The Saber's Edge: Good Bet To Succeed?

The Saber's Edge: Good Bet To Succeed?

This article is part of our The Saber's Edge series.

Fantasy owners are always looking for the next big prospect. Most of the time, I would just recommend taking the top rated prospect determined by a composite of several rankings. This week, we are going to look further and use some 2014 stats to assess our options. It is now near the mid-season point when some prospect experts will be putting out some updated lists of players who have climbed, fallen, or graduated. I will try to get a jump on those lists. Today, I will look at all of the position players in Baseball America's 2014 Top 100 list and determine their chances of becoming productive MLB hitters.

To determine if a player can be successful, I am going to use the work of Chris St. John at Beyondtheboxscore.com. Last year, he looked at the success rates of prospects using their minor league walk and strikeout rates at certain league levels, and according to their age. He divided the data into three categories, Productive, Average and Bust. Here is his description of the categories.

0.01 Batting runs should be Batting runs per plate appearance, I've fixed that up above. Productive players have at least 1500 MLB PAs with more than 0.01 batting runs per PA, average players are 1,500 MLB PAs with 0 to 0.01 batting runs per PA, and busts are fewer than 0 batting runs per PA or fewer than 1500 MLB PAs.

The .01 Batting Runs per PA would put the player in the top-75

Fantasy owners are always looking for the next big prospect. Most of the time, I would just recommend taking the top rated prospect determined by a composite of several rankings. This week, we are going to look further and use some 2014 stats to assess our options. It is now near the mid-season point when some prospect experts will be putting out some updated lists of players who have climbed, fallen, or graduated. I will try to get a jump on those lists. Today, I will look at all of the position players in Baseball America's 2014 Top 100 list and determine their chances of becoming productive MLB hitters.

To determine if a player can be successful, I am going to use the work of Chris St. John at Beyondtheboxscore.com. Last year, he looked at the success rates of prospects using their minor league walk and strikeout rates at certain league levels, and according to their age. He divided the data into three categories, Productive, Average and Bust. Here is his description of the categories.

0.01 Batting runs should be Batting runs per plate appearance, I've fixed that up above. Productive players have at least 1500 MLB PAs with more than 0.01 batting runs per PA, average players are 1,500 MLB PAs with 0 to 0.01 batting runs per PA, and busts are fewer than 0 batting runs per PA or fewer than 1500 MLB PAs.

The .01 Batting Runs per PA would put the player in the top-75 MLB hitters which is around the 2013 production levels of Pedro Alvarez, Jedd Gyorko, and Brett Gardner. Now, Batting Runs look at the total hitting production including under-appreciated (and usually unused) walks and doubles. Home run and stolen-base talents should be given more fantasy consideration.

For the study, I am just going to look at the overall success rates for the level, not the age-specific success rate. For reference, Chris used 7.7% for the low BB% and 10.5% for the high mark. For strikeouts, it was 15.4% for the low mark and 20.8% for the high mark. Some players are right on the line, but I went ahead and used the closest success rate. If a player is near a cut off, it may be wise to go ahead and look at the other K% BB% combo's success rate. Additionally, I only looked at hitters with a minimum 50 PAs at a level. With the background out of the way, here are the current hitting prospects ranked by their chance of becoming a productive major leaguer.



NameAgeBA RankTeamBB%K%PAProd%Avg%Bust%
Mookie Betts2175Red Sox (AA)14%9%25334%21%45%
Carlos Correa197Astros (A+)12%18%29332%11%57%
Reese Mcguire1981Pirates (A)8%11%21330%14%57%
J.P. Crawford1978Phillies (A)14%16%26728%9%64%
Marcus Semien2391White Sox (AAA)14%17%8727%11%63%
Mookie Betts2175Red Sox (AAA)12%16%9227%11%63%
Taylor Lindsey2293Angels (AAA)11%13%26227%12%62%
Francisco Lindor2013Indians (AA)11%18%31824%8%67%
George Springer2418Astros (AAA)15%29%6123%6%70%
Joc Pederson2234Dodgers (AAA)17%35%33123%6%70%
Jon Singleton2282Astros (AAA)18%27%23923%6%70%
Joey Gallo2060Rangers (AA)16%49%5621%10%69%
Kris Bryant228Cubs (AA)14%31%29721%10%69%
Corey Seager2037Dodgers (A+)7%22%29620%6%74%
D.J. Peterson2285Mariners (A+)8%24%29920%6%74%
Jorge Alfaro2154Rangers (A+)6%26%28820%6%74%
Nick Williams2097Rangers (A+)4%30%21920%6%74%
Raul Mondesi1847Royals (A+)6%28%22320%6%74%
Gary Sanchez2135Yankees (AA)9%20%25820%6%73%
David Dahl2094Rockies (A)6%18%30519%17%64%
Gregory Polanco2210Pirates (AAA)9%18%27417%17%67%
Devon Travis2384Tigers (AA)5%13%16017%9%74%
Blake Swihart2273Red Sox (AA)6%15%25317%9%74%
Dominic Smith1992Mets (A)9%18%28017%6%78%
Hunter Renfroe2280Padres (A+)9%29%31617%4%78%
Alen Hanson2176Pirates (AA)5%19%30116%11%73%
Austin Hedges2127Padres (AA)5%17%25716%11%73%
Rougned Odor2042Rangers (AA)5%17%13816%11%73%
Joey Gallo2060Rangers (A+)21%34%24615%7%78%
Albert Almora2036Cubs (A+)3%13%27514%13%73%
Clint Frazier1948Indians (A)10%32%26911%5%84%
Christian Bethancourt2269Braves (AAA)4%17%23210%10%81%
Jake Marisnick2379Marlins (AAA)4%18%27410%10%81%
Maikel Franco2117Phillies (AAA)7%17%31010%10%81%
Garin Cecchini2374Red Sox (AAA)10%24%25110%7%83%
Matt Davidson2372White Sox (AAA)9%37%27510%7%83%
Rosell Herrera2186Rockies (A+)6%18%1439%9%81%
Colin Moran2161Marlins (A+)6%16%2479%9%81%
Arismendy Alcantara22100Cubs (AAA)6%25%2979%3%88%
Javier Baez215Cubs (AAA)6%37%2669%3%88%
Kolten Wong2358Cardinals (AAA)6%9%687%4%90%
Oscar Taveras223Cardinals (AAA)7%13%2517%4%90%
Stephen Piscotty2370Cardinals (AAA)7%14%3057%4%90%
Travis d'Arnaud2538Mets (AAA)5%9%597%4%90%
Jorge Bonifacio2190Royals (AA)9%24%3164%4%92%

I will first go over how I would use the information and then go over a few players.

Redraft Leagues

The key here is to concentrate on Triple-A players. These players are the ones who will most likely be called up to fill a void on the MLB roster later this season. At this point, it will be difficult for a hitter to make the jump from Double-A to the majors, but players like Kris Bryant who have already made the move to Triple-A may be worth examining. Owners need to focus on 2014 production. Even though Travis d'Arnaud is at the bottom of the list, he is a prospect and if he's starting, a must play in NL-only leagues where warm bodies are a must.

Limited Keeper Options

I would only concentrate players at Double-A or Triple-A with a 20% of being productive and a high BA (or RotoWire) prospect ranking. Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant and Francisco Lindor would be at the top of the list. With limited keepers, it is probably smart to keep established above average major leaguers rather than players who may become above average major leaguers.

Deep Keeper/Dynasty Leagues

In these formats, I would just begin trying to acquire whichever players I can. Many will probably already be taken, so the pickings may be slim. You may want to begin looking for players on other top 100 lists and see their Productivity chances. Additionally, you may read about or consider a prospect to now be in the top 100. Find out where they rank. For example, my Royals homeritis may think Hunter Dozier is a top-100 prospect with his 13% BB% and 21% K% in High-A. His 21% K% puts him right between the average and high strikeout averages, to go along with a high walk rate. Going with the average K%, he has a 32% chance of being Productive, but with a high strikeout rate the number drops to 15%. So far in Double-A, he has struck out seven times in 16 PA. Right now his K% may be limit his chances for success.

Comments on some players

Mookie Betts – Besides having the prospect with the first (when using his Double-A numbers) and sixth-best (using his Triple-A numbers) chance to become Productive, the Red Sox are making every indication that they plan on bringing him up this season as an outfielder. He has some pop, but should get on base and be a great source of stolen bases and runs (if batting high in the lineup). Shallow redraft league leagues are the only place I would not make a point to own him right now.

Oscar Taveras – Every report loves Taveras, but his inability to take a walk may be his down fall. The man has good solid contact rates in the minors. His issue will be making solid enough contact at the major league level to turn the those swings into hits as MLB pitchers expand the strike zone on him. ZiPS right now has him projected at a 5.6% BB% and 12.7% K%. Those levels work out for numbers similar to Salvador Perez, Alex Rios, Brandon Phillips and Daniel Murphy.

Joey Gallo, Joc Pederson, Clint Frazier, Javier Baez and Matt Davidson – No matter the success rate for players above a certain K%, I do set a limit to the level I will consider acceptable. I am just not a fan of players with a 30% or greater K% in the minors because it will probably only increase in the majors. It is extremely tough to be productive striking out over 30% of the time.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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