Friday, February 12, 2010

This Week's Mailbag

Some great questions this week...

NickyP from the Bronx asks:

Just recently found your site and I really like how you go about things. Looking at the upcoming draft, it seems to be weak on hitters. Who is the best college hitter that will be available?

There are only three ‘sure’ first round college position players at this point in the year: Chris Colon, Zack Cox and Bryce Brentz. Because Colon plays a premium position (SS), he is likely to be the first of these three selected, but likely has the weakest bat of the three (we still like him a lot though). So that leaves it to the other two. You’ll get a variety of opinions on this, and I feel fairly confident that Cox will be selected ahead of Brentz, for three reasons: 1) He is more likely to stay at 3B than Brentz is to stay in CF; 2) He plays in a tougher conference that generates more publicity; and 3) There have been questions raised about Brentz’s work ethic/attitude. We actually rated Cox ahead of Brentz in the Prospect eGuide, but as we told everyone last June…from our perspective—speaking hitting skills only, Brentz is the best pure hitter.

Corblan from El Paso writes:

I have an upcoming fantasy draft of players that are mainly from the MLB draft last June. Strasburg and Ackley are an easy 1-2, and Chapman is likely to go #3. I have the #4 pick and don’t know who to take.

Not an easy question to answer, because every league not only has its own rules, but they have their own personalities as to what they value more (i.e. hitters vs. pitchers, youth vs. experience, etc). That said, I’ll try to give you my take on who I would consider. As far as college pitchers, I like the certainty of Gibson and Leake over the upside of Scheppers, but none of them would warrant that high of a pick—for me. I loved the prep pitchers in June’s draft, but the best one (Matzek) went to the Rockies, so that reduces his ‘fantasy’ value. We prefer Turner to Miller, but given the inherent risks of prep pitchers, it doesn’t seem like a good bet, to me, for the #4 pick. While the prep hitting class wasn’t tremendously strong, there are three that deserve consideration: Mike Trout, Bobby Borchering and Jiovanny Mier. While we think Mier is the best pure prep SS to be available in at least the last five years, his upside doesn’t likely warrant that high of a pick. We love Borchering’s bat, and if we were certain that he would stay at 3B, that might be a worthwhile selection—but we aren’t. Mike Trout was an absolute steal by the Angels in the #25 spot. He looks to be the type of player that would earn points in all fantasy categories, and has a tremendous ceiling. He was a late riser in the draft, and because he played his high school ball in the Northeast, a lot of teams didn’t get many looks at him. I am sure that if the draft were held again today, he would be a top 10 pick. I didn’t over look Tate…I just don’t believe his best skills translate as well to the fantasy game. Which brings me to the relatively weak class of college hitters. While college hitters have a good history of being solid selections in the draft, outside of the very upper echelon, they don’t typically produce high upsides. Ackley is the only one from this class with a tremendous ceiling. Tony Sanchez had a solid debut, and looks to be the primary backstop in Pittsburgh in relatively short order…but he is not likely to be anything more than solid Major League average. Brett Jackson also had a great debut, but he isn’t a sure bet to succeed with his over-aggressive plate approach. He’d be a consideration, but #4 seems a bit high. Jared Mitchell has the highest upside of the players not named Ackley, and has plus-plus speed, but he is a big risk. If you believe in his very raw bat, then you might consider him. For me, the best blend of certainty, upside, and premium position is Grant Green, who looks likely to remain at SS in the Oakland system, has above average offensive skills, and has a very high-floor. If I owned the #4 pick, the three players that I would be looking at, in order, are probably Grant Green, Mike Trout, and Jared Mitchell.

DVV asks:

I read your entire team series, and I really enjoyed it. What I don’t understand is why no love for my Orioles? Keith Law has them #6 and BA has them #9.

For those of you who purchased the Prospect eGuide, you’ll notice that when we ranked the teams, we actually listed their expected Total System Career Wins Above Replacement. That is how we rank the teams. We actually calculate an expected Career WAR for each prospect and total them up. The highest total gets the highest ranking—it’s actually quite simple. So the real question is why didn’t the Orioles score a higher expected WAR? It boils down to predominantly three things: 1) There system isn’t that deep, as we had a difficult time just coming up with fifty prospects that deserved to be ranked; 2) Because pitchers are a riskier bet than hitters, their expected career WAR tends to be lower. Five of the first six prospects in the Orioles’ system are pitchers; and 3) We don’t feel as ‘warm and fuzzy’ about their best position player prospect (Josh Bell) as do others. In fact, now that you mention it, I’d really like to see the objective rationale from the other sources as to why they ranked the Orioles so high.

Thanks for reading, and if you haven’t yet purchased the Prospect eGuide, please do so—it’s well worth the money. You can find all of the details here:

Keep those questions coming!

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