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Thursday, March 20, 2014

FiveThirtyEight | What to Expect From Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects

Top 20 or bust!

For example, Baseball America’s No. 1 slot gets 46 WAR from 1995’s top prospect, Alex Rodriguez. But the top spot loses 1.9 WAR from Todd Van Poppel, one of the game’s all-time biggest busts. Among 18 players from 1990 to 2007, the average for Baseball America’s top spot was nearly 20 WAR.

Do this for all 100 slots, and you arrive at an average, early-career WAR total for each ranking. It’s not a perfectly smooth drop-off from each spot to the next — for instance, the average at No. 10 (15.5 WAR) was quite a bit higher than the average at No. 5 (9.3) — but overall, the shape of the list’s average WAR resembles a logarithmic curve. In other words, a disproportionate amount of WAR is generated by the top handful of prospects.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 20, 2014 at 11:44 AM | 57 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: prospects, sabermetrics

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   1. Baldrick Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:03 PM (#4674448)
Well that's some really hard-hitting and innovative analysis.

Is that what 538 is going to be? Recycling of work done by people who study things in detail, with no meaningful added value - but with charts!
   2. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4674450)
Well that's some really hard-hitting and innovative analysis.

Is that what 538 is going to be? Recycling of work done by people who study things in detail, with no meaningful added value - but with charts!


It's from the Data Lab portion of the site.. It's kind of like the Triangle thing over at Grantland.

Or the 538 description of the Data Lab.
   3. MikeTorrez Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4674451)
Well that's some really hard-hitting and innovative analysis.

Is that what 538 is going to be? Recycling of work done by people who study things in detail, with no meaningful added value - but with charts!


Baldrick, if we carry on like this, you're going to turn into an Alsatian again.
   4. dr. scott Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4674452)
It's from the Data Lab portion of the site.. It's kind of like the Triangle thing over at Grantland.


Agree, but as its most of the content, and I have yet to read one that was interesting, I think they may be shooting themselves in the foot. So far in general I'm not at all impressed with the new site, and I religiously updated the original and NYtimes site.
   5. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4674455)
Agree, but as its most of the content, and I have yet to read one that was interesting, I think they may be shooting themselves in the foot. So far in general I'm not at all impressed with the new site, and I religiously updated the original and NYtimes site.


I'll give it two and a half years.
   6. McCoy Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:14 PM (#4674457)
You ain't the target audience. 538 isn't a site geared towards the SABR heavy crowd that have been eating up baseball analysis for years and years. For a lot of their audience this is new work.
   7. jmurph Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4674468)
I'm certainly not writing them off after 3+ days, that would be crazy, but I do think it's fair to point out that they've had a fairly unimpressive beginning from a content standpoint. Obviously we aren't yet aware of how many readers they're drawing in, which I suppose is the much bigger test.

I've pretty much gone from "this is can't miss, it will be great" to "hmmm, I guess we'll see what happens."
   8. dr. scott Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4674475)
#7 exactly.

I will say one thing, its not uneven. The editorial style is very consistent even on Data Lab... its just not interesting for the most part yet.
   9. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:36 PM (#4674478)
It would be interesting to break that out by age, and see whether there was a difference in expected outcomes for a 19-year-old in a particular slot vs. a 23-year-old in the same slot.
   10. Baldrick Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4674485)
You ain't the target audience. 538 isn't a site geared towards the SABR heavy crowd that have been eating up baseball analysis for years and years. For a lot of their audience this is new work.

I get that idea, I was just hoping that wasn't what the enterprise was going to be. Because that's a pretty low bar for them to set for themselves.

I'll be really sad if 538 in fact turns out to be the Reader's Digest version of statistical analysis - where they take complicated stuff that's already been done by other people and dumb it down for a mass audience.
   11. dr. scott Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4674490)
I'll be really sad if 538 in fact turns out to be the Reader's Digest version of statistical analysis - where they take complicated stuff that's already been done by other people and dumb it down for a mass audience.


Actually so far those articles Ive liked better than the "original" research (though they could still use more meat). The fitness article seemed to go nowhere, and offered no conclusions... like many of them. Since one of the problems is that conclusions cannot be verified without a lot of work i expect a lot of articles to conclude only with questions, usually the same question the article started with... which I don't find very satisfying. But as 7 said, Ill give them a long runway.
   12. John Northey Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4674491)
Agreed on the weak start for 538. They had an article on if you could eat McDonalds on a low dollar amount and used calories as the guideline. Pretty sad reporting as I was hoping for a nutrition breakdown. I mean, I could've wrote something far better and more useful in about 30 minutes (grabbing nutritional info off McDonald's web site, put into Excel, add in prices, and see what it would take to have 100% of certain vitamins and what it would cost per day then extrapolate over a full year to see what your income would need to be based on percentage you should spend on food).

Right now they are looking a lot like those sites I see ads for which provide content like "top 10 super heroes who should have their own movies" and the like. Basically, articles that assume you have a low IQ and want to be spoon fed content in tiny little bites.
   13. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4674492)
I'll be really sad if 538 in fact turns out to be the Reader's Digest version of statistical analysis - where they take complicated stuff that's already been done by other people and dumb it down for a mass audience.
I'd be OK with that because then the mass audience is being exposed to statistical analysis, even the Reader's Digest version. Remember: We're still in a world where many stadium scoreboards still show the Triple Crown stats rather than OPS.

Baby steps, people.
   14. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: March 20, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4674493)
I'll be really sad if 538 in fact turns out to be the Reader's Digest version of statistical analysis - where they take complicated stuff that's already been done by other people and dumb it down for a mass audience.


I'd be disappointed too, but if it helps some people better understand the sometimes counterintuitive world of statistics, than I guess that's a good thing. A few of the articles mention Bayesian concepts, which is nice. I think this article is pretty good about understanding health science reporting, but I wonder how many people will actually read it or actually follow its advice.



   15. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: March 20, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4674501)
I'll be really sad if 538 in fact turns out to be the Reader's Digest version of statistical analysis - where they take complicated stuff that's already been done by other people and dumb it down for a mass audience.


Nobody ever went broke "dumbing it down for a mass audience." You guys want your cake and to eat it too. You complain that sabermetrics isn't appreciated by the common fan, then you complain when someone goes to some effort to make sabermetrics digestible and understandable to the common fan. Adding charts is a value add, by the way. Data visualization is a massive enterprise and it helps relay complex data quickly, far better than cross tabs ever have or ever will.
   16. bookbook Posted: March 20, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4674539)
I'll be really sad if 538 in fact turns out to be the Reader's Digest version of statistical analysis - where they take complicated stuff that's already been done by other people and dumb it down for a mass audience.


Nate's point, that I've heard him repeat several times in several places, is that his statistical work on analyzing political races wasn't groundbreaking, revolutionary analysis. It was new to the world in that he put it all together systematically, (though his model seemingly was better than that of others, which Nate modestly downplays) and that he managed to reach the mainstream audience and tell them what was not shocking to obscure polling experts.

Sharing, and making accessible to a non-expert audience, expert analysis would be a great service to the world.
   17. DL from MN Posted: March 20, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4674551)
take complicated stuff that's already been done by other people and dumb it down for a mass audience.


Isn't that why we have Rob Neyer?
   18. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: March 20, 2014 at 03:00 PM (#4674563)
I'm not crazy about subtracting the negative WARs from these draft totals. I would just zero them out. If a guy truly accumulated less value than a replacement player, then his team made a mistake in playing him. But that doesn't say anything about the theoretical prospective value of players drafted in the same slot.
   19. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: March 20, 2014 at 03:18 PM (#4674576)
I think 538's story on the effect of Irish immigration on the population of the United States was a particular lowlight. There are many questions raised by the article but I particularly liked this assumption:
This model assumes that Irish immigrants’ birth rates were the same as those of Americans. That’s incorrect. As late as 1910, Irish immigrants were having far more babies than the average (6.5 children compared to 3.4).
   20. SteveM. Posted: March 20, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4674589)
I think 538's story on the effect of Irish immigration on the population of the United States was a particular lowlight. There are many questions raised by the article but I particularly liked this assumption:

This model assumes that Irish immigrants’ birth rates were the same as those of Americans. That’s incorrect. As late as 1910, Irish immigrants were having far more babies than the average (6.5 children compared to 3.4).


Wait, they had to do a statistical analysis to learn that Catholic immigrants had large families? They never met my great-grandmother who had 17 kids.
   21. Baldrick Posted: March 20, 2014 at 03:41 PM (#4674591)
Nate's point, that I've heard him repeat several times in several places, is that his statistical work on analyzing political races wasn't groundbreaking, revolutionary analysis. It was new to the world in that he put it all together systematically, (though his model seemingly was better than that of others, which Nate modestly downplays) and that he managed to reach the mainstream audience and tell them what was not shocking to obscure polling experts.

Sharing, and making accessible to a non-expert audience, expert analysis would be a great service to the world.

His work on the primaries wasn't simply that. He was doing actual interesting new work. And it was great. But yes, his general election analysis was all about his ability to write well and present freely available information in a coherent and interesting form. And if that's what they were doing so far, I would be fine with it.

There's three things they could successfully do here. 1) turn statistical tools to new projects, or to old projects in new ways. 2) present the information but explain it in a way that it hasn't previously been explained. 3) provide visuals to clarify data that otherwise wouldn't be illuminating. I was hoping they would actually do some of #1. Maybe that was misguided. But still, while #2 and #3 are 'just packaging,' that's fine. Packaging if done well is quite valuable, as you say. So I don't mean to disparage packaging as such. I mean to disparage inept packaging. Unfortunately, most of what I've seen so far is worse than if they had just linked to stuff already presented by other people. These folks don't seem to write nearly as well as Nate, and they (so far) aren't making up for that gap with much else.

I hope that changes. I have a lot of faith in Nate Silver himself; I'm worried that his brand isn't going to live up to what he himself can do. Of course it's very early, and I will definitely stick with it for a while. But I don't think it's crazy to say the rollout has been less impressive than many had hoped.
   22. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: March 20, 2014 at 03:55 PM (#4674604)
But I don't think it's crazy to say the rollout has been less impressive than many had hoped.


I think at rollout they didn't have one of those "bam, mic drop" kind of articles like Grantland did. I think one of the first articles I read over at Grantland was the "Oral History of The National".
   23. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: March 20, 2014 at 03:55 PM (#4674605)
Wait, they had to do a statistical analysis to learn that Catholic immigrants had large families?
Worse. It was a statistical analysis on population growth that didn't take into account that Irish Catholics had a birthrate almost double the national average.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4674628)
I'd be OK with that because then the mass audience is being exposed to statistical analysis, even the Reader's Digest version. Remember: We're still in a world where many stadium scoreboards still show the Triple Crown stats rather than OPS.

WAR is on the back of baseball cards. We won. Now it is time to drive our enemies before us and hear the lamentations of their women.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2014 at 05:00 PM (#4674638)
Clicked through, that was quite uninspiring.

Things to make it better ... projected WAR by team for the current BA top 100 ... how are the 2008-whenever crowd doing so far relative to model ... position vs pitcher (pitcher injuries may require completely separate treatment and I'd guess they're more of the flameouts) ... it's really more a mixture distribution than a straight log -- again, the first distribution is made the majors (or accumulated some min PA/IP in the majors) then the WAR conditional on that (which could land you back in the same place.

I'm OK with the negative WAR. I understand that a player making the majors is more successful than the guy who never does and so a neg WAR for the former and zero for the latter seems "unfair." But of course many of these guys are replacement level but that just means they are as likely to put up (small) positive WAR as negative WAR -- if you zero out the negatives then you will end up over-rating the replacement level players in the data.

That is, playing Todd van Poppel (or whoever) is no more or less a mistake than playing the replacement-level guy who gave you +2 WAR,you just had "bad luck" with TvP and "good luck" with the other guy. Of course in this specific case you could argue that TvP was genuinely sub-replacement and the only reason TvP was given that chance is because he was #1.

   26. Howling John Shade Posted: March 20, 2014 at 05:51 PM (#4674651)
I think the blog-like, quick hitting pieces can work if they're targeted at topical things. If you're going to offer a quick, surface-level take on something, it better be something that a lot of people are already interested in.

If you're going to focus on other topics (Irish immigration, the most surprising baseball seasons since 2006, how many carrier pigeons would you need for all our email, etc), you need to put more work in and get the reader interested in the topic. Grantland usually does this well. FiveThirtyEight (so far) seems to be offering somewhat sloppy, surface level takes on pretty random things.

Silver always had a large, highly invested audience for the election analysis, so I wonder if picking subject matter is going to be a problem for the site.
   27. BochysFingers Posted: March 20, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4674654)
Sharing, and making accessible to a non-expert audience, expert analysis would be a great service to the world.

This, this, a thousand times this. If you want deep analysis sans relating to a mass audience, we have the Tom Tango universe.

I think the revamped 538 will do just fine.

   28. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: March 20, 2014 at 06:35 PM (#4674660)
I think the revamped 538 will do just fine.
So when are they going to start?
   29. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 20, 2014 at 06:45 PM (#4674662)
That is, playing Todd van Poppel (or whoever) is no more or less a mistake than playing the replacement-level guy who gave you +2 WAR,you just had "bad luck" with TvP and "good luck" with the other guy. Of course in this specific case you could argue that TvP was genuinely sub-replacement and the only reason TvP was given that chance is because he was #1.


I think it's pretty obvious in TVP's case that he got more MLB playing time than he merited simply because of his draft/contract status - I mean yowza- age 19 in AA he has a 115/90 K/bb ratio in 132 IP? That would seem to me a clear indication tat he didn't belong in AA, next year in AAA he walked more than he struck out. He goes back to AA at age 21, puts up a 71/54 k/bb in 79 IP and gets promoted to MLB? Where he spends the next 3.5 years getting his head handed to him by MLB hitters...

Dewon Brazelton was another one- 271 MLB innnings, does he even get 1/2 that if he wasn't a 3rd overall pick?
Andrew Miller - consensus best pitching prospect of his class, without that label does he have an MLB career? (his MLB career is eerily similar to TVP's right down to having the same flukish ERA+ spike in the pen at the same age

   30. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: March 20, 2014 at 07:27 PM (#4674666)
One thing I'll say for the new 538, they have full rss feeds. I am so, so happy about that. I'll forgive them growing pains for that reason alone.
   31. What's the realistic upside, RMc? Posted: March 20, 2014 at 07:32 PM (#4674670)
Numberz 4 Dummies!
   32. McCoy Posted: March 20, 2014 at 07:39 PM (#4674671)
The great thing about high draft pick Cub players is that the Cubs have no problem not playing them.

For instance Ryan Harvey was drafted 6th in 2003 and he didn't even get out of A ball until 2008 and played a grand total of 207 games in AA over his final 3 organized baseball seasons. Then there is Luis Montanez who got drafted 3rd in 2000 and it took him until 2005 to get to AA and it wouldn't be until 2008 that he got a cup of coffee in the majors.
   33. Baldrick Posted: March 20, 2014 at 07:53 PM (#4674673)
One thing I'll say for the new 538, they have full rss feeds. I am so, so happy about that. I'll forgive them growing pains for that reason alone.

I agree!

Except that they seem to have like 7 different RSS feeds, which duplicate some (but not all) of the material. Which means right now I'm signed up for a bunch of feeds which send me multiple copies of the same post. Am I missing the one mega-feed that resolves that problem?
   34. pure bull Posted: March 20, 2014 at 08:12 PM (#4674677)
if 538's aim is to bring another wave of folks along into looking at baseball thru modern analytic eyes...they'll probably start interspersing more...hardcore...analytical articles in the next several weeks. to cast a wide net, you start out pretty damn vanilla...
   35. bookbook Posted: March 20, 2014 at 08:37 PM (#4674680)
Yeah. I'm not so hopeful that I'll learn anything new about baseball from 538. If he can take the global climate change data and make it more accessible, or point out the detrimental effect on economic growth of massive income disparity, or explain the popularity of two and a half men, then he'll be doing something.
   36. Scott Lange Posted: March 20, 2014 at 08:47 PM (#4674681)
I agree that the new site has been surprisingly unappealing so far. Its early, but it feels like dozens of pieces, all in the same voice, most of them posing a cutesy question and failing to reach an answer due to insufficient data.

But I'm posting because I'm pretty sure their latest article, on the SAT, is just wrong. It says that because the new SAT eliminated the penalty for wrong answers, you should always guess (assuming you don't know the answer). That is true, of course. But it also says:

Yet by encouraging guessing, the College Board is introducing statistical noise to the scores. Maybe my score is 1,200 ± 30 under the current system, and it’s 1,200 ± 40 under the new system.

This is wrong. With the penalty for wrong answers, you had a choice when you didn't know answers: guess, or leave them blank. If you left them blank, you would have no variance- your score would be the number you got right. If you guessed, you might get lucky, or you might get unlucky. Both options had the same "EV," or average expected result, but you had the choice between a high-variance strategy and a low-variance strategy.

Under the new system, you should always guess, so essentially everyone is forced into the high-variance strategy. So, instead of "my score is 1,200 ± 30 under the current system, and it’s 1,200 ± 40 under the new system," the article should say "my score was 1,200 plus an optional ± 30 under the old system, but now its simply 1200 ± 30, like it or not." (Of course, there are other sources of variance, like bad luck with which questions you happen to get, what you ate for breakfast, etc, but the article and I are both assuming you either know the answer or you don't for each question.)

OK, I'll go yell at a cloud now.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2014 at 11:42 PM (#4674699)
Part of the TvP story is that he would have been out of options quite quickly. I don't recall if he was signed to an ML contract (I would hope not) but the pub-driven age 19 debut puts him on the 40-man roster and you can't get him off without exposing him to waivers. So I'm pretty sure he's out of options at the end of his age 22 season so they either keep him on the 25-man at 23 or DFA him.

Still, the peripherals on his age 23 season look just fine. And from 21-23 he is a smidgen above replacement so it's not obvious it was a terrible decision to have him in the majors. The wheels came off completely at 24 (-2.6 WAR in one season is really, really bad). Still, despite that disaster he ended up at -.5 WAR for his career. I'd say our best guess is he was replacement level the whole time (remember, it's sillyball -- replacement level pitching was very scary looking).

And he managed to sucker the Rangers out of $4.5 M -- wish I could do that.

And the list of long-career replacement level pitchers is longer than we might think -- at least 800 IP, <3 career WAR, by IP: surprisingly few Cubs

Names I wouldn't have necessarily guessed were on that list (and <1 career WAR): Tim Redding, Chad Durbin, Dickie Noles, Mike Kekich (-5 WAR!), Wade Blasingame (-3 WAR), Allen Watson, Pete Broberg, Randy Lerch (-4).

At the top of the IP list -- all with positive WAR but also with 1500-1700 IP -- are Cloninger, LaCoss, Hawkins and Blue Moon. That's a lot of mediocrity. At 23-24, Odom had almost 6 WAR -- the rest of the career, not so good even though it included 2 more solid seasons.

Anyway, it's 65 pitchers, 45 in the expansion era, 19 in the last 20 years. If your arm is still attached and you can sneak a fastball by Pete Kozma, somebody somewhere will need you on the mound before the season is over.
   38. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: March 21, 2014 at 12:46 AM (#4674714)
Re:37 Even as a kid I always wondered why Jesse Jefferson was allowed to keep pitching.
   39. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 21, 2014 at 08:58 AM (#4674748)
Odom got hurt in 1970, and never really recovered; he got shunted to the back of the A's rotation after that. This article discusses some of his post-career problems, from which he appears to have recovered.

Tony Cloninger is the only pitcher to have hit two grand slams in one game, which he did in this game. His problem was always location. There were a lot of guys like this in the early 60s - Cloninger, Bob Veale, Jim Maloney, Sam McDowell, and Wade Blasingame (also mentioned by Walt), to name a few - who had successful but relatively short careers in part because the 1963-1968 strike zone minimized the impact of their command issues. I think it was kind of a double-edged sword; had the strike zone not expanded, they might have been able to adapt and possibly pitched longer, but then again, the control issues might have meant that they struggled for years a la Koufax.

-- MWE
   40. A Fatty Cow That Need Two Seats Posted: March 21, 2014 at 09:06 AM (#4674752)
Wade Blasingame (-3 WAR)


'Hi. I'm Wade Blasingame. No, not the ballplayer - the attorney-at-law.'
   41. villageidiom Posted: March 21, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4674775)
Part of the TvP story is that he would have been out of options quite quickly. I don't recall if he was signed to an ML contract (I would hope not) but the pub-driven age 19 debut puts him on the 40-man roster and you can't get him off without exposing him to waivers. So I'm pretty sure he's out of options at the end of his age 22 season so they either keep him on the 25-man at 23 or DFA him.
Options have to do with being removed from the 25-man roster, not the 40-man roster. And they are only lost if used. If they put him on the 40-man but never called him up, no options are used.
   42. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 21, 2014 at 10:11 AM (#4674790)
And he managed to sucker the Rangers out of $4.5 M -- wish I could do that.


He was coming off a 165 ERA+ season, of course not only was he not really that good overall, he likely wasn't that good that specific year (2001), the batting line against him was .223/.316/.390 which is good, but not ERA+ 165 good, batters had an OPS+ of 90 against him, which is more consistent with an ERA+ of 112-115 than 165 (That year, and that year only he was utterly dominant with RISP, just 75 ip it wasn't a skill he had just random variation)

are Cloninger, LaCoss, Hawkins and Blue Moon. That's a lot of mediocrity.


well yes, those 4 also can be described as being better than TVP
   43. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: March 21, 2014 at 10:38 AM (#4674806)
Walt - he was signed to a major league contract. I believe that was a demand of his (or more likely his father) to sign, which is why he slipped to the A's. So he did run out of options quickly since he was brought up at age 19.
   44. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: March 21, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4674813)
Options have to do with being removed from the 25-man roster, not the 40-man roster. And they are only lost if used. If they put him on the 40-man but never called him up, no options are used.


I don't believe this is correct. Once on the 40, you have three options. You can be sent down as many times in a season (which would include spring training) and it uses one option, but each year on the 40 counts as an option year whether you are ever on the 25 man or not. So Van Poppel would have been out at the end of his age 21 season I believe.
   45. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 21, 2014 at 10:58 AM (#4674824)
each year on the 40 counts as an option year whether you are ever on the 25 man or not


Only if an option is used. If you spend the entire year on the major league DL, for example, it doesn't count as an option.

-- MWE
   46. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: March 21, 2014 at 11:46 AM (#4674849)
Thanks Mike - yes, thanks for the clarification. But to villageidiom's point, if he had been on the 40 each spring then sent to the minors before the season started, then that's an option used, whether he ever pitched a major league inning that season or not.
   47. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 21, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4674855)
If they put him on the 40-man but never called him up, no options are used.


During the season, that can't happen, because the process of placing a player on the 40-man roster during the season involves a transfer of his contract from the minor league team to the major league team. That's why you see references to a player's contract being "purchased" from the minor-league affiliate when a player is added to the 40-man - that is, literally, what it is. The player can be called up and placed on the major league DL, or called up and placed on the 25-man, but to be left in the minors his major league contract has to be assigned, under option, to the minor league team.

-- MWE
   48. AROM Posted: March 21, 2014 at 12:04 PM (#4674858)
Todd Van Poppel -

As early as 1995 he showed some signs of being useful, as a reliever. That year he pitched 48 innings in relief with a 3.54 ERA, 16 unintentional walks, 46 K, and only 3 HR. But he was awful as a starter (5.60 ERA).

Despite some success in the pen, his teams keep moving him in and out of the rotation for a few years, until the 2000-2002 Cubs let him stay in the pen, where he had the only successful stretch of his career.

After that, he went to Cincinnati, where they give him a few more starts, he's predictably awful, and finally out of baseball.

For his career, he's got a 4.60 ERA in the pen, with 8.6 K/9. Given that most of his career was from 1993-2004, that's probably about league average. Nothing great, but some value in the role. As a starter, his ERA was 6.31.

Against righties he allowed a line of 254/321/430. That's not really good, but lefties hit him at 286/391/513. That's why he needed to be in the pen - where managers can use him based on matchups, instead of opponent managers stacking the lineup against him.
   49. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: March 21, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4674860)
Just to follow up on Mike's thing.. Rob Neyer posted this on ESPN years back.

From the "Options" section:

After three years as a pro, a player must be protected on a team's 40-man roster, or he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft (more on that later). Once he's served those three years, and assuming he is added to the 40-man roster, his club then has what are called "options" on him.

When a player is on the 40-man roster but not on the 25-man Major League roster, he is on "optional assignment." One common misconception about the rules is that a player may only be "optioned out" three times. Actually, each player has three option years, and he can be sent up and down as many times as the club chooses within those three seasons.

When you hear that a player is "out of options," that means he's been on the 40-man roster during three different seasons, beginning with his fourth as a pro, and to be sent down again he'll have to clear waivers (more on those below).
   50. villageidiom Posted: March 21, 2014 at 01:07 PM (#4674893)
If they put him on the 40-man but never called him up, no options are used.
Sorry for the confusion on this, I was thinking one thing and typed another. If they put him on the 25-man roster but never sent him down, no options are used.

That goes with Walt's point on TvP, that he burned through his options quickly given that he was signed to a MLB contract but not MLB-ready. One of the things that also worked against the A's was that TvP's injury in 1992 didn't lead to him missing the whole season. Had he spent the whole season on the DL it wouldn't have burned an option. Both the time lost to injury and, on returning, the time lost regaining his stuff, probably burned his last two options alone.
   51. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: March 21, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4674904)
That was an interesting draft for the A's - I remember the hullabaloo about the "Big 4" pitchers the A's took that year, all within the first 36 picks - the other three were Don Peters, David Zancanaro and Kirk Dressendorfer. Dressendorfer was the only other one to pitch in the majors and he had arm issues his entire career, never pitching more than 65 imnning in any single season. Peters got as high as AAA, but only threw 26 innings at that level and Zancanaro was a little better (or maybe just more healthy) and managed around 450 IP at AAA. A total wash out that hurt the A's considerably over the next few years.
   52. dr. scott Posted: March 21, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4674908)
I agree that the new site has been surprisingly unappealing so far. Its early, but it feels like dozens of pieces, all in the same voice, most of them posing a cutesy question and failing to reach an answer due to insufficient data.


#36, This is exactly what I was trying to say earlier (maybe its the name). That being said I have found a couple of articles that have risen above that formula, but in general this was why I have not been overly excited about the rollout.

Also, i think in general the Baseball pieces may often be lacking for this audience, much like some of his political articles likely get criticism from the serious political wonks. Im fine with that. Its the cutesy questions with no useful analysis that i have found so uninspiring.
   53. Bourbon Samurai Posted: March 21, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4674913)
I had many cards if the "four aces"
   54. Walt Davis Posted: March 21, 2014 at 05:28 PM (#4675056)
Back to TvP and options ... possibly he had one left at 23. He pitched in the minors at ages 19,20,21. I could have sworn I saw an age 22 season as well, but nope. The 20-21 years had to have burned options. But looks like he was in the majors the entire time at 22 (1994 -- the strike year always throws me off).

But if he did sign an ML deal, then they were gone by 23 ... or if he was on the 40-man at 19 before being called up in Sept but that would have been really dumb unless he was on an ML deal.
   55. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: March 21, 2014 at 08:26 PM (#4675112)
Wasn't that four aces thing right around the same time as New York's "Generation K", which ultimately produced one pretty good closer (for another team) and a bunch of incomplete / bad seasons?
   56. The Polish Sausage Racer Posted: March 24, 2014 at 05:11 PM (#4676396)
I was at TvP's first professional minor league game. His first pitch was a ball, and after all the massive hype about this kid and his contract, the blue-collar crowd let loose with the loudest, longest, lustiest booing I've ever heard. I've always wondered if that damaged him somehow, to suddenly be excoriated and hated after a single pitch.

His dumb, dumb contract certainly nailed the lid on his coffin shut before he threw that pitch though. If you wanted to design a contract for a kid to fail, that was it.
   57. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 24, 2014 at 06:29 PM (#4676477)
asn't that four aces thing right around the same time as New York's "Generation K",


What gets me about the "4 aces" is that none of the 4 pitched particularly well at any level (excepting 30 IP stretches here and there- none had a good full season in the minors let alone the majors)
TVP has been analyzed to death, but:
Peters had 2 years of college and proceeded to put up a K/bb ratio of less than one with an ERA of 5.00 in the SL,
Zancanaro was another college guy and he struggled in A ball
Dressendorfer was... always hurt?

The next year their top pick was the immortal Mike Rossiter
then the next came Benji Grigsby, then came Willie Adams and John Wasdin

There was a 4-5 year stretch when they drafted a huge load of pitchers in the 1st round/supplemental, and basically until they got Mulder they were getting absolutely nothing, bad drafting? bad development? bad luck?

I think the big difference between Generation K and the "4 Aces", is that each member of Gen K actually had success in the minors- and were top ranked prospects by BA, Wilson's 1st full year in the minors saw him post a 194/44 K/BB ratio in 187 IP
then his arm fell off... and Isringhausen's arm fell off (his was successfully reattached) and Pulse's fell off...

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