Saturday, January 20, 2007

PECOTA on the Yankees

Nate Silver has finally made the 2007 PECOTA cards available for Premium subscribers. Combined with his PECOTA Does Prospects series from last year, I decided to see how some of the Yankees' young players developed the past year.

We're going to be looking at three stats here. WARP stands for a player's projected wins above replacement over a five-year peak. Upside is a player's potential runs above average for the same five years. Combined is those two stats added together.

In short, WARP measures a reasonable expectation while Upside measures potential. According to Nate Silver, a Combined score of 300 or better equates to an "elite" prospect. Obviously, major leaguers should score much higher than prospects. Here, then, are all the Yankees covered in Silver's series last year who also have a 2007 projection.

Robinson Cano
2006: 19.0 WARP, 129.5 Upside, 319.6 Combined
2007: 31.2 WARP, 262.4 Upside, 574.4 Combined

PECOTA adores Cano. He has the tenth highest Upside in all of baseball (at least among position players). Sabermetricians supposedly only like players who draw beau coup walks. This is why that mentality is silly.

Melky Cabrera
2006: 12.5 WARP, 78.9 Upside, 203.4 Combined
2007: 23.9 WARP, 110.8 Upside, 349.8 Combined

This one is a no-brainer. Melky established himself as a legitimate major leaguer at the age of 21. That's reflected in the doubling of his WARP score. However, his potential now seems much better, too. Considering his comparables list includes Carlos Beltran, Roberto Alomar, Pete Rose, Tony Gwynn, Derek Jeter and Carl Yastrzemski, Yankee fans have every reason to be optimistic.

Philip Hughes
2006: 17.9 WARP, 131.3 Upside, 310.8 Combined
2007: 21.1 WARP, 197.2 Upside, 408.2 Combined

Last year, PECOTA saw Hughes as the #3 pitching prospect (barely behind Francisco Liriano and Yusmeiro Petit) with the highest Upside. From that already lofty position, Hughes managed to increase his Upside by 50%. He's third among pitching prospects again, but the two ahead of him are Daisuke Matsuzaka--not a prospect--and Tim Lincecum--who has all of 31.2 IP to his name. No one else is anywhere near Hughes.

Hurricane Tyler Clippard
2006: 8.8 WARP, 29.9 Upside, 118 Combined
2007: 9.9 WARP, 49.6 Upside, 148.6 Combined

Clippard made a successful transition to the high minors last year. PECOTA certainly acknowledges that with a significantly higher Upside. But it also obviously agrees with the scouting belief that Clippard is a good-but-not-great pitcher. His stats really aren't anything special.

Kevin Thompson
2006: 13.8 WARP, 57.7 Upside, 195.9 Combined
2007: 13.4 WARP, 30.9 Upside, 164.9 Combined

Thompson is now 27, so he's basically reached his peak already. That his Upside declined is really just a reflection of his age. He's still every bit as likely to be a quality major leaguer. In fact, PECOTA thinks he has nearly an 80% chance of being worthy of an everyday job this year, and a 33% shot at being a star. He deserves to be in the bigs.

Kevin Whelan
2006: 7.3 WARP, 48.3 Upside, 121.7 Combined
2007: 4.4 WARP, 17.2 Upside, 61.2 Combined

23-year-olds who have never pitched above A-ball probably have some major deficiency holding them back. He simply isn't progressing the way kids his age should.

Eric Duncan
2006: 10.4 WARP, 72 Upside, 176 Combined
2007: 12.6 WARP, 33.4 Upside, 159.4 Combined

Is Duncan finished as a prospect? His WARP climbed merely because he reached Triple-A; he's more likely to get a cup of coffee at some point. But his Upside evaporated. It's unlikely Duncan will ever live up to his first round draft status.

Marcos Vechionacci
2006: 8.8 WARP, 13.0 Upside, 101.4 Combined
2007: 8.8 WARP, 2.6 Upside, 90.6 Combined

Vechionacci had a poor 2006, but he's still just 20-years-old. He didn't progress at all, but it's still too soon to write him off.

To recap, Cano, Melky and Hughes took huge steps forward; Clippard progressed nicely; Thompson is the same player but a year older; Whelan and Duncan look more and more like fringe players; and Vechionacci is nothing special.

More PECOTA stuff to follow, I'm sure.


Jeteupthemiddle said...

I don't understand the logic of some people removing Duncan from prospect conversations.

He is still only 22(?) years old (I believe his birthday is in December, so next season is his aged 22 season.

At the age of 21, he had an OPS of .840 in AA. That isn't so terrible. I expect big things from him next season....assuming he is healthy. Right now, I think health is the only thing that could remove him from prospect status.

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