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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Tank for Kumar? With the grand prize of Vanderbilt’s Rocker on the line, it’s bottom or bust for the Rangers

Tardius, Minus, Kumar!

Slower, Lower, Kumar!

That’s Kumar as in Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt’s man-mountain of a pitcher and the grand prize awaiting baseball’s most abysmal team in next year’s draft.

Before getting your holier-than-thou hackles up, simmer down. Now’s no time for the faint of heart or stomach. Don’t tell me tanking sets a bad example for the kids. Shame on you for letting your kids watch these Rangers in the first place.

Besides, it’s not like we thought of it first. Already hashtags are circulating nation-wide as fans realize there could actually be a pot of gold at the end of this pandemic. #TankforKumar is the politest of the campaigns. In the interests of keeping it kid-friendly, go with #KumarRanger. In a sign of good faith, I’ll even sign over the marketing rights.

You’re welcome.

The rest is up to the Rangers, and, frankly, even though they’re among five teams in the race to the bottom, they’re off to a slow start. Over the weekend, they played some of their best ball at the worst time, splitting a series with Oakland. This simply won’t do. Losing four to the A’s not only would have put the Rangers on Pittsburgh’s tail with two weeks left, it wouldn’t have so much as raised Rob Manfred’s eyebrow.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:15 AM | 49 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: kumar rocker, rangers, tanking

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   1. bfan Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:36 AM (#5976936)
Can we at least see how once in a generation talent, chance the face of baseball Hunter Greene turns out, before we anoint Kumar?
   2. Zonk Would Do Not Much Different Posted: September 16, 2020 at 12:13 PM (#5976949)
Can we at least see how once in a generation talent, chance the face of baseball Hunter Greene turns out, before we anoint Kumar?


I think Greene blew out his elbow in 2019, no?

But yeah... it's funny how nearly every draft has a "franchise cornerstone, once in a generation" pick.

That said - I do think Rocker is better than the average "once in a generation" (who is really just the consensus #1) pick. Not Mark Prior level hype, but maybe a notch below.
   3. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: September 16, 2020 at 12:16 PM (#5976950)
Not Mark Prior level hype, but maybe a notch below.


Todd Van Poppel?
   4. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 12:18 PM (#5976951)
John had a one-nighter with an Indian woman?
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 12:25 PM (#5976953)
Rocker was probably the best high school pitcher I have ever seen, granted, most of what I have seen is grainy Youtube footage from the last decade, but he looked legit and now he's dominating in the toughest conference in college.


John had a one-nighter with an Indian woman?


His dad is former NFL player Tracy Rocker.
   6. Zonk Would Do Not Much Different Posted: September 16, 2020 at 12:46 PM (#5976960)
It's obviously been a long time, but I think Prior was maybe more hyped than Van Poppel, no?

IDK, I have a natural tendency to distinguish between "Once in a generation" where = HS and "once in a generation" where = college...

Talent is talent, but agreeing with AG1F - this is where I've become a Rocker believer. You could make a case for him as a top pick out of HS, but he's made himself the obvious top pick based on what he's done since joining Vandy....
   7. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: September 16, 2020 at 12:54 PM (#5976963)
It's obviously been a long time, but I think Prior was maybe more hyped than Van Poppel, no?


Probably so. You're talking about ~10 years difference, Internet, cable sports, etc. As I recall, VP had the additional leverage/drama of a scholarship to Texas that fed into the hype.

Anyway, the reference was more of a joke about being careful what you wish for, so you don't miss out on the pitcher and wind up with Chipper Jones.
   8. McCoy Posted: September 16, 2020 at 01:17 PM (#5976971)
If I remember correctly they changed the rules after VP because MLB didn't want to pay for once in a generation talent and those changed rules is why Prior went to college instead of getting drafted higher out of high school.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 16, 2020 at 01:27 PM (#5976973)
I've become a Rocker believer.
Springsteen/Monkees mashup?
   10. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 16, 2020 at 01:30 PM (#5976975)
Probably so. You're talking about ~10 years difference, Internet, cable sports, etc. As I recall, VP had the additional leverage/drama of a scholarship to Texas that fed into the hype.
Plus the height of the baseball card craze. That was a huge factor, maybe even more so than the media technology that's come about since then. Through cards, baseball had way more mainstream market/consciousness penetration than it has had since.
   11. Rally Posted: September 16, 2020 at 02:36 PM (#5976989)
My recollection is the Prior hype was about the same as the Strasburg hype.
   12. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 16, 2020 at 02:37 PM (#5976990)
I distinctly remember a newspaper (The Tribune? The Onion? what I don't remember is which newspaper) with the headline "The Messiah Arrives" when Prior made his debut.

There were a couple hyped-over-the moon young pitchers in the early 90s in VP and McDonald. Both were disappointments, but McDonald was probably better than memory makes him out to be. Actually: let's compare Prior and McD. I think that in the popular imagination (certainly in mine) Prior was a much better pitcher, just one who got hurt. But it's closer than you (or at least I) might think. Prior does lead in ERA+ 124 to 115, but McD pitched twice as many innings. I'd say that Prior was definitely better, but the ERA+ lead is not so huge and doubling his innings might have brought it down some.
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 02:41 PM (#5976991)

There were a couple hyped-over-the moon young pitchers in the early 90s in VP and McDonald


Don't forget Paul Wilson/Bill Pulsipher/Jason Isringhausen with the Mets.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: September 16, 2020 at 02:45 PM (#5976992)

My recollection is the Prior hype was about the same as the Strasburg hype.


Not to me. This is how I'd stack the Top 5 guys pre-draft.

Pitchers: 1. Strasburg, 2. VanPoppel, 3. Pryor, 4. McDonald, 5. Taylor.

Position Players: 1. Harper, 2. Griffey, 3. Strawberry, 4. Jones, 5. Hamilton.

   15. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 02:57 PM (#5976998)
A-Rod was way bigger than Hamilton. Hamilton wasn't that hyped as a draftee, was he?
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 16, 2020 at 02:57 PM (#5976999)
Don't forget Paul Wilson/Bill Pulsipher/Jason Isringhausen with the Mets.
Van Poppel was also the leader of the Four Aces with David Zancanaro, Don Peters and Kirk Dressendorfer.
   17. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:07 PM (#5977004)
Don't forget Paul Wilson/Bill Pulsipher/Jason Isringhausen with the Mets.
Older Mets fans still remember Sidd Finch, whose hype was more intense, even if of shorter duration.
   18. McCoy Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:08 PM (#5977005)
Missing JD Drew on position players.
   19. Zonk Would Do Not Much Different Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:11 PM (#5977006)
Van Poppel was also the leader of the Four Aces with David Zancanaro, Don Peters and Kirk Dressendorfer.


Yup.

Still got that issue... somewhere.

That draft *did* start the discussion on draft changes, but I don't think anything was enacted, even in the next CBA... I might be mis-remembering though.
   20. Zonk Would Do Not Much Different Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:21 PM (#5977008)
My recollection is the Prior hype was about the same as the Strasburg hype.


Not to me. This is how I'd stack the Top 5 guys pre-draft.

Pitchers: 1. Strasburg, 2. VanPoppel, 3. Pryor, 4. McDonald, 5. Taylor.

Position Players: 1. Harper, 2. Griffey, 3. Strawberry, 4. Jones, 5. Hamilton.


Strictly on the pitcher side - and granted, both before my time - I might put both Tim Belcher and David Clyde ahead of Taylor... Taylor was certainly hyped, but generally speaking, I think an awful lot of the Taylor hype was merely "Best HS arm in the draft... **and the Yankees have the first pick!**".

A-Rod needs to e on the position player list... Probably 3 or 4, depending on how you deal with era/media. A-Rod was premium hyped.

Reggie Jackson probably belongs, too -- despite being a #2, even at the time (so I've read, at least) people were utterly gobsmacked by the Mets Chilcott boner.

Bo Jackson...

Another pitcher who comes to mind as a big-time hype is Josh Beckett.

   21. Rally Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:35 PM (#5977012)
Position Players: 1. Harper, 2. Griffey, 3. Strawberry, 4. Jones, 5. Hamilton.


Chipper? I don't remember his hype being that high. He was even considered a signability pick since the Braves did not draft Van Poppel. Sure, he turned into a first ballot HOFer but I don't think he was more highly regarded than most top first round picks on draft day.
   22. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:39 PM (#5977013)
Chipper? I don't remember his hype being that high. He was even considered a signability pick since the Braves did not draft Van Poppel.

Yes. On draft day, Chipper was definitely viewed as a consolation prize for Atlanta since they passed on the singular generational talent of Van Poppel.

I may be a bit biased since Van Poppel played his HS ball in Arlington, TX, and I was attending college there at the time. His hype in the local media was the kind of stuff usually reserved for the local blue-chip football prospects, which is to say, enormous.
   23. Rally Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:43 PM (#5977016)
Signing bonus is not definitive, but gives an indication of the perceived future for these players.

Chipper got a 275k bonus. Not much compared to today, but a big sum of money at the time. But in addition to Van Poppel, Tony Clark, Alex Fernandez, and the immortal Tim Costo all got more.
   24. Zonk Would Do Not Much Different Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:45 PM (#5977017)
Heh, yeah... Chipper was the Joe Mauer of his draft!

The 2001 draft was a bonkers one, really, at the top... injury aside (boy does this Cubs fan wish it was that easy) - there were actually legitimate cases to be made for ALL THREE as "once in a generation" talents.

Heading into that season, I was hoping for Mark Teixeira (I still recall - it may have been here - remembering how to spell his name as a function of "E...I... E...I... Oh!"). However, Tex got hurt and missed most the NCAA season while Prior did what he did and made himself the obvious choice.

The knock on Mauer was, of course, cold weather HS catcher - but most draft watchers put him in the "exception" list...
   25. Rally Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:47 PM (#5977018)
I'd be careful putting much stock in the bbref bonus money though, because I can't tell which players just got a bonus and which ones got a major league contract. Which they can't do anymore. I''m fairly certain Bryce got one.
   26. Rally Posted: September 16, 2020 at 03:55 PM (#5977020)
Here's my take on the hype of #1-1 position players going from Correa back to whenever my memory starts to get fuzzy.

Hyped, generational talent
Harper
Upton
Delmon Young
Josh Hamilton
A-Rod
Griffey

Great player, but a bit less than generational
Correa
Mauer
Adrian Gonzalez
Pat Burrell
Darin Erstad
Nevin
Chipper
Surhoff
Dunston

Is that the best you can do with a 1-1 pick? Really?
Beckham
Matt Bush
Jeff King
Shawn Abner

But it gets really hard to do this without using hindsight.
   27. Zonk Would Do Not Much Different Posted: September 16, 2020 at 04:10 PM (#5977026)
But it gets really hard to do this without using hindsight.


This.

I was googling around for hyped draft prospect lists -- and the big problem is that a lot of them are hindsight-based and don't distinguish between pre-draft and "prospectdom". Matt Wieters is a good example. I do recall he was well-regarded in 2007, but I also recall that David Price was considered the clear top pick. The Wieters hype was more prospectdom-based.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: September 16, 2020 at 04:16 PM (#5977030)
A-Rod was way bigger than Hamilton.


Yes, I just missed him. Drew is a good call too.
   29. Zach Posted: September 16, 2020 at 04:40 PM (#5977043)
Lest we forget, the hype for Prior as a pitcher was justified. The man was one ligament away from an amazing career. I saw his playoff start his rookie year, and he was the complete package. Big frame, well built, easy repeatable delivery, great stuff and great control.

The fact that he ended up getting repeatedly hurt at a young age ... well, the world's not that predictable. An argument for not tanking, if there ever was one.

   30. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 16, 2020 at 04:59 PM (#5977048)
No team has ever tanked. They have not fielded the best team that they could have (mostly by foregoing free agents). But no one (well, 1919 White Sox aside) have ever lost on purpose. And the point of foregoing free agents isn't to finish as low as possible (and thus secure a high draft pick), it's to save money on free agents.
   31. Zach Posted: September 16, 2020 at 05:19 PM (#5977054)
Ehh, I don't think that defining the phenomenon out of existence adds anything to the discussion. Doing conspicuously less than your best with an eye toward draft pick compensation is something we've seen in multiple sports, and the last decade has seen some pretty egregious cases in baseball. Tanking is not the same as throwing a game, but it does exist.
   32. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 16, 2020 at 05:38 PM (#5977059)
"Tanking" makes it sound like "losing on purpose", and no one does that. They don't keep good prospects down just so that they'll lose more games. (They keep them down to get more years of service time out of them, but that's another matter.) They don't, as far as we know, forego advantageous trades just because it would mean winning more games. They don't forego signing free agents to advantageous deals, or (something that comes up much more often) extending their own stars at below-market rates, just so that they can lose more games. We just haven't seen any evidence that baseball teams try to win fewer games than they could in order to secure draft picks.

If you were to "do conspicuously less than your best with an eye towards draft pick compensation" you would turn down wins when they were profitably available. But no one does.

They do, of course, spend less money on their teams than they could. Which makes sense, because these are businesses that are meant to make a profit, and the people who run them think that trying to compete for a championship will not maximize ownership's expected return. But given an inexpensive way to win games, they're not going to turn it down.
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 16, 2020 at 05:39 PM (#5977060)
Chipper got a 275k bonus. Not much compared to today, but a big sum of money at the time.
Still goes a long way at Hooters.
   34. Rally Posted: September 16, 2020 at 06:30 PM (#5977070)
Nobody’s accusing the players of trying to lose. That’s not what we mean by tanking. Tanking is the front office not trying to win in the short term. You’ve got the 2011-13 Astros way which is extreme. But I suppose any team that trades a soon to be free agent on 7-31 for prospects is also lowering their expected win total for August and September. It’s a matter of degree.
   35. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 06:36 PM (#5977071)
Lest we forget, the hype for Prior as a pitcher was justified.

TINSTAAPP.
   36. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 16, 2020 at 06:54 PM (#5977073)
But I suppose any team that trades a soon to be free agent on 7-31 for prospects is also lowering their expected win total for August and September.


Of course they are, but not in order to get draft picks. If they were doing it in order to get draft picks they'd also do things like bench better players in order to play worse ones (which they sometimes do in September, but, again, that's not in order to lose games, it's in order to give the kids a tryout), or they'd release good players that they can't trade. Teams do, sometimes, reduce short-term win expectancy, but not in the ways that you would expect if they were trying to reduce short-term win expectancy. They do it when reducing short-term win expectancy has benefits like netting a return on a star player who would leave anyway, or seeing what their prospects are capable of. No one reduces short-term win expectancy just to do it, which is what you would expect if they were after a lower win total and thus a higher draft pick.

Organizations sometimes purposefully field uncompetitive teams, but not to get draft picks. Their behavior is just not indicative of a "net a high draft pick" strategy.
   37. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 16, 2020 at 07:01 PM (#5977074)
The Astros front office in 2011-2013 was not trying to minimize wins, they just weren't willing to spend money to pursue extra wins. If the team was trying to get a high draft pick the 2012 Astros would have, e.g., played Marwin Gonzalez (and his 65 OPS+) at short, instead of Jed Lowrie (with his 107 OPS+).
   38. Boxkutter Posted: September 16, 2020 at 08:24 PM (#5977089)
Great player, but a bit less than generational
Correa


I never read one place where Correa was talked about in any kind of "generational" way. He was considered the best player in a weaker draft class than just the year before. Correa did great as an amateur and improved his prospect ranking, but he was looked at as a "New way of thinking" kind of prospect because the Astros were going intentionally young and that became the "it" thing to do for awhile. Get the guys who were 17.5 years old so you have an extra year of growth with professional coaches, instead of getting the old HS kids who were already close to 19yo.
   39. Boxkutter Posted: September 16, 2020 at 08:27 PM (#5977092)
Rocker may not even be the best pitcher on his college team. Some places still have Jack Leiter as the #1 pick and Rocker as the #2. Rocker is already filled out and there is no more projection left on him. Leiter hits the same top MPH on the fastball and his curve plays better than Rocker's slider. I wouldn't be shocked at all to see Leiter go 1-1 in front of Rocker.
   40. flournoy Posted: September 16, 2020 at 08:59 PM (#5977098)
To hear Bobby Cox (Braves GM when they drafted Chipper) tell it, the Braves were going to take Chipper Jones at #1 regardless of Todd Van Poppel's inclinations.
   41. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 09:04 PM (#5977099)

I never read one place where Correa was talked about in any kind of "generational" way.


Yea, I thought Correa was considered a bit of a reach. Mark Appel was considered the best player from that draft, with Byron Buxton #2. Supposedly Correa was #6 on the Astros' draft board until he met with them for personal workouts. Appel fell because of bonus demands.



Is that the best you can do with a 1-1 pick? Really?
Beckham
Matt Bush
Jeff King
Shawn Abner


Byron Bullington
Luke Hochevar (in a draft where no one was considered to be great, and it ended up being a LOADED draft - Scherzer, Kershaw, Longoria, Lincecum)
   42. asinwreck Posted: September 17, 2020 at 08:32 AM (#5977142)
Rocker's not necessarily going to be the #1 pick. Rocker might not even be the first player picked from his college team.
   43. Zonk Would Do Not Much Different Posted: September 17, 2020 at 08:47 AM (#5977144)
Rocker may not even be the best pitcher on his college team. Some places still have Jack Leiter as the #1 pick and Rocker as the #2. Rocker is already filled out and there is no more projection left on him. Leiter hits the same top MPH on the fastball and his curve plays better than Rocker's slider. I wouldn't be shocked at all to see Leiter go 1-1 in front of Rocker.


Yeah, I know there are occasional pieces saying such, but they feel a bit like contrarianism to me... Leiter isn't going to grow 4 more inches... Leiter does have a broader repertoire and might be perhaps "safer", but I don't see how anyone can pass on Rocker.

I think they'd be the first teammates to ever go 1-2 in the same draft... I know Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer went 1st and 3rd overall out of UCLA a decade ago... I recall David Price was teammates with Mike Minor at Vandy, too - but I believe they were drafted a year apart...
   44. flournoy Posted: September 17, 2020 at 10:31 AM (#5977155)
Rice University pitchers Phil Humber, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Townsend were drafted 3rd, 4th, and 8th overall in 2004. They were supposed to be something special. Didn't happen. Humber did have that one game, but they combined for 5.2 WAR in their careers, with Townsend never making it past AA.
   45. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 17, 2020 at 10:35 AM (#5977156)
Leiter isn't going to grow 4 more inches
We’re selling jeans here?
   46. Zonk Would Do Not Much Different Posted: September 17, 2020 at 11:46 AM (#5977186)
Rice University pitchers Phil Humber, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Townsend were drafted 3rd, 4th, and 8th overall in 2004. They were supposed to be something special. Didn't happen. Humber did have that one game, but they combined for 5.2 WAR in their careers, with Townsend never making it past AA.


That's another college rotation I was thinking of -- the 2003 Owls had those guys (as sophomores) and David Aardsma as a junior, who went in the first round somewhere in the 20s the draft prior...
   47. Zonk Would Do Not Much Different Posted: September 17, 2020 at 11:50 AM (#5977191)
I think that's the record (the 2003 Rice Owls - 4) for most players who would be drafted in the 1st round... but might be wrong. They also had likely forgotten utility IF Paul Janish, who was a 5th rounder. Oh, and "Enrique Cruz" -- but not the one who also had some coffee cups at a utility IF :-)
   48. Ron J Posted: September 17, 2020 at 01:04 PM (#5977217)
#45. Next rules change. Low post play will become crucial for starting pitchers.
   49. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 17, 2020 at 02:39 PM (#5977260)
David Aardsma as a junior, who went in the first round somewhere in the 20s the draft prior...

And then screwed up for all eternity the beauty of baseball encyclopedias beginning with Hank Aaron.

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