Gregorius, Bauer, and Perceived Shortstop Value

Yesterday’s three-team blockbuster which sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati included a couple of my favorite prospects from the 2012 season. Trevor Bauer ranked is the third best right-handed starting pitcher and Didi Gregorius ranked as the seventh best shortstop. On Twitter, prospect followers consider Gregorius to be a lesser player than Trevor Bauer and surmised that the DBacks traded the right-hander because he’s not as good as advertised. From four-plus years scouting prospects in person, this may not be the case considering I see more quality starting pitching prospects in one season than I ever have shortstops.

The year 2012 was a particularly strong one for shortstops from my perspective. In counting 12 who profiled as Major League regulars, one could assume there’s plenty to go around. Nothing could be further from the truth. If I think back to prior seasons, I have a difficult time recalling any top flight shortstop prospects other than Rangers Jurickson Profar and Red Sox Xander Bogaerts. However, questions as to whether the Boston product will remain a shortstop long-term adds to my perceived value of Gregorius — an extremely valuable commodity.

When half of all prospect followers primary interest is fantasy baseball, quality prospects are often confused based on real Major League baseball value versus that of a fantasy player. From a fantasy standpoint, Gregorius holds little value. For the Diamondbacks, he solidifies their shortstop position for the next six years.

If one follows reports out of Texas, the Rangers would not part with Elvis Andrus or Profar for “franchise cornerstone” Justin Upton — More anecdotal evidence the value of a quality major-league shortstop is miscalculated by the baseball masses. Back in June, I took Andrus with the 11th pick in our FanGraphs franchise draft ahead of Stephen Strasburg, Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez. And while those three players have greater name value than does the Rangers shortstop, scouting contacts I bounced the pick off of didn’t question it other than to ask if I considered fellow shortstop Starlin Castro.

Once again, the gap in perceived value is fueling the argument Bauer is more valuable than Gregorius. Of course the fact Bauer has been ranked one of the top prospects in baseball since being drafted in 2011 doesn’t hurt either.

In early May, I wrote a piece on Trevor Bauer after seeing him pitch in Double-A against the Chattanooga Lookouts. Consistently 92 to 95 mph with his fastball, touching 98, the pitch was flat and left up in the zone too often. I worried it would result in his being hit hard at the big-league level.

Additionally, Bauer boasted quality, but inconsistent breaking stuff and requires additional development time for refinement. This was masked by dominant strikeout totals in Double-A and Triple-A. However, limited big League innings resulted in his walking more than seven batters per nine innings and an FIP north of five.

Maybe this, or reports of personality issues did affect his value within the industry, but there’s little doubt Bauer is still a high-quality pitching prospect with the ability to thrive at the major-league level with minor tweaks to his arsenal.

Four-plus years of watching prospects in person has shown shortstops with starter ceilings are harder to find than pitching. In Gregorius, the Diamondbacks found a cost controlled shortstop of the future when their best internal option was suspect prospect Chris Owings. Trevor Bauer may become an excellent big-league pitcher, but the DBacks have a plethora of young pitching in tow. Arizona used an organizational strength to fill a black hole and Cleveland did as well. Consider it a win-win for both franchises.



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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


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Jon
Guest
Jon

I buy what you’re saying. But aren’t MLB-proven, good-glove, no-hit SS around also? Jamey Carroll, Brendan Ryan, etc.? Surely it’s better to have Bauer and pay a couple million a year for a guy like this, when it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll be be the same player as Gregorious?

Average_Casey
Guest
Average_Casey

Brendan Ryan isn’t a free agent and is the best defensive shortstop in baseball right now.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply he’s a free agent. But I just mean guys like that. Besides, Ryan is reportedly on the verge of losing his job in Seattle, so I assume he wouldn’t be that hard to acquire – certainly not Trevor Bauer-hard.

Sparkles Peterson
Guest
Sparkles Peterson

And this makes him so overwhelmingly valuable that he was traded for a fat ugly moron who I wouldn’t trust to feed baseballs into a pitching machine.

Choo
Member

The best defensive player in baseball is not reportedly on the verge of losing his job in Seattle, unless by “reportedly” you are referring to that stupid Scott Miller tweet about the Mariners “hitting the Dodgers hard on Dee Gordon.” Even if that was true, how do we know JZ wasn’t trying to acquire Gordon as a flip-chip, sort of like what the Indians just did with Gregorious?

chuckb
Guest
chuckb

Last year in the big leagues there were 77 starting pitchers worth at least 2.0 WAR — about 2.5 per major league team (1/2 a starting rotation). There were 18 major league shortstops worth at least 2.0 WAR which means that 40% of major league teams did not have a shortstop who would qualify as being at least league average.

While it may be as difficult to fill out an entire starting rotation comprised of quality major league pitchers as it is to find a league average shortstop, it can’t be said that it’s as easy to find a league average shortstop as it is a league average starting pitcher. I’m not saying that either Bauer or Gregorius projects as league average, I’m just responding to your point about how easy it is to find a decent guy to do the job.

The point is that even decent shortstops are really tough to find but nearly everyone has 1 or 2 decent starting pitchers.

philosofool
Member
Member
philosofool

Not sure I get this argument. There are 150 rotation spots in baseball and half are filled with 2.0+ WAR pitchers. There are 30 SS spots in baseball and a little more than half are filled with 2.0+ WAR SSs. Looks like league average players are equally hard to find at each position to me.

Jon
Guest
Jon

Good points. I don’t have anything to back this up (though I can investigate later) but I would suspect that good-field no-hit shortstops are more plentiful than we’d think – I suspect there are a bunch languishing in the minors, for example.

DavidCEisen
Guest
DavidCEisen

It’s almost as if WAR is designed to account for position and scarcity!

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