Who are you?
I played baseball and softball growing up, and I fell in love with baseball statistics looking at the backs of baseball cards in the late 80’s. Playing with Microsoft Excel and reading lots of Bill James books took me to the next level. Now I’m a big freakin’ dork. Sites like baseball-reference.com have put complete minor league numbers into a central location, making it super-easy for dorks like me to run some numbers on them.
What’s the “Score”?
It’s a number I came up with to estimate a player’s potential for power hitting. It’s a relative scale, with a score of 1 indicating a player with average potential. Anything above 2 is pretty good, 2.5 or higher means that we might have something special.
Since the system isn’t that reliable on players with limited playing time, their scores are “watered down” a bit until they reach 500 career PA.
How is the “Score” calculated?
I don’t want to give away my secret sauce, but it crunches all of a player’s hitting statistics to come up with a single number that approximates a player’s potential with the bat. It takes into account:
- Power shown thus far. I look for guys that hit the ball consistently and hard. The assumption is made that some of their doubles and triples might turn into homers as they get bigger and stronger.
- A batter’s “eye”. I prefer guys who are able to draw a walk and avoid the strikeout. If a player doesn’t have any sort of eye in the minors, he’ll usually struggle in the majors.
- Age. Younger players are preferred since they have more years to potentially improve as a hitter.
So that everyone is ranked on the same scale, I normalize a player stats are normalized for league but not for park, since that data is not readily available.
The greatest limitation of the system is that it’s level-agnostic. I have to make the the assumption that players are promoted through the minor leagues in a timely manner, so that they are always facing an appropriate level of competition. While this is true most of the time, sometimes a player is promoted too quickly or too slowly, and that muddies things up a bit.
Which players do you profile?
I like looking at hitters, mostly prospects and rookies, players with little or no major league experience. I get names from online prospect lists, baseball broadcasts, and my own statistical digging.
Hitting ability is mostly innate. Sure, there are guys who may suddenly improve with steroids or by fixing a hitch in their swing (think Jose Bautista), but good hitters are born, not made. If you know how to properly identify someone who knows how to hit early, they will quite reliably continue hitting and continue improving.
I don’t do pitchers. It’s fun to evaluate their ability and make projections, but inevitable career-altering injuries mean that all the number-crunching is normally not worth the effort. By the time I’ve identified someone, they’ve torn something in their shoulder or elbow. Pitchers can also completely re-invent themselves by adding a new pitch to their repertoire, and that’s not something you can really predict. Maybe I’ll play with pitchers in the future.
When are the numbers updated?
About once a month.
How long do players stay on the list?
If a player has been active in the last 2 years, then they remain on the list. Players who reach 500 PA in the major leagues drop off the list, as it can be said they have “arrived” and are no longer prospects.