E.J. Fagan been blogging about Yankee baseball since 2006. He is a Ph.D. student at University of Texas at Austin.

Author Archives: EJ Fagan

Top Ten Young Latin American Yankee Prospects

It’s difficult to keep track of young IFA prospects. The Latin American pipeline is paramount to the future of the MLB Yankees. Somewhere, on some team’s DSL team, the next Robinson Cano or Mariano Rivera is playing baseball. History suggests that the higher profile, big money signings are less important than the dozens of small-to-midsize signings that rarely find their way even into a Baseball America roundup of IFA news. Trying to figure out what 16 year-old players will be major league baseball players is a giant crapshoot.

My instinct is that this group of players, particularly the top-4, are more talented than previous generations of Yankee IFAs, although they lack the presence of an automatic blue chip guy like Jesus Montero or Gary Sanchez. A similar list circa 2008 or so would go something like this: Jesus Montero, Jose Tabata, Abe Almonte, Jairo Heredia, Marcos Vechionacci, Carlos Urena, Eduardo Nunez, Zoilo Almonte, Prylis Cuello, and Manuel Banuelos.

Here are ten players to watch:

1.

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AL Run Scoring Decreased Again in 2013 to the Lowest Level in Decades

AL run scoring was way down in 2013. Batters scored just 4.33 runs per game, their lowest level since 1992 [chart updated for added lusciousness]:

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I find this this graph amazing. Except for a brief period in the late 80s, run scoring hasn’t been this low since Reggie Jackson and Ron Guidry were winning World Series. A .275/.339/.437 hitter in 2006 was equivalent to a .256/.320/.404 hitter in 2013.

That’s crazy! I don’t think that I am the only baseball fan that looks at a stat line and makes an intuitive judgment. When I first started paying attention to OBP, a .300 OBP was unacceptable, even for a middle infielder. Now, its just barely below average. A player with the same batting line as an average AL hitter in 2006 is now very valuable. We all need to adjust our expectations.

Why has run scoring decreased? A lot of people have theories. BABIPs haven’t changed much. HR/Fly is down from its peak in the late 90s, but is still significantly elevated from the late 80s.…

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Why I’m Bullish on the Yankee Farm System

Yesterday, I decided to jot down a quick ranking of Yankee prospects. I was trying to think about how good Greg Bird was. Bird is an interesting prospect. People often (overly) fixate on his high on base percentage at Charleston this year, and write his skill set off as a walking machine. But given the ballpark (90 run factor, 92 home run factor), and his age (20, with less than a full season of experience), Bird’s 20 home runs in 127 games is pretty impressive. He is only going to get stronger, and there aren’t a lot of tougher power environments than Charleston. Bird is a very solid prospect with lots of major league potential.

But where is he in the Yankee farm system? Here are the players that I knew clearly ranked above Greg Bird: Sanchez, Heathcott, Austin, Williams, Murphy, Judge, Jagielo, Clarkin, Banuelos and Hensley. On top of them, I could see a case that I’d rather have any of DePaula, Andujar, O’Brien, Ramirez, Katoh and Turley over Greg Bird.…

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Rebuild, Not Reload

All offseason rumors point to a Yankee reload. You know by now: they’ve been connected to Beltran, Tanaka, etc, while also potentially resigning one or all of Cano, Granderson, and Kuroda.

I get it. They’re the Yankees! The solution to every poor-ish season they’ve had since 2001 was the same: go out and buy the best...

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3 Yankee Major Advantages in the Tanaka Bidding

Most baseball sources seem to agree that Masahiro Tanaka is a really good player. He may be Darvish-level, he may not be. But he’s 24 years old, dominant, and headed for the MLB posting process. Every team in baseball would love to have him on their team. A lot of teams, including the Yankees, are planning on bidding on him through the posting process. Instead of a more efficient auction, Japanese teams make sure the bidding is blind, in order to force prices up. Every team interested in Tanaka’s services is right now deciding how much they value exclusive negotiating rights with the young star.

Assuming every team values Tanaka’s talent the same (who knows what each scout is saying), the Yankees should value exclusive negotiating rights higher than any other team. Here’s why:

Higher Value per Marginal Win

In a purely profit-seeking world, teams value marginal wins at the amount of revenue each brings in. So, a team with a smaller revenue base (like, the Rays) gets a smaller revenue increase for each marginal win that they add.…

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The Yankee Farm System Collapse in 1 Chart

When I first started blogging about minor league baseball in 2006, the most common narrative about the Yankee farm system went something like this:

“After the late-dynasty era that produced Nick Johnson and Alfonso Soriano, the Yankee farm lay barren from 1998-2003. Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang were the first two prospects to break the ceiling, but true change came that same year, when Brian Cashman was handed more control over the Yankee organization. The team started putting large resources into the farm system. The result was that a tremendous amount of talent was infused into the system in 2006, and the Yankees became one of the best farm systems in baseball.”

I think that the perception among a lot of Yankee fans is that people who wrote about the Yankee farm system, like me, were blowing smoke. We either bought into the hype or created hype out of thin air. While I’d argue that the Big 3 (Hughes, Joba, Kennedy) were actually pretty successful as prospects, there is no doubt that there has been quite a lot of disappointment in the Yankee farm system since 2006.…

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There’s Still Hope! (And Not Just For the Yankee Postseason)

The Yankees may or may not make the postseason. The answer is probably not. Right now, I’m much more concerned with my favorite late-season possibility: the three-way tie.

We all remember some of the classic playoff tiebreaker games. But we’ve never had a three-way tiebreaker. That scenario used to be pretty amazing, but the new wildcard system has made it even crazier.

If three teams finish with the same record for the two wild card spots, the following happens:

In a situation where there is a three way tie between non division winners and there is no other non division winner with a better record claiming wild card 1; a tiebreaker eliminating 1 of the 3 teams will follow. Based on a group head to head record. Teams A, B and C will be created. Team B will travel to team A. The winner wins wild card one. The loser will go to team C. The winner of that game wins wild card two.

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Comprehensive 30-Team Farm System Hitting Environment Rankings: Yankees Dead Last

Yesterday, I posted about the top-12 pivotal Yankee prospects for 2014. One of my observations was that a lot of Yankee hitting prospects are underrated due to the harsh hitting environments that they play in. This prompted Norm to comment,

I’ve read this several times here, that many of the ballparks the farm teams play in are “bad hitting environments”. Charleston has been mentioned several times. Can someone explain what that means, and why these parks aren’t conducive to hitting?

The difficulty of Yankee minor league hitting environments is something that I’ve been asserting for awhile, but without a whole lot of perspective. It may be bad, but how bad? I didn’t really know the answer. So, I decided to find out.

Using Statcorner’s minor league park factors for left and right-handed batters and Baseball Reference’s data for runs allowed per game in each 2013 full-season minor league, I created an index. Half of the index is weight based on home ballpark factors, the other half is weighted for average number of runs scored in each league, compared with the other leagues at the same minor league level.…

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