Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A Comment on Rankings

Folks, I just ran across a great post over at Granny Baseball -- a website that I had not been aware of until it's proprietor posted a comment here. The post essentially is a reminder that most prospect rankings that appear on blogs -- such as my Organizational Rankings -- are being produced by people with zero input aside from stats and a few rumblings we've seen or heard about those players from news sources or, if you have a few connections like Seth, a few more reliable comments coming directly from people involved with the organization. Further, we have nothing to lose if we're wrong.

These are fantastic points, and I wholeheartedly endorse them. I unashamedly accept the position that I don't know anything about the organization that couldn't be figured out by anyone who is willing to put in a little bit of internet research. Why, then, do I bother?

When I started the Organizational Rankings last year, the posts were a natural outgrowth of work that I was doing to help me -- I was compiling all sorts of basic information on prospects anyway, and I wanted to do something with it (or most of it -- I still don't post my counts on option years outside of mentions in specific posts, for instance, because that usually requires tracking down a lot of transaction information and I never quite know if I'm right). All of the information that I compiled was available somewhere online, but in some cases it took some serious detective work to figure out what was going on with a player (and in some cases, I couldn't find what I was looking for at all).

So, since I had this information in one place, I decided to share most of it. I didn't just want to give an alphabetical list of players, however. Who was going to read that, or care? And I didn't just want to post a list of stats -- those are generally easy to find, and people can draw their own conclusions. Instead, since I enjoy projecting and predicting things, I decided to create my own very subjective list of Organizational Rankings by position. This divided the players up into natural segments, and it gave me something interesting to think about and post about.

I enjoy compiling the rankings largely because it gives me a chance to figure out how everyone did the year before (I often simply can't keep track of everyone over the course of the summer), and it also helps me decide what to pay attention to in the year ahead. Can a player like Ben Revere continue performing as well as he did in his first year? Can Henry Sanchez finally stay healthy and deliver on the promise of being a #1 pick? And so on down the line. It also gives me my first chance to really think about what the minor league teams are going to look like in the upcoming year.

I present this information as a "ranking" because that's fun to do. Nonetheless, I strongly encourage people to disagree with where I rank players and to think about where they would rank players precisely because I have no inside information, and my rankings are based largely on past performance. As the post at Granny Baseball that I linked to above points out, this is very often wrong -- it can lead people like me to "project . . . Torii Hunter as a 'slap hitter' while he was in the minor leagues because his power had yet to show itself." This is completely true (look at the hit that I put on Joe Benson, a highly touted outfield prospect, for instance!).

So, in case this wasn't already clear -- you shouldn't take my rankings too seriously, because they're largely for entertainment purposes only. If you want the real scoop, listen to the pros. Until then, keep those Top 10 lists and prospect rankings coming; they're good for discussion, even if in 3 years they'll look like the work of a first grader who was pointing at names on a master list and picking the players at random.

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  • At Sat Feb 09, 06:44:00 PM , Blogger WV said...

    Hey Josh,

    Whether or not these rankings stem from information available on the internet, I do appreciate that you're willing to collect it all in one place and give us a perspective on year to year development. In short, I enjoy the rankings quite a bit.

  • At Sat Feb 09, 08:11:00 PM , Anonymous SethSpeaks said...

    I think we all do our lists for many of the same reasons. For me, it's the fact that I enjoy it. I read box scores throughout the season and try to read as much about the players as possible. Like you said, it's about learning more and then sharing that information. For me, I realize that these minor leaguers are working just as hard as the big leaguers, just without the paycheck, or the nice hotel rooms, or the big per diem, or the fame or all those things. They deserve to be talked about too. These types of lists allow for a place to talk about them. Sure, we can disagree on order and such, but that's alright.

  • At Sat Feb 09, 10:14:00 PM , Blogger TT said...

    I think it should be clear, the article I wrote was not intended to criticize fans who create their own top ten lists. As Taylor points out, that is just something that is fun to do.

    Its also useful for people who want to know more about he Twins minor league players. Reading all the evaluations of prospects from various sources and then trying to synthesize some personal conclusions provides people with a different perspective even if they have read the same sources.

    But, since we all are mostly working with second hand observations, its helpful to think about how to evaluate the various opinions. Its also helpful to remember that there is often not really a lot of difference between the top prospects on a team.


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