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The Upside of Youth

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At Future Redbirds I recently delved into a new projective metric recently rolled out by the bright minds at Baseball Prospectus called 'upside', but I thought it would be interesting to include the players who are under team control the next 5 or so years and see how they forecast. PECOTA cards for the Cardinals right now are free by the way, a bonus for us fans for rooting for the world champs. 'Upside' is thus defined:

UPSIDE is determined by evaluating the performance of a player's PECOTA comparables. If a comparable player turned in a performance better than league average, including both his batting and fielding performance, then twice the number of runs he contributed above average is counted toward his UPSIDE. If the player was worse than league average, or he dropped out of the database, the performance is counted as zero.

Upside's main purpose is to project the amount and likelihood of above-average performances while the player is under the control of his parent club, IE still coming on the cheap. Which Cardinal players project to do that?

5 Year Upside Scores:

  1. Albert Pujols (534.7)
  2. Anthony Reyes (104.3)
  3. Adam Wainwright (100.2)
  4. Brian Anderson (88.1)
  5. Yadier Molina (76.3)
  6. Colby Rasmus (68.4)
  7. Chris Duncan (65.9)
  8. Jon Jay (47.8)
  9. Brad Thompson (41.9)
  10. Jaime Garcia (40.0)
  11. Tyler Greene (22.6)
  12. Chris Narveson (21.4)
  13. John Rodriguez (20.5)
  14. Tyler Johnson (18.7)
  15. Nick Stavinoha (14.7)
  16. Skip Schumaker (12.4)
To make all this relative, players with upside scores of of 500+ is considered to be a potential hall of famer. Players with 100+ scores are considered to be excellent prospects, a score of 50-100 is very good, 25-50 is just plain good, 10-25 is considered average, and a player with a 0-10 is on the fringe. I left off those 'fringe' players off this list, as well as those who I felt were hurt due to small samples like Adam Ottavino and Chris Perez. I threw Albert in for fun, he's not really cheap per se', but he is under contract during then next 5 years and he's only 27, so I figured why not.

A few items of note-

  • It's reassuring to see Reyes and Wainwright forecast so well, with those 2 and Chris Carpenter at the top of the rotation we fans should be able to enjoy some solid pitching for years to come. I did find however that the Wagon Maker's top comp rather alarming- Ryan Madson of the Phils. I still think Wainwright has more then enough of the goods it takes to start, so I won't take the comp too seriously.
  • It's interesting to see Bryan Anderson do so well, many of you have seen that his score was the third highest of all minor league catchers. It helps that some of his top comps are Brian McCann and Joe Mauer.
  • An outfield of Chris Duncan, Colby Rasmus and Jon Jay could very well happen in '09, and it represents a pretty solid trio by PECOTA's standpoint.
We know TLR can be somewhat skeptical of youth and for the most part prefers veterans. That's not to say a young player can't prove himself to LaRussa, but this is the manager that was going to send Albert Pujols back to AAA until Bobby Bonilla injured himself the last day of spring training. So what current but less experienced player is being blocked by a 'proven' vet according to PECOTA?

John Rodriguez

  • Rodriguez's projected batting line .277/.352/.461
  • Juan Encarnacion- .272/.323/.437
  • Preston Wilson-.264/.321/.424
I can't say that I disagree with the return of P-Dub, I get the fact that certain platoon advantages could be gained with bringing him back. But having Mookie's stepson around makes Juan Encarnacion expendable if you buy the projections. Unfortunately, It won't be Juan that will likely be considered the expendable one. Other then that, no young player is really being blocked as I see it, save maybe Brad Thompson being blocked by Ryan Franklin or Looper and that hasn't been decided yet. We'll have to watch next winter to see if a player like a Blake Hawksworth or Jon Jay (or whoever) will be blocked by a questionable signing a la Sidney Ponson or Ricardo Rincon.