The Top College Players by (Maybe) Predictive Stats

On multiple occasions last year, the author published a statistical report designed to serve as a mostly responsible shorthand for people who, like the author, possess more enthusiasm for collegiate baseball than expert knowledge of it. Those reports integrated concepts central to much of the analysis found at FanGraphs — regarding sample size and regression, for example — to provide something not unlike a “true talent” leaderboard for hitters and pitchers in select conferences.

In recent weeks, I’ve revisited for the 2016 college campaign. What follows represents the most current installment of a possibly infinite series.

As in the original edition of this same thing, what I’ve done here is to utilize principles introduced by Chris Mitchell on forecasting future major-league performance with minor-league stats.

To review those principles very briefly: for hitters in the low minors (i.e. a level similar to the better collegiate leagues), the metrics most predictive of major-league success (besides age) are strikeout rate (K%), isolated power (ISO), and batting average on balls in play (BABIP). For pitchers, the most important metrics are strikeout rate (K%) and, less important but also second-most relevant, walk rate (BB%). What I’ve done here is to combine regressed versions of those various metrics into a pair index stats: MPS+* for hitters (where 100 is league average and above 100 is better than league average) and MPS-* (where 100 is league average and below 100 is better than league average.

*MPS denotes (maybe) predictive stats.

Using that methodology (about which one can read more thoroughly in an earlier post), I’ve identified six types of player in three different conferences each: the top overall batter, top draft-eligible batter, top defensive-type batter*, top overall pitcher, top draft-eligible pitcher, and top starting pitcher. The conferences I’ve chosen represent the five most typically responsible for producing good major-league players.

*Meaning, the top batter who also plays a position towards the more challenging end of the defensive spectrum.

There are nearly one-thousand caveats to supply concerning the data here. Numbers don’t account at all for quality of opponent or park. Note that, as some conferences have less robust data than others, that I’ve had to provide (sensible) plate-appearance and batters-faced estimates in some cases. xK%, xISO, and xBABIP denote expected strikeout rate, isolated power, and batting average on balls in play, respectively. Stats are courtesy Baseball Cube and are current through Wednesday’s games.

ACC
Top Batter
Seth Beer, COF, Clemson (Fr)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
Will Craig, DH, Wake Forest (Jr)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Chase Pinder, CF, Clemson (So)

Top Pitcher
Tyler Warmoth, RHP, Florida St. (R-Sr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Tyler Warmoth, RHP, Florida St. (R-Sr)

Top Starter
Zac Gallen, RHP, No. Carolina (Jr)

Top-Ten Batters of the ACC
Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
Seth Beer Clemson Fr COF 99 8.1% .513 .361 11.3% .272 .343 161
Will Craig Wake Forest Jr DH 76 10.5% .544 .439 13.2% .259 .347 155
Chase Pinder Clemson So CF 114 12.3% .326 .357 13.8% .211 .342 134
Colby Fitch Louisville So C/DH 51 7.8% .419 .514 12.6% .200 .349 133
Corey Ray Louisville Jr COF 124 10.5% .299 .319 12.5% .204 .339 131
Blake Tiberi Louisville So 3B 104 3.8% .264 .345 8.5% .184 .341 130
Tyler Ramirez No. Carolina Jr CF 110 15.5% .280 .476 15.9% .192 .353 127
Zack Collins Miami Jr C 99 13.1% .292 .408 14.5% .192 .346 127
Alex Kowalczyk Pitt Sr C/DH 89 13.5% .329 .310 14.8% .201 .339 127
Matt Thaiss Virginia Jr C 115 1.7% .204 .315 6.8% .163 .338 124

Top-Ten Pitchers of the ACC
Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
Tyler Warmoth Florida St. R-Sr RHP 11.1 42 52.9% 4.8% 33.1% 8.4% 67
Bryan Garcia Miami Jr RHP 15.2 62 43.8% 9.7% 31.8% 9.4% 73
Zac Gallen No. Carolina Jr RHP 42.1 160 30.7% 4.4% 27.8% 6.9% 77
Matthew Gorst Georgia Tech Jr RHP 14.1 52 38.1% 3.8% 28.5% 8.0% 78
J.B. Bukauskas No. Carolina So RHP 33.1 141 34.7% 10.6% 30.3% 9.9% 78
T.J. Zeuch Pittsburgh Jr RHP 13.0 49 38.6% 4.1% 28.5% 8.1% 78
Wil Gilbert NC State Sr LHP 20.2 85 34.1% 5.9% 28.3% 8.1% 79
Jim Voyles Florida St. R-So RHP 23.0 88 35.3% 9.1% 29.1% 9.2% 80
Brendan McKay Louisville So LHP 41.0 161 31.8% 8.7% 28.6% 9.0% 80
Aaron McGarity Virginia Tech Jr RHP 11.1 49 38.5% 8.1% 28.4% 9.0% 81

Notes
Right fielder Seth Beer isn’t technically a true freshman — indeed, he’s what one might refer to whimsically as a “reverse redshirt” — because, instead of sitting out his freshman season, what Beer actually did was to bypass his senior spring of high school this year to instead enroll at Clemson in January and play baseball. The result: the top batting line in the ACC by a number of measures. Of particular — and possibly even predictive — note, one finds that Beer has produced both (a) one of the lowest regressed strikeout rates and (b) the actual highest regressed isolated-power figure in the conference. This is a collection of skills typically only reserved for members of the Toronto Blue Jays. If the Jays have any interest in acquiring Beer, they’d be well served to produce a miserable 2017 season, because at this rate, it seems improbable that he’ll remain available beyond the first handful of selections in the 2018 draft.

***

Big 12
Top Batter
Elliott Barzilli, 3B, TCU (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
Elliott Barzilli, 3B, TCU (Jr)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Elliott Barzilli, 3B, TCU (Jr)

Top Pitcher
Levi MaVorhis, RHP, Kansas St. (Sr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Levi MaVorhis, RHP, Kansas St. (Sr)

Top Starter
Levi MaVorhis, RHP, Kansas St. (Sr)

Top-Ten Batters of the Big 12
Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
Elliott Barzilli TCU Jr 3B 105 11.4% .278 .468 13.7% .182 .340 133
Sheldon Neuse Oklahoma Jr SS 107 19.6% .295 .492 18.9% .190 .342 129
Darius Hill West Virginia Fr COF 94 6.4% .238 .333 10.8% .164 .328 126
Darryn Sheppard Baylor Jr COF 106 13.2% .222 .377 14.8% .162 .332 120
Josh Watson TCU Fr COF 106 22.6% .295 .283 20.9% .189 .324 119
Eric Gutierrez Texas Tech Sr 1B 115 11.3% .191 .365 13.5% .151 .331 118
Evan Skoug TCU So C 102 21.6% .253 .417 20.1% .172 .335 118
Colby Wright Kansas Sr 2B 87 6.9% .172 .368 11.3% .141 .330 117
Tanner Gardner Texas Tech So CF 105 7.6% .131 .507 11.3% .127 .343 116
Stephen Smith Texas Tech Jr COF 121 15.7% .204 .370 16.4% .157 .332 116

Top-Ten Pitchers of the Big 12
Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
Levi MaVorhis Kansas St. Sr RHP 33.2 138 29.7% 3.6% 26.4% 7.0% 75
Durbin Feltman TCU Fr RHP 9.1 36 39.2% 5.6% 26.4% 9.0% 81
Chad Donato West Virginia Jr RHP 37.2 157 26.8% 5.1% 24.7% 7.5% 81
Josh Sawyer Texas Jr LHP 5.0 19 48.2% 5.4% 25.9% 9.3% 83
Rex Hill TCU Jr LHP 29.1 133 25.6% 4.5% 23.7% 7.5% 84
Robert Dugger Texas Tech Jr RHP 25.0 105 26.6% 4.8% 24.0% 7.8% 84
Ty Culbreth Texas Sr LHP 40.2 160 25.0% 5.0% 23.5% 7.5% 84
Jeff Hardy West Virginia Sr RHP 9.2 42 33.5% 7.2% 25.0% 9.2% 85
Steven Gingery Texas Tech Fr LHP 21.1 91 29.7% 9.9% 25.5% 9.8% 85
Remey Reed Oklahoma St. Jr RHP 22.1 90 28.9% 10.0% 25.0% 9.8% 87

Notes
The top of the Big 12’s batting leaderboard features two players absent from even relatively deep 2016 draft-prospect lists, but who nevertheless have exhibited a compelling combination this season of offensive skill and defensive promise. Junior third baseman Elliott Barzilli arrived at TCU last season after transferring from Georgia Tech. More of a role player during his sophomore year, Barzilli has started every one of the Horned Frogs’ 24 games this season and produced better-than-average marks in all the maybe predictive categories. Oklahoma junior shortstop Sheldon Neuse has actually recorded a strikeout rate a couple points higher than the Big 12 average of 17.7%, but his power on contact has compensated for it. Indeed, Neuse has produced the highest regressed ISO and second-highest regressed BABIP in the conference.

***

Big West
Top Batter
Keston Hiura, CF, UC Irvine (So)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
Branden Berry, 1B/COF, Cal St. Northridge (Sr)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Keston Hiura, CF, UC Irvine (So)

Top Pitcher
Austin McGeorge, RHP, Long Beach St. (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Austin McGeorge, RHP, Long Beach St. (Jr)

Top Starter
Kenny Rosenberg, LHP, Cal St. Northridge (R-So)

Top-Ten Batters of the Big West
Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
Keston Hiura UC Irvine So CF 105 15.2% .354 .500 15.9% .194 .330 144
Branden Berry Cal St. Northridge Sr 1B/COF 116 7.8% .276 .333 10.9% .169 .315 137
Josh Adams UC Santa Barbara R-So DH/COF 50 22.0% .385 .280 19.3% .162 .312 121
John Schuknecht Cal Poly Sr COF 103 19.4% .242 .386 18.6% .152 .320 121
Andrew Calica UC Santa Barbara R-Jr CF 113 7.1% .154 .304 10.6% .120 .313 118
Tim Richards Cal St. Fullerton Jr SS 93 16.1% .222 .302 16.5% .142 .312 117
Dempsey Grover UC Santa Barbara R-So C 86 10.5% .148 .446 13.2% .115 .323 116
Colby Schultz UC Riverside R-So SS 84 8.3% .157 .328 12.0% .118 .314 115
J.J. Muno UC Santa Barbara R-So 2B 105 15.2% .195 .265 15.9% .135 .309 114
Dalton Blaser Cal St. Fullerton Sr DH/COF 91 4.4% .115 .333 9.4% .105 .315 114

Top-Ten Pitchers of the Big West
Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
Austin McGeorge Long Beach St. Jr RHP 20.0 81 42.2% 5.0% 32.2% 7.3% 67
Kenny Rosenberg Cal St. Northridge R-So LHP 41.1 153 37.2% 6.5% 32.0% 7.5% 68
Robert Garcia UC Davis R-Fr LHP 28.0 104 36.7% 6.8% 30.2% 7.8% 73
Justin Calomeni Cal Poly Jr RHP 11.1 48 45.4% 8.3% 30.8% 8.4% 73
Kyle Nelson UC Santa Barbara So LHP 25.1 92 32.7% 3.3% 27.5% 6.6% 77
Connor Seabold Cal St. Fullerton So RHP 27.1 103 28.3% 2.9% 25.2% 6.4% 82
Spencer Howard Cal Poly Fr RHP 16.1 65 30.7% 4.6% 25.5% 7.4% 84
Angel Rodriguez Cal St. Northridge Sr RHP 32.2 129 27.0% 4.6% 24.8% 6.8% 84
Conner O’Neil Cal St. Northridge Jr RHP 28.1 110 31.9% 11.8% 27.5% 9.8% 85
Justin Mullins UC Davis Jr RHP 19.1 84 26.3% 2.4% 23.7% 6.4% 86

Notes
Among the major-league position players who recorded seasons of three wins or better between 2010 and -14, products of the Big West accounted for the fourth-largest group of college draftees, trailing only those players who’d attended schools in the Pac-12, ACC, and Big 12. In particular the conference has succeeded in developing talented infielders. Regard: Danny Espinosa, Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki, and Justin Turner all attended Big West schools. And while Long Beach State junior shortstop Garrett Hampson has has seemed the most likely to carry on that particular tradition, it’s actually two other draft-eligible shortstops who appear among the conference’s top-10 hitters: Cal State Fullerton junior Timmy Richards and UC Riverside’s redshirt sophomore shortstop Colby Schultz. The latter is a transfer this year from Saddleback College in California.

***

Pac-12
Top Batter
Logan Ice, C, Oregon St. (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
Logan Ice, C, Oregon St. (Jr)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Logan Ice, C, Oregon St. (Jr)

Top Pitcher
Daulton Jefferies, RHP, California (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Daulton Jefferies, RHP, California (Jr)

Top Starter
Daulton Jefferies, RHP, California (Jr)

Top-Ten Batters of the Pac-12
Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
Logan Ice Oregon St. Jr C 82 2.4% .452 .345 8.9% .224 .324 154
Brett Cumberland California So C 79 19.0% .433 .421 18.4% .215 .329 139
K.J. Harrison Oregon St. So 1B 103 12.6% .302 .343 14.5% .186 .324 132
Colby Woodmansee Arizona St. Jr SS 99 12.1% .247 .368 14.2% .164 .326 125
Ryan Aguilar Arizona Sr 1B 108 13.9% .239 .360 15.2% .163 .325 123
Jeremy Martinez USC Jr C/1B 107 4.7% .163 .346 9.3% .134 .324 120
Adalberto Carrillo USC So 3B 90 7.8% .203 .295 11.7% .146 .320 119
Mitchell Kranson California Sr 3B 87 12.6% .218 .385 14.7% .150 .327 119
Timmy Robinson USC Sr CF 102 18.6% .259 .302 18.3% .169 .320 119
Eric Filia UCLA R-Sr COF 102 7.8% .148 .389 11.5% .128 .328 116

Top-Ten Pitchers of the Pac-12
Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
Daulton Jefferies California Jr RHP 42.0 164 28.6% 3.7% 26.1% 6.5% 77
Cole Irvin Oregon R-Jr LHP 40.2 160 27.5% 3.8% 25.3% 6.6% 79
Troy Rallings Washington Sr RHP 20.1 75 33.2% 8.0% 27.0% 8.9% 81
Drew Rasmussen Oregon St. So RHP 37.0 147 28.6% 6.8% 26.0% 8.1% 82
Erik Martinez California So RHP 12.1 50 36.3% 10.1% 27.0% 9.4% 82
Stephen Nogosek Oregon Jr RHP 15.2 58 32.9% 6.9% 26.0% 8.7% 83
Seth Martinez Arizona St. Jr RHP 41.2 166 25.3% 5.4% 23.8% 7.4% 85
Grant Dyer UCLA Jr RHP 20.1 86 28.0% 5.8% 24.5% 8.1% 85
Colton Hock Stanford So RHP 20.1 81 32.0% 12.3% 26.6% 10.2% 85
Brooks Kriske USC Sr RHP 17.2 67 30.0% 7.5% 25.1% 8.8% 86

Notes
The top two hitters in the Pac-12 by this methodology, Oregon State junior Logan Ice and Cal’s draft-eligible sophomore Brett Cumberland, are both catchers. Which, that raises an obvious question: are they the sort of college catchers who are likely to remain catchers professionally? Because if so, then they’d appear to offer considerable value to a major-league club. And if not so, then… less value, that. Concerning Ice, Kendall Rogers of D1 Baseball recently characterized him as an “elite defensive catcher.” Further haphazard research of the internet reveals similar assessments. With regard to Cumberland, one seems to find a less well-balanced skill set. Of Cumberland, former catcher and Cal assistant coach recently said that “Defensively, it’s progress — not perfection.”

***

SEC
Top Batter
Anfernee Grier, CF, Auburn (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
Anfernee Grier, CF, Auburn (Jr)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Anfernee Grier, CF, Auburn (Jr)

Top Pitcher
Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida (So)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Shaun Anderson, RHP, Florida (Jr)

Top Starter
Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida (So)

Top-Ten Batters of the SEC
Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
Anfernee Grier Auburn Jr CF 129 15.5% .274 .494 15.8% .197 .359 129
JaVon Shelby Kentucky Jr 3B 89 19.1% .388 .289 18.0% .224 .339 128
J.B. Moss Texas A&M Sr COF 114 11.4% .270 .440 13.1% .192 .352 128
Mike Rivera Florida So C 103 7.8% .299 .240 10.9% .200 .334 127
John Jones So. Carolina So DH/C 113 11.5% .247 .432 13.2% .183 .351 124
Nick Senzel Tennessee Jr 3B 114 9.6% .250 .361 12.0% .184 .345 124
Niko Buentello Auburn Jr 1B 121 15.7% .260 .427 15.9% .190 .351 123
Joshua Palacios Auburn Jr COF 125 15.2% .234 .482 15.6% .180 .357 122
Peter Alonso Florida Jr 1B 116 8.6% .228 .329 11.3% .176 .342 121
Michael Bernal Arkansas R-Sr SS 98 12.2% .276 .261 13.8% .189 .336 120

Top-Ten Pitchers of the SEC
Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
Alex Faedo Florida So RHP 36.2 137 38.6% 3.6% 33.4% 6.5% 67
Adam Hill So. Carolina Fr RHP 28.1 111 36.8% 6.3% 31.5% 7.8% 75
Shaun Anderson Florida Jr RHP 17.1 67 35.8% 0.0% 29.3% 6.3% 77
Clarke Schmidt So. Carolina So RHP 42.0 162 31.4% 3.7% 28.9% 6.3% 78
Brady Bramlett Ole Miss R-Jr RHP 31.0 130 34.7% 7.7% 30.6% 8.3% 79
Logan Shore Florida Jr RHP 37.1 142 31.0% 3.5% 28.4% 6.4% 80
Sean Hjelle Kentucky Fr RHP 7.0 29 47.5% 6.8% 30.3% 8.5% 80
Caleb Gilbert LSU Fr RHP 14.0 59 39.0% 8.5% 30.4% 8.7% 80
Josh Alberius Arkansas R-Jr RHP 14.1 57 38.4% 7.0% 30.0% 8.4% 80
Thomas Burrows Alabama Jr LHP 8.0 30 44.0% 6.8% 29.3% 8.5% 83

Notes
The SEC produced more than twice as many “good” major-league pitchers — that is, pitchers who’ve recorded seasons of three or more wins — between 2010 and -14 than any other collegiate conference. Notably, however, the conference’s current top-three starting pitchers by the methodology utilized here are all underclassmen. Florida sophomore Alex Faedo, South Carolina freshman Adam Hill, and other South Carolinian, sophomore right-hander Clarke Schmidt, all appear to complement their impressive numbers with the requisite arm speed to facilitate professional success, as well. Among the draft-eligible starters in the SEC, Florida junior right-hander Logan Shore would appear to possess the top combination of performance and physical tools at the moment.





Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Beer
6 years ago

If the Jays want to acquire a Beer, they could still draft Logan “Molson” Ice.