Baseball America Releases Top-100 Prospects

BA released their annual presitigious list of the top-100 prospects in baseball. Its a very good list, although I think that they overrate a few guys (Colby Rasmus at #3), and underrate some others (Matt LaPorta at #27, Josh Vitters at #51). The Yankees prospects were rated very fairly – Austin Jackson was at #36 and Jesus Montero at #38, while Andrew Brackman made the list at #92.

BA makes a great point about Austin Jackson that I hadn’t thought of – he’s been exceptionally healthy in the minors, averaging 131 games per season over 3 years.

More on Brackman later today.… Click here to read the rest

Hitting Second

Earlier this week, I suggested that the Yankees flip Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter in the batting order. My suggestion was based on the idea that you want your batter who makes more contact and hits fewer grounders batting second rather than first, if the two players are similarly skilled at reaching base. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has an article up now that challenges the traditional notion of the #2 hitter as a high contact hitter:

So, since leadoff hitters are going to be stealing far more than any other line-up spot, we can infer that the #2 hitter will be at the plate most often when SB attempts occur. What’s the common wisdom on how pitchers defend against stolen bases? Throw fastballs. So which line-up spot should see the most fastballs? The #2 hitter.

Given that assumption, it would then follow that teams could setup a dilemma for pitchers by having a #2 hitter who pitchers do not want to throw fastballs too.

Click here to read the rest

Playing To Your Park (i.e. Pedroia and the Monster)

The Baseball Analysts has a fascinating post up about batted ball stats and fields of play. The writer has three lists showing the most productive hitters of 2008 when pulling the ball, going up the middle, or going opposite field. Two of the eight most successful players when pulling the ball were Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. As the author points out, this is hardly a surprising finding:

Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, on the other hand, are given a bit of an extra push, as both are clearly aided by the green monster. Pedroia might be the perfectly suited player for Fenway. Just check out his home run chart. He has yet to hit a 400-foot homerun in his career. You have to wonder whether he’d be the MVP outside of that park, as it would certainly be a challenge to find a voter who checks park-adjusted stats.

Park effects are vitally important when it comes to evaluating and selecting players.… Click here to read the rest

Cashman’s hidden legacy

Pete Abraham (LoHud) has an excellent read out on the pro scouting department that Brian Cashman built and bolstered back in 2005, which was the year Cash reportedly gained autonomy over the organization’s baseball operations. Basically, the department focuses on scouting pro players in order to inform future trades, waiver claims and other various moves. Cashman furthered the pro scouting agenda last year, bringing Bill Livesey back in late October.

To be perfectly honest, it’s sort of stunning to read this piece and realize that the Yankees — the richest team in baseball — didn’t try to have a leg up on the competition, from a scouting standpoint, until 2005. You would think that they would have used their resources wisely and created a comprehensive pro scouting system years ago.… Click here to read the rest