Everyone’s got a list. Something something about buttholes and opinions, I know.
But when Chris St. John makes his prospect list, it’s a little different. He brings all of the prominent prospect lists together to make one list to rule them all. It’s a great way to do things if you want to know what the industry consensus is on a guy, and it’s the way a statistician would make a list.
Hidden with the folds of this list are some very interesting players, too. The players that defy consensus. The volatile prospects. And those players, well, there’s where our ‘research’ comes in this week.
St. John already wrote up a nice article about which players were notable in each list for their inclusion, exclusion, and ranking. Articles are nice and all, but tables and lists are better, right? So I took his article and made a pivot report of the article. That’s how much of a nerd I can be. What follows is a list of the players that were mentioned the most — positive, negative, whatever — and could therefore be thought of as the ‘non-consensus’ prospects, or the most volatile prospects.
There are a bunch of twos on the list, most notably Julio Teheran, Didi Gregorious, Jameson Taillon, Leonys Martin, and recent callup Jose Fernandez in Miami. For whatever reason, these guys don’t lend themselves to a consensus opinion. In some cases, it’s probably disagreement about future roles — Jarred Cosart could be a reliever or a starter, Jonathan Schoop could be a second baseman or a third baseman, Matt Davidson might need to move to first — and in other cases, it’s just a disagreement about skills.
But we can do this better. So I asked St. John to add a column to his list: standard deviation per prospect. Surprisingly, he did. And so now we can give you the twenty prospects that had the highest standard deviation among their different rankings. Sorted by standard deviation, your most volatile prospects:
Yasiel Puig, number one with a bullet. Puig is what I call a helium prospect — he’s rising fast due to hype and spring training performance — and so his difference in ranking may have to do with release date on the different prospect lists. Before this spring training, he was not necessarily ticketed for Double-A, even. He was raw and the power was there, but what would his strikeout rate look like? In spring, he struck out less than 20% again, and showed the power, and was on every spring leaderboard. Players in re-draft leagues should even be on the lookout for him, particularly with Yahoo’s new N/A spot on some rosters. He’s one of the few impact top-level prospects that *might* be available in leagues like that.
Deeper prospect leaguers can take a long look at this list if they are looking to acquire prospects in their dynasty leagues. Only Noah Syndergaard and Trevor Rosenthal are top-50 prospects, though, so let’s limit the list to the top 50, instead of the top 100+, and see which top-50 prospects are the most volatile. This is list is once again sorted by standard deviation.
Basically a list of sleeper prospects. If the experts can’t agree on them, that means your league won’t agree on them. Now you can look at your most trusted list and see which one your prospect guy likes most, or you can try to pull up some video and take a look for yourself. But these are the guys that will see the most movement this year, most likely, because they’re already so far apart on each list.
But what you may want to do, actually, is find a player that you already own on this list, and see if someone in your league covets that player because they trust one talent evaluator over the other, and then trade the player for talent that is already in the bigs.
Because, as Chris Cwik found for FanGraphs+, very few prospects make an impact in their first year. And as Scott McKinney found for Royals Review, the bust rate on even the most elite prospects — top ten pitchers — is over 50%. Top ten hitters bust around 40% of the time.
Given that nobody on any of these lists is a consensus top ten prospect, and then that even the best talent evaluators in the media can’t agree on their value, the bust rate for these players has to be significantly higher. Maybe it’s time to start shopping your prospects?