Saturday, February 26, 2011

Brief Review of Baseball Prospectus Annual

I received my Baseball Prospectus Annual yesterday and spent a couple of hours reading it last night.  The first thing I noticed is that the statistical profiles are less cluttered.  There used to be so many columns that I wasn't sure what to look at.  That's OK for the site database, but for the book, I think less is more.  I believe most people buy the book for the commentary more than the stats anyway.

The text is informative as always and generally entertaining.  There was a period a few years ago where I thought some of the writers got a little too cute with snarky comments and pop culture references.  Over the past few years, they've gotten away from that a bit while still remaining clever.  I also sense a somewhat more positive tone in this years book, which I think is a good thing. That's not to say they give cheery blue sky evaluations of every player.  That's not the case at all.  Rather, there is a good balance of critical analysis and optimism which I think is what most fans want to see in a pre-season preview.

The cover of the book still has the notorious "Deadly Accurate PECOTA Projections" phrase, but I think that's the work of the publisher rather than Baseball Prospectus.  It's false advertising, but at least it stops at the cover.  Inside the book, the writers don't give us the sense that the PECOTA projections are deadly accurate pointing out numerous cases where they should be viewed with caution.  They use the PECOTAs as a baseline rather than as the final word.   

On the back cover, Rob Neyer says that the Annual is "The best book of its kind".  This I think is accurate and this year's book might be their best product yet.

Now, for a few teasers about the Tigers:

Jacob Turner: "Unlike most debuting young flamethrowers, he avoided walks with aplomb and commanded his fastball exceptionally well, while scouts think his curve count eventually rival anyone's.  In short, he could be a behemoth."

Phil Coke: "The success of C.J. Wilson in escaping the bullpen will surely prompt a slew of copycat conversions, some better considered than others, but Coke's stuff makes him an excellent candidate for a transition to starting.

Nick Castellanos: "Castellanos's bat is what excites scouts, as he projects to hit for both average and power at a star level."

Will Rhymes:"Rhymes plays solid defense, works the count, takes his walks, lashes the occasional gapper, and most importantly looks like he belongs.  .  He doesn't have Sizemore's ceiling, but his broad-based skill set and patient lefty bat mean he'll probably have a career."


  1. Still don't understand the love for Will Rhymes. They say he "plays defense", but his career stats in the minors of a weak .974 doesn't seem to indicate that he has the capacity to be a decent fielder. It sounds to me like he's certain to be a defensive liability. He had atrocious stats at 3B and SS, which really shows his skill for that role. What evidence or logic is out there to suggest he could be adequate let alone good at defense?

    Also, I fail to see one year in the minor leagues where his bat has impressed. He's had 6 years. He was a low draft pick for a reason because he wasn't projected to be good and 6 years he has not impressed. Why is he going to all of a sudden be a productive ML hitter? I don't get it.


  2. Reports from scouts indicate that he is an average second baseman defensively. He makes the easy plays , but doesn't have great range. That's what I saw too.

    Offensively, he has decent on base skills, but no power. His big problem is that he can only play 2B, so he won't make a good utility infielder.

    Sizemore has more upside and the Tigers probably hope he can seize the job. It's hard to root against Rhymes because he seems like a good guy. He probably won't be terrible, but just doesn't have a lot of upside.

  3. Ehh, I'm rooting against him, cause I see no realistic plausibility that he can ever be a good player. And I could care less how good of a guy he is, this is pro baseball and we can't be making excuses to not cut guys because they are nice or good people.

    There's plenty of jobs out there that he can do, and to give him this precious job is just sick and absurd. We need to kick him to the curb and stop wasting our time with baseball deadbeats, and he is just that.

    This is the time to bring in some new blood to try and create some competition for this position in case we get lucky and find a diamond in the rough.

    Average defensively doesn't look like it, he looks like he was below average in the minors and all of a sudden he wakes up one day and can pass as average? And average isn't good enough for his incredibly poor bat power, he would have to be Placido Polanco on defense and he still wouldn't be good enough cause he can't even hit like Polanco, and Polanco was a guy we needed to upgrade anyhow!

    Such a mess we have going on with this "charity" organization of giving non-baseball talents big bucks to stunt our team's development. Well as long as we are stuck with you, Good Luck Will! Not that my good luck wishes will change anything, but have at it buddy!

  4. I'm not really disagreeing with you. If Rhymes plays the way he did last year, I'll be happy. I don't think he'll do that for a full season though. Sizemore has more upside and I hope he lives up to his potential and wins the job.

    Anyway, I haven't seen or read anything that suggests Rhymes is below average defensively. Why do you think he is below average?

  5. Look at his error % in 6 years of minor league baseball. Look at Placido Polanco's numbers. Look at the SLG pct and how it relates to Polanco. Now he can't even beat Polanco on that number against minor league pitching, so even if he were somehow not only adequate at defense but exploded defensively to the point that he matched Polanco's fielding numbers, then you still have a weaker SLG, against weaker competition, and even with a miracle on one half of his game he still couldn't blossom into an all-star player. And I'm counting Polanco as a non all-star myself even. He basically sets the lower limit of overall quality 2B that you want to have at least as good as that if not better. So let's go back to Step 1, how credible is it that we can even get this error prone minor league 2B to do a competent fielding job in the majors? I just see a longshot nightmare trying to achieve that with a lot of pain along the way, and we don't even need to spend the time it takes to blink an eye to even question whether or not the bat is good, it's like I just can't help but say "yeah yeah yeah, you had me at minor league reject baseball player".

    I think I just got a little set off because I never purchased the BP book and was looking for some reading material and thought maybe I'd buy it and I was reading the review and it all sounded good and clean cut and then just happened to end with literally the last sentence they are talking about Rhymes in a way that just shot their credibility out the window and I was kind of bummed that they could somehow someway manufacture a positive outlook for him. I thought these guys were supposed to understand the "science" of baseball? Well that's how I think. And every fiber of my logic says you couldn't possibly want to write something nice about this guy because functionally he's like Bizarro Superman in the world of logical baseball.

    Now, all that being said, and trying to look at the converse perspective for argument's sake: Well supposed Will Rhymes shows up to start the baseball season and before his first at-bat he just makes a declaration of "damn the numbers, damn the history, damn TSE's proclamation, and damn the gods, I'm now just a good baseball player and I'm gonna play like it from now on and that's the way it's just going to be". So, if he decides to say and do that, then who am I to stop him? He can control his own destiny regardless of what I write here.


  6. I don't put much stock in error totals, but if you take a look at Rhymes's last two years, his error totals are way down. I think his range is limited but he's now a steady fielder at second base:

    Unfortunately, 2B is his only position which means he wouldn't be a good utility guy.

    By the way, I was surprised that the BP writer liked Rhymes as much as he did. I do recommend the book and I believe you would like it.



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