To recap, I am working on a heuristic ranking system which incorporates the following elements that I (informally) look at when evaluating a prospect:
2) Scouting reports
3) Age relative to level (can I cut him some slack or look on his statistical performance in a new light based on who he is playing against?)
4) ‘Intangibles’ (i.e. does he throw 100 mph, have crazy bat speed, does he get hurt all the time, or is he Royce Lewis?)
5) Position (don’t want to load up on pitchers or 1B/DH types)
6) ETA (as he gets closer to the majors, the risk of him never making it goes down)
You can find Part 1 of my thought process here. As noted previously, even if the rankings aren’t good, they will at least be rational!
Using the same set of 20 players, I’m working on expanding my model to include all of the above elements. Here’s a rough draft of ranking those 20 players:
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||11||3B||1||99977||2||60||2||19-AA||2||2019||2||++||2||TOR||1|
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||11||SS||2||87999||2||60||2||19-AA||2||2020||1||++||2||SD||2|
Working from left-to-right:
Scoring: For right now, simply tally the points in each of the 6 categories (maximum 12 points) and then put the players in tiers. I’m going to freely swap players around within the tiers based on how I’d rank them (eventually, right now they are just arbitrarily listed within their tiers).
But the beauty here is you can weigh the scoring however you want. Don’t like the ETA portion? Then just don’t assign any points to it. Do you think stats are overrated and scouting FVs are the most important? Award points for scouting as 4-2-0 instead of 2-1-0. Ratings not ‘granular’ enough for you? Award points in 5 intervals instead of 3 (5-4-3-2-1). The possibilities here are endless.
Position: A player gets 2 points if he’s projected to stick at a ‘tough’ defensive position (SS or C. CF eliminated from this equation because the vast majority of fantasy leagues just assign the position of ‘OF’ to every outfielder). 1 point for the ‘average’ defensive positions (OF, 3B, 2B). 0 points awarded for the ‘easy’ positions (1B/DH types). This portion is admittedly rough, things to look at next for me here are fantasy positional scarcity at the MLB level.
Stats: The 5-digit string is a player’s ‘Blueberry’ statistical line for this season. In short, ‘Blueberry’ rates a hitter by his percentile against all other MiLB hitters in the following categories: AVG-OBP-SLG-SB-ABs. So Vlad Jr.’s 99977 line tells me he’s in the 90th percentile or better in AVG-OBP-SLG, 70th or better in SBs, and 70th or better in ABs (we use ABs as a means to measure his health and the reliability of the first 3 numbers). I think this is a nice shorthand method to see what kind of season a player is having. A ‘great’ season (All 8s and 9s, more 9s than 8s) gets 2 points, a ‘good’ season (maybe some 7s sprinkled in) gets 1 point, an ‘ok’ season gets 0. The lines between when I award 2 vs. 1 vs. 0 points are a little blurry at the moment, this is admittedly another area I need to look at.
Fantasy FV: Using the Fantasy FV method, I give a player a score on the 20-80 scale, but tweaked for fantasy purposes. A 60+ FV gets 2 points, a 50 or 55 FV gets 1 point, a 45 FV or less gets 0 points.
Age Relative to Level: I think this is a key component when evaluating any player. Using this chart from Fangraphs:
Award 2 points if a player is younger than the average age for his level, 1 point if the same age, 0 points if older than average.
ETA: The idea here is that a player closer to MLB play has more fantasy value than a player who is 5 years away from playing in the MLB. The ETA is pretty elementary right now (counting 1 year for each level away from MLB) and will be tweaked to be player specific in the future (Keston Hiura is a good example. I have his ETA on the chart as 2020, but by all accounts he’s likely to be playing in the MLB next year).
Intangibles: This is literally just how I feel about a guy: does he have some insane tools? (Vlad Jr’s hit, Eloy’s raw power). Is he lauded for his approach and feel for the game? (Royce Lewis) Does he just look like a future contributor? (Jo Adell, Taylor Trammell). On the flip side: is he hurt all the time? Does his attitude suck?. 2 points for great intangibles, 1 point for an average player, 0 points for the guys with ‘issues’.
Plum: This is the ranking of the player in our most recent aggregated Plum Prospect rankings. For use as a reference point.
The 4 players that stick out here are Nicky Lopez, Cedric Mullins, Bo Bichette, and Francisco Mejia.
The model loves Nicky Lopez (10 points) because he’s a SS, he’s put up good numbers, he’s putting up good numbers in a level where he’s younger than the competition, and he looks like he could be a contributor for the Royals in the next year. But let’s face it, do you want Lopez back in a trade over Robles, Adell, or Verdugo? 2 ideas to tweak Lopez are 1) use an actual FV over a fantasy one (Fangraphs has his FV at 45) and 2) award him 0 points for ‘intangibles’ (with the justification that he’s just a dude that gets by by being more than the sum of his parts). This bumps him down to the 8-point tier with Kieboom, Kirilloff, Urias, and Jansen. Or maybe we are all wrong and Nicky is going to be a great fantasy contributor in short order.
The model likes Cedric Mullins (9 points) because he’s having a really nice statistical season (90th percentile or better in SLG, SB, and ABs), he’s still young for his level, and he should be playing in the MLB very soon. Maybe we should be paying more attention to Mullins? I think there is a better argument for awarding him 9 points than awarding Nicky Lopez 10 points.
The model doesn’t like Bo Bichette (7 points) because it doesn’t think he’s going to stick at SS, he’s not having a great statistical season this year, and it’s a little low on his FV compared to traditional scouting. His Fantasy FV is low because his hit tool isn’t graded plus (only 50) and Fantasy FV gives the greatest weight to a player’s hit tool. And in reality, Bo is hitting .271 with a .331 OBP this season. But Bichette is a player I’d expect to improve as the data in the model evolves (in other words, I expect his stats and scouting grades both to improve as he gets closer to the MLB). I think I can also justify giving Bo another point for his intangibles (legacy, fast riser, really fast/strong hands).
The model doesn’t like Francisco Mejia (7 points) because of questions surrounding his position and his poor statistical performance so far this season. It actually liked Mejia less before he got traded to San Diego and I was able to justify updating his position to C/1B and give him 1 point instead of DH and give him 0 points, as it looks like San Diego is going to let him play behind the dish. And bear in mind we are only looking at a half-season of statistics here, so if Mejia keeps digging himself out of his poor start to the season, his overall score will improve as well.
As usual, I’m looking for feedback on this as I keep playing around with things. Let me know what you think!