Friday, February 15, 2008

Baseball America Embarassment

As a former long-time subscriber to Baseball America I can only shake my head in embarrassment at the level that formerly worthwhile publication has fallen to. Here is a link to their most recent "analysis" This article creates a new statistic, as if we really needed another one, called "Closest to the Majors" score. You can check out the link for a full appreciation. But the short version is a number created by multiplying a player's last minor league level (1-5, Rookie to AAA) and his rank in his teams top ten. The team CTM is based on adding these top ten numbers together.

Where do you start with something as awful as this measure. To begin with, he used BBA's top ten rankings as a starting point for an "objective" measure of a team's farm system and clearly the top ten rankings are not objective, but subjective, judgments. But that is really a quibble.

The real problem is that that BBA rankings reflect players relative to their teammates. So a team with 10 major league ready prospects at AAA will lose points in this score if they also have higher rated prospects in their lower leagues. This makes the team ratings almost useless. Try to figure out why adding four prospects from the Mets in the Johan Santana trade, including a couple likely to start the season on the major league roster, made the Twins system further from the majors. The answer is because they got one young guy who is now their number one prospect. The score may tell you something about each team's top ten prospects, but it tells you nothing about their farm system or how they compare to other teams.

But that is just a starting point. The other problem is that when you start looking at individual player scores you arrive at ridiculous results. For instance, does anyone think that a number nine prospect in high A ball (who gets 6 CTM points) is closer to the major leagues than the number 10 prospect who is at AAA and gets 5 CTM points. In fact, that number 10 prospect at AAA is further way than any of the top 4 prospects who are in rookie ball or higher and the top 8 prospects who have reached low A ball. This is one of those cases where you need to take away the inventor's calculator and force him to understand math. Because being able to calculate a number doesn't give it meaning.


Robert Bullington said...

I'm pretty sure the post was made as an analysis of which teams top 10 prospects were closest to the majors, not the QUALITY of talent, which I think the author made explicitly clear. It looks like a pretty good gauge of how far away a team's top 10 prospects are to the major leagues.

TT said...

What he says he is measuring is this:

"So how can we measure which teams’ farm systems are the closest to the majors and which ones are the furthest?"

He doesn't limit it to a team's top ten players.

It looks like a pretty good gauge of how far away a team's top 10 prospects are to the major leagues.

As I think the examples I provided demonstrate, it doesn't even accurately measure that.

not the QUALITY of talent,

But, in fact, the relative rankings of players in the top ten are as important as the calculation of their score as the level they last played at. A team's top prospect is automatically rated at least as close to the major leagues as the 9th and 10th players on the list, regardless of how far along they are.

Take the revised Twins top ten. Does anyone really think Delios Guerra is closer to the big leagues than Jason Pridie? Guerra's score is 20 points, while Pridie's score is 5. How about Joe Benson or Wilson Ramos? Both score higher than Pridie with scores of 14 and 6 respectively.

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