Gump and Ruf Watch the Rain Come In, Image courtesy of flickr user BeGreen.
|This is a Guest Post by Andy Young. Check out his blog at outliarbaseball.com or follow him on Twitter @outliarbaseball. Outliar Baseball seeks to raise and answer questions in an unbiased fashion, using only the statistics. You will find general statistical research, player profiles, and downloadable leader boards.|
Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, Yonder Alonso and Todd Frazier were impact first-year position players in 2012. They may not all have qualified as rookies, but 2012 was the year they all seem to have graduated from the minors.
Trout and Harper snagged ROY honors. Goldschmidt almost went 20-20 as a first baseman. The other two were very rosterable. Trout had an ADP of 260 (read: was largely undrafted) in ESPN leagues. Harper went at 215. Goldy went at 190.
First year players are largely overlooked in drafts, and are cheap in auctions. So, the obvious question is who are the impact first-year position players going to be in 2013?
I used the following criteria to answer that question; all players listed must:
- Have had excellent Minor League seasons in 2012
- Generally have had success at each stop in their Minor League career
- Be mostly unblocked by incumbent Major Leaguers
This criteria is not flawless. Each player really needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Folks who stuck hard and fast to these rules missed out on Trout last year. He was blocked by Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter and Mark Trumbo in the Angels’ outfield. They may also have been distracted by his awful 2011 MLB line of .220 / .281 / .390 with 4 SB in 40 games. And you probably know how that turned out.
Let’s get on with it. Players are listed with their ages and career Minor League stat line. All counting stats are converted to a 150-game pace.
1. Anthony Rizzo, 22, 1B, CHC. 445 G, .303 / .372 / .542, 29 HR, 8 SB. 2007 6th Rd.
I almost left Anthony Rizzo off this list, but included him because he did spend a significant portion of the 2012 season at AAA. It is fair to say that he graduated from the Minors this season, but I still suspect that he will be undervalued in next year’s drafts. Most importantly, he is the only player on this list that is truly and completely unblocked, which is why he gets the top spot.
2. Leonys Martin, 24, CF, TEX. 128 G, .323 / .388 / .502, 19 HR, 34 SB. 2011 Int’l FA.
Josh Hamilton‘s departure to free agency clears the way for Leonys Martin to open 2013 with the Rangers. His stat line shows top-of-the-lineup skills, so he figures to head up a still-potent Texas offense. The only real threat to playing time is Craig Gentry, who has served as the Rangers’ fourth outfielder for a couple of seasons now. Martin is already signed for about $3M annually through 2015.
3. Jedd Gyorko, 23, 3B/2B, SD. 334 G, .319 / .385 / .529, 28 HR, 9 SB. 2010 2nd Rd.
Chase Headley is heading into his final year of arbitration, and barring an extension, will be heading to free agency next offseason. Or will be traded sooner. The Padres pieced together Second Base last year with Logan Forsythe, Alexi Amarista, and Orlando Hudson. Those three players combined for 0.7 WAR. Jedd Gyorko may not have a truly clear path to playing time, but he has a couple ways to get there. And I know my team could use .300 & 25 at 2B.
4. Mike Olt, 23, 3B, TEX. 237 G, .282 / .391 / .521 , 33 HR, 6 SB. 2010 1st Rd.
Texas has an MVP-caliber Third Baseman signed through 2015. That man is Adrian Beltre. It is an easy call to say that Mike Olt will not be moving Beltre off of Third. However, Texas has been grooming Olt to play First Base. They currently have Moreland penciled in there, but he is probably not their long-term solution. I would guess that Olt could edge out Moreland for First Base. It will be a Spring Training story to watch.
5. Darin Ruf, 25, 1B/LF, PHI. 458 G, .305 / .386 / .520, 22 HR, 2 SB. 2009 20th Rd.
Darin Ruf is a 20th-Rounder who will be 26 and has never played at AAA. And if he was not on the Phillies’ depth chart as their Left Fielder for next season, he probably would not be on this list. Oh, and you know this, but he played in the Majors in 2012 and hit .333 / .351 / .727 in a small sample. This one is your call (they all are, really); if you believe in Babe Ruf, and want to take a late-round flyer or spend $1 on him, that may just work out for you. He could be Allen Craig, 2013 version.
6. Wil Myers, 21, CF, KC. 381 G, .303 / .395 / .522, 25 HR, 11 SB. 2009 3rd Rd.
Wil Myers is pretty well blocked, and probably more overhyped. The Kansas City corner outfield will be Gordon and Franceour again to open 2013. Frenchy is in the last year of his contract, so if this is (once again) not the Royals’ breakout season, he could be traded. Center Field is already covered by Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson, both of which are arguably 2+ WAR players. They combined for 3.3 WAR in 163 games in 2012. I am afraid the playing time will not be available until later in the season.
7. Brad Miller, 22, SS, SEA. 151 G, .341 / .414 / .513, 15 HR, 24 SB. 2011 2nd Rd.
Here is the Shortstop of the future for the Mariners. The question is how far in the future? He has not yet been to AAA. But, as of today, the Mariners have no Shortstop for 2013. What about Brendan Ryan? Sure, the Mariners could offer their 3+ WAR incumbent arbitration, but will they? Since coming over from St. Louis, Ryan has hit .222 / .296 / .302 in two full seasons. I suspect Ryan will be back, and Brad Miller will make this list again next year, but you should know his name today.
There are plenty of other exciting players all through the Minors who will get their chance to be on your fantasy team some year. Oscar Taveras, Travis d’Arnaud, Chris Parmelee, Miles Head, Tyler Austin; but I doubt 2013 will be their year.
I have compiled a list of what may be the best 2012 Minor League Seasons by Level, by Age. I would encourage you to check these guys out. Maybe one of these guys will surprise us and graduate sooner than expected.
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