Mar
17

Food For Thought: First League Average Season

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After breaking down Baseball America’s top 100 prospects lists by determining the value of each spot, Scott McKinney of Beyond The Box Score looked at how long it took prospects to have their first league average season (defined at 2+ WAR) in the majors. The majority of both pitchers and position players have that first average season in their sophomore campaigns, though a significant amount of players (27.3%) reach that level in their third season, and another 27.7% reach it in their fourth season or later.

The average call-up age for both position players and pitchers is just 22.7 years of age, which surprised me. I thought it would be a little higher, maybe 23-24. It turns out that age isn’t an important variable either, a player will still have his first league average season two years after he debuts regardless of how old he was when he got to the show. Unsurprisingly, high-end prospects (ranked 1-40 on BA’s lists) tend to contribute a little earlier than lesser guys, but not by a whole lot.

The Yankees have a few high-end prospects on the cusp of the big leagues, most notably Jesus Montero. Recent history suggests that his coming out party might not occur until 2012 though, and I can’t help but wonder how many Yankees fans are willing to be that patient. My guess: fewer than you think.

Categories : Minors
  • KeithK

    Clearly this means that we need to have Banuelos in the Bronx this year so that he’ll get to his second season that much sooner, right?

    • KeithK

      That was sarcasm… it ate my “/sarcasm” tag.

      • Gonzo

        Don’t worry. I got it, and I laughed.

    • http://www.retire21.org first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21)

      Banuelos doesn’t conform to graphs. He discredits them. When he was 2 his pediatrician told his mom that he was in the 176th percentile for moxie.

      /ManBan Wagon’d

  • J.R.

    Good post, it is always great to see historical data to give a more realistic expectation.

  • DF

    Since WAR is a counting stat, not a rate stat, couldn’t this be mostly a function of playing time? Ie, most players don’t play enough to amass 2 WAR in their first season.

    • DF

      Just to clarify my point, I don’t think this study tells us that none of these players were talented enough to be league average. It just tells us their clubs didn’t play them enough to reach a 2-WAR level.

      I don’t think it tells us those same players couldn’t have reached that 2 WAR with more playing time, however. I think we could all agree that playing time is not always optimally deployed.

    • http://www.retire21.org first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21)

      The graph is evaluating putting together a “2+ fWar season”. In this case I believe they are looking at each season in isolation.

      • http://historyandfutility.wordpress.com The Oberamtmann

        DF’s point was that your first season might involve starting in June, then reducing the potential WAR

        • http://www.retire21.org first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21)

          Gotcha. Point well taken.

        • http://www.retire21.org first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21)

          Going off of this, is there any stat that gives us an idea of WAR produced per AB? I’d imagine it would be as simple as divide WAR by AB and multiplying by 1,000 or so to make it more tangible.

          • KeithK

            You might want to look at WAR per game played. That would let you compare pitchers and hitters. Or maybe WAR per day on the active roster. Sure, a guy could get called up and spend most of his time on the bench but that probably isn’t a typical path for highly regarded prospects.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

              I actually played with some WAR per PA today (Gardner = Miggy Cabrera, for those interested). But the defensive aspect makes it a bit tricky.

  • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

    “It turns out that age isn’t an important variable either, a player will still have his first league average season two years after he debuts regardless of how old he was when he got to the show.”

    Except when they’ve just turned 20, right? ;)

  • BPDELIA

    This is precisely why he should be the backup now. much better to break him in in a part time role where the pressure will be infinitely less intense.
    If he was starting you’d be right, there would be very little patience. However I think you are overestimating what even the most idiotic yankee fans expect out of their backup catcher.
    You couldn’t ask for a better way to break in a very young kid in a very demanding position than having him backup an established ML player.

    EVen if CErvelli was healthy this is the right move ot make.

    • ROBTEN

      However I think you are overestimating what even the most idiotic yankee fans expect out of their backup catcher.

      Well, to be fair, given the Posada hate that sometimes emerges among some posters here, I can only imagine what some of the less rational fans expect out of the backup catcher…

  • NC Saint

    “The majority of both pitchers and position players have that first average season in their sophomore campaigns”

    That’s not what the graph shows at all. A plurality of all prospects, and of pitching prospects, do so in their second year, while a plurality of position players do so in their third.

    • MIT Yankee fan

      you are precisely correct i was just about to point that out.

  • pete