Wednesday Rockpile: Farmhands and Walks, What Fun!

This is a time in the baseball off-season where the majority of conversation is on one of two topics: arbitration or prospects. With the Rockies locking up all their arb-eligibles except Ian Stewart, that leaves prospect talk. Fueling this line of conversation yesterday was mlb.com's Jonathan Mayo, who released his list of the game's top 50 prospects, which was compiled via a poll of more than 20 scouts.

Three Rockies made the list (tied for third most in the league): LHP Tyler Matzek was 33rd (eighth among LHP), C Wilin Rosario was 41st (fourth among catchers), and LHP Christian Friedrich was 50th (eleventh among LHP). Jack Etkin at ITR has a breakdown here. This order mirrors the PuRPs list top 3. Examining Mayo's position lists a little reveals that Rosario is probably the best or second-best pure catching prospect in MLB (as in, he'll stick at the position).

Look for ESPN's Keith Law to begin his prospect rankings today starting with organization rankings followed by his top 100 prospects in the game tomorrow.

Of course, that's not to say that all the good stuff out there is about prospects. The case in point is Joe Posnanski's terrific, fair, and in-depth look at the value of walks. Posnanski applies Bill James' theory that 500 walks are worth 325 singles to players on this year's HOF ballot, Larry Walker included. He then went on to apply that thinking to a wider sample, including a note on Todd Helton's hitting environment. You don't have to be a saber-junky to enjoy Posnanski's musings on the subject -- they are remarkably accessible to a wide range of readers, are articulated skillfully, and explain the points exceptionally well.

The assertion that a walk is worth 65% of a single is a contentious one, but it's an idea that I believe has a lot of merit, particularly when you consider the shift that has taken hold of the league over the last two decades towards more of a take and rake hitting philosophy. Many people just haven't caught up to the fact that a .260/.380/.500 hitter is more valuable than a .300/.330/.450 guy. 

In any case, Posnanski's note on Helton inspired King Kaufman to re-examine Helton's career in order to try and tease out the effect that Coors had on his offensive numbers. He ends up concluding that Helton will fall short of the Hall (a position I agree with, though I think that he deserves to be there) due to some analysis that adjusts Helton's career line (currently .324/.424/.555) down near .298/.399/.496. 

While I believe that Kaufman's methodology is a little off (assuming that Helton's talent level is closer to his road stats than his Coors stats is unfounded at best, as his career 137 OPS+ attests), it's still provides fascinating insight into, if nothing else, the fact that nobody seems to know exactly what to do with the statistics of Colorado hitters in regards to the Hall of Fame.

This focus on Helton dovetails nicely with Steve Foster of Inside the Rockies' evaluation of the work Colorado did of reshaping the first base position this offseason.

There's a couple of other great articles linked after the fold.

Off-Topic

Links

Yahoo's Jeff Passan (yes, the basher of the Tulo deal) has written a phenomenal piece on sabermetrician and DIPS inventor Voros McCracken.

Finally, the Biz of Baseball examines how MLB teams use their schedule to maximize revenue. It's an interesting look into how ticket packages are constructed.

2011 ODP Update: projecting a midpoint salary of $2.375 million for Stewart and adding Jason Hammel's $3 million and Jason Giambi's $850,000 salaries onto the roster, my 2011 ODP projection for Colorado is $84,955,000. That nestles pretty well into the range that I expected coming into this offseason. 

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