Archive for the ‘FanGraphs’ Category

Though all kinds of immediate transaction stuff remains up in the air– the Jays don’t have a damn manager yet, for example– the off-season is also a time filled with looks to the future, and how each organization’s valuable future commodities performed during the year. Yes, we’re already starting to see the front edge of the next wave of prospect porn, as Marc Hulet of FanGraphs weighs in on his Top 15 Jays prospects, while David Laurila gives us a Q&A with the list’s number two man, Aaron Sanchez.

As always when I post about these things, I’m a little hesitant about how much of Marc’s outstanding work I want to provide here– go and read it in it’s entirety for yourself– but there are definitely a few things worth examining, both on their own, and in relation to last year’s list, which looks quite a bit different in a number of ways.

At the very top, things are basically the same. Anthony Gose has graduated, and Travis d’Arnaud moves up a spot to take over as the club’s top prospect. Interestingly, though, the sense Hulet gives is of a player who the Jays might be more inclined to deal than incumbent backstop JP Arencibia, who we’re told the organization remains committed to, despite offensive struggles, “because of the trust he’s built up with the pitching staff.”

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“The Toronto Blue Jays organization has most of the pieces necessary to not only field a playoff-caliber team but to also build a dynasty if it plays its cards well,” says FanGraphs at the conclusion of their explanation for the Jays’ possibly-low but still outstanding 9th place ranking among MLB franchises. “The minor league system is strong and should be able to sustain a steady stream of talent, although the new restraints on acquiring amateur talent will offer a challenge to the club. The organization also has stable ownership and, theoretically, the money necessary to acquire some star talent to supplement those currently on the 25-man roster.”

They actually ranked eighth in 2011.

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I’ve almost completely lost the ability to keep track of which sites have published their lists of the Top 100-ish prospects in baseball, so I must admit that it comes as kind of surprise to me to see that today over at FanGraphs, Marc Hulet has thrown his hat into the Top 100 ring– and the hats of several Jays farmhands, if that makes sense.

Landing the second-most prospects on the list, one behind the Atlanta Braves’ eight, and tied with the Oakland A’s, seven Jays make the grade for Hulet, the first being– perhaps surprisingly– Anthony Gose.

The toolsy-as-fuck centre fielder ranks 36th for Hulet, with catcher Travis d’Arnaud right in behind him at 37.

Gose comes in as the fifth-ranked outfielder, while d’Arnaud is third among catchers (behind the Reds’ Devin Mesoraco and catcher-in-name-only Jesus Montero).

Dan Norris and Drew Hutchison are also paired up, at numbers 53 and 54 respectively, with Norris number nine among lefty starters, and Hutchison 19th among right-handers.

Pitchers Justin Nicolino– tenth among left-handers– and Noah Syndergaard– 23rd among righties– are paired as well, at 63 and 64. Finishin off the list is outfielder Jake Marisnick– 12th at his position– not far behind at 66th overall.

Hmmm. At this point, I think we can all feel pretty confident that the Jays system is a little bit on the absurdly good side. Fucking yes!

I suspect that I’ve been giving far too much airtime to a little thing like FanGraphs’ interesting, but hardly earth-shattering, series of positional power rankings, but… Opening Day is still a month away, so it at least gives us something to talk about that isn’t going to be repeated ad nauseam over the next four weeks. And, like I said, it’s been interesting– even though the rankings are based largely on ZiPS projections we all could have looked at for ourselves already.

Today’s, though, which ranks the rotations, I actually had a couple issues with. Not so much the Jays coming in at 19th– because… whatever– but with the write-up.

Prepare for some nitpicking. Cameron writes:

With Romero, Morrow, and Alvarez, ZIPS sees the makings of a strong rotation going forward, but the lack of quality at the back-end looks to be a real problem this year. That said, there is some talent there, and it’s not completely out of the question that a guy like Drabek could find the form that made him a real prospect a few years ago. If the Blue Jays want to contend for the second wild card, though, they’d do well to get a solid veteran who would raise the floor of what they could expect from their #5 starter, and keep an implosion from the young kids from ruining their season.

To get one tiny bit of pedantry out of the way first, I’d like to point out that you only need to go back one calendar year, not “a few years,” to find a time when Kyle Drabek was still a ridiculously highly-regarded prospect. Lest we forget, for 2011 he was 29th for Baseball America, 14th at Baseball Prospectus, 13th according to Keith Law, and FanGraphs’ own rankings had him 25th.

Granted, it does feel like it’s been a hell of a long time since he was a Prospect Who Mattered, but it really hasn’t been.

The other issue I had– and this one also comes with a caveat– is the stuff about how the Jays could best contend to maybe, possibly contend for the second Wild Card spot, earning themselves a spot in a coin flip of a play-in game. It’s not exactly the way the Jays should be anywhere close to contemplating looking at things. I’d trade the minuscule chance of being close to getting into a play-in game for the opportunity to see what the club has got and who steps up at the back of the rotation– especially since, if the door remains open mid-season, and the back-end of the rotation remains in flux, the club can always make a trade then, rather than having blocked some of their young arms at the outset.

Of course, FanGraphs’ M.O. with these rankings has been to focus solely on 2012, which is why the Jays get no points for all the potentially-lethal arms they’ve got coming through the system, and why, one assumes, Cameron is talking about what it would take for them to make a run this season, and not considering their intentions to keep building.

So… there’s that.

It’s hard to get too worked up over FanGraphs’ recent positional power rankings series, seeing as the basis of it is “the ZIPS projections for each player on the depth chart, and combining those with the expected fielding rating from the FAN’s projections and our best estimates of the quantity of playing time that a player will get at the given position.”

So, if Colby Rasmus is crazily behind-Lorenzo-Cain low at 28th, it’s mostly because the projections see his shittacular 2011 and adjust accordingly– not because any one person is suggesting that he doesn’t have the potential to be a whole lot better.

That said, it was kinda nice to see Yunel Escobar way up in third at the shortstop position, perhaps even better to see Brett Lawrie sitting at number eight for third base, and I can’t say it’s not awesome that today we see Jose Bautista is tops among right fielders– thoroughly unsurprising as that ranking may be.

Better still is what Jack Moore has to say about him in the piece:

He’s real, and he’s fantastic.

Jose Bautista turned heads in 2010 when he hit 54 home runs, but as a 29-year-old with little history as a slugger, many expected decline in 2011. But Bautista would have none of it — he was even better in 2011, getting his BABIP back up from .233 to .309, walking an absurd 20.9% of the time and making more contact than the average hitter. Bautista has the total package and is possibly the most complete hitter in the game right now — Albert Pujols seems the only current competition for that title. There should be no question right now that Bautista will challenge for the American League MVP again in 2012.

Nails much?

Buck goes through various stages of grieving after hearing of his 25th place finish in FanGraphs crowdsourced broadcaster rankings, while Pat, as always, looks about as sharp as a bag of wet hair (though not Buck’s hair, which I assume must never get wet).

FanGraphs released the bottom third of the broadcaster rankings they began crowdsourcing for back in November, and– lo and behold!– the Jays TV combo of Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler slot in at number 25.

Interestingly, they were the most voted-on broadcast team in the Majors, by an evil margin– something I’m going to totally attribute to the DJF bump– with 414 ballots cast, while the next-highest was the Dodgers, with 322.

Perhaps more interestingly, Carson Cistuli’s analysis of the reader input pretty much nailed it. “It seems, generally, that Toronto fans much prefer the radio broadcast of Ashby and Howarth — and regard Martinez as probably a slightly above-average color (or, uh, colour) man doing play-by-play work,” he writes. Um… bingo.

The pair received 2.8 out of five, overall, with a 2.7 for analysis and a 2.8 for charisma. They beat the Phillies, Braves, Rockies, Cardinals, and Dodgers (away, non-Scully) teams– and, of course, the insufferable White Sox crew.

Images via the Blue Jay Hunter