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View Full Version : Prospects and Age, and Why Shelby Won't Make It


A. Cavatica
05-28-2009, 10:04 PM
Bill James once wrote that if he had to make an evaluation about a player based on only one statistic, he'd choose age.

What he meant was there's a really high correlation between great players and those who break in at a very young age. A player who's in the majors at 20 is probably going to have a stellar career. A player who doesn't break in until he's 24 or 25 is probably going to have an ordinary career. And, James being James, he gave page after page of statistical evidence to back up his argument.

In assessing our prospects, I think we tend to underestimate the value of age as a predictive tool. Age is one reason I'm not sold on Treybone Shelby -- he's 23, almost 24, and putting up bad numbers.

Look at the Birmingham roster: the players who are older than Shelby (Cook, Gartrell, Colina, Hudson, Hollis, Price, Harrell, F. Hernandez, Johnston, Long, Lujan, McCulloch, Omogrosso, Rote, Zaleski) are probably not going to log a week in the majors combined. Harrell is the best of that lot, and he's only two months older than Shelby.

On the other hand, Viciedo is 20. Danks and Poreda and Santeliz are 22. Allen, Flowers, Retherford, Ely, and Nunez are 23 (younger than Shelby, and generally putting up better numbers).

Look at the Charlotte roster: Only Beckham (22) is an appropriate age for a real prospect. Marquez and Cassel are 24, Link is 25. Everyone else is older!

Back to Shelby. Sometimes a player develops late. Maybe he switched to baseball from another sport, maybe he came from overseas. But Shelby's been around the game since he was born. It's time to trade him to anyone who still thinks he's got upside.

cards press box
05-29-2009, 05:26 AM
Look at the Birmingham roster: the players who are older than Shelby (Cook, Gartrell, Colina, Hudson, Hollis, Price, Harrell, F. Hernandez, Johnston, Long, Lujan, McCulloch, Omogrosso, Rote, Zaleski) are probably not going to log a week in the majors combined. Harrell is the best of that lot, and he's only two months older than Shelby.

I recall that Omogrosso lost most of 2008 due to injury. As a result, prior to this year, he had only one full minor league season and that was at Winston Salem in 2007.

Yesterday, Omogrosso tossed 6 scoreless innings giving up 1 hit in an 8-0 win over Mississippi. Omogrosso went to 5-2 with an ERA of 2.90. I've never seen him pitch and don't know if his stuff makes him a legitimate major league prospect.

Link's numbers this year at Charlotte give me hope that he may become a serviceable MLB reliever. I understand Bill James' theory about the age of prospects being a barometer of whether a prospect will become a major league regular but does that hold true for relievers, too? It seems that pitchers who ultimately can't develop a third pitch often become relievers. I find it difficult to believe that franchises figure that out before a pitcher turns 22 or 23.

35th and Shields
05-29-2009, 02:09 PM
I recall that Omogrosso lost most of 2008 due to injury. As a result, prior to this year, he had only one full minor league season and that was at Winston Salem in 2007.

Yesterday, Omogrosso tossed 6 scoreless innings giving up 1 hit in an 8-0 win over Mississippi. Omogrosso went to 5-2 with an ERA of 2.90. I've never seen him pitch and don't know if his stuff makes him a legitimate major league prospect.

Link's numbers this year at Charlotte give me hope that he may become a serviceable MLB reliever. I understand Bill James' theory about the age of prospects being a barometer of whether a prospect will become a major league regular but does that hold true for relievers, too? It seems that pitchers who ultimately can't develop a third pitch often become relievers. I find it difficult to believe that franchises figure that out before a pitcher turns 22 or 23.

I think his theory is talking about players who become stars and have the potential to become Hall of Fame caliber players rather then reliable, have a couple all-star seasons type players.

doublem23
05-29-2009, 02:16 PM
Wilson Betemit loves this thread.

:Betemit:
If only you guys knew how great I was.

A. Cavatica
05-29-2009, 09:35 PM
I think his theory is talking about players who become stars and have the potential to become Hall of Fame caliber players rather then reliable, have a couple all-star seasons type players.

His theory, in simplest terms, is that player performance looks like a bell curve (if you plot age across the x axis and quality along the y axis) and most of these curves are about the same shape. The peak usually comes around age 27. If player A is really good and player B isn't, then player A's bell curve is further above the x axis, and player A breaks into the majors earlier and retires later than player B does.

Now invert that. If player A breaks into the majors earlier, his peak is likely to be higher than player B's.

Chisoxfn
05-30-2009, 02:00 PM
You lost all credibility when you said Omogrosso won't pitch in the majors. The guy throws a mid 90's fastball and has upside as a potential set-up man if he suceeds. And all that other stuff is flat out assinine. Sure age matters but so do tools and baseball ability and that is what will determine whether you will succeed in the majors or not.

Oh and Ryan Howard says hello.

Konerko05
05-30-2009, 03:05 PM
You lost all credibility when you said Omogrosso won't pitch in the majors. The guy throws a mid 90's fastball and has upside as a potential set-up man if he suceeds. And all that other stuff is flat out assinine. Sure age matters but so do tools and baseball ability and that is what will determine whether you will succeed in the majors or not.

Oh and Ryan Howard says hello.

He lost all credibility because he said a pitcher who "has upside as a potential set-up man if he succeeds" will never pitch in the majors?

It's not like he was talking about a potential front line starter or anything.

SOXfnNlansing
05-30-2009, 04:30 PM
James may be able to have a valid point on his assessment of <age/pro ball club level=greatness. The only player I can think of off the top of my head is Dennis Eckersley; washed up 30 year old who leaves the rotation and dominates bull pens for years and winds up in the hall. It's really hard to figure out how a player will pan out or a little tweaking can turn a player's career around. That's why we follow the youngsters and admire greatness when we witness it. That's why we're fans.

A. Cavatica
05-30-2009, 10:27 PM
There are exceptions to every rule, and there are certainly lots of players who make their big league debuts at 26, or 27, or even in their thirties. There are players who get late starts and become stars. There are also players who debut young and then fizzle out (Jeremy Bonderman being a recent example).

Omogrosso just turned 25, which is old for AA ball. Yes, he is pitching pretty well, but he's averaged 4.4 walks per 9 innings in his minor league career. Could he have a big league career? Sure. I just wouldn't bet on it.

A. Cavatica
05-30-2009, 10:28 PM
You lost all credibility when you said Omogrosso won't pitch in the majors. The guy throws a mid 90's fastball and has upside as a potential set-up man if he suceeds. And all that other stuff is flat out assinine. Sure age matters but so do tools and baseball ability and that is what will determine whether you will succeed in the majors or not.

Oh and Ryan Howard says hello.

I love it when you misspell "asinine".

jabrch
05-30-2009, 11:10 PM
I would never use a single measure to evaluate a player.

I would never EVER use a measure that has absolutely nothing to do with what happens between the lines.

I would never EVER EVER use a measure like age that doesn't take into account what he was doing prior to being drafted, and why he is where he is.

It's possible that Shelby never makes it. But the reason he will or won't is not his age. It is his talent. Age is only a correlated predictor because of the obvious fact that a player should get opportunities as he ages. At some point he runs out of them.

Ridiculous...Some people bitch that the Sox rush people to the majors. Then when a kid repeats A ball because he is being converted from an IF to an OF, people bitch that he has no future because.....we didn't rush him faster?

Shelby has struggled so far in Birmingham. But to write him off because he is 23 is completely and entirely silly.

Lip Man 1
05-31-2009, 09:13 PM
Agreed. I've seen him in person and he has a lot of raw talent.

I also agree the Sox rush prospects and it mentally destroys most of them. Let them sit in the minors until they have learned their craft and can actually produce at the major league level.

Lip

California Sox
05-31-2009, 11:54 PM
James may be able to have a valid point on his assessment of <age/pro ball club level=greatness. The only player I can think of off the top of my head is Dennis Eckersley; washed up 30 year old who leaves the rotation and dominates bull pens for years and winds up in the hall. It's really hard to figure out how a player will pan out or a little tweaking can turn a player's career around. That's why we follow the youngsters and admire greatness when we witness it. That's why we're fans.

Eckersley actually proves James' point. He won 13 games as a 20 year-old for the Tribe and was one of the top top young players in baseball. His career got derailed for a while by arm woes and drinking, but he was able to put it back together in Oakland.

This thread is essentially a restatement of the old baseball saying, "the good ones come fast." And as players like Frank, Robin, and it appears Beckham, have proven that to be correct. The one thing I object to is the singling out of Treybone Shelby. The kid has done everything the Sox have asked of him. Publicly disparaging him is unkind and uncalled for. I mean, the meaning of this thread could be boiled down to "Shelby unlikely to be hall of famer..." well, duh.

cards press box
05-31-2009, 11:59 PM
I think his theory is talking about players who become stars and have the potential to become Hall of Fame caliber players rather then reliable, have a couple all-star seasons type players.

O.K., this makes sense. Star players ususally arrive in the majors earlier and, because they still play well when they are in decline, stars stay longer than average players.

That, by the way, forms the basis of the Hall of Fame argument for Minnie Minoso. Because of the color line, Minoso -- a veteran of the Negro League -- did not reach the majors until he was 26 or 27. But for the color line, Minnie would have been a big leaguer by 22 or 23 and his stats would have mirrored those of a Hall of Fame left fielder. I think Minnie is best player not in the Hall of Fame. The color line, voter indifference and the voters' complete failure to give proper context to Minnie's stats are the reason he is not in the Hall.

NLaloosh
06-01-2009, 09:07 AM
I agree, generally, with your principle. However, there have been plenty of exceptions. Shelby might be one but you're probably right.

Then again, if he becomes better than Dewayne Wise is that a failure? What if he's a somewhat useful 4th OFer ?

jabrch
06-01-2009, 09:28 AM
Eckersley actually proves James' point. He won 13 games as a 20 year-old for the Tribe and was one of the top top young players in baseball. His career got derailed for a while by arm woes and drinking, but he was able to put it back together in Oakland.

This thread is essentially a restatement of the old baseball saying, "the good ones come fast." And as players like Frank, Robin, and it appears Beckham, have proven that to be correct. The one thing I object to is the singling out of Treybone Shelby. The kid has done everything the Sox have asked of him. Publicly disparaging him is unkind and uncalled for. I mean, the meaning of this thread could be boiled down to "Shelby unlikely to be hall of famer..." well, duh.

Well said Cal.