Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

MLBPipeline Nats top 30 Prospects

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Vaquero is here, and here to stay. Photo via TalkNats.com

In our continuing series of reviewing/reacting/criticizing Nats prospect lists as they’re released, today we got a big one. The MLBpipeline.com team (which includes senior prospect analysts Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Sam Dykstra) has released their updated top 30 rankings for our system.

Here’s the links to past analysis: Keith Law/The Athletic, Baseball America, ProspectsLive.com, Prospects1500, Prospects361. We’re still waiting for a couple major shops who generally release rankings: Fangraphs, ESPN, BleacherReport, and CBSsports.

Back to MLBPipeline’s list, which is perhaps the most respected source out there. Here’s the link to the story and the list itself.

Lets do some reactions.

  • At the top, Ruiz is graduated, so they go Cavalli-House at 1-2 like everyone else.
  • They’ve got our next two significant arms at 3-4 (that being Henry/Rutledge). Law had them 3-4 as well, just in the reverse order. Notably, no other shop has these two arms as high, most pushing them down in to the 6-9 range. Which tells you what I think about this source versus others.
  • MLBpipeline is one of the first to rank Vaquero legitimately; they’ve got him 5th as a starting point in the system. The only other shop to even bother attempting to rank him immediately post signing was ProspectsLive (who had him 4th).
  • Next three are our tertiary tier of RHP starters; in order Lara, Carrillo, Adon. No quibbling here; all three could serve as really useful arms in our system in one fashion or another. Having these three guys in the 6-8 range is completely reasonable.
  • They’re high on Daylen Lile, having him at #10. But their scouting report is a little dour, projecting him as a bat first spray hitting 4th outfielder.
  • Antuna: down at #12. Finally a realistic ranking of a career .238 hitter who projects as a corner OF with no power.
  • Quintana continues to be all over the map: they have him #15; he’s been as high as #7 (Keith Law) and as low as #24 (Baseball America).
  • Boissiere comes in at #17 … after missing BA’s entire top 30.
  • Lucius Fox is #23 … one of the few times we’ve ever had a waiver claim be ranked in our prospects list.
  • Several recently drafted players are in the 20s but entirely missing from BA’s list, guys like Saenz and White.
  • Mason Denaburg gets #30 treatment, but Seth Romero is nowhere to be seen.

Notable missing players

  • Holden Powell‘s injuries have dropped him off the radar; he needs a bounce back 2022.
  • Daniel Marte: completely off the radar too.
  • Tim Cate: completely unranked but is as high as #12 on Law’s list. Interesting how little he’s rated.
  • Riley Adams: nowhere to be seen despite being #11 on BA’s list. I guess a backup catcher who we all think is going to play every 4th day is not a prospect.
  • Mason Thompson; another guy who BA had just outside their top 10 … then suddenly he wasn’t there at all. Did he graduate rookie eligibility? I can’t tell.

Update post publishing: per commenter, Adams and Thompson have graduated … which makes you then ask, “well why the hell is he on BAs’ list?” And the answer there is … well, because i don’t know. It’d be super helpful if baseball-reference.com would have listed them as having graduated (since that’s my primary source for determining that). I’ll update my docs.

Written by Todd Boss

March 21st, 2022 at 12:36 pm

New CBA Details and Analysis

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After “losing” the last two CBA negotiations, the player’s union was in a tough spot. They’ve already let the proverbial camel’s nose into the tent (with respect to the salary cap), and they knew they couldn’t completely get rid of it, so they leveraged what they could to get what they could.

Here’s some of the key parameters and thresholds the two sides agreed upon on 3/10/22. Using the excellent reporting by Evan Drellich from the Athletic as a starting point and then attempting to get information out of a dozen other sources who are dripping out CBA details … here’s some parameters of the new deal that i’ve found. there’s a lot to digest.

  • No Lost games: 162 game season planned, starting a few days later than normal with a compressed spring training.
  • Expanded Playoffs: this was the biggest bargaining chip the Players had, and they used it to get all the salary benefits below. 12-teams, a 3-game play-in, byes for the two best records. This is a huge win for the owners, who will net an estimated $85M per year with expanded playoffs. Phew. As a side effect, no more game 163s (a bummer), as the league will go to NFL-style tiebreakers to determine seeding. #1 Seed plays winner of #4/#5 Wildcard, #2 seed plays winner of #3 division winner/#6 wild card. No re-seeding. The play-ins are 3-game series entirely at the home site. I’m on board here, with the knowledge that a couple more teams can be a disincentive for FA spending (but can be a huge boom during the trade deadline).
  • Pre-Arbitration pool of $50M. This is brand new, and addresses the player complaints about players not getting paid enough early. The idea here is to dole out this pool to the highest performers on pre-arb salaries to get them compensation for production before they can earn it through arb and free agency processes. The pool supports the best 100 players, meaning an average of $500k per player, which seems like peanuts honestly given the cases where you have a Mike Trout generating a 10-win season at age 20, but its a start. Jayston Stark reports that last year as an example, Vladimir Guerrero would have netted an additional $1.75M salary. Again; a start, but still not paying the guy anywhere near his value.
  • Minimum Salary rises from $570,500 in 2021 to 700k, rising to $780k by 2026. That’s not bad.
  • Minor league Minimum salaries are rising too. Veterans with prior big league experience who are in the minors earned a minimum of $93k in 2021: that figure rises to $114,100 this year, with small rises each year to max out at $127,100 in 2016.
  • CBT Salary Cap rises from $210M in 2021 to $230MM/$232MM/$236MM/$244MM over the next four years. That’s something, probably not really enough in the grand scheme of things since there’s no corresponding floor AND only a few teams will even approach it. But its a start.
  • New CBT breaking penalities: The thresholds for 2022 are $230M/$250M/$270M/$290M. The agreement does put in additional penalties for going way, WAY over it (like what the Mets are going to do this year), but still allows teams to duck underneath and “reset” their penalties.
  • Dropping of $500M grievance from 2020 shortened season: I’m sure this was not something the owners wanted to see in a courtroom, given that the evidence clearly showed that they basically negotiated exactly to the number of games they wanted and the players knew it.
  • Players Union does NOT drop existing grievance against Rays, A’s, Pirates and Marlins (all of whom took in tens of millions of dollars in revenue sharing and are accused of not using it for payroll). This still needs to be litigated, and in my opinion is still a huge issue in the sport. Really, if you get money from other teams and you don’t use it to enhance the on-the-field product, you really should just be forced to sell.
  • New rules with 45 day notice as opposed to a year’s notice for any “on the field change.” I’m surprised they allowed for this, since new rules can be pretty jarring for veterans.
  • Three specific rules coming for 2023: banning the shift, larger bases, and a Pitch clock. I’ve talked about these issues in this space and i’m good with all three. The pitch clock by itself shaved more than 20 minutes off of games in the league it was tested in, shifts can be show to be directly related with precipitous drops in BABIP and wOBA over the past few years, and larger bases is a nothing-burger rule change that nobody should really care about.
  • 2021 Rule 5 Draft officially cancelled: apparently the teams got together and were just like, ah forget it, its useless anyway.
  • Draft Lottery at the top: the two sides have agreed to a lottery at the top of the draft; the top 6 picks/worst 6 teams will now use a lottery to determine who drafts first as opposed to directly by their record. Baseball is not Basketball (the other major US sport that does this); you don’t get immediate-impact/generational talents at the top of each draft, and top draft picks very frequently flame out early, so the lottery in some respects is a superficial fix. However, the MONEY associated with the lottery slots is huge: the difference in 2021 between picking 1st and 6th was $3M. $3M in “bonus dollar currency” basically is a mid-first rounder, or two mid-second round players. That’s huge.
  • Limits on teams in the Lottery over and over: this is pretty big. Large market teams are prevented from being in the lottery more than one season in a row, and smaller market teams cannot be in it two years in a row. So teams like ahem Houston and Chicago (who purposely bottomed out to get high draft picks for years in a row) can never do that again, and inept smaller market teams who year after year are in the lottery (Pittsburgh, Baltimore) are prevented from doing so as well. These teams will get kicked down to 10th in the order. This isn’t a panacea for tanking, but its a big win. The difference between the top 2-3 and #10 is massive.
  • Removal of 2021 “man on 2nd in extra innings” rule. to the collective sigh of purists.
  • Return to normal 9-inning double headers: again, a purist move to remove a one-off rule change for 2021.
  • Service time changes: call this the “Kris Bryant” rule; if a player is kept in the minors for service time manipulation purposes but finishes in the top 2 of RoY voting, they get a full year of service time awarded. It only affects 4 players a year … but its a start.
  • Permanent roster limit on # of pitchers at 13: this is probably good for the sport, and probably something teams saw coming anyway.
  • Advertising on Jerseys: its coming. For me, as a long-time soccer fan, its a non-issue and inevitable. Purists will, of course, lose their minds the moment they see a patch on the Yankees’s century-old pinstripes. I think its just “patches” and not logos across the chest.
  • Universal DH: this seemed like a no-brainer for both sides … and it is FINALLY here. I’ve been advocating for this move for nearly a decade; here’s a 2013 post I wrote about it, and basically everything I wrote then is still true. Ironic that our own Ryan Zimmerman, who probably could have hung on for another season had he known we had a DH, already retired.
  • Limits on Options: this is a pro-player move that probably doesn’t come into play for a ton of guys, but some teams are notorious for basically using options as a way to have an expanded roster, sending players back and forth to AAA over and over (Ahem, Tampa). Eno Sarris dives into it more here. There were players who were optioned more than a DOZEN times last year, a ridiculous logistical nightmare for these guys.
  • Amateur Draft now permanently at 20 rounds. This is not really that surprising; the league axed the entirety of Short-A ball, and rounds 20-30 basically existed to pick college players to play for half a season in these leagues. We don’t need that many players anymore … and for years the rounds 30-40 were essentially useless anyway.
  • Draft Pick Inducements for teams who carry top-performing rookies from opening-day. Interesting. Still seems like a crap shoot, and something that only affects the absolute very best rookies.
  • Easing the Unbalanced Schedule: starting in 2023, teams will play fewer divisional games. Interesting. Details still coming in, but it sounds like each team will play all 30 teams each year. That’d be really different. Instead of playing each divisional rival 19 times each year, that will fall to 14 times (56 of the 162 games), with the difference made up with a ton more interleague play.
  • Arbitration players to get cut in Spring training get full salary: thsi is a nice little pro-player change: if a player settles with his team on a figure, he’s guaranteed that number; no more cutting a player in spring training and getting away with just a percentage of the salary.
  • Small waiver wire changes: last year a player named Jacob Nottingham got jerked around multiple times in a weird waiver-wire claim issue between two teams, changing franchises multiple times. The players union clearly noticed and now teams cannot make a second claim on a player unless all other teams pass.
  • PED Testing changes: players will be tested more, and HGH testing will go from a blood draw to a blood spot.

Delayed negotiations: the two sides kicked the can down the road on two issues now tied to each other:

  • Qualifying Offers: players want to get rid of them and the Draft picks associated with them (because the draft picks serve as a regressive action on the Free Agency market and depress value for players).
  • International Draft: owners want it because, why else? It saves them money.

I personally think the players would be FOOLS to capitulate on the international draft for the sake of a handful of the (on average) 10-15 players a year who go through the QO process. I’ve done QO analysis for years and you can count on one hand the number of times a player was truly screwed by the QO process. And even those players who had to sit out part of the season, or take significantly less money than they were worth generally still made out later on. Players would be idiots to trade that benefit, which affects a fraction of 1% of their union to trade away the rights of every international player outside of the US. And while doing it, likely neuter or outright destroy baseball pipelines in certain latin american countries (akin to what the draft did to Puerto Rico). MLB owners are bottom-line, short sighted, wanting to save a penny instead of investing it to make a dollar later, and this is yet another example of them drastically harming the future of their sport … but the Union doesn’t represent 16yr old kids from the DR. So, expect it to happen.


What did we NOT get that was talked about/demanded?

  • Salary floor: yes the salary cap went up by 10% … but the Salary floor was not correspondingly implemented. This seems like a loss to the players, who have seen their average salary drop by 6.4% since 2017 at the same time that MLB revenues have increased more that 30%.
  • Age-based Service time: this was abandoned as a non-starter
  • Earlier to Arbitration: abandoned as a non-starter.
  • WAR-based salary determination; abandoned … though I like where they were going.
  • Expanded Active Rosters: still on the table perhaps, but not codified. we may get temporary expanded rosters to 28 players thanks to the compressed spring training.

What do I think? Well, the players got some wins, but i dont’ feel like the owners really had to make sacrifices. No salary floor, no elimination of the cap. The owners probably could care less about incremental salaries for the windfall they’re going to get from expanded playoffs. Notably, the player’s union vote included every “executive committee” player (basically the most respected veterans in the league) rejecting this deal.

but at least we’re playing ball again.

Note: a TON more detail has come out since this initial posting. The Athletic has a very comprehensive article on the new CBA with a ton more details here:

https://theathletic.com/3187914/2022/03/16/mlbs-collective-bargaining-agreement-guide-to-the-changes-in-the-2022-26-labor-deal/?source=dailyemail&campaign=601983

Written by Todd Boss

March 11th, 2022 at 9:55 am

Its Over! New CBA agreed upon

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Well, this is a shocker to me. Out of nowhere, and with the two parties tens of millions of dollars apart on several key issues as of the last update … word just came out that they’ve suddenly agreed to a deal.

We’ll do a more in-depth analysis of the terms later on … i wanted to get something out there today though to remind you that

a) yes i’m still here

b) yes I still write on this blog … though not as frequently as I used to

and

c) more is coming.

We’re still waiting for a slew of major prospect ranking shops to release their Nats lists, and we’ll continue to react to them. But now that we have a CBA, we’re going to see an amazingly frantic transaction period coming up … i’ll do my best to keep the Big Board up to date.

Written by Todd Boss

March 10th, 2022 at 3:41 pm

Keith Law’s Prospect Rankings released

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Law is the first pundit to put House as our #1 prospect. By the time he’s done, House may end up eclipsing our current record holder for most #1 listings (Lucas Giolito). Photo via primetimesportstalk.com

February is definitely prospect month, and one of the leading analysts out there is The Athletic’s Keith Law. On Monday 2/7/22 he released his system ranks, and then on XXX he released the NL East team’s prospect rankings, including our weary Nationals.

First, a couple thoughts on his system rankings. Law’s approach to evaluation definitely prioritizes ceiling over floor, and definitely discounts things you can find in abundance (RH relievers) versus scarcity (Catchers, top-end SPs, Shortstops, etc). And when it comes to evaluating entire systems, I feel like he goes well deeper than the best 3-4 guys in a system. So there’s some wild variations between his system rankings and a place like Baseball America’s, which ill go into briefly here.

Law’s top 5 systems: LA Dodgers, Seattle, Arizona, Tampa, Toronto.
BA’s top 5 systems: Seattle, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kansas City.

Not too far off … until you see where BA ranked Law’s #1 team (they had LA 8th) and where BA had Toronto (19th!). That’s some wild variation. They also wildly disagreed on some middle of the road teams, for similar reasons. I sense that BA is star-driven, Law’s is depth-driven. That being said … both shops had the exact same bottom 7 teams, just in slightly different order.

Washington comes in at #27 for Keith, #26 for BA coincidentally. Law does not include Ruiz as a prospect because he’s exhausted his rookie status per the new rules … this is something BA didn’t bother to adjudicate yet (nor any other prospect ranking shop), so I wonder if that didn’t ding the system a peg or two. Otherwise, Law’s evaluation of our system is this: improved from dead last last year, but two of our best arms got hurt, otherwise might be better.


OK, lets get to the individual players, which was released on 2/14/22. I know the Athletic is behind a paywall, so i’m going to be respectful of that and not post his list 1-x. You can glean the rankings though from my comments here.

Law’s methodology, which I always seem to need to repeat, is as follows: he’s more ceiling than floor. He could care less about fantasy. He discounts relievers. He is skeptical of bad mechanics in pitchers. He is definitely more “conservative” in projections of players. He is skeptical of 16-yr old DSL players and often waits until they perform in a domestic league. So, with those observations … here’s some thoughts on his player rankings.

  • (Reminder: no Ruiz, who likely was our #1)
  • #1: House. First time a pundit has named House #1. Says he hits the ball harder than any player in the 2021 draft (prep or college), is almost guaranteed to move to 3B at his size, but he has a chance to basically be Aaron Judge but on the dirt. Yeah. Sign me up.
  • #2 Cavalli. Law notes his struggles at AAA, but also isn’t that concerned. He thinks Cavalli’s worst-case scenario (barring a massive arm injury of course) is a workhorse #2 or #3 starter for the next decade. Sign me up.
  • He’s somewhat bullish on Rutledge (#3), but is worried about effort-full short arm action continuing his litany of injuries as we saw in 2021. Don’t be surprised if he’s converted to a reliver if he has another 30-inning season, though if the dude can’t even throw 30 innings without getting hurt … he’s not going to cut it as a reliever either.
  • #4 is Henry … upside of a #2 starter if his elbow holds up. We’ll see in 2022 how well it can hold up.
  • He loves #5 Adon, noting the same thing i’ve noticed; easy arm action. Its like we’re looking at a young Livan Hernandez.
  • He’s very high on Roismar Quintana, ranking him #7 when other shops have him well lower (BA had him #25).
  • He’s a bit lower on both Antuna and Lara than other places, which i’m in agreement with on both cases. Antuna at #8 is about where i’d like to see him. He was surprised Lara got to the majors and sees him as a #4 starter

Interestingly, Law’s top 10 and BA’s top 10 (excluding Quintana) have the exact same names, just in slightly different orders. There’s a bit more variations when looking at some of the more bloggier/fantasy focused sites we have lists for (Prospects1500.com, ProspectsLive.com, Prospects361.com), but so far the two biggest/most professional pundits are pretty aligned.

  • Law is one of the higher guys on Lile, having him at #11. I’m concerned that Lile can’t project as a center fielder at 6’0″, which means he’s gonna have to mash as a corner OF to be of any value. It means he’s gonna have to add power to his frame and power to his game.
  • He’s highest man so far on Tim Cate, at #12, noting that he may be headed to the pen based on his inability to get AA hitters out this year.
  • Jake Irvin at #14 (remember him?) Irvin’s been away so long that BA didn’t even have him in their top 40 (!!), and only one of other blog sites even mentioned him (Prospects1500 at #36). Law clearly remembers him, and expects him to come back. He may be the only one.
  • Perhaps an indictment of the system … or perhaps a sneaky good find, but he has Lucious Fox, our waiver claim from last fall, at #15. He thinks Fox could literally make it to the majors this year as a utility infielder backup.
  • At #19 and #20 he has two guys who basically sound the same: Evan Lee and Mitchell Parker. Both lefties, both with fantastic K/9 rates despite middling velocity, both have to have everything go right to turn into a 5th starter in the bigs. I guess there’s worse things to have in your system.

In his Honorable Mention section, he did call out some fan favorites, including T.J. White (reminding us that White was incredibly young for the class, getting drafted two weeks before turning 18, which means we basically got a high school Junior who put up those numbers), Boissiere, Barley, Brzycky, etc.

Notable names not on Law’s list:

  • Seth Romero, who he called out as someone who has completely fallen out of consideration specifically.
  • He also does not have our new $3.9M guy Cristian Vaquero, perhaps because of the timing of the signing and perhaps because we have zero to go on except a large bonus figure and huge hype (remember this when you see other shops rank the guy #4).
  • He does not have guys like Mason Thompson, Riley Adams, or Donovan Casey. Perhaps because they project as spare parts (middle reliever, backup catcher, 4th outfielder), as opposed to scarcity positions (starting C, starting pitcher, SS, CF).

All in all, a solid list with solid analysis.


New Feature: trying to build an all-prospects future team just based on a pundit’s rankings. Here’s what we’d have here:

  • Catchers: Ruiz and Riley Adams I suppose
  • Starting Rotation: Grey, Cavalli, Henry, Lara, Adon, Irvin and Saenz as a swingman/depth
  • Bullpen: Rutledge, Carrillo, Cate, Cronin, Ramirez, Lee, Parker, Brzykcy
  • Infield: House at 3B, Cruz at SS, Garcia at 2B, White at 1B, with backups like Infante, Fox, Barley
  • Outfield: Vaquero in Center, Quintana/Antuna in left, De la Rosa in right, with depth in Lile and Boissiere.

I mean, that’s not a bad lineup to look forward to…

Written by Todd Boss

February 14th, 2022 at 9:50 am

Baseball America Handbook top 40 Reaction

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Yasel Antuna continues to be a darling of the BA rankings. Photo via CurlyW blog

One of the biggest prospect evaluation shops has dropped its big publication; lets do a reaction to Baseball America’s handbook release and its ranking of our top 40 (!) prospects. I can’t recall the last time they extended out past 30, so bravo to them for doing a deep dive into a shallow pool of Nationals prospects.

Thanks to Luke Erickson over at Nationalsprospects.com for the data. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 for the full list of the 40 players. Here’s the full list in order 1-40:

RankLast NameFirst NamePositionYr/Acq
1RuizKeibertC2014 IFA
2CavalliCadeRHP (Starter)2020 1st
3HouseBradySS2021 1st
4AntunaYaselSS2016 IFA
5LaraAndryRHP (Starter)2019 IFA
6HenryColeRHP (Starter)2020 2nd
7AdonJoanRHP (Starter)2016 IFA
8CarrilloGerardoRHP (Starter)2016 IFA
9RutledgeJacksonRHP (Starter)2019 1st
10CruzArmandoSS2020 IFA
11ThompsonMasonRHP (Reliever)2016 3rd
12AdamsRileyC2017 3rd
13RamirezAldoRHP (Starter)2018 IFA
14De La RosaJeremyOF (Corner)2018 IFA
15CroninMattLHP (Reliever)2019 4th
16CluffJacksonSS2019 6th
17CaseyDonovanOF (Corner)2017 20th
18LileDaylenOF (CF)2021 2nd
19CateTimLHP (Starter)2018 2nd
20InfanteSamuelSS2020 2nd
21ParkerMitchellLHP (Starter)2020 5th
22LeeEvanLHP (Starter)2018 15th
23PinedaIsraelC2016 IFA
24MarteDanielOF (CF)2018 IFA
25QuintanaRoismarOF (CF)2019 IFA
26BarreraTresC2016 6th
27RomeroSethLHP (Starter)2017 1st
28DenaburgMasonRHP (Starter)2018 1st
29BarleyJordySS2016 IFA
30MillasDrewC2019 7th
31ShumanSethRHP (Starter)2019 6th
32MendozaDrew3B2019 3rd
33GuaschRichardRHP (Starter)2018 IFA
34WhiteT.J.OF (Corner)2021 5th
35BoissiereBrandenOF (Corner)2021 3rd
36PetersonToddRHP (starter)2019 7th
37BrzykcyZachRHP (Reliever)2020 NDFA
38MendezRicardoOF (CF)2016 IFA
39SaenzDustinLHP (Starter)2021 4th
40PowellHoldenRHP (Reliever)2020 3rd

So, first things first: the top 10 in the handbook are the exact same top 10, in the same order, as the BA top 10 they released back in October 2021. I reacted to that list at length last October, so I won’t repeat my criticisms too heavily here. I will say this: clearly to me the BA boys had their list back then and have not done much in the way of additional analysis, because this new list does not include our shiny new IFA Cristian Vaquero. And honestly, its a pretty big omission given the fact that he signed several weeks ago. I suppose it implies that the handbook went to print a couple of months ago … but in today’s media landscape it seems like a pretty bad miss. In the world of blogging and internet-driven media, delays due to book binding and printing can make information “dated” pretty quickly.

Anyway, one with the observations.

  • Same 1-3 as everyone else. Ruiz over Cavalli, which I’m ok with.
  • We’ve covered Antuna at #4 at length; my stance is pretty clear.
  • The Arms at 5-8 are all pretty defensible and are mostly in line with what we’ve been seeing.
  • Rutledge remains in their top 10, despite his 2021. This, believe it or not, is considered “low” on Rutledge as compared to most of the other shops so far. How are they so high on Antuna but are low-man on Rutledge?

So, here we go with the guys ranked 11-40.

  • #11: Mason Thompson. Seriously? A 5.74 ERA in AAA in 2021, then after we acquired him his MLB stat line was as follows: 4.15 ERA., 5.71 FIP, 21/14 K/BB in 21 innings to a 99 ERA+. Ok great: a below league average RH middle reliever. Is that a near top 10 prospect? I mean, Andres Machado had a far better season in 2021 as a RH middle reliever: he was never ranked in our top 10 as a prospect. We cycle in and out failed starters as 6th inning RH relievers all the time; they’re one of the most fungible assets in the game. If we’re valuing near replacement level players so highly, then why aren’t all our backup AAA catchers ranked in the top 10 too? (Ahem, see next).
  • #12 Riley Adams: not even ranked in the top 30 by some shops (including Fangraphs), but #12 in our system. I mean, if the value of a prospect is so heavily skewed towards MLB-readiness, why not just rank our entire AAA team in our top 10?
  • Lots of variation of opinion on De La Rosa: some have him top 10, others in the mid-teens. BA comes in at #14.
  • Jackson Cluff at #16, whereas he wasn’t even in the top 50 of prospects1500. Wow. That’s a lot of juice on one month-long AFL stretch, especially considering how mediocre his 2021 regular season was.
  • Tim Cate at #19; they still have some faith, at least more than other shops.
  • Romero and Denaburg together at #27 and #28: fitting. The two worst 1st round picks in our history (well, except maybe for Aaron Crowe) are still hanging on the outskirts of the top 30.
  • One of the few shops to give any love to our pair of former Oakland High-A starters Shuman and Guasch, coming in at #31 and #33.
  • T.J. White: #34. Wow. Other shops have him in the upper teens. Where’s the love for a high draft pick who actually hit this year? Why would this guy be so low, as compared to De La Rosa, who is basically the same age and was badly outperformed?
  • This is the first list naming Dustin Saenz to any spot; he was a 4th round Lefty out of TAMU who only threw a handful of pro innings in 2021; not much to go on. A 4th round SEC hurler should have more expectations.
  • Coming in at #40 is Holden Powell. Again, curious. If they like relievers so much, why not give Powell (or Cronin or a few others) more credit?

Guys completely unranked of note: Vaquero as previously mentioned. Jake Alu, Yoander Rivero. Both Irvin and Schaller are completely out of the rankings now due to lost injury seasons.

I dunno. Maybe this list isn’t too bad. Outside of a couple of curious spots in the top 10, the rest of the list is more or less pretty defendable.

More prospect rankings are coming this week, so stay tuned. Keith Law is releasing all his data this week and we’ll have a reaction piece because I like his analysis.

Written by Todd Boss

February 7th, 2022 at 9:17 am

ProspectsLive.com Nats top 30

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Brady House continues to be one of our “big 3” prospects. Photo via primetimesportstalk.com

Thanks to Luke Erickson, who pointed out this new prospect ranking shop ProspectsLive.com that I wasn’t aware of. They released their Nats top 30 prospect list last week, the bulk of it behind a paywall. Their lead evaluator for the Nats seems to be Brandon Smith, so lets take a look at their rankings as we’ve done with other shops, and discuss who they’re “high” or “low” on relative to everyone else.

I’ve never seen a list from this site before, and based on the players they’ve listed, I can only assume this site has a distinct fantasy focus in its rankings, which is a little disappointing. I say this because of the way-too-high ranking for several relievers and the astronomically high ranking for our newly signed IFA prize, things you generally only see in fantasy heavy analysis who are making recommendations to diehards who play in keeper leagues and who are looking for deep prospects to draft and bury and/or possible future closers (thus resulting in over-emphasis of relievers versus other conventional scouting analysis). That being said, this is the first service that really seems to evaluate our prospects in light of their production, and less about their bonus size, which has resulted in a pretty good ranking.

Lets get to their rankings.

Since they’re a pay-for service, i won’t print the whole list, but i will do some highlights of players who are notable. the top 10 are visible for free and are:

  1. Cavalli
  2. Ruiz
  3. House
  4. Vaquero
  5. Henry
  6. Rutledge
  7. Cruz
  8. Lara
  9. Adon
  10. Carrillo
  • Same top 3 as everyone else right now; they have Cavalli ahead of Ruiz, which I know some find arguable. Meh; i’m just glad to have a “big 3” back in the system to be excited about, and I’m not sure I care who is #1. Ruiz is going to be the opening day starter, while Cavalli is going to be in AAA, so for me that’s how the ranking should go 1-2 at the top.
  • New Cuban IFA signee Cristian Vaquero comes in at #4. Wow. That’s a statement. Of those shops who have ranked him, i’ve seen him 9th on one amateur list (DistrictonDeck, which ranked him mid-last season based on the rumors of his imminent signing), and in the 14-15 range on a couple of professional sites (Prospect361, Prospects1500). But #4 is… well that’s bullish. And one of the reasons I suspect the fantasy focus in these rankings.
  • A little high on last year’s IFA darling Armando Cruz, who got $3.9M and did very little in 2021 to merit that bonus figure.
  • They’re super high on Mitchell Parker, coming in at #12. I like Parker and I like what he did in 2021. You may not like the ERA, but 144 Ks in 101 innings is amazing.
  • They’ve got Yasel Antuna all the way down at #15. Finally, someone appropriately ranks the career .238 hitter who no longer plays a premium position and has no power.
  • They still have hope for Mason Denaburg, listing him at #16. I do not have #16 ranked hope for Denaburg; I sense he’ll be lucky to get out of rookie ball at this point.
  • They have two relievers ranked #18 and #19: Holden Powell and Gabriel Agostini. Powell was a closer in college, pitched a grand total of 4 2/3rds innings in 2021 before missing the rest of the season with an injury. Putting him #18 is ridiculous. Agostini is 17 and had stellar numbers in the DSL … but its the DSL. If you’re a lefty with a decent pitch, you can get guys out immediately in the DSL. 15 games, 32 innings and a great K/9 rate; he has to replicate this stateside before being listed this high.
  • They’ve dumped Jeremy De La Rosa all the way to #22, when most other shops have him in the 7-10 range. I guess they were not impressed with his .209/.279/.316 line this year in Low-A as a 20-yr old. Or maybe it was his 37% K rate. That’s right: 122 strikeouts in 326 ABs in low-A this year. A better question is probably … why does every other shop still have him in their top 10?
  • One of the few shops to rate Jackson Cluff after he tore up the AFL this past November. He comes in at #24.
  • Our buddy Seth Romero comes in at #27; still hanging on. I’m sure he won’t be #27 for long, once the team releases him the moment the new CBA is signed.
  • Two AA lefty starters round out the bottom of the top 30 in Tim Cate and Evan Lee.

Notable names not ranked. In a top 30, its hard to “miss” guys, but here’s some who are not mentioned:

  • Drew Mendoza: the polish is off here.
  • Jake Alu: no love for the 24th rounder despite a solid 2021 at the plate.
  • Riley Adams: so, a lefty reliever in the DSL is worth of #19, but a AAA catcher with competent numbers at the plate is not worth ranking. Got it.
  • Israel Pineda: man, it wasn’t that long ago he was a top 10 prospect.
  • Tres Barrera: generally not a lot of love for Catchers here.
  • Mason Thompson: Baseball America literally had him in our top 10 post trade deadline.

Written by Todd Boss

January 26th, 2022 at 9:55 am

Posted in Prospects

Prospects1500 Nats top 50 List released

12 comments

Henry all the way up to #4 on this list. Photo via mlb.com

With the absence of MLB news (we’re not to mid Feb yet, so no chance we’ll have a new CBA), there still is some analysis to be had. We’re getting into the meat of the Prospect ranking season, and that means more lists being released.

Today, we have Prospects1500.com and their writer Colin Coulahan with perhaps the most aggressive prospect list out there: a top 50 for the Nats system. BA goes 10 deep, Fangraphs goes 30 deep, but these guys go 50 deep. Every list, they add in several guys who have never been ranked before, and this time is no different.

Here’s a link to the raw list, which I highly recommend visiting for the video embeds of key players. If you’ve never seen video on our top guys, this is the place to go. Also online, they don’t just list 1-50, they have tiers built in that kind of serve as predictors of future production. I probably push back on some of the players he lists in Tier 3 (expectation of making the majors) as being a little too rosy, but I like who he has listed in the first two tiers as being a pretty good predictor of the future.

Anyway, here’s some thoughts on the list with an eye-squint towards players they have much higher or lower than the consensus of other shops right now.

  • Top 3 are as expected and the same as everyone else. Put a dotted line between these three guys (Ruiz, Cavalli, House) and the rest of the system right now b/c they’re head and shoulders above everyone else at this point. These three, by the way are also the only 3 guys making the BA top 100. They came in at #11, #27 and #59 respectively in the entirety of the minors. So far, so good on the House drafting.
  • They have Cole Henry all the way up at #4 on the strength of his AFL performance. Bravo. Fangraphs had him all the way down at #13 in September. Lets hope he stays healthy and becomes part of a future Nats rotation. I like him as a sneaky-good #3 starter for a good team; imagine him pitching this way in a rotation along side Strasburg, Corbin, and Cavalli.
  • Antuna pushed down to #8; they’re still decently bullish on the player, but at least acknowledge that he’s going through a position change. At least they don’t have him in “future all star” ranking territory like BaseballAmerica did in October. I’m on record frequently in this space as questioning the continued prospect love for Antuna, especially now that he’s proven without a doubt he can’t play the dirt. Now he’s a corner 6’0″ outfielder with middling power and a career .684 minor league OPS.
  • What a rise for Joan Adon: they’ve got him at #11 and BA had him at #7; last year he was in the 20s or lower.
  • A caveat in the post says it was written just before the official signing of Cristian Vaquero. They would have had him in the #14-15 range apparently. That’s fair as a starting point; i probably would have had him a bit higher but sight unseen its hard to quibble with a mid-range ranking like this.
  • Evan Lee on the list at #16; he wasn’t even on Fangraph’s top 30. This is probably due to his K/9 rate in the AFL and his placement on the 40-man roster, but still seems awfully high.
  • Definitely high on #19 Brandon Boissiere, our 2021 3rd rounder who projects as a low-power 1B who hit .200 in 25 games in Low-A this year. Why would you rank Boissiere above, say, Ricardo Mendez, who plays CF, out hit Boissiere this year, earned a promotion to high-A, and is the same age?
  • Aldo Ramirez: all the way down to #21 on this list but top-10 on others. Interesting.
  • First time prospect mentions for three guys in the mid 20s: Yoander Rivero, Jacob Young, and Ivan Murzi. All three were hitters in the FCL or Low-A this year. Rivero hit .270 as a SS in the FCL with 3 homers and had more walks than strikeouts (a rarity in the game today). Murzi was a backup catcher in the FCL who got 34 at bats in 2021 and barely hits: not sure why he’s even this high. Young was a 7th rounder this year who hit .200 and had a lower slugging than his OBP in low-A. Strange placement for Murzi and Young honestly: there’s probably 10 guys I rate higher than either in the system or ranked below them.
  • Seth Romero, all the way down to #30. And that’s before his DWI arrest. He continues to be a train wreck, and the Nats executives can’t do a thing about it because he’s on the 40-man and thus he’s locked out. Romero is now #1 on my “Next player to get released when the team needs 40-man room” list. I think his time with the team may now be complete. Is this the worst ever 1st round pick by this team? Great post idea; maybe i’ll write that up for when he gets released.
  • Speaking of failed 1st round picks, Mason Denaburg comes in at #38 on this list. It is hard to believe that he was as high as the #2 ranked prospect in our system in January of 2021 in one publication.
  • Tim Cate: all the way to #40. Which is way, way too low, even if he did struggle this year. I mean, a 24-yr old lefty starter in AA with top tools has to rank better than a guy with 20 pro ABs. The fallacy is this: even if you thought Cate sucked in 2021, he’s a lefty who can go straight to the bullpen, focus on two pitches in stead of four, and become an effective MLB reliever almost immediately.
  • There’s a huge discrepancy between where Prospects1500 has some veteran prospects like Drew Millas and Drew Mendoza, buried in the 40s, versus where other shops have them. Just a month ago Fangraphs had Millas #12 overall, and still had Mendoza with some value. I think this ranking is a little to punitive for their bad 2021 seasons.

There’s no real reason to quibble about the rest of the players ranked in the 30s and 40s; some of them i’d never heard of. Could anyone tell me when we acquired #46 Miguel Gomez or how he performed this year?

Ranking a thin system to the 50th player is tough, but this is a good way to get recognition for some lower-level guys who may matriculate forward. Thoughts?

Written by Todd Boss

January 21st, 2022 at 9:55 am

2022 Class Hall of Fame Post

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This year begins the next 10 year cycle of arguing about the HoF merits of PED players. Photo via NYPost

Its that time of year. Its time to put our two cents in on the Hall of Fame ballot.

Past versions of this post: by ballot class: 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

The 2022 class is a transitional one, where we’ll (finally) age off a number of the PED-associated players who have plagued this discussion for years, but just as a couple drop off another major one starts his 10 year cycle. Here’s one last chat about these expiring players, plus some thoughts on the players new to the 2022 ballot.

Key resources for HoF discussions:

New to the 2022 ballot: two significant names and a bunch of also-rans.

  • Alex Rodriguez: 3 MVPs, a decade and a half of getting All Star and MVP votes, 696 homers, 3100 hits, and a massive 117 bWAR figure that ranks him 16th in the history of the game. Under normal circumstances of course he’s a 1st ballot, near unanimous hall-of-famer. But A-Rod’s legacy has taken hit after hit: He was reportedly on the 2003 list, he was named prominently in Jose Canseco‘s book … but then he was the centerpiece player involved in the Biogenesis scandal, which resulted in a one-year suspension from the game in his late 30s. Despite his post-playing career reputation reclamation renaissance, which has seen him on national MLB broadcasts on ESPN’s Sunday night game of the week showing off his charm and charisma, we know BBWAA writers are not going to vote for him en-masse; my guess is that he’ll hover in the same 60% range that Bonds/Clemens have hovered in. My take on A-Rod is similar to my take on Bonds & Clemens: yes he cheated, but he’s also one of the best to ever play, so he should be enshrined.
  • David Ortiz finished his career in style, posting a ridiculous .315/.401/.620 slash line at age 40 in his farewell season, leading the league in slugging, OPS and RBI. He seemingly could still be playing the game and producing value. He was the heart of the Boston Red Sox for more than a decade and for three World Series titles, a feared slugger in the middle of the order who wreaked havoc during the post season (his career OPS in the postseason was .947, higher than his career regular season OPS). I push back on anyone who claims he has ties to PEDs, as I discussed at length in this space in 2013 and which has been corroborated by multiple national writers and the commissioner of the sport. The major knock on Ortiz is his DH-only stigma, but that really should no longer exist now that the writers have elected the likes of Edgar Martinez, Paul Molitor, and Frank Thomas. I think he’s a shoe-in but it remains to be seen if the anti-PED voters will believe he’s a cheater.
  • Mark Teixeira, native of Severna Park, probably is more famous for his massive contract than his production on the field. He signed an 8yr/$180M deal with New York, and by the end of it was a shell of his former self. But, in its first year (his age 29 season), he had his best ever season, leading the league in homers and RBIs, finishing 2nd in MVP voting and being a huge part of what has now turned out to be the last title the Yankees have won. For me; hall of very good, or perhaps “Hall of very well paid” along with players like Kevin Brown, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Jason Heyward, Barry Zito, and Mike Hampton)
  • Jimmy Rollins, longtime Phillies SS and my favorite lightning rod for discussions with my long-time Phillies friend Jason. Rollins won the 2007 NL MVP in just about the only season he ever merited league-wide recognition. My friend took this to mean he was a “shoe in” for the Hall of Fame, a claim I laughed at then and discuss now. Rollins won a handful of Gold Gloves, but was a sub-100 OPS+ hitter at the plate. He had a long, illustrious career and was a centerpiece in the 2008 WS winning team. For me, a nice player who played in the wrong era: if he played in the 70s and had this career, we’d be talking about him like we talked about Ozzie Smith.
  • Carl Crawford was a speed daemon, leading the league in SBs four times while starring for an under-noticed Tampa team. He put up a 7-win season, which led to a massive $142M contract before falling apart after leaving Tampa and was out of the league at 34. He has a surprisingly high career bWAR (39.1) but is nowhere near a hall of famer. I will be surprised if he gets 5% to remain on the ballot going forward.
  • Jake Peavy‘s career was highlighted by essentially two great seasons, one of which resulted in a Cy Young. He pitched a large amount of his career in NL West parks, which led him to have a stellar-looking career ERA of 3.63, but a park-adjusted ERA+ of just 110. A long-shot to get anything other than a couple of home-town votes.
  • Justin Morneau won an MVP at age 25, nearly won another at age 27, but couldn’t really create a second half to his career after leaving Minnesota He doesn’t have near enough career numbers to rate in the HoF discussion as a first baseman.
  • Prince Fielder was a beast at the plate, hitting 50 homers in his age 23 season, but a sudden neck injury went from an annoyance to surgery to career-ending issue very quickly. Its a shame; we’ll never know how the second half of his career (when he could have DH’d primarily) would have unfolded. Even given that, I don’t believe he had enough production in his 20s to give anyone any ideas he’d double it and become a HoFame threat.
  • Joe Nathan was a long-time closer who came back from two season-long injuries to pitch into his 40s. He was a solid closer who sits 8th in all time saves and hits the ballot at a time when more and more voters view closers through the appropriate lens; that of a slightly more important reliever than the 8th inning guy. Indeed, Nathan’s two biggest WAR seasons were just 2.4 and 2.1 win seasons, which is about what Mike Trout does in the first couple months of each season.
  • Tim Lincecum: Well, what to do with Lincecum? Absolutely dominant and durable for most of his 20s, winning two Cy Youngs and leading the league in Strikeouts three times…. and then suddenly at age 28 he collapsed and became below a replacement level player. He went from a 3.7 win season to a -1.7 win season over night. This is not a Sandy Koufax case, where he was at least decent for most of his career; Lincecum was great, then awful. HIs two major awards will help keep him on the ballot but there’s no way he gets into the Hall.
  • Jonathan Papelbon, this year’s “candidate with Nats ties,” was an excellent closer for a while, retiring with really excellent numbers (2.44 ERA, 177 ERA+). He sits 10th all time in saves. He made a ton of all star teams and won a World Series in Boston. I doubt he gets enough votes to stay on the ballot going forward.
  • A.J. Pierzynski had a 19-year career as a catcher, known best for his time in Chicago perhaps. He had his best year at age 35 oddly, and stayed behind the dish to the end. He had very few career accolades and i’m somewhat surprised he’s even on the ballot.
  • Ryan Howard, another player who belongs in the “Hall of Massive contracts,” is the lowest-career bWAR player new to the ballot in 2021. He was a late bloomer, exploding onto the scene at age 25 and in short order winning a RoY, an MVP, and from age 25-29 was perhaps the most feared left handed slugger not named Barry Bonds in the NL. Then. … he fell off a cliff at age 30, going from a productive slugger who struck out a lot to a mediocre hitter who struck out a lot. I recall going to Nats-Phillies games late in his career where Howard wouldn’t have been able to hit a lefty if he had a guitar at the plate and soft-tossing Oliver Perez would come out of the pen to make him look like a little-leager seeing a curve ball for the first time. I figure he’ll get a few charity votes and move on. No crying for Howard though; he may have been out of the league at age 26 but he made more than $190M in his career.

So, of all the new-to-the-ballot players, I’d vote for A-Rod and Ortiz. I don’t believe Ortiz actually tested positive for anything, ever, and I’m not in the “never vote for a cheater” camp for transformative players like A-Rod (and Bonds, and Clemens … see below)


As for returning candidates, i’ll leverage a lot of what I wrote last year, but with some new information available to us I’ve changed my virtual mind on a couple of candidates in particular. These are ordered by the % of votes they got last year.

Quick reasoning in order of the above:

  • Curt Schilling can go f*ck himself. I’m sorry, but he was nearly at the point of personal reprehensibility BEFORE the events of January 6th that his candidacy should have been torpedoed (as well described in Jay Jaffe‘s HoF post for a partial list of his social media “takes” before he tweeted broad support for the insurrection. I’m at the point now with Schilling that I can no longer possibly support him, even though I think he merits induction based on his career. If you think that’s incongruous with my support of PED users, so be it. Schilling himself asked off the ballot after the backlash last January, to which the Hall said no, probably to ensure one last cycle of stories about why he didn’t make it. I predict he loses 10% of his support from last year’s 71% and heads deeper into Qanon and MAGA right wing media.
  • Clemens and Bonds are two of the best players ever to play, regardless of later-in-their-career PED transgressions (alleged or otherwise). You can cut both their careers off at the point where they both allegedly used and they’re still HoFamers. However, they’ve remained right in the 61% range for years now with little movement and the electorate has clearly made up their minds. Plus, I think the LAST thing Cooperstown wants is to give either guy a mike for a 45-minute diatribe on the way they’ve been treated, since both players basically continue to deny any culpability to this day. It remains amazing to me, and will going forward, that a 7-time MVP and a 7-time Cy Young winner will not be enshrined.
  • Scott Rolen is an interesting player whose value was much more about his defense than his offense. Interestingly the Hall has no problem electing top-end defensive short stops who couldn’t hit (see Ozzie Smith or Luis Aparicio) but seem to struggle when presented with an equally dominant defensive 3B who actually could hit. That’s Rolen to at. He was at 53% last year; does he have enough star power to move up? Probably a few percentage points.
  • Omar Vizquel was a mediocre hitter who played forever and nearly got to 3,000 hits. He was a solid defender yes, but I’m kind of at a loss as to why voters are giving him so much credence while Rolon struggles. And that was before he was accused of both Domestic Violence AND sexual harassment claims while he was managing. Geeze. I sense his candidacy is permanently done.
  • Billy Wagner: has better numbers than nearly any other inducted reliever. If you have any relievers in the hall, you’d need to consider Wagner (and as long as we’re having that conversation, say hello to Tom Henke). Of course, that’s not the way the world works, so he will continue to languish as the last stand of “closers” to be considered before the sport moves completely away from them (honestly; think about it right now; could you name last year’s Saves leaders? Did you know without looking it up that the MLB leader in saves was Mark Melancon? None other than a Nats hired gun from the ill-fated 2016 season?
  • Todd Helton was better than you remember. He had a season once where he hit .357 AND hit 42 homers. Just look past the fact that he was once arrested for DUI while buying lottery tickets. Lottery tickets! For a player who made $156M in his career. I think he’s permanently suffering from Colorado-syndrome, and if he had played some of his career at sea level maybe we’re having another conversation.
  • Gary Sheffield is a borderline candidate but was nearly as feared as Ramirez was at the plate. Has stronger PED usage allegations than others. He was, unfortunately, a “difficult” player to deal with both for club and media, which has probably led to his tepid support amongst the writers who couldn’t stand covering him. That kind of stuff shouldn’t matter, but it does. I”d support him, but a lot of writers will not. Hence why he’s in the 40% range and not the 60% range like Bonds/Clemens.
  • Andruw Jones was, for the first 10 years of his career, discussed as perhaps being the second coming of Willie Mays before getting hurt and getting run out of the game by the time he was 35. Despite playing just 11 full seasons he had 434 career homers and 10 straight gold gloves in Center. I think voters have just forgotten how good he was. Keith Law had a great post at the Athletic this week about just why Jones is hall-worthy, an interesting analysis that was worth reading. In an interesting Nats-related twist, Jones’ son (also named “Andruw Jones”) is a high school senior this year and is projected to go in the top 10 of the draft, right around where the Nats find themselves picking. Could we be looking at Andruw Jones junior?
  • Jeff Kent is a polarizing figure, both while he played and on the ballot. He’s a borderline guy and his voting totals have indicated that. By all accounts hew as nearly as big of a d*ck to reporters as Bonds was while both played in SF; wow, that must have been an awesome clubhouse to cover as a beat reporter.
  • Manny Ramirez was perhaps the most feared RH hitter for a decade in this league and has career numbers that put him in the top 25 hitters ever to play. Again, less interested in PED transgressions at the end of his career than I am with the bulk of his accomplishments. I realize I’m in the minority here, but I’d support him.
  • Sammy Sosa: too hard to make a case that he reinvented himself as a home run hitter completely thanks to artificial mechanisms. He was a 36–40 homer guy then he suddenly rips off seasons of 66, 63, 50 and 64. I will say though, i do “buy” his corked bat explanation once I read that the league confiscated all his other bats and found no other cork. His post-season career has not aged well; he appeared on the excellent ESPN documentary “Long Gone Summer” about the homer chase, and looked like he’d had more cosmetic surgery than Kaitlin Jenner.
  • Pettitte lead the league in wins in the 90s (much like Morris did in the 80s) but is recognized similarly to Mark Buehrle; a lefty 3rd or 4th starter for most of his career who stayed healthy and accumulated wins and strikeouts, but was rarely even the best hurler on his own team. Both are Hall of very good, not Cooperstown.
  • Torii Hunter had a surprisingly solid, quiet career. Great defender, great teammate. Not enough to make the hall, and i’m kind of surprised he even stuck around for a 2nd year on the ballot.
  • Bobby Abreu: good but not transcendent. Frankly i;m amazed at the support he’s getting so far on the bbhof tracker.
  • Tim Hudson; highest JAWS of any of the 2021 new candidates, nearly the highest total career WAR. He certainly had enough time in the sun, playing for multiple playoff teams in his career (7 seasons pitching in the playoffs). Was frequently in Cy Young talks, but never really came close to winning one. Given that, he barely made it to the 5% threshold to stay on the ballot.

Summary:

Returning Ballot Candidates
Here’s how I’d vote my imaginary ballot. Amazingly, i find myself struggling to get to 10 players.

  • Yes on Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez
  • A more tepid Yes on Scott Rolen, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield,
  • Hard No on Curt Schilling, Omar Vizquel,
  • Pass on Billy Wagner, Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Sammy Sosa, Andy Pettitte, Mark Buehrle, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Tim Hudson, and all other new 2022 ballot names.

Totally understand if you’ve got Hall of Fame fatigue and move on. 🙂

Written by Todd Boss

January 3rd, 2022 at 10:02 am

Posted in Awards,Hall of Fame

Prospects361 Nats top 15 released

16 comments

Andry Lara is rising up the prospect boards. Photo via mlb.com

Since I love prospect lists, I’ll write a reaction piece to every Nats prospect list ranking that I see this off-season. What else are we gonna talk about during the lockout?

We already saw the Baseball America top 10 list, which I found laughable for a number of reasons. Let’s see how Prospects361 and its author Rich Wilson did.

Prospects361 does seem to have a fantasy focus, which means we’ll see some oddities in the rankings. Fantasy focused sites generally over-rank several types of players:

  • relievers who have closer ability (since “saves” are generally one of the 5 prime pitching fantasy categories)
  • very, very young prospects and/or brand new prospects which get snapped up in Dynasty leagues
  • positions that are scarce (SS, C, 3B to a certain extent)

Here’s a direct link to his ranking, which i’ve represented in the table below.

NamePositionAcquiredRank
Cade CavalliRHP (Starter)2020 1st1
Keibert RuizC2014 IFA2
Brady HouseSS2021 1st3
Andry LaraRHP (Starter)2019 IFA4
Yasel AntunaSS2016 IFA5
Jackson RutledgeRHP (Starter)2019 1st6
Jeremy De La RosaOF (corner)2018 IFA7
Armando CruzSS2020 IFA8
Cole HenryRHP (Starter)2020 2nd9
Gerardo CarrilloRHP (Starter)2016 IFA10
Aldo RamirezRHP (Starter)2018 IFA11
Daylen LileOF2021 2nd12
Donovan CaseyOF (corner)2017 20th13
Roismar QuintanaOF (CF)2019 IFA14
Cristian VaqueroOF (CF)2021 IFA15

So, some reactions.

  • The same top 3 as nearly every other pundit shop right now, though he has Cavalli over Ruiz. That’s surprising since most legit ranks have Ruiz over Cavalli given Cavalli’s well known challenges, plus Ruiz is a catcher.
  • He has Andry Lara a bit higher than most others at #4, but I don’t think its unwarranted. The guy as an 18yr old pitched well in the GCL, which is now a much, much older league than it used to be. He may have had a 4.54 ERA, but his peripherals were pretty good.
  • Sigh; Yasel Antuna at #5. He’s still listed as a SS, which we know isn’t gonna happen as Antuna has already been banished to the OF. My concerns with Antuna being this high are well documented. All i’ll say is this: he better be one hell of a better hitter than he’s shown in 2022.
  • Even after his crap season, Jackson Rutledge sits above Cole Henry, which is laughable at this point. Perhaps he made this list before seeing anything that Henry was doing in Arizona.
  • He’s definitely high on Armando Cruz, One homer and a .232 BA in 177 DSL at bats this year after signing a ridiculously high signing bonus ($3.9M). So far, bust potential.
  • He’s about where the industry is on the guys in the 10-13 range, so no comment there.
  • Quintana: he’s definitely high on this guy. Quintana barely played this year due to an apparent injury, so this ranking and his potential is entirely that; potential.
  • Lastly, and I hate it when prospect ranking shops do this, he lists a player we’re only rumored to be signing in Vaquero. This is entirely fan service to dynasty fantasy players looking for some deep round pickup.

Omissions:

  • No mention of Joan Adon, who BA had #7. Now, i’m also on record being somewhat skeptical of Adon being a 7th ranked prospect, but i’m ok with him being a bit further down in the 13-15 range.
  • Slightly surprised there’s no Matt Cronin at the edges of his roster, given that Cronin is a closer candidate. It might be due to Cronin’s injury this year.
  • Not much else to quibble about.

Thoughts?

Written by Todd Boss

December 23rd, 2021 at 4:13 pm

Rule-5 Protection Prediction history and existential question: does it matter?

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Evan Lee gets protected; will he be an impact player? Photo via U of Arkansas

The 2021 rule-5 prediction season is over. I predicted we’d protect Tim Cate and Donovan Casey as “locks,” then listed several others as possibles, led by Evan Lee. In the end, the team protected Casey and Lee, but not Cate. And then on the even of the annual meetings, the owners locked out the players, the major league component of the meetings were cancelled, and the rule-5 draft was “postponed indefinitely.”

So, it remains to be seen if Rule-5 will ever matter again. Or if it even happens for this year.

That being said …. Here’s a fun trip down memory lane to show my history of my predicted Rule-5 additions (with links to each prediction piece), along with the Actual players the team protected (with links as well).

Here’s a better question; does Rule-5 matter? The Rule-5 draft used to occur one year earlier into a player’s career, which led to drastically better talent being available. Now though, many pundits (even scouting-heavy ones like Keith Law) don’t even follow it because the Rule-5 rarely leads to impact players changing teams.

So, how many of the above players who were added to “save” them from the Rule-5 draft actually turned into impactful players for the Nationals? Lets work backwards:

  • 2021: Casey and Lee: Obviously it is too early to tell, but we can project their immediate 2022. Casey likely serves as AAA OF depth in the near term of 2022. He is 6th on the depth chart right now, but could supplant the 5th man on that chart (Andrew Stevenson) with a good spring. Lee is now the 14th reliever or the 11th starter on our 40-man roster depth chart (meaning, he’s behind someone like Cade Cavalli who clearly would get called up before Lee if the need arose), and seems like a long shot to even get to AAA in 2022 given how many lefties we’ve signed recently. My guess is that he’ll start the season in the AA rotation, and might get pushed to the bullpen later in the season if the team needs it and is competing since he’s a lefty with big K/9 numbers.
  • 2020: Adon, Antuna: Adon toiled in the lower minors for most of the year, made it to the majors for a spot start and looked solid. Is it sustainable? We’ve argued about Adon’s 2021 season here already. Right now i’ve got him 8th on our depth chart, behind a likely non-tender in Erick Fedde, which might actually push him further up the chain sooner than later. Meanwhile, Antuna has been a disaster, is now moving off of SS and hit .230 in High-A with none of the power he’d need to present with his move to a corner OF position. The team seems to be clinging to the guy simply based on his massive IFA signing bonus. Apologists for Antuna point out that, hey, he was really good for a few weeks in August; that’s wonderful. He’ll be out of options before he’s useful to this team.
  • 2019: Braymer; already been DFA’d and outrighted after struggling; might be a 4-A org-guy as a ceiling.
  • 2018: Bourque: got shelled in AAA in 2019, waived in 2020, then left the team as a MLFA.
  • 2017: Gutierrez, Jefry Rodriguez. Gutierrez never really did anything for us and was traded to KC in the Kelvin Herrera deal. Rodriguez threw a bunch of mediocre starts and was flipped to Cleveland in the Yan Gomes deal; he’s now back with us as a MLFA for 2022.
  • 2016: Voth, Bautista, Marmolejos, Read and Skole. A ton of guys; anyone impactful? Voth has competed for the 5th starter job for years but has a career 83 ERA+ and might be a non-tender candidate. Bautista never did much for us: 33 career MLB plate appearances. Read had a PED suspension and a handful of MLB games. Marmolejos was a 1B-only guy who showed some gap power in AA but never above it. Skole was inexplicably protected as an age 26 corner infield guy whose profile seemed to mirror dozens of veteran free agents readily available on the market; he hit .222 in 2017 and then hit MLFA.
  • 2015: Kieboom, Bostick, Lee: This was Spencer Kieboom, the catcher, not his younger brother Carter, who remains on the 40-man as we speak. Kieboom was a AAA catcher who was worth protecting but he played just a handful of games in his MLB career. Chris Bostick didn’t last the full 2016 season before being DFA’d. Nick Lee lasted even less, getting DFA’d in July.
  • 2014: Cole, Goodwin, Difo, Grace. All four players ended up playing in the majors for various lengths … but all four were role players for this team. AJ Cole was tried out as a 5th starter season after season, finally flipped to the Yankees when he ran out of options. Goodwin was another guy who couldn’t seem to break our outfield, but who has had spells of starting with some success elsewhere. Difo was our backup IF for years, and Matt Grace pitched in the Washington bullpen for years before getting outrighted and leaving via MLFA in 2019.
  • 2013: Solis, Barrett, Taylor. Sammy was good until he wasn’t, and his time with the 2018 Nats was his last. Barrett remains with the team after multiple surgeries, but is a MLFA this off-season and may be forced into retirement after so many injuries. Michael A. Taylor is an interesting one; he had a 2.7 bWAR season for the Nats in 2017, nearly a 20/20 season when he finally got full time playing time in CF. He won a Gold Glove this year for Kansas City, one season after we DFA’d him because we all thought Victor Robles was a better option.
  • 2012: Karns and Davis.  Karns had one good year as a starter in the majors … for Tampa. Career bWAR: 3.0. Davis pitched a little for the team in 2013, then got hurt, then never made it back to the majors.
  • 2011: Norris, Moore, Solano, Perez.  This was a big year; Norris was a big part of the Gio Gonzalez trade and made the all star team in 2014 for Oakland, but didn’t play much afterwards. Tyler Moore was great in his first year as our backup 1B/bench bat type, but never replicated his 2012 season. Jhonathan Solano was always our 3rd catcher and saw sparing duty until he got cut loose. Eury Perez played in just a handful of games for us before getting DFA’d and claimed by the Yankees in Sept 2014.
  • 2010: Marrero, Carr and Kimball. Marrero was a 1st rounder who “had” to get protected to protect the team’s investiment; he just never could get above AAA. Adam Carr and Cole Kimball were both relievers who looked promising after their 2010 minor league seasons but did relatively little afterwards: Cole never made the majors, while Kimball hurt his shoulder and never recovered.
  • 2009: Jaime, Thompson and Severino. three pitchers, none of whom did much. Jaime was a 2004 IFA who has a grand total of 13 MLB innings. Thompson was waived a year after being protected. Severino got a cup of coffee in 2011 then hit MLFA.
  • 2008: Nobody added. Not one eligible pick or signing from the 2004/2005 draft was considered worthy of protecting.

Conclusion: So, after more than a decade of rule-5 additions, who would you say is the most impactful player we’ve ever added? Brian Goodwin? Michael A. Taylor? Sammy Solis?

Two backup outfielders and a middle reliever. Not much of an impact. At the end of the day, Rule-5 is about protecting edge-of-the-40man roster guys, most of whom barely make the majors. So, yeah, maybe it doesn’t matter.

I’ll still do this post though 🙂

Written by Todd Boss

December 6th, 2021 at 10:49 am