Red Sox Top Prospects – Compiled List

With all the organizational top prospect lists being published lately, I thought it would be helpful to make a compiled Red Sox top prospect list using average rankings from the various prospect lists out there. After a bit of research, I found 7 lists to use, as follows:

-Minor League Ball (John Sickels, Top 22, updated 1/20/12) (Jonathan Mayo, Top 20, published early February 2012)

-Baseball America (Jim Callis, Top 10, 1/6/12)

-Baseball Prospectus (Kevin Goldstein, Top 20, 2/14/12)

-ESPN (Keith Law, Top 10, 2/9/12) (updated 2/10/12)

-Fangraphs (Marc Hulet, Top 15, 12/23/11)

The oddball of the group is probably the Fangraphs list, but I wanted to use as many lists as possible, and I think their prospect coverage is pretty decent.

Without further adieu, here is the list (as well as my notes below it):


    Average Ranking Appears on how many lists?
1 Xander Bogaerts 1.7 7
2 Will Middlebrooks 2.0 7
3 Ryan Lavarnway 5.4 7
4 Blake Swihart 5.9 7
5 Anthony Ranaudo 6.0 7
6 Matt Barnes 6.4 7
7 Brandon Jacobs 6.6 7
8 Bryce Brentz 7.0 7
9 Garin Cecchini 7.4 7
10 Jose Iglesias 10.0 5
11 Jackie Bradley 11.1 6
12 Sean Coyle 11.3 4
13 Felix Doubront 11.3 3
14 Henry Owens 13.3 4
15 Drake Britton 13.5 4
16 Alex Wilson 13.7 3
17 Kolbrin Vitek 14.0 4
18 Stolmy Pimentel 16.5 4
19 Junichi Tazawa 18.7 3
20 Brandon Workman 18.8 4
21 Jose Vinicio 18.8 5
22 Cody Kukuk 21.0 3
23 Oscar Tejada   2
24 Williams Jerez   2
25 Christian Vazquez   2
26 Juan Carlos Linares   2

To make the compiled list, I just calculated the mean ranking position for each prospect among the 7 lists (or as many lists as each player appeared on). As you can see on the list, the Top 9 were included on all 7 lists. After the Top 9, things got a little trickier since it’s difficult to figure out how to order two prospects if one appears on 5 lists and the other appears on 6 lists. After reviewing each specific example though, I thought it was fairly clean to leave the order based on the average ranking positions, even when the number of lists appeared on isn’t identical. For example, one could argue that Wilson and Vitek should be switched, since their average ranking is so close, and Vitek appeared on 4 lists and Wilson on 3.

My other notes and thoughts:

-I added spaces between sets of rankings to delineate where “tiers” of prospects seemed to differentiate, based on the clustering of average ranking position for each “tier”. I think the tiers do a really nice job of giving a quick and simple picture of the different levels of prospects in this deep system.

-I included every prospect that appeared on at least one of the 6 lists (not counting SoxProspects, since their list goes to 60). I didnt list the average ranking for the last 4 prospects since they each appeared on just 1 list besides SoxProspects.

-Bogaerts and Middlebrooks obviously stand out as the consensus top prospects in the system. Bogaerts was #1 on 4 of the 7 lists, and Middlebrooks was #1 on the other 3 lists.

-I was a little surprised how high Swihart ended up. Jim Callis and Keith Law were the highest on Swihart, ranking him #3 and #2 on their lists, respectively.

-I thought Barnes would end up ahead of Ranaudo, and indeed he was ranked higher on 4 of the 7 lists. Mayo had Ranaudo #5 and Barnes #12, which hurt Barnes’s position (and which I strongly disagree with).

What are your thoughts? Any big surprises here? Feel free to question anything that isnt clear on the list or in my methodology.


2011 Red Sox Lineup Projections

To follow-up on my last post, here are my offensive stat projections for the 2011 Red Sox lineup.  A few notes about the lineup and projections:

-The projections are for Home Runs, Runs, RBI, Stolen Bases, and Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage.  For those who may not be familiar, the popular “OPS” stat is simply on-base percentage plus slugging percentage.  OPS doesnt tell the whole story of a batter (i.e. baserunning is not factored in), but it’s a pretty useful stat.  Generally, OPS > .700 is average, OPS > .800 is good, OPS > .900 is great, and OPS > 1.000 is Albert Pujols (and typically 2 or 3 other batters every season).    

-The lineup order is just my best guess at how Francona might assemble the lineup. 

-I’d like to see Lowrie get more playing time than Scutaro, but at this time I expect Scutaro to be the everyday SS for 2011.  

-Ellsbury could end up in the leadoff role, bumping everyone down 1 spot, but I prefer this lineup because I think it maximizes the value of the 1 thru 6 spots. 

-This lineup would likely look a little different vs left-handed starting pitchers.  Lowrie and Mike Cameron should both see plenty of playing time vs lefties, and Drew/Ortiz will not ever hit back-to-back vs lefties.


2011 Red Sox Lineup Projections 

LF Crawford – 18 HR, 120 R, 80 RBI, 50 SB, .305/.360/.475 (AVG/OBP/SLG)

2B Pedroia – 20 HR, 115 R, 80 RBI, 20 SB, .300/.375/.480

1B Gonzalez – 40 HR, 115 R, 130 RBI, 1 SB, .290/.390/.570

3B Youkilis – 27 HR, 100 R, 110 RBI, 5 SB, .305/.405/.550

DH Ortiz – 30 HR, 85 R, 95 RBI, 0 SB, .260/.360/.510

RF Drew – 23 HR, 75 R, 75 RBI, 3 SB, .270/.365/.475

SS Scutaro – 10 HR, 80 R, 65 RBI, 7 SB, .275/.340/.390

C Saltalamacchia – 15 HR, 60 R, 60 RBI, 1 SB, .250/.330/.430

CF Ellsbury – 8 HR, 80 R, 60 RBI, 55 SB, .295/.350/.410


This is a very, very good lineup.  I would consider my projections fairly realistic, yet I am projecting this team to score nearly 1,000 runs (once you factor in runs scored by bench players), which no team has done since the 1999 Cleveland Indians.  In fact, if this Red Sox team scores 950 runs, hits 200 HRs, and steals 150 bases as I’m projecting, they will be the first team to achieve those 3 milestones in a season since the 1998 Yankees.  Basically the 2011 Red Sox could produce offensive numbers that haven’t happened since the height of the Steroid Era.   

This lineup also reminds me of another fairly recent Red Sox team; one that led the majors in runs scored, while getting 17+ HRs from 6 different players.  That was the 2004 Red Sox.


2011 Red Sox vs Yankees Lineups

For my first “real” post, I thought I’d take a look at a graphical comparison of the 2011 Red Sox vs Yankees lineups.  My gut feeling was that the Sox offseason moves thus far have propelled their offense/defense ahead of the Yankees.

For the graph itself, I used my own prediction of each player’s WAR (Wins Above Replacement) value, which is a statistic published on a stats site called  WAR is currently the most popular stat that exists to measure a player’s total offensive + defensive value.  For those who are new to WAR, here are a couple quick and dirty blurbs that better define it:

Wins Above Replacement, commonly known as WAR, is a sabermetric baseball statistic that is used to show how many more wins a player would give a team as opposed to a “replacement level”, or minor league/bench player at that position.[1] While WAR values are scaled equally for pitchers and hitters, the result is calculated differently for pitchers versus position players, with position players using sabermetric stats for fielding and hitting, and pitchers using statistics related to Three true outcomes.

Very good players are between 4 and 6 WAR; players between 1 and 3 are useful, and those with a WAR less than 1 are, by definition, easily replaceable.

Since the graph below is based on a player’s WAR, the graphical presentation really speaks for itself.  The higher a player’s WAR, the more valuable the player is. 

For the basis of my predictions, I looked at each player’s average WAR over their previous three seasons, and then I made small tweaks to account for factors such as players who had missed significant injury time in the past three seasons, aging, and several other smaller factors.  My predictions are essentially just reasonable expectations for each player given their historical performance. 

As you can see in the position-by-position comparison in the graph, the Red Sox do appear to have a small advantage for 2011.  Their predicted WAR’s are notably higher at several positions, while the Yankees only clear advantage appears to be at catcher.  I think it’s safe to say that the Red Sox lineup, for the first time in several years, is better than the Yankees’ lineup.  And if you like this, Red Sox fans, just wait until we look at the starting pitching rotations.


2011 Sox Yanks Lineup WAR_edited.jpg 



Welcome to the Laser Show

Hello and welcome to my blog. 

My “mission statement” for this blog is to use it as an outlet for my frequent baseball thoughts, which typically involve statistical analysis, statistical facts, and other tidbits of information that I discover while enjoying my lifelong favorite pastime, Major League Baseball.  I am a Red Sox fan, and although my blogs will be often be directly related to the Red Sox, I will certainly have blogs related to other teams and players.

I plan to have varying types of content in my blogs, including narrative-format pieces and graphical illustrations. 

If you are a baseball fan, particularly a Red Sox fan, and you enjoy baseball stats, I hope that this blog will be an enjoyable and informative read. 

Hopefully this is the most boring entry I will ever make, but unfortunately that’s unlikely to be the case.