Author Archive

Kiley McDaniel Chat – 9/19/18

12:19

Kiley McDaniel: Hello! Slight delay today for some paperwork issues but we’re all good now and Scout is napping. Let’s see what you people have for me

12:20

Kiley McDaniel: Oh, and in the way of promotion, we have a couple fun things coming, I will guess, on Monday. We have a new weekly podcast about prospects and the big leagues, from a front office POV. Here’s episode 2: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/fangraphs-audio-presents-the-untitled-…

12:20

Kiley McDaniel: We also did a refresh of THE BOARD, as our last update before we get into the offseason list time of year

12:21

Kiley McDaniel: As always, THE BOARD is here: https://www.fangraphs.com/scoutboard.aspx

12:21

Kiley McDaniel: and the article detailing why some guys are rising is here: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-final-pro-side-update-to-the-board…

12:21

Oyster Burns: roansy have better upside than justus?

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FanGraphs Audio Presents: The Untitled McDongenhagen Project, Ep. 2

UMP: The Untitled McDongenhagen Project, Episode 2
This is the second episode of a weekly program co-hosted by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel about player evaluation in all its forms. The new show, which is available through the normal FanGraphs Audio feed, has a working name now, but barely. The show is all prospect stuff, but there is plenty of that, as the hosts are Prospect Men. Below are some timestamps to make listening and navigation easier.

0:15 – Uncomfortable Paul McCartney discussion, feat. questionable impressions
1:12 – Update on the guys not from Liverpool
2:38 – Deciding on the name of the podcast
4:00 – New recurring segment: TV Talking Head Auditions
6:00 – Eric’s Take
8:40 – Kiley’s Take
10:30 – Satire is over, as PTI possibly should be
11:45 – TOPIC ONE: Updates to THE BOARD
13:12 – Vidal Brujan (2B, TB, Hi-A) and Brayan Rocchio (SS, CLE, RK), briefly Kristian Robinson (RF, ARI, RK)
19:38 – Luis Patino (RHP, SD, Lo-A), briefly Carlos Vargas (RHP, CLE, RK)
23:15 – Bryse Wilson (RHP, ATL, MLB),
24:11 – Bubba Thompson (CF, TEX, Lo-A)
24:43 – Nolan Jones (3B, CLE, Lo-A)
26:50 – Michael Kopech (RHP, CHW, MLB)
27:21 – Wenceel Perez (SS, DET, Lo-A), Carlos Vargas (RHP, CLE, RK), Cole Roederer (CF, CHC, RK), Josiah Gray (RHP, CIN, RK)
30:22 – TOPIC TWO: Front office scouting staff intrigue
31:03 – How cavemen invented scouting
33:00 – How different team philosophically approach their pro scouting department
34:03 – Something that should really surprise you
39:59 – Houston is the leading example of restructuring a staff
41:38 – Where Houston could get outflanked
43:48 – Delving into makeup and how important it is
47:07 – Running down some staffing changes in the industry
50:15 – Pennsylvania impressions!
53:55 – Minnesota accents!
54:42 – TOPIC THREE: Acuna, Soto, Vlad and the next teenage sensation
58:00 – WHO YA GOT?
1:02:00 – Who are the next potential teenagers in the big leagues?
1:08:00 – Kiley’s first scouting experience with Wander Franco…when he was 14.
1:10:38 – the 2017 July 2 class is looking prettay prettay good so far
1:11:46 – Kiley discovers the limits of technology
1:12:15 – The guys discuss Jibarito (the Puerto Rican KFC Double Down) and discuss Kenan Thompson doing David Ortiz talking about mofongo

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @kileymcd or @longenhagen on Twitter or at prospects@fangraphs.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 16 min play time.)

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 9/14/18

12:16

Kiley McDaniel: Hello, I’m coming to you people on Friday since I was on the road Wednesday. Let’s get to your questions

12:16

I hate avocados: When will we see rankings updates next?

12:17

Kiley McDaniel: I’m guessing Monday? We have one more update of about 15 players to shuffle around before we head into the offseason. We’ll probably lock all those in this weekend as far as where they go exactly, but the list is done

12:19

Arms: Long term who makes the better MLB Pitcher? Shane Bieber or Chris Paddack? Or will both be exceptional?

12:19

Kiley McDaniel: Similar kinds of guys, but Bieber is already there and performing and hasn’t had a TJ, so I’ll take him, though Paddack has a little more ceiling

12:19

Matt: are you buying the Luis patino hype? I believe he should be considered a top 100 prospect, plus velo, athletic, throws strikes, 3-4 usable pitches

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FanGraphs Audio Presents: Untitled McDongenhagen Project

Introduction to the McDongenhagen Project
This represents the first episode of a weekly program co-hosted by Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel about player evaluation in all its forms. The new show, which will be available through the normal FanGraphs Audio feed, doesn’t have a name yet, but reader input is invited. The show won’t be all prospect stuff, but there will be plenty of that, as the hosts are Prospect Men. Below are some timestamps to make listening and navigation easier.

2:13 – What Eric’s been up to feat. reggaeton horn.
3:49 – What Kiley’s been up to feat. self-promotion.
6:31 – TOPIC ONE: September call-ups that will impact the NL races.
7:24 – Arizona Diamondbacks, including a big picture discussion.
13:15 – Atlanta Braves, including a guy you didn’t think we’d talk about.
19:30 – St. Louis Cardinals, including lots of Harrison Bader talk.
22:31 – Chicago Cubs, briefly.
22:58 – Milwaukee Brewers, including Robin Hood talk.
24:26 – Colorado Rockies, eternally confusing, including eye-level science.
28:43 – Los Angeles Dodgers, including Joe Arpaio talk.
29:46 – Philadelphia Phillies, including Scott Kingery symposium.
36:05 – TOPIC TWO: Should we change how we evaluate pitching prospects?
41:45 – Kiley tries to shoehorn more Nassim Taleb into conversation.
46:28 – Objectively measuring command: ¯\_()_/¯.
50:02 – Eric compares these challenges to the NFL combine.
52:23 – TOPIC THREE: 2019 MLB Draft overview.
1:01:50 – Eric reveals his West Coast draft fascination.
1:03:06 – Kiley brings this to a merciful end.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @kileymcd or @longenhagen on Twitter or at prospects@fangraphs.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 4 min play time.)

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 9/5/18

12:18

Kiley McDaniel: Sorry for the delay! Was going back and forth with offers/counters on a house, so that took slight precedent over this baseball chat

12:19

Kiley McDaniel: So, for those that haven’t seen it yet, I posted something today breaking down Dylan Cease (CHW), Matt Manning (DET) and Brendan McKay (TB) and which of those three types of players is normally underrated by list season

12:19

Kiley McDaniel: Now to your questions

12:19

squeeze bunt: What do you think is the best predictor of a pitcher taking a step forward with command?  Do you think there is a correlation between height/length and command?

12:21

Kiley McDaniel: Athleticism is the best single direct comp for command we have, but it’s usually a combination of factors. I’d tend to bet on longer-limbed elite athletes that are growing into their frame in the mid-20’s to improve, particularly if they aren’t a high 90’s type that’s always trying to throw it through the backstop

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Should We Adjust How We Evaluate Pitching Prospects?

Evaluating pitchers is a real challenge. A combination of experience and knowledge can help one to better understand how variables like velocity, spin, and pitch mix translate to the majors. Even with that information, though, the influence of other factors — like injury risk, like a pitcher’s likelihood of responding to mechanical or mental adjustments — creates a great deal of uncertainty.

Nor is this a challenge that faces only prospect analysts like myself and Eric Longenhagen: even front-office execs who have the benefit of substantial resources — in the form both of data and personnel — have trouble reliably projecting outcomes for otherwise similarly talented young arms.

In my role as a talent evaluator both with FanGraphs and with a few major-league clubs, the question of how best to assess pitchers is obviously one to which I’ve returned with some frequency. In my recent efforts to get some final looks at certain top pitching prospects, however, I began to rethink how Eric Longenhagen and I should approach rankings this offseason. Three prospects, in particular, help to illustrate my concerns.

Tigers righty Matt Manning was the ninth overall pick in 2016, is an athletic 20-year-old who stands 6-foot-6, and was promoted to Double-A last week. In addition to that, he sat 94-96 and hit 98 mph in my look, mixing in a spike curveball that flashed 65 on the 20-80 scale. The positives here are numerous, and very few other minor leaguers could match even a few of these qualities.

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 8/29/18

12:09

Kiley McDaniel: Coming to you live from my desk while Scout chews on her dinosaur toy in the next room, it’s chat time

12:10

Kiley McDaniel: I went to a bunch of games in the last week, cleaning up some needed looks on local prospects.

12:10

Kiley McDaniel: Only non Florida State League game was Jacksonville (AA Marlins) and Birmingham (AA White Sox) where I was going for Dylan Cease but got a bunch of other guys as well

12:13

Kiley McDaniel: FSL looks included affiliates of MIN (Royce, Kirilloff, Brusdar, Blankenhorn), ATL (Contreras, Waters, Ynoa, Wentz, Davidson),  NYY (Florial, Deivi Garcia, D. Castillo, Gilliam), DET (Fulmer rehab, Manning, Clemens, Castro),  CIN (Fairchild, Isabel), PHI (Llovera, Moniak, Gamboa, Brito, Falter), TBR (McKay, Brujan, Lowe, Fraley, Padlo, Gray, Palacios)

12:14

Kiley McDaniel: Anyway that took longer than I expected to flip thru my notes and compile, but those are the guys I saw recently if any of them or their teammates are of special interest

12:14

Kiley McDaniel: And there’s a post going up shortly of the prospect just added to the board

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 8/22/18

12:10

Kiley McDaniel: Hello reader, puppy took a long detour on the walk and I’m a pushover so here I am at 12:10. Lets see what you’ve got for me today.

12:11

Tommy N.: Did you see Ryan Weathers start yesterday? Looks like he’s pretty polished already is he more polished than Gore coming out of high school?

12:12

Kiley McDaniel: Didn’t see the start, but the level of polish is definitely comparable. Gore flashes 60’s with a better delivery and Weathers is more 55’s with no projection, short stride. Not like hugely different, but HS pitchers are risky and there’s lots of teenagers with big stuff, so these sorta small differences become important

12:12

Garrett: Anthopoulos just said he believes the Braves internal talent is better than what’s out on the market? Do you believe it’s true or is this just leverage.

12:14

Kiley McDaniel: Well in the sense that they didn’t need to go acquire a bunch of high octane arms bc they have Fried, Gohara, Wilson, Toussaint, Allard, Wright, etc. all hanging around is true. They still picked up a few veteran arms, but if fans think they should’ve cashed in two of those guys for Archer when there’s a chance one of those guys just is Archer going forward (but younger and way cheaper) is probably correct.

12:14

Shawn: Between Loaisiga and Domingo German – Who has the better chance to start and who would be the better RP? Overall, who has more FV?

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The Next Prospects Who Could Pull a Glasnow

Among the biggest changes in on-field strategy this year is the Rays’ use of an “opener,” or a starting pitcher who isn’t a traditional starter in style and is expected to throw only an inning or two. While certainly notable, the role itself isn’t my interest here. Rather, I’d like to consider how Tampa Bay has cobbled together a staff from Blake Snell and a cast of misfit toys.

From talking to sources in and around the Rays, the use of an “opener” wasn’t a purposeful strategic shift on the organization’s part, but rather an attempt by the club to deploy the talent present on the roster in the most effective way possible. Snell is the only pitcher who won’t get an opener in front of him, while the rest varies game-to-game based on matchups and other factors. Much like the best coach in the NFL, the Rays are using a player’s strengths and building a scheme around it rather than building a roster around a scheme.

Consider this characterization of Bill Belichick’s coaching philosophy by Greg Bedard of SI in the context of Tampa Bay and their pitching strategy:

On both sides of the ball, the scheme is multiple and adaptable both to personnel and to specific opponents. The Patriots are never a team that just ‘does what it does’ on either side of the ball. There must be a level of unpredictability.

Recently acquired former top prospect Tyler Glasnow has been notably better in his 12 innings with the Rays, but the role the right-hander typically fills (the longest outing on his pitching day, usually after the opener) is a one that could create a competitive advantage for the Rays in player procurement.

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 8/15/18

12:06

tb.25: 12:05?! You’re turning into those radio shows that start 5 minutes late to get listeners tuning in at the top of the hour to listen to commercials

12:06

Kiley McDaniel: You’ve figured us out

12:07

Kiley McDaniel: Scout is wandering around but I am here to chat with you people. Lets see what you’ve got for me today

12:08

D Money: Rank these guys – Madrigal, India, Kelenic & Swaggerty

12:08

Kiley McDaniel: Gotta have one of these every week. All of our rankings are sortable and available for your perusal here: https://www.fangraphs.com/scoutboard.aspx

12:09

Keefths: What do you make of what Nolan Gorman has done thus far?
Is the boy legit ?

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 8/8/18

12:11

Kiley McDaniel: Hello! I’m now stationed home for a nice stretch after seeing East Coast Pro (2019/2020 draft class high school showcase in Hoover, AL) and Eric is currently taking the tail end of HS showcase season on at Area Codes in Long Beach, then the PG Game in San Diego.

12:12

Kiley McDaniel: Draft stuff takes a break after the Cape wraps up so the chillins can go back to school, then some HS stuff fires back up in october for a few events before they basically disappear until Late Jan/early Feb

12:13

Kiley McDaniel: I’ll be taking in some FSL, including seeing Brusdar tomorrow after being rained out twice already.

12:14

Kiley McDaniel: If you want to know where we rank any notable figure in non MLB baseball, we have a fresh update of THE BOARD right here: https://www.fangraphs.com/scoutboard.aspx

12:15

Kiley McDaniel: Lastly for the intro, I’m working on some stuff related to what should change about baseball–so throw some stuff at me here. I’m thinking changing the draft, int’l signings, marketing the players, salary cap/floor vs. luxury tax, blackouts on MLB.tv, pace of play, all the stuff that bothers you lemme hear it

12:15

Kiley McDaniel: Now to your questions

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 7/25/18

12:28

Kiley McDaniel: Sorry for the delay, just wrapping up a call. We’ll be rolling out the updated prospect lists in the coming days, leading up to the deadline.

12:29

Kiley McDaniel: ICYMI I did the Trade Value series last week and a think piece on trade value and which teams have the best trade ammunition https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/which-teams-could-even-trade-for-lindo…

12:29

Jeb: What is Travis Swaggerty’s upside?

12:30

Kiley McDaniel: 50 hit, 60 power, 50 D in CF. Could be a 3-4 win guy

12:30

Guest: Think about Jalen Beeks Rays just acquired

12:30

Kiley McDaniel: Just tweeted out some thoughts on that deal, TB’s competitive situation and Beeks specifically in  a thread here

 

Kiley McDaniel
@kileymcd

 

New Rays LHP Jalen Beeks has taken a unique path. He was a pretty generic smaller lefty at Arkansas w/fringe to ave… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
25 Jul 2018

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Which Teams Could Even Trade for Lindor and Ramirez?

“Probably none,” is mostly the answer to the question posed in the title.
(Photo: Erik Drost)

Last week, I took up the mantle from Dave Cameron and published this site’s 11th annual Trade Value series. If you’re new to the concept, the Trade Value series represents an attempt to rank the most valuable assets in baseball, accounting for each player’s current skill level, age, and health while factoring in controllable years or contract status (with lots of advice from scouts and execs). Few, if any, of the players are likely to be traded in reality; however, the rankings represent an opportunity to see how the industry is and isn’t valuing players.

An unusual thing happened in this year’s series — namely, the top two spots in the rankings went to a pair teammates, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. By my reckoning, the combined eight years for which their contracts are controlled by Cleveland are worth around $385 million*. They’re incredibly valuable.

*To arrive at this figure, I used ZiPS projected WAR, projected dollar-per-WAR inflation, discounted values for years further into the future, and a linear concept of dollar-per-WAR. This is more of a ballpark number since clubs on either extreme of the payroll spectrum may value each win much more or less than the average team that’s assumed in this sort of calculation.

In the wake of this year’s edition, I began thinking: would any clubs have sufficient ammunition for Cleveland even to consider a possible trade of Lindor and Ramirez? As with the Trade Value series itself, this is mostly a hypothetical question. The Indians, as a contending club, have little incentive to deal two of the majors’ best players. Still, I was curious if any club could put together enough assets even to make it possible.

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2018 Trade Value: #1 to #10

Jose Ramirez has considerable value even without his bat.
(Photo: Keith Allison)

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week of the All-Star Game — while (some of) the industry pauses for a metaphorical breather — to take stock of the top-50 trade assets in the sport. For more context on exactly what we’re trying to do here, see the honorable-mentions post linked at the top of the page.

For this post and the others in this series, I’ve presented a graphic (by way of the wizard Sean Dolinar) breaking down each player’s objective skill level (represented, in this case, by a five-year WAR projection from ZiPS), contract/team-control details, rank in last year’s series, and then year-by-year details of age/WAR/contract through 2023, although a couple players have control beyond those five years. For those readers who are partial to spreadsheets rather than blocks of text, I’ve also included all the players we’ve ranked so far are in grid format at the bottom of the post.

The ZiPS WAR forecasts did influence the rankings a bit: for players who were bunched together, it acted as an impartial tiebreaker of sorts, but the industry opinions I solicited drove the rankings.

With that said, let’s get to the top 10 spots on the Trade Value list this year.

Five-Year WAR +26.3
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2022
Previous Rank #35
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 25 +5.3 Arb1
2020 26 +5.5 Arb2
2021 27 +5.5 Arb3
2022 28 +5.0 Arb4
Arb

Severino bests Kluber for the top spot amongst pitchers on this year’s list. He is eight years younger than Kluber with an additional year of control and has been at least as good as the Cleveland right-hander this season, depending on how you measure it. Predictably, though, execs are concerned — as they are with basically any pitcher — that Severino’s next pitch could lead to a year-long DL stint and uncertainty after that. As a 24-year-old who averages 97.7 mph on his fastball, Severino is still a bit of a risky bet compared to comparable hitters. There’s a tier here from Nos. 7 to 13 that you could shuffle in a few different orders depending on your personal preferences or evals of these players.

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2018 Trade Value: #11 to #20

Corey Kluber lurks menacingly… in the hearts of major-league batters!
(Photo: Erik Drost)

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week of the All-Star Game — while (some of) the industry pauses to take a metaphorical breather — to take stock of the top-50 trade assets in the sport. For more context on exactly what we’re trying to do here, see the honorable-mentions post linked at the top of the page.

For this post and the others in this series, I’ve presented a graphic (by way of the wizard Sean Dolinar) breaking down each player’s objective skill level (represented, in this case, by a five-year WAR projection from ZiPS), contract/team-control details, rank in last year’s series, and then year-by-year details of age/WAR/contract through 2023, although a couple players have control beyond those five years. For those readers who are partial to spreadsheets rather than blocks of text, I’ve also included all the players we’ve ranked so far are in grid format at the bottom of the post.

The ZiPS WAR forecasts did influence the rankings a bit: for players who were bunched together, it acted as an impartial tiebreaker of sorts, but the industry opinions I solicited drove the rankings.

With that said, let’s get to the next 10 spots on the Trade Value list this year.

Five-Year WAR +17.2
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 22 +2.3 Pre-Arb
2020 23 +3.0 Pre-Arb
2021 24 +3.8 Arb1
2022 25 +4.0 Arb2
2023 26 +4.1 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Torres was our 12th-ranked prospect entering the year and, while that top tier has mostly stayed where they are (except for party-crashed Juan Soto), there’s been a shuffle of the name up top. Torres is one of the players to whom I refer in the introduction who wouldn’t have appeared on this list before the season began (although he would’ve been in the mix for an honorable mention) but whom it would be insane to exclude now. The difference? Just 63 big-league games. If Torres had no pedigree and was pulling some Shane Spencer or Bo Hart business, this wouldn’t be the case, as his age, pedigree, and track record have all suggested this sort of thing was on the table.

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2018 Trade Value: #21 to #30

Noah Syndergaard’s velocity is a mixed blessing in terms of long-term value.
(Photo: Keith Allison)

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week of the All-Star Game — while the industry pauses to take a metaphorical breather — to take stock of the top-50 trade assets in the sport. For more context on exactly what we’re trying to do here, see the honorable-mentions post linked at the top of the page.

For this post and the others in this series, I’ve presented a graphic (by way of the wizard Sean Dolinar) breaking down each player’s objective skill level (represented, in this case, by a five-year WAR projection from ZiPS), contract/team-control details, rank in last year’s series, and then year-by-year details of age/WAR/contract through 2023, although a couple players have control beyond those five years. For those readers who are partial to spreadsheets rather than blocks of text, I’ve also included all the players we’ve ranked so far are in grid format at the bottom of the post.

The ZiPS WAR forecasts did influence the rankings a bit: for players who were bunched together, it acted as an impartial tiebreaker of sorts, but the industry opinions I solicited drove the rankings.

With that said, let’s get to the next 10 spots on the Trade Value list this year.

Five-Year WAR +20.8
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2023
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 25 +3.1 Pre-Arb
2020 26 +4.0 Pre-Arb
2021 27 +4.3 Arb1
2022 28 +4.6 Arb2
2023 29 +4.8 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

Ohtani was ticketed before the season to appear much higher than this, but some concern about an imperfect UCL has now turned to what most feel is an inevitable Tommy John surgery at some point during the course of his six controlled years. If you remove much of this year on the mound from his cost-controlled seasons, take away another 12-18 months for surgery, and add to that some uncertainty about whether the stuff/feel/stamina comes all the way back, and we’re now talking about three or four years of a premium but somewhat risky talent. If you look around, that’s roughly where he’s landed as far as comps. While the expectation of health has shifted south a bit since Opening Day, the evaluation of his talent has moved north a bit, both as a pitcher and hitter, following his uneven looks in spring training.

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Kiley McDaniel Chat – 7/18/18

12:09

Kiley McDaniel: Hello and welcome to this baseball chat. First some links

12:09

Kiley McDaniel: Eric wrote about how African American players stood out at the Futures Game and also in the 2019 draft class and what that could mean: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-futures-game-was-black/

12:10

Kiley McDaniel: And I’m currently going through the annual trade value rankings, with 21 thru 30 likely getting posted during this chat: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2018-trade-value-31-to-40/

12:10

Tony Womack: Sanchez’s WAR projections seemed low. Would his ranking differ if he was projected 3-4 WAR?

12:11

Kiley McDaniel: Struck me as a little low as well. The WAR figures for catchers impact the rankings the least, since they don’t include framing and the non-WAR abilities that catchers bring to the table (handling a staff, mental game, etc.) are the most notable of any other position.

12:11

Sats: Is Victor Victor Mesa a potential top 25 prospect, and what kind of grades would you put on his tools

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2018 Trade Value: #31 to #40

Jose Altuve will not be constrained by your “aging curves.”
(Photo: Keith Allison)

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week of the All-Star Game — while the industry pauses to take a metaphorical breather — to take stock of the top-50 trade assets in the sport. For more context on exactly what we’re trying to do here, see the honorable-mentions post linked at the top of the page.

For this post and the others in this series, I’ve presented a graphic (by way of the wizard Sean Dolinar) breaking down each player’s objective skill level (represented, in this case, by a five-year WAR projection from ZiPS), contract/team-control details, rank in last year’s series, and then year-by-year details of age/WAR/contract through 2023, although a couple players have control beyond those five years. For those readers who are partial to spreadsheets rather than blocks of text, I’ve also included all the players we’ve ranked so far are in grid format at the bottom of the post.

The ZiPS WAR forecasts did influence the rankings a bit: for players who were bunched together, it acted as an impartial tiebreaker of sorts, but the industry opinions I solicited drove the rankings.

With that said, let’s get to the next 10 spots on the Trade Value list this year.

Five-Year WAR +14.5
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 23 +2.8 Pre-Arb
2020 24 +3.0 Pre-Arb
2021 25 +3.0 Arb1
2022 26 +2.8 Arb2
2023 27 +2.9 Arb3
Pre-Arb
Arb

I feel like I’m supposed to kick this off with a Ferris Bueller reference, but I couldn’t come up with anything fitting. Walker is one of the rare prospects who gets the coveted “has a chance to become be an ace” label that’s only true of a handful of pitchers on Earth at a given time. For all the (rightful) handwringing about how scouts don’t truly understand upside when guys like Joses Altuve or Ramirez can emerge as the best hitters in the game after never appearing on a top-100 list, the group of aces who weren’t at some point described as a potential ace is basically just Cliff Lee, and he was touted in the minors.

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2018 Trade Value: #41 to #50

Max Scherzer’s contract renders him an option only for big-market clubs.
(Photo: Keith Allison)

As is the annual tradition at FanGraphs, we’re using the week of the All-Star Game — while the industry pauses to take a metaphorical breather — to take stock of the top-50 trade assets in the sport. For more context on exactly what we’re trying to do here, see the honorable-mentions post linked at the top of the page.

For this post and the four to follow, I’ll present a graphic (by way of the wizard Sean Dolinar) breaking down each player’s objective skill level (represented, in this case, by a five-year WAR projection from ZiPS), contract/team-control details, rank in last year’s series, and then year-by-year details of age/WAR/contract through 2023, although a couple players have control beyond those five years. For those readers who are partial to spreadsheets rather than blocks of text, I’ll also include all the players we’ve ranked so far are in grid format at the bottom of the post.

The ZiPS WAR forecasts did influence the rankings a bit: for players who were bunched together, it acted as an impartial tiebreaker of sorts, but the industry opinions I solicited drove the rankings.

With that said, let’s get to the final 10 spots on the Trade Value list this year.

Five-Year WAR +16.3
Guaranteed Dollars
Team Control Through 2024
Previous Rank
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2019 22 +2.2 Pre-Arb
2020 23 +3.0 Pre-Arb
2021 24 +3.7 Pre-Arb
2022 25 +3.7 Arb1
2023 26 +3.7 Arb2
Pre-Arb
Arb

This last spot, as I’m sure was true on all of the versions of the list Dave did, was a tough to decide upon. As you can see from the honorable mentions, basically every type of player has a solid candidate for this spot. One could argue on behalf of Matt Olson, for example, that he’s a similar player to Tucker, has just one fewer year of control, and has already posted 3.6 WAR in his first 167 games. That said, Tucker seems to get a bit of a boost from the industry because of his recent call-up and that isn’t all nonsense: calling a top prospect up to a contending team before there’s any incentives by way of service time suggests the things non-Astros people know about Tucker (mental makeup, etc.) are positive.

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2018 Trade Value: Honorable Mentions

The industry places Javy Baez and Manny Machado just outside the top-50 players by trade value.
(Photo: Keith Allison)

All-Star week has arrived, which means a lot of things, like that the races for the 2018 postseason have begun to take shape (at least in the NL, where postseason races exist) and also that many of those who work in baseball are currently taking rushed, abbreviated vacations. Around here, though, it marks the time for a different tradition — namely, the start our annual Trade Value series.

The inimitable Dave Cameron did this list for 13 years, 10 of them for this website. He’s now moved on the Padres, though, and FanGraphs has somehow ended up with me in his place. This list wouldn’t be possible without the model established by Cameron, nor the help of Sean Dolinar, Dan Szymborski, and Carson Cistulli in putting together this year’s series. A special thanks is also due to industry friends who put up with much rougher early versions of this list, were generous with their time, and helped whip it into shape.

For those new to the series, it marks an attempt to answer the question “Who would bring back the most in trade if he were put on the market before the deadline?” What’s notable about this list — as opposed to the prospect types I assemble with Eric Longenhagen — is that it’s the only one for which my opinion doesn’t matter. The goal here isn’t for me to project anybody’s future value but rather to capture the opinions of the industry and how they value players in reality, right now.

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