Erik pointed out a great post on Royal Review by Scott McKinney in which Scott takes a look at a Success and Bust rates for Baseball America’s top 100 prospects over 13 years to see how they turned out. And I thought that on the eve of spring training, this was a good check on the “hope springs eternal” optimism of Spring Training.
To cut to the chase (and you should absolutely read the whole article), McKinney comes to the mathematical conclusion that 70% of BA’s top 100 prospects bust. The carnage is even greater for pitching prospects who busted closer to 80% of the time. The top prospects obviously were more often successful than their lower ranked counterparts, but the most interesting part of the graph was that the results began to be practically linear towards the 60-100 prospects.
Since one would expect that the ranking of numbers 60-100 is done with a lot of guesswork (and educated guesswork – I’m not trying to rip the prospect list makers, they have a difficult job even with all the inside information they receive), prospects farther down the list would be subject to this theory as well.
So, how does this apply to the Cardinals you ask. Well, based on that research, you can say that roughly 70% of the Cardinals prospects are going to end up as busts. And Scott applied the bust label to 1.5 WAR per season on average during their cost controlled years. Obviously, I’m painting his excellent research with a very broad brush. Check out his post for the full methodology. Colby Rasmus would be one of the Cardinals prospects who would count squarely in the success pile for this experiment.
This resonated with me pretty strongly as some of the Cardinals prospects that were at one time or another highly thought of (thinking about Tyler Greene, Bryan Anderson and Daniel Descalso specifically – even though I still think of them highly personally) struggle to get traction in the majors. And whatever that reason might be (that is fodder for 7 or 8 other posts) they have not. And I think that’s something important to think about as we will get 7 or 8 glowing reports of each and every prospect in the Cardinals farm system over the next month and a half. A lot of these guys will not be successful major leaguers, but I’ll be damned if it is not fun trying to find out who is and who is not.