Archive for Essential Articles

2019 Top 100 Prospects

Below is our list of the top-100 prospects in baseball. The 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, Victor Robles, and prospect No. 35, Sean Murphy, is 30 spots, and there’s a substantial difference in talent there. The gap between Travis Swaggerty (No. 56) and Adrian Morejon (No. 86), meanwhile, is also 30 numerical places, but the difference in talent is relatively small. You may have noticed that there are more than 100 prospects in the table below, and more than 100 scouting summaries. That’s because we have also included 50 FV prospects who didn’t make the 100; their reports appear below, under the “Other 50 FV Prospects” header. The 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 a prospect could reasonably have a best big league season of anywhere from one to five WAR, that would be “high” variance, whereas someone like Colin Moran, whose range is something like two to three WAR, would be “low” variance. High variance can be read as a good thing, since it allows for lots of ceiling, or a bad thing, 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 it. Here is a primer explaining the connection between FV and WAR. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

You’ll also notice that this year, we’ve added probable FV outcome distribution graphs for each prospect on our list. This is our attempt to graphically represent how likely each FV outcome is for each prospect. Using the work of Craig Edwards, we found the base rates for each FV tier of prospect (separately for hitters and pitchers), and the likelihood of each FV of outcome. For example, based on Craig’s research, the average 60 FV hitter on a list becomes a perennial 5+ WAR player over his six controlled years 26% of the time, and a 27% chance of accumulating, at most, a couple WAR during his six controlled years. We started with these base rates for every player, then manually tweaked them to reflect how we think the player differs from the average player in that FV tier, since a player in rookie ball and a player in Triple-A with the same FV grade obviously don’t have exactly the same odds of success. So, these graphs are based on empirical findings, but with the subjectivity of our opinions included to more specifically reflect what we think the odds are of various outcomes. This is just a concept we’ve been kicking around for a while, one we hope to continue to refine to try to better communicate things about prospects.

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2019 Top 50 Free Agents

Welcome to FanGraphs’ top-50 free-agent rankings. Dave Cameron has previously been responsible for this annual post. This year, though, I’m leading the charge, with some assistance from my colleagues.

In what follows, I’ve provided contract estimates and rankings of the winter’s top free agents, along with market-focused breakdowns for the top-25 players and one case beyond that. (As for why I’ve provided commentary on only the top 25, you can decide for yourself whether it’s because my take on No. 46 Cody Allen was too hot for the internet or if all the players just kinda seemed the same to me by that point.) Meanwhile, a combination of Craig Edwards, Jay Jaffe, Eric Longenhagen, Meg Rowley, Dan Szymborski, and (in one case) Carson Cistulli have supplied the more player-focused breakdowns designed to provide some context for each player at this current moment in his career.

Note that players are ranked in the order in which I prefer them, in terms of the overall guaranteed money I’d spend on them. Usually, this is very similar to the order of overall contract values as both the crowd and I have projected. In some instances, that’s not the case, however — notably with the first and second players on the list. I explain my rationale where relevant.

Given how slow and frustrating last offseason was for the players, the biggest storyline to follow this winter will be how the market reacts. With the Dodgers and Yankees getting under the luxury tax specifically for this winter, multiple mid-market clubs rumored to be ready to spend, and rare stars in their prime on the market, there are fewer causes for restraint. I wouldn’t expect Harper or Machado to sign quickly, as both their agents and the players union will be focused on precedent-setting across the board and they’ll need to get the lay of the land first. If you’re interested in more notes and rumors, I’ve got a corresponding post up, but I didn’t want to make you scroll any further.

Now let’s get to the list.
– Kiley McDaniel

1. Manny Machado, SS, Age 26
Contract Estimate
Type Years AAV Total
Kiley McDaniel 9 $31.0 M $279.0 M
Median Crowdsource 8 $32.0 M $256.0 M
Avg Crowdsource 8.6 $31.7 M $273.0 M
2019 Steamer Forecast
PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
630 9.4% 15.6% .287 .356 .527 .370 134 25.3 2.6 5.0

Kiley’s Take
Has produced roughly as many career wins as Harper and is projected to produce roughly the same number in the near future, but will likely be available for less. That and ability to play shortstop place him first.

Player Notes
Machado’s baserunning antics and related comments cast him as a villain during the Dodgers’ postseason run, but they probably won’t dent his market much. Despite splitting his season between Baltimore and Los Angeles, he set or tied career bests in all three slash stats, wRC+, walk and strikeout rates (9.9% and 14.7%), and homers. Given his age, he could maintain this level for a few years. Meanwhile, playing shortstop full-time for the first time since 2012, his pre-trade metrics were brutal (-7.2 UZR, -18 DRS in 96 games), but improved markedly post-trade (0.8 UZR, 6 DRS in 51 games) thanks to a combination of better positioning by the analytically inclined Dodgers and an emphasis on better anticipating batted balls as opposed just to reacting to them. Expect him to prioritize remaining at short and to receive a massive payday. – JJ

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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 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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Trade Deadline 2017 Omnibus Post

Lots of trades happen in the run up to the non-waiver trade deadline. It can be hard to keep track of everything that’s gone down, so we’re here to help. Below you’ll find a rundown of all the #content that we’ve published in accordance with trades that have actually happened. They’re in chronological order as best as I can tell, and cover trades that were made earlier in the month too, because those are still important. We’ll start with the two prospect rankings from Chris and Eric, which were just published earlier today.

Prospect Rankings

Now on to the individual trades. Note that the date listed is the date the trade was consummated, not necessarily the date each article listed was published.

(From L to R) Jonathan Lucroy, J.D. Martinez, Todd Frazier, Justin Wilson and Yu Darvish were among the marquee names traded in July. (Photos: Keith Allison, Tom Hagerty & Michelle Jay)

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Projecting All of the Prospects Traded at the Deadline

In the table below, you’ll find a treasure trove of information pertaining to the prospects who changed hands this trade deadline. There were 67 of them in all. Since there was a flurry of early trade activity this year, I’m using a liberal definition of “trade deadline” that considers all trades since the July 13th Jose Quintana deal. For reference, I performed a similar exercise last year. Read the rest of this entry »


Ranking the Prospects Traded During Deadline Season

Among the prospects traded in July, Eloy Jimenez stands out. (Photo: Arturo Pardavila III)

Below is a ranking of the prospects traded this month, tiered by our Future Value scale. A reminder that there’s lots of room for argument as to how these players line up, especially within the same FV tier. If you need further explanation about FV, bang it here and here. Full writeups of the prospects are linked next to their names. If the player didn’t receive an entire post, I’ve got a brief scouting report included below. Enjoy.
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KATOH’s Midseason 2017 Top-100

Vlad Guerrero Jr. appears among the top-three prospects by both versions of KATOH. (Photo: Joel Dinda)

With the trade deadline swiftly approaching, it’s time for some updated KATOH rankings. I know you’re not here to read about assumptions and caveats, so I’ll keep the non-list part of this article short and sweet.

  • For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, but due to their objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated.
  • KATOH+ incorporates Baseball America’s midseason top-100 list and Eric Longenhagen’s preseason FV grades for players excluded from BA’s list. Stats-only KATOH does not consider prospect rankings.
  • These projections account only for minor-league stats. While I’ve done work with college players, I have not yet attempted to merge college and minor-league data. These projections also do not account for any major-league performance.
  • All players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced in 2016 and/or 2017 were considered.
  • This isn’t “Chris Mitchell’s Top 100 List,” and certainly not “FanGraphs’ Top 100 List.” This is simply the output from my far-from-perfect statistical model.

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2017 Trade Value: #1 to #10

The comparisons to Alex Rodriguez are neither fair nor entirely misplaced.
(Photo: Arturo Pardavila III)

Welcome to the final installment of this year’s Trade Value series; you can find links to the previous five posts above. If you’re not familiar with this project, there’s an explanation of the process in the HM post, so that’s the best place to start.

As a reminder for those who don’t like clicking links, however, the five-year WAR projections are based on Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS forecasts, though the players aren’t ranked based on those projections; these figures are included merely as a piece of information to help round out the picture. The guaranteed-dollars line measures the amount of money the player is owed outside of team options or arbitration years; for most of these guys, team options are very likely to be exercised, and many of them will end up making more than the guaranteed-dollars number reports.

Now let’s turn our attention to today’s top 10. In reality, this ended up being two groups of five, with plenty of room for movement within those two groups. And at the very top of the list was the toughest call I’ve ever had to make in putting this project together. The amount of great young talent in the game right now is simply remarkable.

Just as a note: I’ll be chatting about this list at 12 p.m. ET, so if you have any questions, feel free to swing by and I’ll answer as many as I can. Now, on to the top 10.

Team Control WAR Total +19.4
Guaranteed Dollars $23.5 M
Team Control Through 2021
Previous Rank #18
Year Age Projected WAR Contract Status
2018 32 +5.4 $10.5 M
2019 33 +5.0 $13.0 M
2020 34 +4.5 $13.5 M
2021 35 +4.5 $14.0 M
Team Option

Corey Kluber was already amazing. He might actually be getting better, though. His strikeout rate has jumped from 26% to 34%. His ground-ball rate is at a career high, but so is his infield-fly rate. He still throttles contact quality. With the way he’s pitching now, he’s in that next tier of non-Kershaw starters. He’s everything you want in an ace.

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July 2 Sortable Board and Rules Primer

The 2017 July 2 signing period is set to begin on Sunday. Here is the 2017 J2 Sortable Board with tool grades and scouting reports for the players whom I believe to be the best in the class. The changes made to the J2 process when the last Collective Bargaining Agreement was ratified in November are significant and have impacted the way teams approach signing players; altered how a given class’s talent is distributed throughout baseball; changed players’ earning power; and, at least for now, forced prospects to consider how to best time their decision to sign.

Before diving into the details pertaining to this year’s class, allow me to suggest some prerequisite reading should this be your first time navigating FanGraphs’ scouty pages. If the 20-80 scale and scouting terminology is new to you, this piece will be helpful. If you’d like more context on the previous July 2 rules as we discuss the way the new CBA has changed them in this article, I suggest this.

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