This week, I found several old Baseball America handbooks at my house that I don’t even remember purchasing. After finishing the system rankings, I decided to go through BA’s 2006 handbook to see how their rankings turned out. Not wanting to spend much time using advanced criteria, I used a very simple system. I went through and marked the players listed who were ever reasonably productive in the major leagues and/or remain one of their organization’s legitimate prospects. The method is arbitrary as it’s difficult to determine which players ”made it,” but basically, I was looking for players who established themselves as a reasonably productive every day major league player for an extended period of time (at least 2-3 months).
Reviewing the rankings taught me (or reinforced) several things. First, Baseball America does a terrific job with their rankings, as the rankings listed below are their original rankings from 2006. Second, since so many prospects bust, system depth is extremely important. The Dodgers–who BA ranked #1–are a great example because many of their “impact players” were not the top prospects.
Finally, for fantasy baseball purposes, the rankings show older prospects have a considerably better chance of success than an equally-ranked younger prospect. More than half (about 60-65%) of the players who ranked among their organization’s top 10 prospects in 2006 who never established themselves as a major league regulars (or are not still prospects) were players who had not reached AA. This would be less troubling if a significantly greater number of these players became impact players. However, judging from this small sample size, the impact these players had was not great enough to justify the risk of failure (especially in a fantasy league).
Here are Baseball America’s original ’06 rankings along with the number of quality major leaguers each system produced (and the “impact players”). With a few exceptions, BA’s accuracy is pretty impressive.
- Dodgers 13 Billingsley, Russell Martin, Broxton, Kemp, James Loney, and Carlos Santana.
- Marlins 11 Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Dan Uggla
- Angels 14 Howie Kendrick, Jered Weaver, and Kendry Morales
- D’Backs 11 Upton, Stephen Drew, Carlos Quentin, Carlos Gonzales, and Mark Reynolds
- Brewers 12 Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Gallardo, Corey Hart, Alcides Escobar, Nelson Cruz
- Twins 8 Francisco Liriano, Jason Kubel, Matt Garza, Denard Span
- Red Sox 10 Jon Lester, Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Clay Bucholz
- Braves 9 Elvis Andrus, Yunel Escobar, and Martin Prado
- Rockies 11 Ian Stewart, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Troy Tulowitzki
- Devil Rays 11 Delmon Young, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, and Jeremy Hellickson
- Indians 10 Fausto Carmona
- White Sox 8 Bobby Jenks and Chris Young
- Orioles 6 Nick Markakis
- Tigers 8 Justin Verlander and Jair Jurrgens
- Cubs 9 Carlos Marmol, Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot
- Rangers 9 Edinson Volquez, John Danks, Ian Kinsler, C.J. Wilson
- Yankees 7 Phil Hughes
- Giants 9 Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Brian Wilson, Pablo Sandoval
- Pirates 12 McCutcheon, Jose Bautista, McClouth, Capps, Rajai Davis, and Nyjer Morgan
- Astros 7 Hunter Pence, Ben Zobrist
- Cardinals 10 Colby Rasmus, Adam Wainright, Jaime Garcia
- Phillies 11 Cole Hamels, Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino
- Royals 4 Billy Butler
- Nationals 4 Ryan Zimmerman
- Blue Jays 8 Ricky Romero, Adam Lind, Shaun Marcum
- Athletics 8 Andre Ethier
- Mariners 8 Adam Jones, Shin Soo Choo
- Padres 5 Chase Headley
- Reds 7 Jay Bruce, Joey Votto
- Mets 9 Mike Pelfrey, Matt Lindstrom, John Niese