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Sunday, August 07, 2022

Driveline: Do Team Wins Matter in the Minor Leagues?

I think the majority opinion around professional baseball is a more balanced approach, where they care a little bit about minor league wins/losses, but not a whole lot. 63.8% of Twitter respondents out of 5,449 votes are in or around that bucket, with 27.3% saying that wins/losses don’t matter at all. I would say this is likely close to the split of MLB organizations’ opinions, with the devil in the details of the “Important but not primary” answer – which, for the record, is also my answer.

But as stated above, the devil truly is in the details. How important is “important but not primary?” When I was the Director of Pitching of the Cincinnati Reds, the organization cared a great deal about winning in the minor leagues, which I actually agreed with. They didn’t put it above everything, but the win/loss records mattered to them. And win we did, posting the best winning percentage in the minor leagues since 2006, and the first time over .500 in a decade.

This made me proud, because while winning is indeed a byproduct of development of your players – and our pitchers saw incredible gains from 2019-2021 – I truly believe that winning itself is an intrinsic skill. I’ve discussed this with a number of professional players and front office executives, and the easiest way to sum up what I believe about winning in the minor leagues is that winning is the only thing that matters at the big league level, and not caring about it at any level before that is setting a player up for failure – especially on a winning team.

Furthermore, many Twitter responders pointed out something relevant: It’s simply not fun to play on a losing team, knowing you’re going to show up and get your ass kicked on a daily basis. A culture of winning breeds a more friendly workplace, and makes it easier to put in that extra work for your career and the team’s benefit. It helps the coaches hold players accountable on a regular basis, and sharpens the small things in the game that get amplified on the largest stage.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 07, 2022 at 06:08 PM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minors

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   1. John Northey Posted: August 08, 2022 at 12:03 AM (#6090575)
I'd see some value in AA and lower records as the AAA team exists to help the ML team by having players ready to contribute to the ML team thus their rotation and pen and lineup can all get royally screwed if the big team needs a pinch runner then the MVP candidate for the AAA team goes up and they have to scramble. If the big team needs a LH reliever then the ace of the rotation in AAA could be called up to sit on the bench 5 days out of 6 then only throw 1 or 2 innings while the AAA team needs to find someone to eat innings.

A/A+/AA don't have the same degree of issues as teams will keep their best prospects at the level they feel is appropriate most of the season. Of course, then those teams need to use their ace for a max of 3 innings even if he is throwing a perfect 9 up 9 down if the big team says that is all he goes. etc.

For a quick check lets see recent WS winners AAA teams...
2021: Atlanta - 71-58
2020: Dodgers - N/A
2019: Washington - 65-75
2018: Boston - 66-73
2017: Houston - 77-65
2016: Cubs - 67-76
2015: Royals - 80-64

So 3 were sub 500 in AAA, 3 were over 500 of the last 6 who had minor league teams playing (bloody 2020). I see no trend. Now, mix in all division winners or playoff partipants and you might see more, or do a regression analysis for AAA record vs ML record, or a A+ vs ML 3 years later and you might see something but I doubt it.

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