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Good Scouting Was Behind the Hand/Mejia Trade

The Indians traded blocked top prospect Francisco Mejia to the Padres for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber today. It’s worth noting that the Dodgers, Indians, and Padres have all swung important deals within the past 24 hours and all have one thing in common: each has created depth by turning low-risk investments into real trade assets, via multiple avenues.

The Dodgers filled out the Machado deal with four prospects who weren’t touted until the last year or so. The Padres got Brad Hand on a waiver claim, while Cimber was completely off the radar until this year. The Indians, for their part, could afford to trade Mejia with Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez representing superior options behind the plate. These aren’t the only instances of these clubs turning nothing into something, but a couple instances ended up driving these big deals.

The Orioles have announced they will create better infrastructure to do this sort of thing more often going forward. There’s also been buzz in scouting circles today that at least one of the clubs that attempted to land Machado believes their package ultimately fell short because of substandard scouting and/or development.

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2018 International Prospect Board

We present the July 2, 2018 Board. It features scouting reports on players we have evaluated as a 40 FV prospect or better at the current moment (and we might add more reports over the weekend) as well as tool grades and some video. Specifics on the players in the class are reserved for the board itself, so head there if that’s all you’re looking for.

This is the second year of international amateur free agency under the current CBA, the rules of which were discussed here after they were first implemented. In short, teams now have a finite amount of money to spend on players. Here is each club’s cap for the period. The total pool space across baseball is about $159,000,000, or roughly $6 million above last year’s total.

Click here to see THE BOARD.

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The Updated Top 131 Prospect Rankings

With two months of the minor-league season now complete and the draft also finished, it’s an appropriate time to publish a revised version of our preseason top-100 list. The list is below. Notes about methodology and specific players appear below that.

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National League Draft Recap

Click here for American League recap.

Below is a collection of notes on each National League team’s draft class. We’ve tried to touch briefly on the players each club selected through the first five rounds or so, with observations on players selected after that at our discretion. Generally, these are the prospects we think both (a) have a chance to appear on a team prospect list sometime in the near future and also (b) are likely to sign. The number in parentheses after each player’s name is the round in which he was drafted.

For more details on many of these players, consult THE BOARD, which has tool grades, links to video, and various information about the players.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Link to Draft Selections

SoCal prep 2B Matt McLain (1) is a smaller guy with a plus hit tool and the speed/hands to play somewhere up the middle… Virginia CF Jake McCarthy (CBA) missed most of the spring with a broken wrist but has average raw power, plus speed, and feel to hit, though he’ll need a swing adjustment in pro ball… Illinois prep CF Alek Thomas (2) has a long track record of hitting and has good feel for the game but slipped because of concerns about a lack of physicality. That won’t matter if he hits like proponents think he will… Kansas RHP Jackson Goddard (3) is a power arm who flashes electric stuff and likely lands in relief… Wright State RHP Ryan Weiss (4) shows solid-average stuff, has a back-end-starter profile… Oregon RHP Matt Mercer (5) is a Driveline guy who throws with high effort up to 97 mph. He has four pitches, but the changeup is way ahead of the breaking balls and he may end up in relief… Florida prep RHP Levi Kelly (8) is maxed out and is a fringe athlete, but he’s up to 96 mph and flashes a plus slider at times… Florida State LHP Tyler Holton (9) had Tommy John surgery this spring but flashed solid-average stuff and feel when healthy… Florida prep SS Blaze Alexander (11) has power, a 70 arm, and a chance to play shortstop but has had swing-and-miss issues against good pitching… Kentucky RHP Justin Lewis (12) is ultra lanky, sitting 89-93 mph with an above-average changeup and enough breaking ball to stick as a starter.

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American League Draft Recap

Click here for National League recap.

Below is a collection of notes on each American League team’s draft class. We’ve tried to touch briefly on the players each club selected through the first five rounds or so, with observations on players selected after that at our discretion. Generally, these are the prospects we think both (a) have a chance to appear on a team prospect list sometime in the near future and also (b) are likely to sign. The number in parentheses after each player’s name is the round in which he was drafted.

For more details on many of these players, consult THE BOARD, which has tool grades, links to video, and various information about the players.

Baltimore Orioles
Link to Draft Selections

Every year, a few of the high-school pitchers sitting in the 88-92 range the summer before their draft year have a huge uptick in stuff over the winter. This year, Baltimore first-rounder Grayson Rodriguez (1) was one of them, and he can really spin a breaking ball… Teams offered Oregon State SS Cadyn Grenier (2) seven figures coming out of high school but couldn’t quite cut a deal. His bat hasn’t developed as hoped in college, but he does have at least average raw power, is a plus-plus runner, and can play short… Arkansas righty Blaine Knight (3) was draft-eligible last year. He sits 91-93, will flash a plus slider, and could be a No. 4/5 starter… Prep lefty Drew Rom (4) has feel for three pitches and will touch 93… Iowa OF Rob Neustrom (5) is a corner-only guy with great control of the strike zone and above-average raw power… UCF RHP J.J. Montgomery (7) worked 92-96 this spring with an average changeup and fringey slider… UNC C Cody Roberts (11) is just an okay hitter but has a howitzer and is solid behind the plate… UCSB SS Clay Fisher (12) looked like a second-round pick last spring before multiple injuries sidetracked him and sapped his athleticism, hopefully just temporarily.

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Day One Draft Recap

Below are brief recaps of each team’s selections on day one of the draft. Remember, there’s more information concerning each of these players on THE BOARD, including video, tool grades, and other ephemera, like top-100 ranking for the elite players. We have some thoughts on each club’s first-day picks, some more than others, as well as our best available players at the end of the post.

We ranked 130 players in order, then ranked them just within their demographic groups for the next tier; those players are denoted as “3-5,” while the only player we didn’t rank at all yesterday, Michael Grove, is an NR (not ranked). You can also look at the FV of each prospect and approximate where he will go on their organization’s prospect list by clicking over to the minor-league side of our rankings here.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Pick Rank FV First Last Pos Age Ht Wt School Strengths
25 63 40 Matt McLain 2B 18.8 5’10 175 Beckman HS Plus hit, run, MIF
39 49 40+ Jake McCarthy CF 20.8 6’2 195 Virginia CF type, hit over power
63 35 45 Alek Thomas CF 18.1 5’11 175 Mt Carmel HS Polished CF. Bat-to-ball.
Two-high school bats with advanced hit tools and a buy-low on McCarthy, who was hurt for much of 2018 and could be considered a comfortable first round talent when healthy. McLain was a potential signability risk (UCLA) and ranked 40 spots beneath where he was selected; we heard he wouldn’t have made it to their next pick.

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2018 MLB Mock Draft v 3.1

Our previous mock went two full rounds and you can see that here. Remember, you can learn about the players we talk about here on our 2018 Draft Board.

1. Detroit Tigers – Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

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2018 MLB Draft Chat

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6:49

Eric A Longenhagen: Hello and welcome to the FanGraphs 2018 MLB Draft chat.

6:51

Eric A Longenhagen: Here is our last mock. Fingers crossed. https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2018-mlb-mock-draft-v-3-1/

6:52

Eric A Longenhagen: And here is our draft board: https://www.fangraphs.com/scoutboard.aspx?draft=2018mlb&type=0&pos=all…

6:52

Eric A Longenhagen: Things still sounded unsettled as of a few hours ago, so there’s still a chance things totally blow up at the top of the draft, but we’d say it’s unlikely.

6:53

Eric A Longenhagen: We’ll be answering your questions throughout the evening and providing live analysis as things unfold.

6:57

Kiley McDaniel: Hearing it will go Mize-Bart-Bohm at the top, as expected

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2018 MLB Mock Draft v 3.0

Below is what will probably be our final full-text mock draft for 2018. Unless, over the weekend, something happens that necessitates longer explanation, a final mock on Monday will probably just have names and skeleton text. We think Casey Mize remains the favorite to go first, with the only potential pitfalls being a Mize injury at regionals or that Detroit reaches a breaking point with Mize’s bonus demands. We don’t think that scenario is likely, but that it has something like a 5-10% chance to happen at this point, so we’ve included the way we think the dominoes fall if it does happen, which ends up being only four picks changing. Remember, you can learn about the players we talk about here on our 2018 Draft Board.

1. Detroit Tigers – Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

Less likely alternate scenario: Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech

If something happens with Mize, then we think the pick is Joey Bart, but ultimately we think Detroit will pick Mize and sign him for a bonus between $7.4 million (slot at 2) and $8.1 million (slot at 1), likely toward the lower end of that range. The Tigers have been tied to Georgia prep center fielder Parker Meadows, Pennsylvania prep center fielder Mike Siani, and Mississippi prep righty J.T. Ginn for their second pick. Wisconsin OF Jarred Kelenic has been mentioned as a name they’d like to move back there as well, but we don’t think that’s feasible as he seems signable and has too many suitors between here and Detroit’s next pick.

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Introducing the 2018 MLB Draft Board

Today we’ve rolled out the 2018 MLB Draft version of THE BOARD, but rather than just point you to an article explaining how the minor-league version works, we’ll take a second to go over the differences between the draft and minor-league versions.

Obviously, the amount of information we have for these players is different than what we have on minor leaguers, so we think the presentation of our information should reflect that reality. While you can look at a pro prospect’s stat line and get a quick idea of how advanced they are, amateur stats (particularly outside of the top couple college conferences) often don’t tell a coherent story. This, along with the varying types of prospects in the draft, means that we need to be more specific about the indicators of projection rather than just our median tool grades. We capture that, in the minor leagues, with ‘variance’; for amateur players, however, we felt we needed more detail so that it’s not necessary to memorize every report to quickly compare players.

This is manifested in the columns marked Athleticism, Frame, Performance, and Delivery. All four apply to pitchers and the first three apply to hitters. Every player is graded on a five-point scale of either —, -, +, ++ or neutral (blank). In addition to age and some other factors not captured here, these factors are influential for us when attempting to craft the rankings. It should help better establish, at a reader’s glance, the relative strengths and weaknesses of each player. Sometimes that’s necessary, as the tool grades often end up so close to 50 that it’s hard to differentiate these players without breaking down mechanics on video or memorizing all the small separators in our reports. This also more closely mirrors how big league draft rooms work, with selective categories (like 95+ mph fastball, scoring well on a mental skills test, etc.) getting their own stickers put on specific draft magnets so that separating qualities beyond tools can be identified more quickly after the first few rounds.

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2018 MLB Mock Draft v 2.0

It’s been almost a month since our last (partial) mock draft, so it’s probably time to collect all of our notes and take another try at this. Updated, expanded, and sortable draft rankings will be coming soon, but you can get an idea of the industry consensus rankings from all the clues and team connections below as a teaser. As we’ve mentioned many times before, this draft stands out most for the unusually prep-heavy concentration of talent in the picks 20 to 50 area. For reference, here’s the full draft order.

1. Detroit Tigers – Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
Mize is still the heavy favorite here, with the backup options appearing to be Georgia Tech C Joey Bart and Florida RHP Brady Singer, while Wisconsin prep CF Jarred Kelenic has faded from contention. Teams outside the top five picks don’t expect to get Mize’s MRI (he missed time last spring with an arm issue and some clubs were worried about his health as far back as high school), and it’s possible no one other than Detroit will get it. GM Al Avila saw the Mize/Singer matchup three weekends ago; saw Bart, Georgia prep CF Parker Meadows, and Wichita State 3B Alec Bohm two weekends ago; and Oregon State 2B Nick Madrigal last week. Mississippi prep RHP J.T. Ginn is a target in the second round, as are any of the leftover prep outfielders, like Pennsylvania prep CF Mike Siani.

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Eric Longenhagen & Kiley McDaniel Chat – 5/10/18

2:01

Eric A Longenhagen: Howdy from a Morristown, NJ Starbucks where I’ve stopped on the way to see Lenny Torres (which I’m growing worried is going to be rained out).

2:02

Eric A Longenhagen: Kiley will be joining momentarily, but I’m gonna get rolling now as I will probably hve to bounce sooner than Kiley to get to the game.

2:02

Paul: Wasn’t there a new mock promised at some point soon?!

2:03

Eric A Longenhagen: Early next week after I’ve seen who’s at the games I’m seeing this weekend and we make some more cals.

2:03

Kiley McDaniel: And I just got home to Orlando where I’m scrambling to run errands and settle in for some serious content putout (and also UCF/Oklahoma this weekend)

2:03

Dave: Any chance the Braves go with Kelenic at 8?

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2018 MLB Mock Draft v 1.0

With the event itself still over a month and a half away, it’s still too early to say with any type of certainty which clubs will select which players in June’s draft. That said, we’ve become familiar enough with industry consensus and player buzz in recent weeks to take a stab at projecting the first 10 picks.

As mentioned yesterday in our updated draft rankings, signability is everything in a hard-capped draft, and most prospects haven’t even met with their advisors yet to set a number, though there have been indications in many cases.

The depth of the class is found in high-school talent in the 20-50 overall range. With the top of the draft unsettled — and with a couple teams featuring lots of extra picks and pool money (draft order) — there will likely be a pick or two among the top 15 signed for well below slot to set up some overslot bonuses at later picks. With the specific dope on every pick getting spottier around the 10th pick, we cut things off there, but there’s plenty of buzz on that 20-50 range as clubs line up contingency options should the board blow up for their first pick.

1. Detroit Tigers – Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

All of our intel suggests that Mize will be the pick here, provided he doesn’t get hurt and his medical comes back fine. It’s not a 100% slam dunk, but that scenario seems well over 50% likely. In the event things go sideways with Mize, Wisconsin prep CF Jarred Kelenic is the second option and would be signable for a lower bonus, but the weather and competition he’s facing this spring has made him tougher to scout than some other similarly ranked prospects. Wichita State 3B Alec Bohm is another player who has been mentioned here, but he seems like a longshot at this point.

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Updated 2018 MLB Draft Rankings

It’s still a little early in the process to reach any firm conclusions, but with the field beginning to take shape, now seems like an appropriate time to update our preseason draft rankings. This list came together after speaking with dozens of scouts over the last few months and seeing most of the players ourselves either last summer or this spring. We went as deep as we felt was appropriate given the information on hand. In this case, that ended up being 55 players — or, most of the draft’s top two rounds. We’ve noted the prep players whom we’ve heard will be a challenge to sign (Adams, Banfield, Denaburg, Hoglund, Kloffenstein, Rocker, Thomas, and Wilcox), although typically, with players ranked this high, all but one or two of will end up reaching an agreement with a club.

We will publish an early mock draft later this week with some player/team connections we’ve been hearing, but it won’t be the whole first round since most teams in the top 10 are still unsure of who will be on the board or what their asking prices will be. In a hard-slotted, bonus-dependent world, these prices dictate most of the first round and almost all of the picks outside of the top ten.

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MLB Draft Rankings: 2018, 2019, and 2020

To answer your first question: no, there isn’t a slam-dunk, generational talent among the prospects ranked below. We’ll have to wait a little longer, it seems, for the next Bryce Harper to emerge. Nevertheless, the 2018 draft class is generally seen as deep and strong, particularly in prep pitching. There isn’t a player yet on whom we’d currently put a 55 FV (that is, the lowest grade received by the first 42 prospects on the recently published top-100 list), but almost every draft class ends up with a couple of those, and obviously these names will shift around during the season.

For reference, last year’s draft ended up with one low 60 FV and five players with 55 FV grades by the time the offseason arrived. So expecting three to five of the following prospects to emerge in the top 50 of next year’s Top 100 seems reasonable. As you might guess, the top 10-15 prospects are pretty tightly packed. With most of the early-season action occurring in Arizona, Florida, and SoCal, we’ll both be out to get lots of early looks this spring to quickly start sorting more out.

It’s too early to do a mock draft that would amount to anything much greater than a collection of guesses (here’s the draft order, for reference), but something to monitor is the presence of those clubs that lean risk-averse/analytic/etc. in the top half of the first round. In light of certain trends within the game — and, in particular, what appears to be a greater interest in near-ready, low-end-regular types — this could push college players (and, specifically, college bats) up into the high first round. Both Oregon State and Missouri State have TrackMan units at their home parks, so clubs will have multiple years of data on Madrigal and Eierman to aid their evaluations. Hitters from Virginia have benefited in much the same way from strong, large-sample TrackMan data in recent drafts.

Just as the recent minor-league top-100 list prominently featured the sons of Dante Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero, and Fernando Tatis, the lists that follow also feature quite a bit in the way of bloodlines. We have the sons of Jeff Conine, Troy Percival, David Weathers, and Bobby Witt, along with the younger brothers of Pirates Triple-A RHP Nick Kingham, Rays Double-A 1B/LF Joe McCarthy, Padres Double-A 1B Josh Naylor, and Blue Jays Triple-A CF Dalton Pompey. Kumar Rocker’s father, meanwhile, is Tracy Rocker, a former NFL defensive tackle and current defensive line coach for Tennessee.

We could have ranked more players or included more names for each list (especially projectable high-school arms), but we chose to limit ourselves in this preseason installment. Things will obviously expand as we get more information. We’ll have a slightly different presentation of the list than in years past, to more closely resemble the sort of information at what clubs are looking in draft rooms. We’ll both be at games starting this week and will keep you guys updates with tweets and InstaGraphs posts (along with longer posts when warranted) and updated rankings a couple more times leading up to the draft.

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Ranking 2017’s Graduated Prospects

We continue Prospect Week 2018 by trying to address a question frequently asked by fans of teams that have just graduated multiple high-level prospects — namely, where would those graduated prospects rank if they were still eligible for the Top 100? We usually don’t have that answer ready off the top of our heads since, as prospect analysts, we aren’t thinking about those players very much. We decided that wasn’t okay, though. So now, whenever we do an updated top-100 or midseason list, we will also provide an update on the prospects who have lost their eligibility in the previous/current year.

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The Making of the Top 100 Prospects List

Hi, there. Eric here to tee you up for the conversation you’re about to read. Kiley and I wanted to be as open as possible about how we went about compiling our overall top-100 prospects list (and, it follows, how we compile each organization’s list of prospects). Below we provide some broad exposition about how we determine a prospect’s grade, as well as how we’ve reflected on and tweaked our methodology. We don’t necessarily believe the way we do it is objectively correct, but we want you to know we’re searching for the best way to evaluate players, especially as (for better or worse) major-league baseball evolves.

*****

Kiley McDaniel
So, let’s talk a little bit about how we determine an FV for a prospect. First, readers may want to check out this link about the connection between FV and WAR.

We can start with Colin Moran here since he’s essentially big-league ready. Once we get beyond players like that and into lower-level players, aspects of the process become hypothetical and vague.

Eric Longenhagen
We look to current MLB players as statistical baselines for this. We know the average MLB regular produces 2.0 to 2.5 WAR annually. Last year, both Chase Headley and Mike Moustakas were in that range, though of course they got there in totally different ways. We’ll compile every bit of information we can (scouting reports of our own or from people in baseball, any relevant data from the growing pie of player evaluation) and get an idea of what kind of output a prospect projects to have at maturity, then compare that to baselines created by individual players or league averages at a given position and things like that.

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Here’s Some Lower-Ranked Prospects We Love

When publishing our lists — and, in particular, the top 100 — we’re frequently asked who, among the players excluded from this year’s version, might have the best chance of appearing on next year’s. This post represents our best attempt to answer that question.

When attempting to decide which prospects to include here, we ended up with a collection mostly of 45 Future Value players with some 40s mixed in. We’ve separated those players into groups or “types” to make it a little more digestible.

The aim for us here is to focus on guys who we like, but to whom we can’t yet give a 50 FV because they haven’t done enough. Think of them like stocks we are buying. (Or, does that make it insider trading since the measure of success is our own rankings?)

Lower-Level Starting Pitchers
Pitchers who project to be solid MLB starters and who have already proven themselves to some degree in the upper minors tend to be rated a 50 FV or better, rendering them ineligible for this list. The starting prospects here are all lower-level arms and various shades of one type: guys with electric stuff, who have a chance to start, but who face questions about whether they can do it long term. Some are more electric than others and Paddack, for example, doesn’t fit that description: he’s coming off of Tommy John surgery and his best pitch is his changeup. Without surgery, he likely would’ve posted strong enough numbers to appear on the actual top 100.

Edward Cabrera, RHP, Miami Marlins
Dylan Cease, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Minnesota Twins
D.L. Hall, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Luis Medina, RHP, New York Yankees
Tobias Myers, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Chris Paddack, RHP, San Diego Padres
Cionel Perez, LHP, Houston Astros
Hector Perez, RHP, Houston Astros
JoJo Romero, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Jose Soriano, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

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2018 Top 100 Prospects Chat

12:01

Eric A Longenhagen: Good morning from Arizona and welcome, esteemed readers.

12:01

Eric A Longenhagen: Reminder that the top 100 is here: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2018-top-100-prospects/

12:01

Kiley McDaniel: I’m also here!

12:01

Eric A Longenhagen: You probably already knew that but, if you haven’t already, read the opening graph of the hundred which might answer a lot of your questions already.

12:02

Eric A Longenhagen: Okay, let’s begin.

12:02

Lawgiver: Acuna listed as CF, his ACTUAL position, but with a 45 present defense?  I didn’t buy into the hype from other outlets that suggest he might push Inciarte off of CF, but I haven’t heard anything about him being below average defensively.

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2018 Top 100 Prospects

Below is our list of the top-100 prospects in baseball. Scouting summaries were compiled with information provided by available data, industry sources, as well as from our own observations.

Note that prospects are ranked by number but also lie within tiers demarcated by their Future Value grades. The FV grade is more important than the ordinal rankings. For example, the gap between prospect No. 5 on this list, Fernando Tatis Jr., and prospect No. 35, Corbin Burnes, is 30 spots, and there’s a substantial difference in talent there. The gap between Ke’Bryan Hayes (No. 56) and Leody Taveras (No. 86), meanwhile, is also 30 numerical places, but the difference in talent is relatively small. Below the list is a brief rundown of names of 50 FV prospects who didn’t make the 100. This same comparative principle applies to them.

As a quick explanation, variance means the range of possible outcomes in the big leagues, in terms of peak season. If we feel like a prospect could reasonably have a best big league season of anywhere from one to five wins/WAR, then that would be “high” whereas someone like Colin Moran where it’s something like two to three wins/WAR is “low.” High variance can be read as good since it allows for lots of ceiling, or bad since it allows for a lower floor. Your risk tolerance could lead you to sort by variance within a given FV tier if you feel strongly about variance. Here is a primer about the connection between FV and WAR.

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