Comparing and Contrasting This Year’s Prospect Rankings

A few weeks ago, lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen published FanGraphs’ top-100 prospect list. Baseball America recently performed a similar exercise, as did Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law, MLB.com and John Sickels.

On the whole, there’s a lot of consensus among these rankings. Although the order varied, all eight of Andrew Benintendi, Dansby Swanson, Amed RosarioAlex ReyesGleyber Torres, Eloy JimenezYoan Moncada,  Brendan Rodgers and Austin Meadows ranked within each outlet’s top 20. Fifty-nine players made every single top 100. The point of this article, however, isn’t to celebrate those similarities, but to point out the differences. In what follows, I identify the prospects that each outlet ranks higher and lower than the “establishment,” and look at how the various outlets compare to each other. Brace yourselves for an onslaught of tables and plots.

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List of Lists

Firstly, here’s the consensus prospect list. I hard-coded all unranked players as having ranked 210th, since Sickels ranked just over 200 names. The “Avg. Rank” column below is a simple average of all the rankings.

That calculation is a bit flawed, however, as it assumes the correlation between rank and value to have a linear relationship. In reality, it’s far from linear. For example, every evaluator would agree that the gap in talent between the No. 1 and No. 20 prospect is much larger than the gap between the No. 20 and No. 40 prospect. Jeff Zimmerman quantified this phenomenon in last year’s Hardball Times Annual and came away with a formula for estimating a prospect’s value using his overall rank. By applying Zimmerman’s formula to this year’s lists, I created a consensus-top-prospect list sorted by expected WAR value.

Consensus Propsect List
Rank Name Avg. Rank Max Min Consensus Value
1 Andrew Benintendi 2 3 1 22.5
2 Yoan Moncada 5 17 1 16.7
3 Dansby Swanson 3 4 2 15.8
4 Alex Reyes 7 14 1 13.4
5 Amed Rosario 5 8 3 12.5
6 Gleyber Torres 7 15 3 11.6
7 J.P. Crawford 11 27 4 10.1
8 Austin Meadows 9 20 5 10.0
9 Victor Robles 11 22 7 9.2
10 Cody Bellinger 13 26 6 8.6
11 Eloy Jimenez 12 15 9 8.2
12 Tyler Glasnow 17 26 6 7.8
13 Rafael Devers 15 22 9 7.7
14 Ozzie Albies 17 35 10 7.7
15 Lucas Giolito 15 25 10 7.6
16 Brendan Rodgers 15 19 11 7.5
17 Michael Kopech 21 36 7 7.0
18 Nick Senzel 21 30 9 6.8
19 Willy Adames 21 43 10 6.8
20 Anderson Espinoza 20 25 10 6.7
21 Lewis Brinson 24 38 12 6.4
22 Francis Martes 25 37 15 6.2
23 Manuel Margot 25 35 18 6.1
24 Yadier Alvarez 29 49 12 6.0
25 Josh Bell 30 50 14 5.7
26 Clint Frazier 29 39 16 5.7
27 Francisco Mejia 29 40 18 5.7
28 Mitch Keller 31 48 16 5.7
29 Mickey Moniak 32 56 17 5.6
30 Jose De Leon 38 73 8 5.6
31 Brent Honeywell 33 54 22 5.4
32 Jason Groome 35 45 20 5.3
33 Corey Ray 36 48 20 5.2
34 Blake Rutherford 39 49 22 5.0
35 Kyle Tucker 41 63 19 5.0
36 Franklin Barreto 46 67 12 5.0
37 Josh Hader 43 71 19 4.9
38 Vladimir Guerrero 63 210 20 4.9
39 Kolby Allard 43 67 26 4.8
40 Reynaldo Lopez 63 210 28 4.8
41 Kyle Lewis 47 70 29 4.6
42 Jorge Alfaro 51 84 32 4.5
43 Cal Quantrill 63 97 23 4.4
44 Alex Verdugo 52 66 31 4.4
45 Jeff Hoffman 53 96 36 4.4
46 Bradley Zimmer 75 210 22 4.3
47 Riley Pint 55 83 31 4.3
48 James Kaprielian 56 87 28 4.3
49 Amir Garrett 56 81 32 4.3
50 Ian Happ 56 74 28 4.3
51 Nick Gordon 53 66 42 4.3
52 Ronald Acuna 75 210 31 4.2
53 Leody Taveras 70 158 35 4.1
54 Triston Mckenzie 61 85 43 4.0
55 Robert Gsellman 102 210 17 4.0
56 Kevin Newman 67 106 33 4.0
57 Kevin Maitan 69 100 32 4.0
58 Carson Kelly 67 85 39 3.9
59 Raimel Tapia 68 90 42 3.9
60 Isan Diaz 68 93 41 3.9
61 Braxton Garrett 75 160 42 3.9
62 Aaron Judge 75 145 44 3.8
63 Tyler O’Neill 100 210 36 3.8
64 AJ Puk 71 93 51 3.8
65 Delvin Perez 78 115 33 3.7
66 Matt Manning 72 88 56 3.7
67 Ian Anderson 74 96 52 3.7
68 Sean Reid-Foley 74 96 49 3.7
69 Hunter Renfroe 89 210 42 3.7
70 Dominic Smith 93 210 29 3.7
71 Yohander Mendez 89 210 39 3.7
72 Justus Sheffield 77 97 52 3.7
73 Jorge Mateo 91 210 43 3.6
74 Anthony Alford 77 108 55 3.6
75 Luis Ortiz 78 122 57 3.6
76 Zack Collins 78 95 55 3.6
77 Mike Soroka 92 210 48 3.6
78 Sean Newcomb 92 210 44 3.6
79 David Paulino 108 210 38 3.6
80 Erick Fedde 107 210 47 3.5
81 Chance Sisco 83 113 57 3.5
82 Luke Weaver 130 210 30 3.4
83 German Marquez 114 210 52 3.3
84 Walker Buehler 109 210 40 3.3
85 Jesse Winker 117 210 49 3.3
86 Tyler Beede 103 210 62 3.3
87 Franklin Perez 120 210 54 3.2
88 Max Fried 134 210 50 3.2
89 Albert Almora 123 210 64 3.1
90 Dylan Cease 123 210 60 3.1
91 Sandy Alcantara 145 210 40 3.1
92 Stephen Gonsalves 126 210 56 3.1
93 Jake Bauers 140 210 63 3.0
94 Willie Calhoun 131 210 82 3.0
95 Luiz Gohara 142 210 70 3.0
96 Brandon Woodruff 134 210 80 2.9
97 Ariel Jurado 144 210 64 2.9
98 Carson Fulmer 144 210 67 2.9
99 Adrian Morejon 137 210 76 2.9
100 Jharel Cotton 144 210 71 2.9
101 Jahmai Jones 137 210 78 2.9
102 Justin Dunn 140 210 77 2.9
103 Thomas Szapucki 152 210 60 2.9
104 Fernando Tatis 161 210 47 2.9
105 Forrest Whitley 148 210 78 2.8
106 Grant Holmes 153 210 60 2.8
107 Christian Arroyo 151 210 69 2.8
108 Matt Chapman 151 210 81 2.8
109 Alex Kirilloff 153 210 93 2.8
110 Juan Soto 165 210 57 2.7
111 Robert Stephenson 155 210 87 2.7
112 Anthony Banda 156 210 88 2.7
113 Fernando Romero 165 210 65 2.7
114 Lucas Erceg 164 210 70 2.7
115 Ke’Bryan Hayes 159 210 74 2.7
116 Bobby Bradley 167 210 65 2.7
117 Richard Urena 167 210 66 2.7
118 Trevor Clifton 167 210 73 2.7
119 Casey Gillaspie 167 210 74 2.7
120 Trent Clark 168 210 67 2.7
121 Lourdes Gurriel 170 210 73 2.6
122 Albert Abreu 171 210 82 2.6
123 Nick Williams 184 210 51 2.6
124 Frankie Montas 171 210 86 2.6
125 Matt Strahm 175 210 72 2.6
126 Tyler Jay 173 210 98 2.6
127 Jack Flaherty 174 210 89 2.6
128 Yusniel Diaz 175 210 90 2.6
129 Franklyn Kilome 180 210 74 2.5
130 Cody Reed 183 210 69 2.5
131 Christin Stewart 178 210 92 2.5
132 Alec Hansen 179 210 97 2.5
133 Rowdy Tellez 179 210 95 2.5
134 Derek Fisher 182 210 83 2.5
135 A.J. Reed 187 210 72 2.5
136 Sixto Sanchez 184 210 80 2.5
137 Brett Phillips 188 210 75 2.5
138 Brady Aiken 188 210 77 2.5
139 Chance Adams 188 210 79 2.5
140 Domingo Acevedo 188 210 80 2.5
141 Andres Gimenez 189 210 82 2.5
142 Yulieski Gurriel 189 210 82 2.5
143 Kohl Stewart 190 210 87 2.5
144 Dustin Fowler 190 210 87 2.5
145 Adonis Medina 190 210 91 2.4
146 Jeimer Candelario 189 210 96 2.4
147 Luis Castillo 191 210 94 2.4
148 Anderson Tejeda 191 210 95 2.4
149 Tom Murphy 191 210 95 2.4
150 Josh Staumont 191 210 96 2.4
151 Sam Travis 191 210 98 2.4
152 Tyler Wade 192 210 101 2.4
153 Andrew Toles 192 210 101 2.4
154 Hunter Dozier 193 210 110 2.4
155 Harrison Bader 194 210 112 2.4
156 Dakota Hudson 195 210 118 2.4
157 Mauricio Dubon 195 210 120 2.4
158 Cody Sedlock 195 210 121 2.4
159 Magneuris Sierra 196 210 124 2.4
160 Touki Toussaint 196 210 125 2.4
161 Phil Bickford 196 210 126 2.4
162 Isael Soto 196 210 128 2.4
163 Andy Ibanez 197 210 129 2.4
164 Zack Burdi 197 210 130 2.4
165 Rob Kaminsky 197 210 131 2.4
166 Dane Dunning 197 210 132 2.4
167 Greg Allen 197 210 133 2.4
168 Domingo Leyba 197 210 134 2.4
169 Oscar De La Cruz 198 210 136 2.4
170 Jordan Sheffield 198 210 137 2.4
171 Matt Thaiss 199 210 141 2.4
172 Ryan Mcmahon 199 210 146 2.3
173 Juan Hillman 200 210 148 2.3
174 Jacob Nix 200 210 150 2.3
175 Austin Riley 200 210 151 2.3
176 Luis Urias 201 210 153 2.3
177 Daniel Gossett 201 210 154 2.3
178 Dinelson Lamet 201 210 156 2.3
179 Eric Lauer 202 210 159 2.3
180 Joey Wentz 202 210 161 2.3
181 Brandon Nimmo 202 210 162 2.3
182 Ramon Laureano 202 210 163 2.3
183 Chih-Wei Hu 202 210 164 2.3
184 Desmond Lindsay 203 210 166 2.3
185 Gavin Cecchini 203 210 168 2.3
186 Jacob Faria 203 210 169 2.3
187 Nick Neidert 203 210 170 2.3
188 Jon Harris 204 210 171 2.3
189 Dan Vogelbach 204 210 172 2.3
190 Bryan Reynolds 204 210 173 2.3
191 Teoscar Hernandez 204 210 174 2.3
192 Ty Blach 204 210 175 2.3
193 Jaime Schultz 204 210 176 2.3
194 Rhys Hoskins 205 210 177 2.3
195 Shedric Long 205 210 178 2.3
196 Andrew Suarez 205 210 179 2.3
197 Brock Stewart 205 210 180 2.3
198 Trey Mancini 205 210 181 2.3
199 Matt Olson 205 210 182 2.3
200 Marcos Diplan 206 210 183 2.3
201 Cristian Pache 206 210 185 2.3
202 Yu-Cheng Chang 206 210 186 2.3
203 Lewin Diaz 206 210 187 2.3
204 Jesus Sanchez 206 210 188 2.3
205 Max Povse 207 210 189 2.3
206 Renato Nunez 207 210 191 2.3
207 Daniel Robertson 207 210 192 2.3
208 Paul Dejong 207 210 193 2.3
209 Mark Zagunis 207 210 194 2.3
210 Taylor Clarke 208 210 195 2.3
211 Steven Okert 208 210 196 2.3
212 Keibert Ruiz 208 210 198 2.3
213 Josh Lowe 208 210 199 2.3
214 Nolan Jones 208 210 200 2.3
215 Dawel Lugo 209 210 201 2.3

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Players Liked and Disliked by Each Outlet

Next, let’s look at the prospects each outlet likes and dislikes relative to the industry consensus. I omitted players who were ranked within one spot of the average consensus rank. Although the difference between the No. 2 and No. 3 spot represents a large value gap, it doesn’t necessarily represent a large difference in evaluation if the evaluator regards the two as near equals. I threw my KATOH forecasts (the “stats-only” version) into the mix as well, just because.

Longenhagen Likes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Amed Rosario 3 5 2.9
Anderson Espinoza 10 20 2.3
Yadier Alvarez 12 24 2.3
Austin Meadows 5 8 2.2
Cal Quantrill 25 43 1.5
Delvin Perez 33 65 1.5
Corey Ray 20 33 1.4
Vladimir Guerrero 24 38 1.2
Sandy Alcantara 53 91 1.1
Matthew Strahm 72 125 1.1

Longenhagen Dislikes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Alex Reyes 6 4 -2.1
Tyler Glasnow 26 12 -2.0
Tyler O’Neill Unranked 63 -1.6
Rafael Devers 22 13 -1.4
Josh Bell 50 25 -1.4
Nick Senzel 30 18 -1.3
Sean Newcomb Unranked 78 -1.3
David Paulino Unranked 79 -1.3
Erick Fedde Unranked 80 -1.3
Mitch Keller 46 28 -1.2

*****

Baseball America Likes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Nick Senzel 9 18 2.6
Willy Adames 10 19 2.2
Cody Bellinger 7 10 1.9
Kyle Tucker 19 35 1.7
Vladimir Guerrero 20 38 1.7
Mickey Moniak 17 29 1.4
Francis Martes 15 22 1.3
Austin Meadows 6 8 1.3
Cody Reed 69 130 1.2
A.J. Reed 72 135 1.2

Baseball America Dislikes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Amed Rosario 8 5 -2.6
J.P. Crawford 12 7 -1.8
Robert Gsellman Unranked 55 -1.7
Lucas Giolito 25 15 -1.7
Michael Kopech 32 17 -1.7
Tyler Glasnow 23 12 -1.6
Yohander Mendez Unranked 71 -1.4
Victor Robles 13 9 -1.2
Cal Quantrill 96 43 -1.2
Walker Buehler Unranked 84 -1.1

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Baseball Prospectus Likes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Alex Reyes 1 4 11.9
J.P. Crawford 4 7 3.5
Robert Gsellman 17 55 3.0
Lewis Brinson 12 21 1.9
Josh Hader 19 37 1.8
Sandy Alcantara 40 91 1.7
Nick Williams 51 123 1.7
Clint Frazier 16 26 1.5
Juan Soto 57 110 1.4
Victor Robles 7 9 1.3

Baseball Prospectus Dislikes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Andrew Benintendi 3 1 -7.1
Yoan Moncada 5 2 -4.4
Gleyber Torres 15 6 -4.1
Cody Bellinger 26 10 -2.8
Amed Rosario 8 5 -2.6
Vladimir Guerrero Unranked 38 -2.6
Ozzie Albies 35 14 -2.6
Michael Kopech 36 17 -2.0
Mickey Moniak 56 29 -1.5
Dominic Smith Unranked 70 -1.4

*****
Note: Keith Law’s rankings are published behind a paywall and therefore not reproduced here; however, they can be found at ESPN Insider.

Keith Law Likes
Player Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Michael Kopech 17 3.5
Amed Rosario 5 2.9
Cody Bellinger 10 2.6
J.P. Crawford 7 2.2
Josh Bell 25 2.0
Gleyber Torres 6 1.9
Dominic Smith 70 1.9
Cal Quantrill 43 1.8
Fernando Tatis 104 1.6
Mitch Keller 28 1.6

Keith Law Dislikes
Player Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Yoan Moncada 2 -9.6
Alex Reyes 4 -4.4
Reynaldo Lopez 40 -2.5
Willy Adames 19 -2.1
Bradley Zimmer 46 -2.0
Jose De Leon 30 -2.0
Tyler Glasnow 12 -1.9
Ozzie Albies 14 -1.8
Tyler O’Neill 63 -1.6
Yadier Alvarez 24 -1.5

*****

MLB.com Likes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Gleyber Torres 3 6 3.8
Tyler Glasnow 8 12 2.1
Bradley Zimmer 22 46 2.0
Ian Happ 28 50 1.4
Kevin Maitan 32 57 1.4
Victor Robles 7 9 1.3
Ozzie Albies 10 14 1.3
Tyler O’Neill 36 63 1.2
Mickey Moniak 19 29 1.1
Hunter Renfroe 42 69 1.0

MLB.com Dislikes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Alex Reyes 14 4 -5.7
Ronald Acuna Unranked 52 -2.0
Robert Gsellman Unranked 55 -1.7
Yadier Alvarez 49 24 -1.6
Mitch Keller 48 28 -1.3
Cal Quantrill 97 43 -1.2
Nick Senzel 26 18 -1.0
Franklin Perez Unranked 87 -0.9
Max Fried Unranked 88 -0.9
Francisco Mejia 40 27 -0.9

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John Sickels Likes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Jose De Leon 8 30 4.3
Tyler Glasnow 6 12 3.5
Franklin Barreto 12 36 3.3
Luke Weaver 30 82 2.1
Rafael Devers 9 13 1.7
David Paulino 38 79 1.3
Ozzie Albies 10 14 1.3
Bobby Bradley 65 116 1.2
Richard Urena 66 117 1.1
Brady Aiken 77 138 1.1

John Sickels Dislikes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
J.P. Crawford 27 7 -4.3
Austin Meadows 20 8 -3.5
Victor Robles 22 9 -2.9
Leody Taveras 158 53 -1.5
Braxton Garrett 160 61 -1.3
Aaron Judge 145 62 -1.2
Lewis Brinson 33 21 -1.1
Cal Quantrill 92 43 -1.1
Jorge Alfaro 84 42 -1.1
Manuel Margot 35 23 -1.0

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KATOH Likes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Dylan Cozens 1 Unranked 11.5
Jake Bauers 5 93 8.5
Garrett Stubbs 10 Unranked 7.8
Vladimir Guerrero 3 38 7.6
Manuel Margot 2 23 7.5
Luis Arraez 12 Unranked 7.2
Thomas Szapucki 14 103 6.5
Matt Chapman 15 108 5.8
Tyler O’Neill 13 63 5.6
Brandon Nimmo 21 181 5.0

KATOH Dislikes
Player Rank Consensus Rank WAR Gap
Andrew Benintendi 7 1 -11.1
Yoan Moncada 36 2 -10.2
Dansby Swanson 17 3 -7.5
Alex Reyes 44 4 -7.2
Brendan Rodgers Unranked 16 -6.3
Amed Rosario 39 5 -6.2
Gleyber Torres 35 6 -5.1
Anderson Espinoza Unranked 20 -4.7
Corey Ray Unranked 33 -3.8
Yadier Alvarez Unranked 24 -3.6

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Comparison of Lists

Now that I’ve run through the specific players on whom the various outlets disagree, let’s take a step back and see just how much they differ on a more macro level. Below, you’ll find a correlation matrix that compares the prospect values implied by each outlet’s ranking.

Keep in mind that none of these correlations are necessarily good or bad. Going against the establishment is great if you’re high or low on the right players, but it could also be a bad thing if you stray from the mainstream on the wrong ones. The same goes for siding with the comparisons to KATOH. A player’s tools and performance are both critical pieces of information. Betting on the tools can absolutely be the best strategy in some cases, but at the same time, plenty of grinders have parlayed their minor-league successes into solid big-league careers. I don’t believe the above chart tells us anything about the quality of the rankings, but it’s interesting to look at nonetheless.

On the whole, there was relatively little dissonance between most of the rankings; however, the bright red squares indicate the areas of relative disagreement. The brightest red square is at the intersection of Baseball Prospectus and MLB. The biggest driver here is Alex Reyes, whom BP ranked first, compared to MLB’s 14th. Other sizable discrepancies include Andrew Benintendi (3rd vs 1st), Yoan Moncada (5th vs 2nd) and Cody Bellinger (26th vs 12th). Most of the other lists disagree similarly with Baseball Prospectus.

Unsurprisingly, KATOH is easily the most contrarian here. Its correlations with other lists fall between .40 and .51, while no other pairing dips below .77. A bit more surprising is that Baseball America’s rankings correlate best with KATOH’s, while Baseball Prospectus’ correlate most weakly. Like KATOH, Baseball America is relatively low on Lucas Giolito and Robert Gsellman, but loves Cody Bellinger and Vlad Guerrero Jr. Baseball Prospectus, on the other hand, is significantly higher than KATOH on Gsellman and Alex Reyes and lower on Bellinger and Ozzie Albies.

Although it may be a coincidence, I also find it interesting that the consensus column seems to correlate with the KATOH column. (Correlation of correlations? Whoa, meta.) In other words, the lists that agree with the consensus also agree with KATOH’s projections. I don’t know what to conclude from this other than it’s interesting.

I don’t believe any of these findings should be used to evaluate the prospect rankers, either now or in the future. The sample size is far too small, especially considering the inherent unpredictability of prospects. Every evaluator has hits and misses, so cherry-picking a few would prove almost nothing. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to objectively identify the players whom each ranker likes and dislikes relative to their peers. And it will be fun to look back in a few years to see which of the “going out on a limb” rankings correctly predicted one of tomorrow’s stars.

We hoped you liked reading Comparing and Contrasting This Year’s Prospect Rankings by Chris Mitchell!

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

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southie
Member
southie

Excellent stuff

jfree
Member
jfree

Agreed. The only thing I would like to also see is some measure of original signing bonus ranking or somesuch. Some team out there put an original $ value and paid it on these and others. And I’ve always thought there is a bit of a statistical honeymoon effect (i know it has a different name in stats but can’t think of it) in prospect lists. It would be good to see which prospects are keeping up with their original assessment, which are exceeding expectations, and which are busting.