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1994 minor leaguers and BA - one more time


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#1 philly sox fan


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Posted 24 October 2005 - 10:16 PM

Just what you wanted - one more post about 1994 minor leaguers. I tossed the originals into Geekage, but Lahoud dug up the BA organization rankings from spring of 1995 so we can now do a direct comparison of a contemporaneous farm system ranking with actual production ten years later.

In the “team” section I had a table ranking each team by cumulative WARP with a couple extra columns containing the number of 20 WARP “useful” players and 40 WARP “good” players. I’ve added the BA rankings to that table.

Teams Ranked by Cumulative WARP3
Rk   Team     WARP3     BA Rank    20    40
1    Minn     381.0       16       10     1
2    NYY      335.8        7        6     4
3    Cle      299.0       10        7     2
4    Tor      287.0        3        6     3  
5    SEA      278.5       11        3     2
6    NYM      275.0        2        7     1
7    Hou      256.7        6        5     2
8    Mon      240.4        9        5     3
9    Atl      236.6        1        4     1
10   CWS      207.3       12        4     3
11   Bos      202.6       15        4     1
12   Mil      195.9       28        6     2
13   LA       194.1        4        6     1
14   Oak      192.2       18        4     2
15   Bal      187.1       14        2     1
16   Fla      176.4       19        4     2
17   Det      169.4       22        5     1
18   PHL      169.3       23        4     2
19   PITT     164.8       21        4     1
20   Cal      162.7       25        2     2
21   KC       141.8        5        4     1
22   Col      131.9       26        4     0
23   SF       109.0       24        2     1
24   StL      102.5        8        2     0
25   SD        97.4       13        3     0
26   Cinn      91.1       17        3     0
27   Tex       87.9       20        2     1
28   Cub       79.7       27        3     0

My general impression is that the two rank orders much pretty well. Seventeen teams are within five spots of their BA ranking. They may match up for the wrong reasons, ie BA thought prospects A, B, C were great, but in reality it’s prospects X, Y, Z who actually were productive, but given the difficulty of the task I’m ok with calling that a basically “correct” prediction without going through each team. I will go through the eleven misses individually though.

For people who like correlations, the correlation of the two rank orders is a surprising (to me anyway) 0.54. I wouldn’t suggest trying to get a drug approved at the FDA with that kind of a correlation, but in the world of baseball statistics that’s pretty good. IIRC, the correlation between year 1 DIPS ERA and year 2 actual ERA is about 0.4.

Teams that BA significantly under ranked
Rk   Team     WARP3     BA Rank    20    40
1    Minn     381.0       16       10     1
3    Cle      299.0       10        7     2
5    SEA      278.5       11        3     2
12   Mil      195.9       28        6     2

Out of the eleven teams that BA significantly missed only four were markedly better than their BA ranking. Who knows if this is at all a representative year, but in general I think you’d rather BA missed more often in this direction. “Sure, BA hates my team’s farm, but I bet they’re wrong. And I’m no fanboy!” At least this year, BA was more likely to be wrong by ranking teams too highly.

The first three teams BA ranked middle of the pack and they actually were very, very good. BA ranked Milwaukee dead last and they ended up middle of the pack. The former is a more significant error. The difference between a middle of the pack farm and a top 5 one is huge. The difference between a middle of the pack farm and a bottom of the barrel farm is comparatively much smaller.

Four these four teams I’m going to list every productive player from their farm system.

Minn: BA ranked 16, production ranked 1
Team  Player            Level      WARP3   29WARP3     BA
Minn  Brad Radke        AA-SL      68.1     55.6
Minn  Matt Lawton       Hi-A-FSL   39.7     29.3
Minn  Cory Koskie       R-APPY     37.7     26.5
Minn  Eddie Guardado    AAA-PCL    36.2     17.6
Minn  Damien Miller     AA-SL      30.5     24.5
Minn  Marty Cordova     AAA-PCL    30.0     22.8
Minn  LaTroy Hawkins    AA-SL      28.2     17.5        2
Minn  Torii Hunter      Lo-A-MWL   27.5     27.5
Minn  Todd Walker       Hi-A-FSL   27.2     20.9        7
Minn  AJ Pierzynski     Comp-GCL   23.8     23.8
Minn  Rich Becker       AAA-PCL    18.9     18.9
Minn  Rich Garces       AA-SL      13.2     10.9
                          Total:  381.0

Amongst the upper minors players, BA missed badly on Radke and missed on Guardado’s ability to move from mediocre AAA starter to solid closer. Most of the other good players were very low in the minors. It looks Minn was in something of a transition period in 1994. The major league team that won the WS in 1991 was in the process of falling apart (the Twins would bottom out at 56-88 in 1995), but the pieces of the eventual good teams of the 2000s were just entering the organization at the lowest levels of the minors.

Cle: BA ranked 10, production ranked 3
Team  Player            Level      WARP3   29WARP3     BA
Cle   Brian Giles       AAA-IL     65.8     31.3    
Cle   Bartolo Colon     R-APPY     52.6     40.8
Cle   Richie Sexson     Lo-A-SAL   34.9     34.9
Cle   David Bell        AAA-IL     28.1     21.0        9
Cle   Paul Shuey        AAA-IL     23.8     15.5
Cle   Steve Kline       Lo-A-SAL   22.5     17.1
Cle   Paul Byrd         AA-EL      21.8      8.3
Cle   Einar Diaz        Lo-A-SAL   18.9     16.2        7
Cle   Jaret Wright      R-APPY     15.7     15.7        3
Cle   Alan Embree       AA-EL      14.9      6.1
                          Total:  299.0

In the upper minors BA missed badly on Giles. They also didn’t anticipate the eventual developmental breakthroughs of Colon and Sexson. You can see some solid players like Bell, Diaz and Wright that probably drove the #10 ranking, but were eventually eclipsed by a pretty talented big 3. This is pretty similar to the Minn miss – one very good high minors player was overlooked and the rest of the quality players were in the low minors.

Sea: BA ranked 11, production ranked 5
Team  Player            Level      WARP3   29WARP3     BA
Sea   Alex Rodriguez    Lo-A-MWL  104.2    104.2        1
Sea   Derek Lowe        AA-SL      45.6     37.7
Sea   Shawn Estes       R-NWL      27.6     23.2
Sea   Jim Mecir         AA-SL      19.4      6.5
Sea   Darren Bragg      AAA-PCL    18.3     15.9
Sea   Raul Ibanez       Lo-A-MWL   17.2      3.5
Sea   Matt Mantei       Lo-A-MWL   16.2     15.3
Sea   Ron Villone       AA-SL      16.1      6.7
Sea   Desi Relaford     Hi-A-CAL   13.9     12.7        2
                          Total:  278.5
This is probably a miss about perspective as much as anything. I’m sure BA said something like ARod is great, but the rest of the system is weak. BA was basically right, but that one brilliant player pushed the overall farm system productivity pretty high.

Mil: BA ranked 28, production ranked 12
Team  Player            Level      WARP3   29WARP3     BA
Mil   Jeff Cirillo      AAA-AA     56.9     40.4
Mil   Mark Loretta      AA-TL      41.3     19.5
Mil   Troy O’Leary      AAA-AA     34
Mil   Scott Karl        AAA-AA     21.7     21.7
Mil   Cory Lidle        Lo-A-MWL   21.3      9.8
Mil   Ron Belliard      Comp-AZL   20.7     20.7
                          Total:  195.9

BA ranked this the worst farm system in baseball. Instead it was slightly above average with a couple low ceiling guys like Cirillo and Loretta having very solid careers. Cirillo is another upper minors low ceiling miss, but everyone else was more or less a role player.

Teams that BA significantly over ranked
Rk   Team     WARP3     BA Rank    20    40
9    Atl      236.6        1        4     1
13   LA       194.1        4        6     1
21   KC       141.8        5        4     1
24   StL      102.5        8        2     0
25   SD        97.4       13        3     0
26   Cinn      91.1       17        3     0
27   Tex       87.9       20        2     1

Instead of looking at the players who were successful, I’m going to post the BA Team Top 10s that drove these rankings.

Atl: BA ranked 1, production ranked 9
1  Chipper Jones, ss 
2  Andruw Jones, of 
3  Jason Schmidt, rhp 
4  Glenn Williams, ss 
5  Terrell Wade, lhp 
6  Jermaine Dye, of 
7  Damon Hollins, of 
8  Fernando Lunar, c 
9  Damian Moss, lhp 
10 Jose Oliva, 3b

This isn’t a BA miss so much as it’s a great player that fell through the cracks. Chipper hurt his knee in spring training and missed all of the 1994 season. Since he didn’t play in the minors I missed him in my study, but he was obviously still a prospect. If I were to add him to the Atl team WARP total they would move up to #3 just a little behind the #2 team. The two Jones and Schmidt – yeah, I guess Atl deserved the #1 ranking.

LA: BA ranked 4, production ranked 13
1  Todd Hollandsworth, of 
2  Antonio Osuna, rhp 
3  Chan Ho Park, rhp 
4  Roger Cedeno, of 
5  Paul Konerko, c 
6  Karim Garcia, of 
7  Rick Gorecki, rhp 
8  Greg Hansell, rhp 
9  Felix Rodriguez, rhp 
10 Kym Ashworth, lhp

It’s hard to see much of a pattern. I hadn’t realized that Hollandsworth was such a highly rated player. His stats from 1994 aren’t overly impressive. Osuna had a great year, but he was a reliever so the sample of innings was pretty small. Cedeno became a generic fast guy that can’t hit, but he did look pretty good in 1994. Garcia probably didn’t walk enough in retrospect, but his big problem is that I think he aged a couple of years post-9/11. All of these guys were considered pretty big prospects at one point and all ended up as role players. It happens. And yes, that’s Gammons’ Greg “he’ll haunt the Sox right to Cooperstown” Hansell at #8.

KC: BA ranked 5, production ranked 21
1  Johnny Damon, of 
2  Michael Tucker, of 
3  Jim Pittsley, rhp 
4  Sergio Nunez, 2b 
5  Joe Vitiello, 1b 
6  Jeff Granger, lhp 
7  Felix Martinez, ss 
8  Ken Ray, rhp 
9  Matt Smith, 1b 
10 Joe Randa, 3b

Damon certainly panned out. Tucker and Pittsley were both very well regarded and they didn’t. Tucker had a pretty good minor league career. He’s a guy that scouts and statheads both liked and he never made it for whatever reason. Pittsley had an excellent year in A ball at age 20, but he got hurt.

StL: BA ranked 8, production ranked 24
1  Alan Benes, rhp 
2  Brian Barber, rhp 
3  Bret Wagner, lhp 
4  Terry Bradshaw, of 
5  John Mabry, of 
6  Corey Avrard, rhp 
7  Allen Battle, of 
8  Jay Witasick, rhp 
9  Aaron Holbert, ss 
10 Dmitri Young, 1b/of

Benes was an excellent prospect who was worked hard and got hurt. I think Barber and Wagner were pretty highly regarded. I’m not sure if they got hurt, but certainly there’s risk in a team whose top 3 prospects are pitchers.

SD: BA ranked 13, production ranked 25
1  Dustin Hermanson, rhp 
2  Raul Casanova, c 
3  Marc Kroon, rhp 
4  Derrek Lee, 1b 
5  Melvin Nieves, of 
6  Homer Bush, 2b 
7  Ray McDavid, of 
8  Bryce Florie, rhp 
9  Glenn Dishman, lhp 
10 Julio Bruno, 3b
We’re now getting to the teams that BA ranked as mediocre or bad and the team has been much worse. Those low end differences can be pretty small. Similar to the Cards the top 3 is pretty high risk with 2 pitchers and a catcher. If Derrek Lee’s breakout this year is for real, he may end up driving the SD production up closer to the original BA rank.

Cinn: BA ranked 17, production ranked 26
1  Pokey Reese, ss 
2  Pat Watkins, of 
3  C.J. Nitkowski, lhp 
4  Kevin Jarvis, rhp 
5  Scott Sullivan, rhp 
6  Chat Mottola, of 
7  Aaron Boone, 3b 
8  Decomba Conner, of 
9  Tim Belk, 1b 
10 Steve Gibralter, of

Again, there isn’t a huge difference between a below average ranking and bad overall production. Four of these guys – Reese, Nitkowski, Sullivan, Boone – have had MLB careers, but nobody really stepped up as a quality regular.

Tex: BA ranked 20, production ranked 27
1  Julio Santana, rhp 
2  Benji Gil, ss 
3  Terrell Lowery, of 
4  Edwin Diaz, 2b 
5  Mike Bell, 3b 
6  Andrew Vessel, of 
7  Kevin Brown, c 
8  Jim Brower, rhp 
9  Jerry Martin, rhp 
10 Ritchie Moody, lhp

Texas was pretty similar to Cinn except there weren’t really any semi-useful players that emerged from the Top 10.

I’m not sure if there’s any general pattern to these teams. A couple teams seem to have prospects at riskier positions at the top of their lists which makes sense. I think the Dodgers probably presented some problems with their hitters because their AAA team was in the extremely high offense environment in Albuquerque. I’m sure there is more appreciation of park effects within the traditional prospect ranking community. But sometimes they had good reasons to like an organization or a player and it just didn’t work out.

Overall, I’m pretty surprised at how well BA did even with the caveat that they may have been right with the wrong players for some teams. Thanks a bunch of Lahoud digging up the original list.

#2 mr guido

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 10:58 PM

Very, very cool. Nice work guys. And a surprisingly good showing by BA, too.

Could you link to Lahoud's complete list?

A question related to the one I asked in your last 1994 ml thread (which no one has taken a crack at answering yet. For all of Philly's fantastic effort it'd be nice to get more than 2 replies per thread...) Does anyone want to take a stab at naming the major factors that cause the derailment of a highly drafted or ranked prospect?

Is it injury? Off-field issues? Unexpected physical development? Sheer randomness? And how much of each?

Philly's last study on the value of certain draft picks left me wondering how much variance the value of, say, the 25th pick in the draft might have depending on how "good" the scouting/etc team is that makes the pick. Would the '94 scouts of the Atlanta Braves get a higher average value out of that pick than those of the Texas Rangers? Or was the Tex farm system devastated by factors out of their control and in an alternate universe somewhere Benji Gil will be this year's world series MVP?

* Extra points for anyone who can work soft-tossing lefties and college closers into a workable theory of minimizing risk and increasing the value of draft picks.

#3 philly sox fan


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Posted 24 October 2005 - 11:37 PM

Could you link to Lahoud's complete list? 


It's just the BA Rank column from the table. Here's Lahoud's post with it in order though:

In the April 3-16, 1995 issue of BBA, they ranked the 28 farm systems. How does this correlate with your results?

1. Atlanta Braves
2. New York Mets
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Kansas City Royals
6. Houston Astros
7. New York Yankees
8. Saint Louis Cardinals
9. Montreal Expos
10. Cleveland Indians
11. Seattle Mariners
12. Chicago White Sox
13. San Diego Padres
14. Baltimore Orioles
15. Boston Red Sox
16. Minnesota Twins
17. Cincinnati Reds
18. Oakland Athletics
19. Florida Marlins
20. Texas Rangers
21. Pittsburgh Pirates
22. Detroit Tigers
23. Philadelphia Phillies
24. San Francisco Giants
25. California Angels
26. Colorado Rockies
27. Chicago Cubs
28. Milwaukee Brewers


Does anyone want to take a stab at naming the major factors that cause the derailment of a highly drafted or ranked prospect?

Is it injury?  Off-field issues?  Unexpected physical development?  Sheer randomness?  And how much of each?


I think that would be really difficult to determine. I think you'd need to have a very specific baseline understanding of what each player is coming out of the draft. Not just HS vs C or P vs Hitter, but what kind of physical tools, what kind of skills, what kind of weaknesses. Obviously not all late 1st rd pick should be grouped together. And a lot of times nagging injuries and off-field issues might not really be known to outsiders.

Philly's last study on the value of certain draft picks left me wondering how much variance the value of, say, the 25th pick in the draft might have depending on how "good" the scouting/etc team is that makes the pick.  Would the '94 scouts of the Atlanta Braves get a higher average value out of that pick than those of the Texas Rangers?  Or was the Tex farm system devastated by factors out of their control and in an alternate universe somewhere Benji Gil will be this year's world series MVP?


Yeah, I meant to go back and try to answer that. I think one big factor has to be the very difficult to judge player development side of things. The Braves drafted Kevin Millwood in the 11th rd and he became a very good pitcher. Is that mostly luck, mostly good scouting or mostly good player development? I'd lean to luck and PD and say that if some other team drafts him in the 11th rd his chances of becoming a very wealthy man are much lower.

And in fact, it's generally true that the Braves have done worse in terms of picking the right players in the 1st rd, then they have in developing players from later rounds. I think there are a lot of things suggesting that that's more player development than scouting.