early (because pitchers can/probably will adjust)?

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 13 days ago

Oh yeah, forgot Puig. I bet someone Brad Miller would have more career WAR than Puig. I may be dead before that one plays out. But Puig has a bit of a head start.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 13 days ago

Hey, Brad Miller just hit another double. 5 doubles and 2 triples in 52 PA. It’s too early for him in the top 50 but maybe next year if his fielding plays.

Retirenutting
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Retirenutting
3 years 13 days ago

It’d be cool if the “Can I ask, how does this baseball-related thing relate to Puig” questions would stop soon.

LantermanC
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LantermanC
3 years 13 days ago

Maybe for most comments/posts I’d agree, but for the Trade Value post, he could conceivably be top 10, and also rationally argued the not be on the list, so I think the question is fair game.

Retirenutting
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Retirenutting
3 years 12 days ago

That’s fair. I guess I meant–just generally–that I’d enjoy going a week not hearing, reading, thinking about Puig. There’s a high likelihood he’s playing way above his head and the media coverage is so heavily weighted by his market factor. If he was doing this in Baltimore he’d just be Chris Davis — who’s put up a similar OPS+ over a hell of a lot more ABs. I dare anyone to claim that Chris Davis has seen nearly the Puig-hype this year. Double dog.

brendan
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brendan
3 years 13 days ago

he _has_ to be on the list. Even assuming some regression to the mean, he looks like a very good player on a moderate-cost contract.

Jim
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Jim
3 years 13 days ago

He looks like Shane Spencer part deux.

josh
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josh
3 years 12 days ago

no he doesn’t

Richie
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Richie
3 years 13 days ago

Dave mentioned during his chat that Puig is on the list.

Bronzan
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Bronzan
3 years 13 days ago

I’d drop Pablo Sandoval into the list of players who have seen their stock fall. Despite a three-homer game in the World Series since the list was published, 2013 has been a real downer. He has not shown that he can keep his weight down and his OPS+ of 95 is just slightly better than teammate Andres Torres (91). He’s battled injuries, but the sentiment I get is that he’s getting hurt in part because of his poor physique…. and he’s only 26. Unless he turns it around, what will he look like at 36?

Retirenutting
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Retirenutting
3 years 13 days ago

he’ll be invisible at 36 — to baseball fans, at least.

Trotter76
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Trotter76
3 years 13 days ago

Yet visible to astronauts.

Hank G.
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Hank G.
3 years 12 days ago

“Unless he [Sandoval] turns it around, what will he look like at 36?”

Prince Fielder?

John H
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3 years 12 days ago

He’ll be closer to Cecil.

nilbog44
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nilbog44
3 years 12 days ago

What does Brett Cecil have to do with this?

Bronzan
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Bronzan
3 years 12 days ago
Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 13 days ago

New to the list: Matt Harvey, Shelby Miller, Chris Davis (not sure about his contract situation), Kipnis, Machado, Segura, Paul Goldschmidt, maybe Josh Donaldson, Kyle Seager, Xander Bogaerts, Buxton

ralph
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ralph
3 years 13 days ago

Kipnis was already #25 last year. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up this year.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 13 days ago

Whoops, my bad. Of course he then had a big second half slump. He might have missed the list if it was made this winter, but he’s played his way back on and maybe up.

I’d likely keep Lawrie on the list. I also like to think Hosmer has a chances of playing his way on by next year but he needs more given the position. Not sure Rizzo should make it now either.

nilbog44
Member
nilbog44
3 years 12 days ago

Brett Lawrie is terrible

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 12 days ago

Lawrie has averaged 4.0 WAR per 150 games played through this, his age 23 year, and did better than that through age 22 but tried to play through injury this year. Hardly terrible.

billy
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billy
3 years 12 days ago

How much of Lawrie’s value comes from (tiny sample size alert) Defense? Pretty much all of it, yes?

His 73 wrc+ says he doesn’t belong on this list.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 12 days ago

That’s 73 wRC+ in only 150 plate appearances while injured. 106 in his career dragged down by this year. About 110 through age 22. Admittedly the use is less than 3 years and hasn’t stabilized. But he’s a good fielder. He will fall on the list but shouldn’t fall off it.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 13 days ago

Oh, and Matt Carpenter? Domonic Brown? Someone else mentioned Starling Marte.

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 13 days ago

Ian Desmond is owed $3.8MM this year and has two more arb years; he would probably make the list if he was extended. 5.3 WAR shortstop in the last 365 days, at shortstop.

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 13 days ago

The redundant part of my comment was redundant.

billy
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billy
3 years 13 days ago

Alex Cobb, Desmond Jennings, maybe even Hellickson.

Kogoruhn
Member
Kogoruhn
3 years 13 days ago

I don’t think any of those 3 make it.

billy
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billy
3 years 12 days ago

In that case Segura, Josh Donaldson and Kyle Seager belong nowhere near this list. Don’t really see the case for Shelby Miller either…

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 10 days ago

Cobb would without the injury. Jennings is a dark horse. Hellickson–definitely not top 50.

cdmcmahon
Member
cdmcmahon
3 years 13 days ago

Anthony Rendon has to make this year’s list as well, yeah? He hasn’t hit for much power, but he’s still young. His wRC+ of 127 is impressive and it’s obviously just his first year in the bigs.

Dan
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Dan
3 years 13 days ago

I wouldn’t include Donaldson or Matt Carpenter if I was making the list due to the high BABiPs, short track records and the fact that they are older for breakout players. Both have been great so far in 2013, but would it shock anyone if they were league average the rest of the season (and beyond)? I suppose putting them toward the back end would be fine.

Buxton is too far from the majors for me, but Bogaerts probably should be at the back of the list somewhere. I would probably include Carlos Santana, Carlos Gomez and Freddie Freeman. Edward Encarnacion probably needs to be on there somewhere. Overall, the 2012 list was pretty spot on.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 12 days ago

Hey ward had a 134 wRC+ in the majors for a full season at age 20. Franklin’s done 123 for a quarter season at age 22. Last year Heyward did a full season at 120 wRC+ at 22. I think you are using 20/20 hindsight here. Sure, it’s feasible Franklin will be better now that heyward has had a relatively mediocreseason at 21 and in the midst of a mediocre (for him) half season at 23, but I’m not sure why you always thought he was overrated. His career wRC+ coming into this season and through age 22 was around where Franklin is at the same age but with a much smaller body of work. You might have said the same thing about Dustin Ackley being better than Heyward in 2011.

Wobatus
Guest
Wobatus
3 years 12 days ago

Whoops, repost.

On Donaldson he is still only 26 and put up 5+ WAR in just a little over a full season’s worth of PA for his career. His career wRC+ is 119 which balances out much of any luck premium for this year, plus he is a stellar defender. He may miss the list but I’d consider him for the back end.

Matt
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Matt
3 years 12 days ago

If either were league average the rest of the year they both would end up with excellent, star level, 5 WAR seasons in 2013.

So, to answer your question. It would surprise me if Donaldson was league average for the rest of the year. And yes, it would shock me if Carpenter was.

Definitely agree with you about Gomez. But he’s exactly the type of player that he said he will be more conservative with this year. Oddly enough, although a different route to achieve it, he has the same exact track record of success as Donaldson and Carpenter – second half of 2012 until now. Carlos Gomez has a BABIP that is 20 points higher than Carpenter and 30 points higher than Donaldson. And they were all born within two weeks of each other, so the “older” concern doesn’t seem to be evenly applied either.

Dan
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Dan
3 years 12 days ago

My point is exactly that–Donaldson has about a years’ worth of PAs in the bigs. He was not an elite prospect coming up, and he was a rookie eligible 25 year old last year. He might actually be a 5 win true-talent player. But if I was setting the over/under I would put it at 3 WAR/YR going forward. There just aren’t that many guys who come out of nowhere at 26 to sustainably be star-level offensive players like he has. Matt Carpenter is in the same bucket for me, and looking at the stats maybe Carlos Gomez should be as well. Gomez seems slightly different to me because he has a broader skill set that includes speed and defense, even though his hacktastic approach is a concern. I think with guys like this it is just hard to determine where the true-talent level is. Carpenter and Donaldson remind me of a guy like Martin Prado last year. Prado is a nice player, but he is not a star even though he had a star caliber year in 2012.

lesmash
Member
Member
lesmash
3 years 12 days ago

Carlos Gomez has to be in the top half of the list, no? Great contract, top shelf hitter and defender and runner.

Anon
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Anon
3 years 13 days ago

Dave, both Upton (23) and Myers (37) got traded. Was the return in line with your expectations?

Also, who is the highest ranked player to be traded? (consider rank from most recent list at time of trade)

John
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John
3 years 13 days ago

I guess Starling will be on te new list. Didn’t realize he wasn’t on 2012 list.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 13 days ago

Ha, for a second I thought you meant Bubba Starling.

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 10 days ago

I, too.

Jay29
Member
Jay29
3 years 13 days ago

This time last year Marte was a nice prospect playing well at AAA but not in the elite prospect discussion. I think it’s safe to say he’s exceeded expectations in the last calendar year.

Josh M
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Josh M
3 years 13 days ago

Has Wieters stock really fallen that much? He is still an elite player on defense and hits for more power than any other catcher besides Posey. Maybe its a case of more players joining the list and pushing him down but ~40 still seems about right to me.

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
3 years 13 days ago

hits for more power than any other catcher besides: Posey,Saltalamacchia, Napoli, Arencibia, Navarro.
Napoli is more of a first baseman, but his ISO is up there, but his SLG is still low.

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
3 years 13 days ago

“his ISO is up there” refers to Wieters and the following part does as well.

Ian R.
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Ian R.
3 years 12 days ago

Napoli’s knees are shot. He hasn’t caught an inning this year, and except in an emergency situation he probably never will again.

Dirck
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Dirck
3 years 12 days ago

and Rosario

Stan "The Boy" Taylor
Member
Stan "The Boy" Taylor
3 years 12 days ago

Looking at 2013 ISO: Lucroy, Santana, Jason Castro, out of qualified. McCann, Gattis and others if you drop the AB restriction a bit.

Going back to last year, he was behind Russell Martin and AJ Pierzynski. Wieters isn’t that powerful.

Wilin Rosario
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Wilin Rosario
3 years 12 days ago

Hi guys.

TangoAlphaLima
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TangoAlphaLima
3 years 13 days ago

Matt Cain should probably be added to the list of players whose stock has fallen significantly. His peripherals aren’t all that bad this year, but the end result is. And he’s always been a guy that seemingly outpitched his peripherals. It seems to be catching up to him now.

Anon21
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Anon21
3 years 13 days ago

“It seems to be catching up to him now” sounds a lot like a gambler’s fallacy.

TangoAlphaLima
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TangoAlphaLima
3 years 13 days ago

Eh, not really. It’s just a prolonged regression to the mean. Cain’s peripherals never supported his high level performance. He was always an average/good pitcher that got great results. He’s mostly the same pitcher this year, just without the great results. Perhaps slightly unlucky with HR and strand rates, but everything else is pretty close to career norms. It’s just that he’s no longer significantly outperforming his xFIP.

Regardless, his stock is down. A lot.

Brad Johnson
Member
Member
3 years 13 days ago

Only if he means that the over correction (or however you want to term it) is expected. That phrase could also mean “seems like he’s not outpitching his peripherals anymore”

Trotter76
Guest
Trotter76
3 years 13 days ago

Is missing over the heart of the plate considered “unlucky with his HR rate”? I’ve watched every homer he’s given up this year and he’s not unlucky that they’re hit out, he’s been lucky they ever returned to earth. Cain’s who I’m using as an example now to explain control vs. command. He’s throwing strikes, but not always where he wants.

Jay29
Member
Jay29
3 years 12 days ago

@Trotter76, what about all the pitches he grooved over the heart of the plate last year that fell into an outfielder’s glove at the warning track? I suspect he has pitched with worse command this year, but you can’t make a case — on FanGraphs, no less — based on an eyeball account of only a select sample of at bats in only one season.

kfljs
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kfljs
3 years 13 days ago

I don’t remember the discussion from the list last year, but I would have to think that the guys with the huge contracts wouldn’t have much of any trade value. Votto is a great, great player, but he’s making 22.5 million a year for the next ten and a half seasons. I don’t see how there could be much surplus value in that contract.

Look at it this way. The going FA price for superstar first basemen is something like $25 per over 8. One would expect FAs to capture most of the value that they provide – if their contract didn’t do that, they’d have signed somewhere else. (Eh, ceteris paribus and all that.) The $2.5M discount per year must be more than swallowed by two more $22.5 seasons towards the end of Votto’s career. So I don’t see how Votto’s contract is any better than that which you’d find from a free agent, and there’s not much surplus value to free agent contracts. (That is, after all, the reason that teams want control of their players – it’s on the first few years of a players career in which teams make their money.)

Brad Johnson
Member
Member
3 years 13 days ago

I think we see in the wild that huge contracts are tradeable so long as the player is performing at an elite level. Maybe they shouldn’t be tradeable, but we’ve seen a couple deals happen. It’s also generally accepted that a Cliff Lee for a substantial return trade isn’t sheer lunacy even though the math doesn’t come anywhere close to working.

Petetown Matt
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Petetown Matt
3 years 13 days ago

With players like Votto, there will be value no matter why their contract looks like simply because their production can’t be easily replaced. Value isn’t measured just by price but also by how easily their wins can be replaced. Teams only have so many at bats to give out in a season

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
3 years 13 days ago

Especially with the sudden drought of first baseman, the above comment holds true.

kjdfh
Guest
kjdfh
3 years 11 days ago

How easily the wins can be replaced is already reflected in the contract.

JH
Guest
JH
3 years 13 days ago

You’re forgetting that Votto’s salary wasn’t a reflection of the market since he signed an extension with the only team capable of negotiating with him. $22.5 million per for one of the best hitters alive doesn’t actually seem that extravagant. The years are a different issue, but do you really think teams would balk at 10 years at $22 million per for Votto if they all got to bid right now? Particularly given how back-loaded that deal is, I think he’d have plenty of takers if he was on the market, and not just as a salary dump.

Will
Guest
Will
3 years 12 days ago

I think you would see teams balking. 10/$225m isn’t a discount; it’s about market rate.

Votto is not young. He’d be 30 going into FA (had he not been extended).

The best comparison for Votto is Pujols, who was 31 when he became a FA. Other mega-contracts like Kemp and Posey aren’t necessarily good comps, because both players were substantially younger when they signed extensions.

Compare Pujols and Votto through their peaks before free agency (ages 26-29): http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2013&month=0&season1=2000&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=26,29&filter=&players=4314,1177

Pujols was WAY better than Votto. Like 1.5 times better. Pujols managed to get 10/$240m. If you factor in Votto’s injury history (Pujols had no injury concerns) and inferior offense, while also adding in a couple years of inflation, and 10/$225m for Votto seems reasonable for what he’d get in free agency this season. However, I think many teams might have been reluctant to sign Votto, seeing how disastrous the Pujols deal has been.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 10 days ago

Yeah, except Votto is a super superstar. I would put him in the top 50. A bunch of GM’s would surely poop their pants if he went on the market.

Nik
Guest
Nik
3 years 13 days ago

If we’re valuing guys on big contracts highly, might as well throw in a guy like Cliff Lee. Makes a ton, but is elite and under control for 2 more seasons. Not too many where there is a severe injury risk, but not just a rental either.

Anon
Guest
Anon
3 years 13 days ago

Yadier Molina. Age doesn’t help him, but MVP quality for $15M/year until 2018.

Wainwright has a good arguement as well.

olerudshelmet
Member
olerudshelmet
3 years 13 days ago

I don’t quite understand why Trumbo’s stock has fallen significantly. He was probably ranked too high last year, but he’s essentially been the same Mark Trumbo he was last year. I seem to recall him having a pretty good first half last year, but he’s walking more this year, and hasn’t had the same BABIP luck. Is he fallen because he’s failed to progress?

Penelope
Guest
Penelope
3 years 12 days ago

I wonder the same thing too. Cameron even singles him out as being different from the rest, but never really explains why. My guess is that Cameron’s 2013 significant drop for Trumbo is more a reflection of the 2012 list’s significant, and Cameron must believe, incorrect, overvaluation of Trumbo.

Nathaniel Dawson
Guest
Nathaniel Dawson
3 years 12 days ago

Dave did explain why, Penelope. The other players were young, good defensive players that you could expect improvement from as hitters.

Penelope
Guest
Penelope
3 years 11 days ago

I disagree. What he wrote makes it cleat that he groups Trumbo with the young bats, but excepts Trumbo from why he thinks the group as a whole has dropped.

“The young hitters, though, might tell us something. In pretty much each case — Trumbo excepted — they are guys who could be terrific players as long as they hit at even an average level.”

The implication for Trumbo being that he could not be terrific if he only hit at an average level. And as for the “young hitters other than Trumbo” regressions, Cameron discusses that offensive improvement is no guarantee, and talks about that being true for everyone, including the up the middle position players and highly touted prospects in the 2012 young hitter group.
I’m confused because Cameron’s no dummy, and the fact that Trumbo’s defense is suspect was true last year. So I still wonder what happened to drop Trumbo because he’s essentially the same guy.

Nathaniel Dawson
Guest
Nathaniel Dawson
3 years 12 days ago

He did mention that players are generally going to move down on the list after a year because they have one less year on their contract and are a year older, reducing their value. Not sure why that puts Trumbo in the “fallen significantly” group, but his numbers are down slightly overall, and he hasn’t signed an extension that would increased his value as an asset. Without attempting an in-depth look at how he compares to others, just looking at his basic profile as a 27 year old offense first player with little defensive value, that even with his arbitration years paying him less than market value, it’s hard to imagine him as being a highly valued asset. Maybe his ranking was too high last year?

Erik
Guest
3 years 11 days ago

His ranking was too high last year, coming off the heels of a great first half (164 wRC+). He was useless for a third of a season after this list came out last year.

This season he is keeping up with his career numbers essentially (far better than he was at the end of last season but not nearly the beast he was pre AS break).

He is also walking a lot more and striking out less – he has shown significant improvement this year.

Dan
Guest
Dan
3 years 13 days ago

Hasn’t Jason Heyward fallen off quite a bit? No way would he be top 10 this season. He was great in 2010 and 2012, but nowhere near that in 2011 and 2013. At this point, his future projects less stellar than it would have appeared last season.

Dan (a different one)
Guest
Dan (a different one)
3 years 13 days ago

Heyward’s peripherals look pretty similar to last year with some improvements even. Walk rate is back over 10%, K% is down, LD% is up, GB% is down, and the defense is still there. He has had a horrible BABiP that looks like it is correcting itself over time. I’d say Heyward is still top 20, maybe top 15.

Now that pick of Alcides Escobar based on one fluky BABiP season looks pretty bad in retrospect. But he’s also a guy I always thought it was silly to extend in the first place, because he’s just not that good.

Kogoruhn
Member
Kogoruhn
3 years 13 days ago

Maybe top 20 if he still had as much team control as last year. With his struggles this year and one less year of team control I would place him somewhere in the 25-30 range

Dan
Guest
Dan
3 years 12 days ago

Looking at the peripherals, he isn’t struggling all that much. Looks to be more like bad luck that is regressing to the mean (see June). A bad start to the season is skewing his overall line.

I hear you on the service time thing though.

rustydude
Member
rustydude
3 years 13 days ago

Mike Trout
2012 – 0.326/0.399/0.564 Higher BABIP
2013 – 0.320/0.399/0.560 Lower K’s

Where’s the regression everyone said was coming? Guess he’s still #1, and I’m not even an Angels fan.

BenRevereDoesSteroids
Member
BenRevereDoesSteroids
3 years 13 days ago

I would imagine Trout is still #1. But, then again, he has lost a year of team control. Who could maybe top him?

1. King Felix? Unlike last year he is now locked up through his age 33 season (27 now). He is the closest thing to a guaranteed ace as you are going to find in the MLB. But the price of the contract may keep him from being #1.

2. Matt Harvey? Seems most likely to pass Trout to me. Will have an extra year of control, and is looking like a top 3 starting pitcher in baseball.

3. Jean Segura? Extra year of control and plays shortstop? Maybe?

I don’t expect any of them to actually pass him. Just throwing out canidates.

Jay29
Member
Jay29
3 years 12 days ago

Dave said in a chat recently that Trout and Harper are probably still 1-2, with Harvey outside the Top 5 simply because he is a pitcher.

Dylan
Guest
Dylan
3 years 12 days ago

I’m a Mets fan so I’m biased, but I’d have Harvey top 5. Trout and Harper are still 1-2. McCutchen is still 3. After that, I’m not sure who comes in above him. Just looking at last year’s list, Longoria is another year into that contract, but he could be above Harvey. But Stanton’s been hurt, 6-11 are all trending down, so are 13-15, I’d take him over Kershaw or Felix, Miggy is making over 20 mill with only 2 years left, and I’d take him over 17-24 without much hesitation right now.

That leaves Posey (I could see him being 5, but every year older he gets is a year closer to him being a first baseman), Kipnis (a legitimate top 10 guy who I wouldn’t complain about at #5, he’s terrific), Votto, and Gonzalez (again, wouldn’t complain about either of them, but I personally wouldn’t have them over Harvey). He’s easily the top newcomer.

Dylan
Guest
Dylan
3 years 12 days ago

I forgot Machado as a potential #5. He’s a star. He could definitely be there.

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
3 years 12 days ago

After his first full season you’ll take him over Kershaw? I know pitchers are very injury prone but Kershaw has shown his ability for a long and stayed pretty healthy. I can’t see why you would take Harvey over Kershae other than then fact that his current contract will last longer.

Clayton Kershaw
Guest
Clayton Kershaw
3 years 12 days ago

Felix is the closest thing to a guaranteed ace?

BenRevereDoesSteroids
Member
BenRevereDoesSteroids
3 years 13 days ago

Anyone think that Jose Fernandez will be in the top 10?

Jay29
Member
Jay29
3 years 12 days ago

No, he’s a pitcher. He’s got a great chance to make the list, though.

Michael Scarn
Guest
Michael Scarn
3 years 13 days ago

Amazing how far Ryan Zimmerman has fallen recently.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 10 days ago

Yeah, when a guy who’s main strength is defense can’t throw anymore his value plunges. He’s essentially a 1B, if not a DH, playing 3B.

matt w
Guest
matt w
3 years 12 days ago

Kemp seems like he should be in either the Braun/Kinsler or Trumbo class; he’s not that young, and he wouldn’t be a terrific player if he hit at an average level, because he’s not really an up-the-middle guy. He’s a guy with corner OF defense who stands in center field.

VikingArthur
Guest
VikingArthur
3 years 12 days ago

I think Machado is #3 at this point. I think it is possible (25% or so ) that he has a better career than Harper/Trout or both. McCutchen is a great player but his age and relative lack of power (age dependent) makes him less appealing than Machado in my view.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 10 days ago

Dave has indicated he won’t be that high, though certainly on the list.

Owen
Guest
Owen
3 years 12 days ago

Is Jose Iglesias this year’s Escobar? All-glove no-bat SS who goes on a BABIP-fueled tear for the first half, forcing us to determine what level he’ll regress to? Escobar hit .307/.350/.410 in the first half last year, over 300 PAs. Iglesias has had fewer PAs but has performed even more outlandishly, .387/.439/.488 in 187 PAs (higher BA, fewer HRs). Defensive metrics are rather meh for Iglesias so far (-2.7 UZR) but we all know what to make of that (plus he’s mostly playing 3B).

Is the otherworldly production in a small sample enough to convince one that he has at least average-SS offensive production? Average MLB production? Above-average? At some point that production, combined with top-5 glove, must make Iglesias a top-50 trade chip, right? But knowing where that line is, and where Iglesias is relative to it, is difficult though.

I think most people at the time thought Escobar was too high since the offensive performance was not sustainable. I would probably say the same for Iglesias, putting him off the list, but I’m not sure.

Dan
Guest
Dan
3 years 12 days ago

Given Iglesias’ reputation as a no-hit SS prior to 2013, he belongs nowhere near this list.

Dan
Guest
Dan
3 years 12 days ago

If you’re going to put a no-hit SS on the list, it’s Andrelton Simmons. Personally, I probably wouldn’t include him right now. If he was a league average offensive player with 5 more years of control, he would likely be top-30 or 35.

Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp
3 years 12 days ago

COREY KLUBER?!?!?!

Oh, sorry the meeting must have changed to room 4B. Here, have a few cookies and some punch.

Roto Wizard
Member
Roto Wizard
3 years 12 days ago

I guess the real question is, does Cutch move ahead of Harper?

Sleight of Hand Pro
Guest
Sleight of Hand Pro
3 years 12 days ago

why would he?

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 10 days ago

No, it’s not the real question and, also no, he won’t.

rbt
Guest
rbt
3 years 12 days ago

Salvador Perez.

Joe
Guest
Joe
3 years 12 days ago

So Longoria should fall, right? I’d rather have him for 4 years, $36 than 10 years, $130 or whatever given that he isn’t always healthy. But don’t get me wrong, he’s one of the 5 best players in the game.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 10 days ago

If he falls, it will be due to his plantars fasciitis (however it’s spelled), not his extension. The extension was a good, though not great, one.

EricR
Guest
EricR
3 years 12 days ago

Bumgarner was 19 on the last list and I see him actually going up this year. Most people don’t realize he’s younger than guys like Matt Harvey but has 4 seasons of high-end play to show for it. And his contract is insanely team friendly (owed 33.5 mil from 2013-2017, then two option years at 12 mil per). That’s 8 mil per year for 7 years and it makes me happy.

Nathaniel Dawson
Guest
Nathaniel Dawson
3 years 12 days ago

Yeah, Bumgarner’s a stud. May not have the flashy velocity that others do, but he’s been done plenty fine with what he has, he’s been durable, he’s only 23, and it looks like SF locked him up at just the right time. Given Dave’s refined look at how these valuations are derived, it wouldn’t be a bit of a surprise if he moved up the list. He’s a pitcher, though, so there is that.

Nathaniel Dawson
Guest
Nathaniel Dawson
3 years 12 days ago

I’m a bit surprised at your comment about Felix. That’s a huge contract he signed, basically a current free agent market value contract signed two years in advance of free agency. That’s a huge risk for the Mariners. He’s one of the few pitchers on the planet that might be worth that long term risk, but he’s still a pitcher, just like you pointed out in the article.

There is the promised additional moneys that the new TV contracts will supply that might make this an attractive deal for other teams, but they haven’t come into force yet, and we can’t say with any certainty how much of that is going to be applied to player payrolls, and how that’s going to affect player contracts. With a contract like he now has, plus the inherent risks involved, it’s hard to imagine this increases his trade value in any way.

Considering his popularity and affinity with the Mariner fans, plus the team’s successful capitalization on that marketability, this is probably one of those cases where he’s worth more to his current team than any other team could possibly offer in return. Considering his huge contract, the risk that comes with it, and what a team would have to offer to pry him away, it’s hard to imagine him as one of the 10 to 15 best trade assets in the game.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 10 days ago

Dave abandoned all of his principles in defending that extension. He won’t drop King Felix much, if at all.

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