Friday, October 24, 2008

Bill James Commends Kemp, Loney; Overall Team "Young Talent" Only Mediocre

A couple of days old, but Josh Rawitch over at Inside the posts a press release about Bill James' analysis of the Dodgers' young talent. Though Matt Kemp and James Loney rank in James' top 25 young players list, the Dodgers as an organization rank only 13th of 30 major league teams:

In the second year of his newly developed "Young Talent Inventory," groundbreaking baseball analyst Bill James names Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp 7th and first baseman James Loney 20th on his list of the top 25 major league ballplayers under 30 years old. In The Bill James Handbook 2009, to be published on November 1, 2008, James also judges the Dodgers to have the thirteenth-best overall young talent in Major League Baseball, up seven places from last year.

"2008 really was not a great year for young talent, except pitchers," James says in his new book. "Some young position players took a step forward (Dustin Pedroia, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Stephen Drew, Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton, Jose Lopez, Geovany Soto, Nate McLouth); others took a step backward (Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Zimmerman, Alex Gordon, Jeff Francouer). But the only really huge talent to emerge in 2008 was Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays."

"In pitching, on the other hand, it was a good year," argues James. "Tim Lincecum, Jon Lester, John Danks and others emerged as major young talents--others including Jair Jurrjens, Ricky Nolasco, Mike Pelfrey and Edinson Volquez." James points out that evaluating the best young talent is a transitory task: "Virtually everyone who is on this list now will drop off within two years. In baseball, you get over being 'young' really quickly." What is remarkable about this year's list, he says, is that there is little turnover this year compared to last, which means that relatively little new talent emerged.

To achieve his inventory, James first eliminates from the list all players who were 30 years old or older in 2008. He employs two widely used statistics--"Runs Created" for position players and "Runs Allowed" for pitchers--as the basis for comparison. He makes several adjustments, including for injuries suffered during the year and the differences in predictability between pitchers and position players, and then takes into account the number of years the player should be at his peak performance.

James lists the Dodgers as the #13 team in all of baseball for young talent, just below the L.A. Angels of Anaheim and the Oakland A's: "Nobody on the A's is all that good, at least not yet, but they lead the world in guys who should get better. The Dodgers are the exact opposite of the A's; they have very impressive young talent in Kemp, Ethier, Billingsley, Loney and Kershaw, Broxton and Martin, but their issue is depth."

Only four teams--the Brewers (Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun), the Mets (David Wright and Jose Reyes), the Red Sox (Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester), and the Dodgers (Matt Kemp and James Loney)--placed two players in James' list of top 25 young players.

The Brewers' Prince Fielder led the list, with the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez second and Tim Lincecum of the Giants third. Other NL West representatives in the top 20 included Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) at #14, and Adrian Gonzalez (Padres) at #19.


MR.F said...

Which part talks about the overall team being "only mediocre"?

Steve Sax said...

I think 13th out of 30 ranks as only mediocre. That's a D-minus grade, at best.