Last week, I published KATOH’s 2018 top-100 list. It was the fourth such preseason list to appear at FanGraphs. Unfortunately, it will also be the last.
I am embarking on a new opportunity in the baseball industry that prohibits me from working in the public sphere, which means no more KATOH. As much as I’d love to brag about how awesome this opportunity is, unfortunately that is all I can say about it.
Writing for FanGraphs was something I aspired to do since I stumbled upon the site as a teenager nearly a decade ago. I’ll be forever grateful to Dave Cameron and David Appelman, who hired me based on what was little more than an idea and stuck with me as I continually worked out the kinks. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Paul Swydan, who first brought me into the fold at the Hardball Times despite my undeveloped writing skills.
I’ve also learned an incredible amount from Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen, and have always been eager to field my inquiries about obscure minor leaguers. I’m also grateful to Carson for making my writing more readable and also for calling attention to KATOH’s projection for 17-year-old Luis Urias. Jeff Zimmerman also doesn’t get enough credit for the work he does behind the scenes, and I thank him for handling my often unreasonable data requests. The people at FanGraphs are not just great baseball analysts, but also great people whom I’ve always viewed as friends rather than colleagues.
And finally, none of this would have been possible without you, the readers. Thank you not only reading, but for your comments and questions — even when we didn’t agree. Engaging with you in the comment section has been a lot of fun and very insightful and only served to make KATOH better. Very few baseball writers are able to claim that, which I think is a testament to the FanGraphs audience.
With the help of everyone I mentioned and many more, I think we’ve accomplished something pretty cool over the past three years. I feel we’ve convincingly challenged the “don’t scout the stat line” mantra by showing that a prospect’s stats do, in fact, reveal a lot about the type of big-leaguer he’ll become. I feel this way of thinking has improved the way prospects are analyzed throughout baseball — both publicly and within MLB front offices.
KATOH’s lists have certainly been controversial. They have always looked radically different than more traditional examples of the genre and have featured plenty of obscure names. One of the reasons for this discrepancy is a byproduct of one major input KATOH ignores — that is, scouting-type information. But another reason is because KATOH has also included a type of player who’s frequently overlooked — the sort sometimes referred to (and occasionally dismissed) as a “performer.” And in my admittedly biased opinion, KATOH’s unconventional prospect crushes have panned out often enough to prove its usefulness.
A look at KATOH’s earlier preseason lists and All-KATOH squads reveals a plethora of cases where KATOH’s bold rankings wound up looking prescient. Here’s an incomplete list of KATOH’s “wins” — a list will likely grow as more recent prospects start to receive big-league opportunities.
- 2015: Mookie Betts, Jose Ramirez, Ozzie Albies, Alex Verdugo, Luis Urias, Ketel Marte, Domingo Santana, Jake Bauers, Matt Olson, Cole Tucker, Delino Deshields, Randal Grichuk, Zach Davies, Jake Lamb, Francisco Mejia, Dustin Fowler, Robbie Ray
- 2016: Jake Bauers, Alex Verdugo, Gary Sanchez, Trevor Story, Jorge Polanco, Josh Hader, Matt Olson, Jake Faria, Boog Powell, Brandon Nimmo, Edwin Diaz
- 2017: Cody Bellinger, Kyle Tucker, Matt Chapman, Ben Gamel, Luis Urias, Rhys Hoskins, Boog Powell, Matt Olson, Mitch Haniger, Nicky Delmonico, Chad Green, Jake Faria
While I’m ecstatic to begin my next chapter, I’m also sad I won’t be here to write up 2018’s first wave of prospect call-ups or the next generation of unheralded prospects as they ascend to the highest level. Writing for FanGraphs has been a joy, and I will miss it dearly.