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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Saxon: Trout named Minor League Player of the Year

The best minor-leaguer is no longer a minor-leaguer, which is not surprising when you think about it.

Baseball America named Angels outfielder Mike Trout its Minor League Player of the Year after he batted .326 with a .414 on-base percentage, 18 doubles, 13 triples, 11 home runs and 33 steals for Double-A Arkansas.

Trout, 20, is the first Angels prospect to win BA’s award since Tim Salmon in 1992. The following season, Salmon won the Rookie of the Year award. This has been a good season for Angels prospects, as Mark Trumbo has a pretty good shot of winning the Angels first Rookie of the Year award since Salmon did it…

Past winners of the award include Dwight Gooden, Frank Thomas, Manny Ramirez, Jose Canseco, Derek Jeter, Josh Beckett and Joe Mauer. For more on what makes Trout so special, here’s a story we did back in late May when Trout’s star was still just beginning to rise.

still hunting for a halo-red october (in Delphi) Posted: September 08, 2011 at 01:40 AM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, awards, prospect reports

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   1. NJ in NY (Now with Big Girl!) Posted: September 08, 2011 at 03:02 AM (#3919216)
This seemed sort of silly to me. I thought Matt Moore had far and away the best year of any actual prospect.
   2. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 08, 2011 at 04:22 AM (#3919245)
How's this silly? Trout put up all those digits while being the youngest player in the league.
   3. Jack Sommers Posted: September 08, 2011 at 05:03 AM (#3919259)
How is that a better season than Goldschmidts ? .305/.435/.626 30 HR .457 wOBA 170 wRC+
   4. NJ in NY (Now with Big Girl!) Posted: September 08, 2011 at 05:06 AM (#3919260)
[3] Goldschmidt is old (for a top prospect).

[2] Trout played 91 games and for a minor league Player of the Year award I place emphasis on actual time spent in the minors. Even if the playing time was equal, I still feel Moore's numbers are more impressive than Trout's.
   5. Halofan Posted: September 08, 2011 at 06:00 AM (#3919265)
Trout did it at 19 in an extreme pitchers park.
   6. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: September 08, 2011 at 06:04 AM (#3919266)
Goldschmidt is old (for a top prospect).

Is that relevant to this award? I mean I suppose what's relevant is whatever Baseball America says it is, but I see no reason why a Petagine type couldn't and shouldn't take the award. If you want to argue that Trouts broader range of skills makes the difference, that's fine. But I'm not sure "who is the best prospect" is a qualification I'd use for such an award. I think it should be more along the lines of who played the best compared to their level.

I know BA wants to be able to list the former winners so that they are now future stars, but I'm not sure that's how I'd do it.
   7. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 08, 2011 at 06:24 AM (#3919272)
But I'm not sure "who is the best prospect" is a qualification I'd use for such an award. I think it should be more along the lines of who played the best compared to their level.
I've always assumed that BA's Minor League PoY == #1 prospect. It's a much less useful and exciting an award if it's being given to some career minor leaguer who has clearly established that he can't cut it in the bigs.
   8. NJ in NY (Now with Big Girl!) Posted: September 08, 2011 at 06:37 AM (#3919275)
The award isn't just for the best prospect. It is for the top prospect who has the best year. That is how they've always defined it and I think they usually do a good job striking the balance between pre-season prosect hype and present season performance. I just think I would have gone with Moore. I don't think Trout's 91 game performance, as great as it was, is enough to overcome Matt Moore getting on the mound every 5 days and being a legitimate 10K/no-hit threat.
   9. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: September 08, 2011 at 06:42 AM (#3919277)
I've always assumed that BA's Minor League PoY == #1 prospect. It's a much less useful and exciting an award if it's being given to some career minor leaguer who has clearly established that he can't cut it in the bigs.

Then I think they've given it the wrong name.

But then I'm not a big fan of the current minor league structure, not that it matters what I think.
   10. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 08, 2011 at 07:13 AM (#3919282)
Then I think they've given it the wrong name.

Right. There's definitely a disconnect between the name and the criteria. I always thought this disconnect grew over time -- i.e., that some veteran types had won it early in BA's existence -- but a quick check of the prior winners shows that it's always been a prospect award.
   11. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 08, 2011 at 08:26 AM (#3919286)
The award isn't just for the best prospect. It is for the top prospect who has the best year. That is how they've always defined it and I think they usually do a good job striking the balance between pre-season prosect hype and present season performance.
Yep. And I think it's the "prospect" angle, with Trout's age being a huge factor, that won him the award. I'm also incapable of being objective about the awesome walking god that Trout is on his way to becoming, so there's that.
   12. Ron J Posted: September 08, 2011 at 08:42 AM (#3919288)
#10 Not sure sure if BA was handing out the award when Alan Knicely won it. A 29 year old in his 3rd try at AAA after 3 (injury filled) seasons in the majors.

As Voros said, a Petagine type.

What's interesting is that Minor League Player of the Year or no, he was well down the list of prospects in the organization.
   13. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 08, 2011 at 03:10 PM (#3919433)
#10 Not sure sure if BA was handing out the award when Alan Knicely won it. A 29 year old in his 3rd try at AAA after 3 (injury filled) seasons in the majors.

With an assist from Google, Knicely's Player of the Year award was from The Sporting News and not BA. Most of TSN's winners were also prospects, but there were a few guys like Knicely mixed in.
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 08, 2011 at 03:38 PM (#3919467)
I know technically he's not a minor leaguer anymore, but Matt Wieters really should have won it this year.
   15. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 08, 2011 at 04:06 PM (#3919502)
Using 2010's park factors, Trout's OPS+ was 171 and Goldschmidt's was 183

Brian Lahair, 38 homrers and 109 ribbies from Iowa is at 166 (he's 28)

Ryan Lavarway hit .290/.376/.563 between AA and AAA, his OPS+ is 159...
   16. Shredder Posted: September 08, 2011 at 04:07 PM (#3919505)
Then I think they've given it the wrong name.
Why? The award is "Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year". It's not "Player Who Had the Best Season in the Minor Leagues". If BA's criteria for "BAMiLPOY" is as described above, then it's perfectly named, and it rolls off the tongue a little better than "Baseball America Top Minor League Prospect Who Also Had the Best Minor League Season". It's the same argument we get into every year over the term "Most Valuable Player". At least in this case, it's a single entity endorsing its award based on its own criteria, instead of a bunch of baseball writers who each feel like the award means whatever they think it means.

Besides, don't most of the individual minor leagues name their own MVPs? If some AAAA player hits 50 homers and bats .400, then give him the PCL MVP or something.
   17. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 08, 2011 at 04:58 PM (#3919553)
The issue seems to be that a casual observer (or non-BA reader) is likely to consider "Player of the Year" and "Player Who Had the Best Season in the Minor Leagues" to be synonymous.
   18. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: September 08, 2011 at 05:20 PM (#3919572)
16 - "Minor League Prospect of the Year" would be more accurate and every bit as easy to say. It would make it clear that the Petagines and the Knicelys (Knicelies?) of the world are not being considered.
   19. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 08, 2011 at 05:33 PM (#3919586)
16 - "Minor League Prospect of the Year" would be more accurate and every bit as easy to say. It would make it clear that the Petagines and the Knicelys (Knicelies?) of the world are not being considered.

If BA could turn back the clock to 1981, I wonder if they wouldn't have simply named it that. But now, with the target audience knowing what BA is all about and with the award having a 30-year history, that train has probably left the station.

That aside, was the word "prospect" even in wide use 30 years ago? I've been reading BA since 1984 and I worked in MiLB from 1984-91, and it seems like "prospect" didn't enter the vernacular in a big way until maybe the mid- to late-'80s. Back then, it seemed like there were two types of minor leaguers: players and bonus babies.
   20. NJ in NY (Now with Big Girl!) Posted: September 08, 2011 at 05:33 PM (#3919587)
16 - "Minor League Prospect of the Year" would be more accurate and every bit as easy to say. It would make it clear that the Petagines and the Knicelys (Knicelies?) of the world are not being considered.

What about the people who would confuse this with someone being the best prospect in baseball that year?
   21. Shredder Posted: September 08, 2011 at 05:53 PM (#3919606)
The issue seems to be that a casual observer (or non-BA reader) is likely to consider "Player of the Year" and "Player Who Had the Best Season in the Minor Leagues" to be synonymous.
First, I'd disagree with that. I think they're more likely to find it synonymous with "Best player in the minor leagues". If they thought it meant "Minor Leaguer who had the best year", then the winner would ALWAYS have to come from AAA. How could you possibly say that the player who had a great year in A ball had as good a year as a guy who put up similar numbers against much better competition in AAA? Just as you'd never expect people to think a guy in AAA who hit 50 homers and batted .400 had a better year than anyone in the majors.

So at the very least, it should be obvious that context is important. And once you get there, it's hard to argue that some context is important, but other context can be ignored. In Trout's case, it's just not the numbers, but the fact that he was among the youngest players in his league, and in a pitchers' park.

At the major league level, the goal is to produce and win games. We all realize that, and MVP award is supposed to go to the player who is the best at doing the things major leaguers are supposed to do. On the other hand, for minor leaguers, the goal is to develop their skills and make the majors. The way they prove their ability is by outplaying the competition at their age level and league classification. The MiLB player of the year should go to the player who is the best at doing what minor leaguers are supposed to do. It shouldn't go to the guy who just puts up big numbers even though he's 28 years old, and probably won't get 500 major league at bats before he retires. That's what individual league MVPs are for.

Now, there may be a legitimate argument that, based on said criteria, Trout's shouldn't be the MiLB player of year. Maybe it should be Matt Moore. I don't really care either way. It's a nice feather in his cap, but whether or not he wins the award, that doesn't make the Angels any better right now. But that's not the point. The point is that the award for MiLB POY should go to the guy who does the best job of doing what minor leaguers are supposed to do. Minor leaguers aren't supposed to be 28 years old and still in the minor leagues.
   22. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 08, 2011 at 06:10 PM (#3919615)
The point is that the award for MiLB POY should go to the guy who does the best job of doing what minor leaguers are supposed to do.


I'd say it depends on what you think the minor leagues are for. Some might say they're merely instructional leagues/feeders for the big league team and serve no purpose other than that, but some enjoy the minor league ball experience as an end in itself. Some people enjoy college basketball or football without seeing it as merely a weigh station for the NFL and NBA. They don't give out the Heisman trophy to the player they think will do best in the NFL.

Ultimately few people really care about this award (I barely care enough to make this comment, but here we are), but I guess I feel for the 28 year old minor leaguers - Mike Trout is probably going to have a collection of awards and large bank accounts, and those guys are going to have some stories.
   23. Shredder Posted: September 08, 2011 at 06:21 PM (#3919624)
They don't give out the Heisman trophy to the player they think will do best in the NFL.
Just as the PCL doesn't award its MVP to the league's best prospect (unless they happen to overlap). But Baseball America isn't the New York Athletic Club. One of its major functions is to evaluate and report on potential.
but some enjoy the minor league ball experience as an end in itself.
I'm sure that's the case, but does anyone really get excited over who wins the Texas League championship? Even people who follow their local AA team closely know that who wins and loses at the end of the season is largely dependent not on who had the best team all year, but by who's left at the end of the season when the major leagues expand their rosters (assuming their best players aren't moved up earlier). I think you'd find people enjoying the NCAA tournament a lot less if most of the best players got called up to the NBA in early March.
   24. Flack42 Posted: September 08, 2011 at 06:33 PM (#3919632)
Break out the fish jokes! Trout was the first Angels' farmhand to win since Tim Salmon.
   25. Rally Posted: September 08, 2011 at 06:55 PM (#3919655)
That aside, was the word "prospect" even in wide use 30 years ago? I've been reading BA since 1984 and I worked in MiLB from 1984-91, and it seems like "prospect" didn't enter the vernacular in a big way until maybe the mid- to late-'80s. Back then, it seemed like there were two types of minor leaguers: players and bonus babies


A google search through old Baseball Digest issues turns up with this from 1951:

"Mickey Mantle looked so much more like a great prospect this spring than most rookies do that he was lauded to the skies. He was another Ty Cobb, another DiMaggio..."

Break out the fish jokes!


Angels org also includes OF Justin Bass and LHP Robert Fish
   26. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 08, 2011 at 07:48 PM (#3919701)
That aside, was the word "prospect" even in wide use 30 years ago? I've been reading BA since 1984 and I worked in MiLB from 1984-91, and it seems like "prospect" didn't enter the vernacular in a big way until maybe the mid- to late-'80s. Back then, it seemed like there were two types of minor leaguers: players and bonus babies


"Bonus baby" was long out of fashion by 1980, and "prospect" was in common use as long as I've been following baseball- since the early/mid 70s.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: September 08, 2011 at 08:48 PM (#3919760)
The BA Award is maybe similar to the Naismith (or other) player of the year award in college basketball. It's not generally given to the guy with the gaudiest numbers but to the "best" player ... almost always on a top team and perhaps too driven by rep than performance but generally to a guy everybody agrees is among the most talented. The numbers never suck but Ralph Sampson won 3 straight while never averaging 20 points a game and one of those years was even under 16 (with a good number of rebounds so you might still argue his numbers stack up).

The CBB awards have, probably to their credit, always had a thing for "good all-around players".
   28. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: September 08, 2011 at 08:58 PM (#3919767)
Trout was the first Angels' farmhand to win since Tim Salmon.


So he's farm-raised?
   29. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 09, 2011 at 12:28 AM (#3919920)
A google search through old Baseball Digest issues turns up with this from 1951:

"Bonus baby" was long out of fashion by 1980, and "prospect" was in common use as long as I've been following baseball- since the early/mid 70s.

I wasn't referring to the first use or origin of the word "prospect"; I meant wide, day-to-day use. I heard the phrase "bonus baby" all the time around the NY-P and I.L. in the '80s, but I don't recall anything close to the current obsession with prospects. I don't think even BA itself started ranking prospects, etc., until many years into its existence. (Before around 1990, people didn't even know the round in which most players were drafted. MLB would only issue an alphabetical listing, many days/weeks after the draft.)
   30. Jack Sommers Posted: September 09, 2011 at 04:50 AM (#3920048)
[3] Goldschmidt is old (for a top prospect).


He's only 23.

He only played in 315 Minor league games, so hardly an aging, career minor league. Not even close.

Don't understand why people think of him that way.
   31. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 09, 2011 at 09:55 PM (#3920622)
For people interested in the Trout vs. Moore debate, BA's latest podcast is up and it deals extensively with the POY award.
   32. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 09, 2011 at 11:02 PM (#3920657)
(Before around 1990, people didn't even know the round in which most players were drafted. MLB would only issue an alphabetical listing, many days/weeks after the draft.)


The time period that MLB withheld the draft order was brief and was done solely to dampen bonuses.
Everyone in NY knew in that Darryl Strawberry was drafted first in 1980, and in 1984/85 the msm was fascinated for some reason by the various "prospects" who'd been drafted ahead of Dwight Gooden.

I heard the phrase "bonus baby" all the time around the NY-P and I.L. in the '80s,

I don't know about the NY-Penn league or the IL back then, but I was in Buffalo in 1984-86 (old American Association), and the media there referred to the players as "prospects."
I also had a subscription to BA in the mid 80s, and they referred to guys as being "prospects."
   33. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 09, 2011 at 11:18 PM (#3920668)
Everyone in NY knew in that Darryl Strawberry was drafted first in 1980, and in 1984/85 the msm was fascinated for some reason by the various "prospects" who'd been drafted ahead of Dwight Gooden.

Right, the first rounders were known and then the other names were withheld until after they signed or when an alphabetical listing was released in the late summer or early fall. Aside from the bonus issue, MLB thought college coaches were using the draft lists for recruiting and that players were using their draft status to get scholarships (or better scholarships).

I don't know about the NY-Penn league or the IL back then, but I was in Buffalo in 1984-86 (old American Association), and the media there referred to the players as "prospects."
I also had a subscription to BA in the mid 80s, and they referred to guys as being "prospects."

I might have buried the lede, but my main point is this: The fascination with prospects is a relatively new phenomenon in MLB. The average baseball fan probably heard the word "prospect" 98 percent less in 1985 than he does today. Likewise, while Baseball America is now synonymous with "prospects" (and has been for a good 20 years), I don't believe that was at all the case in BA's earliest years in the early '80s.

For purposes of this thread, to the extent there's a controversy re: BA's Player of the Year award -- and it seems like a non-controversy, really -- it's because people sense a disconnect between BA's core mission and its use of the word "Player" instead of "Prospect" in its POY award. Since BA's readers know what it's all about, it's mostly no harm, no foul.
   34. Ron J Posted: September 10, 2011 at 04:35 AM (#3920893)
#33 I think you're right. I think things really took off with Bill James' MLE article -- and more important with the Bagwell projection. Plus the Ken Phelps All-Stars article.

It didn't immediately follow these -- took some time to really grab hold. You got things like the Minor league Scouting Notebook and the Minor League Handbook and of course Prospectus several years later. Those efforts were a response to an untapped demand and also expanded the number of people interested in the issue. More fantasy keeper leagues of all sorts allowed you to draft prospects.

It's not that people weren't aware of young talented athletes, but there was an absolute belief that how players played in the minors told you absolutely zip about how they'd do in the majors so there was no real reason to worry about a young player until he was given a chance to play.

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