I’m in the minority at Baseball America, but I just can’t get excited about the World Baseball Classic. From my perspective, the tournament is a bunch of glorified exhibition games in which players aren’t in peak form and several of the top stars have bowed out. The best part is catching glimpses of the best international prospects, many of whom Ben Badler and J.J. Cooper noted here.
I don’t see any way to stage an international tournament that would include all of the best players from the top baseball nations. Shutting down MLB for 7-10 days in the middle of the year would compromise the regular season, and a tournament wouldn’t work at the end of the long seasons here and elsewhere. The WBC may be the best we can do, yet it still hasn’t captured my interest.
In last week’s Ask BA, you ran a list of all the players who received mentions from BA editors on their personal Top 150 lists (as part of the Top 100 Prospects process), including how many editors named them and their highest ranking. That breakout is my favorite thing you do now. It’s very insightful. Could you do the same for the prospects who made the Top 100?
All but one of the prospects on the Top 100 made all seven editor Top 150s, with one exception: Blue Jays righthander Marcus Stroman (No. 98), who made six. So I’ll list how many editor Top 100s included each prospect, along with his highest ranking. Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar (No. 1) captured the top spot on six of our seven lists, with Orioles righthander Dylan Bundy (No. 2) grabbing the other top vote.
|Rank||Player, Pos, Team||Top 100s||Peak|
|1||Jurickson Profar, ss/2b, Rangers||7||1|
|2||Dylan Bundy, rhp, Orioles||7||1|
|3||Oscar Taveras, of, Cardinals||7||2|
|4||Wil Myers, of/3b, Rays||7||4|
|5||Jose Fernandez, rhp, Marlins||7||5|
|6||Shelby Miller, rhp, Cardinals||7||5|
|7||Gerrit Cole, rhp, Pirates||7||6|
|8||Xander Bogaerts, ss, Red Sox||7||5|
|9||Miguel Sano, 3b, Twins||7||7|
|10||Byron Buxton, of, Twins||7||8|
|11||Zack Wheeler, rhp, Mets||7||7|
|12||Tyler Skaggs, lhp, Diamondbacks||7||7|
|13||Carlos Correa, ss, Astros||7||9|
|14||Trevor Bauer, rhp, Indians||7||13|
|15||Christian Yelich, of, Marlins||7||6|
|16||Javier Baez, ss, Cubs||7||9|
|17||Mike Zunino, c, Mariners||7||14|
|18||Taijuan Walker, rhp, Mariners||7||10|
|19||Jameson Taillon, rhp, Pirates||7||10|
|20||Billy Hamilton, of/ss, Reds||7||13|
|21||Nick Castellanos, 3b/of, Tigers||7||12|
|22||Mike Olt, 3b/1b, Rangers||7||10|
|23||Travis d’Arnaud, c, Mets||7||17|
|24||Kyle Zimmer, rhp, Royals||7||14|
|25||Archie Bradley, rhp, Diamondbacks||7||10|
|26||Kevin Gausman, rhp, Orioles||7||15|
|27||Jonathan Singleton, 1b/of, Astros||7||15|
|28||Francisco Lindor, ss, Indians||7||17|
|29||Danny Hultzen, lhp, Mariners||7||20|
|30||Anthony Rendon, 3b, Nationals||7||26|
|31||Jackie Bradley, of, Red Sox||7||27|
|32||Mason Williams, of, Yankees||7||33|
|33||Albert Almora, of, Cubs||7||23|
|34||Jorge Soler, of, Cubs||7||18|
|35||Bubba Starling, of, Royals||7||31|
|36||Chris Archer, rhp, Rays||7||24|
|37||George Springer, of, Astros||7||28|
|38||Carlos Martinez, rhp, Cardinals||7||27|
|39||Trevor Rosenthal, rhp, Cardinals||7||32|
|40||Matt Barnes, rhp, Red Sox||7||36|
|41||Oswaldo Arcia, of, Twins||7||31|
|42||Hyun-Jin Ryu, lhp, Dodgers||7||31|
|43||Andrew Heaney, lhp, Marlins||7||34|
|44||Julio Teheran, rhp, Braves||7||33|
|45||Casey Kelly, rhp, Padres||7||39|
|46||Max Fried, lhp, Padres||7||31|
|47||Yasiel Puig, of, Dodgers||7||37|
|48||Addison Russell, ss, Athletics||7||35|
|49||Allen Webster, rhp, Red Sox||7||40|
|50||Lance McCullers Jr., rhp, Astros||7||36|
|51||Gregory Polanco, of, Pirates||7||38|
|52||Nolan Arenado, 3b, Rockies||7||42|
|53||David Dahl, of, Rockies||7||30|
|54||Noah Syndergaard, rhp, Mets||7||29|
|55||Courtney Hawkins, of, White Sox||7||31|
|56||Robert Stephenson, rhp, Reds||7||32|
|57||Gary Sanchez, c, Yankees||7||50|
|58||Austin Hedges, c, Padres||7||46|
|59||Alex Meyer, rhp, Twins||7||52|
|60||Kaleb Cowart, 3b, Angels||7||47|
|61||Alen Hanson, ss, Pirates||7||55|
|62||Taylor Guerrieri, rhp, Rays||7||27|
|63||Slade Heathcott, of, Yankees||7||44|
|64||Jake Marisnick, of, Marlins||6||48|
|65||Aaron Sanchez, rhp, Blue Jays||7||38|
|66||Kyle Crick, rhp, Giants||7||52|
|67||Lucas Giolito, rhp, Nationals||7||34|
|68||Kyle Gibson, rhp, Twins||7||51|
|69||Wily Peralta, rhp, Brewers||7||45|
|70||Brian Goodwin, of, Nationals||6||51|
|71||Jedd Gyorko, 3b/2b, Padres||7||58|
|72||Aaron Hicks, of, Twins||7||58|
|73||Adam Eaton, of, Diamondbacks||7||45|
|74||Avisail Garcia, of, Tigers||6||55|
|75||Marcell Ozuna, of, Marlins||7||68|
|76||Michael Wacha, rhp, Cardinals||7||59|
|77||Tyler Austin, of, Yankees||7||60|
|78||Luis Heredia, rhp, Pirates||6||62|
|79||Nick Franklin, ss/2b, Mariners||7||55|
|80||Didi Gregorius, ss, Diamondbacks||5||59|
|81||Martin Perez, lhp, Rangers||7||49|
|82||Tony Cingrani, lhp, Reds||6||40|
|83||Arodys Vizcaino, rhp, Cubs||5||66|
|84||Kolten Wong, 2b, Cardinals||5||65|
|85||Yordano Ventura, rhp, Royals||6||66|
|86||Justin Nicolino, lhp, Marlins||6||74|
|87||James Paxton, lhp, Mariners||6||63|
|88||Matt Davidson, 3b, Diamondbacks||6||69|
|89||Jesse Biddle, lhp, Phillies||6||40|
|90||Hak-Ju Lee, ss, Rays||5||66|
|91||Henry Owens, lhp, Red Sox||4||56|
|92||Jake Odorizzi, rhp, Rays||7||75|
|93||J.R. Graham, rhp, Braves||5||60|
|94||Daniel Corcino, rhp, Reds||4||52|
|95||Bruce Rondon, rhp, Tigers||5||68|
|96||Trevor Story, ss/3b, Rockies||5||72|
|97||Leonys Martin, of, Rangers||4||91|
|98||Marcus Stroman, rhp, Blue Jays||3||66|
|99||Delino DeShields Jr., 2b, Astros||3||87|
|100||Roman Quinn, ss, Phillies||2||77|
Where would Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima slot into an updated Athletics Top 10 Prospects list?
Oakland signed Nakajima to a two-year, $6.5 million contract on Dec. 17, after the debut of our A’s Top 10 list as well as the transaction deadline for the 2013 Prospect Handbook. He declined to sign with the Yankees when they won his negotiating rights following the 2011 season. The 30-year-old Nakajima was an eight-time all-star and three-time Gold Glove winner in Japan, where he batted .302/.367/.475 with 141 steals in 1,225 games.
Nakajima’s tools aren’t as eye-popping as his numbers, and it must be noted that several journeymen from Major League Baseball have enjoyed success in Japan. He projects to hit for a solid average, albeit with below-average power and a substandard on-base percentage. He has plus speed and range at shortstop, though his arm is nothing special.
Nakajima profiles more as a second-division regular or utilityman than as a potential all-star. I don’t think he’s as talented as Jed Lowrie, whom Oakland acquired in a February trade with the Astros, though Nakajima is more durable. If we had included him in the Handbook, his likely BA Grade would have been 45/Medium.
That’s the same grade we gave second baseman/outfielder Grant Green, who ranked No. 8 on our original A’s Top 10. Since then, Oakland has dealt righthanders A.J. Cole (No. 3) and Brad Peacock (No. 4). I still think Green might become a solid regular, so I’d put Nakajima behind him at what would now be the seventh spot on the list. If I wanted to give the edge to higher-ceiling youngsters such as shortstop/third baseman Daniel Robertson, first baseman Matt Olson, righthander Nolan Sanburn and third baseman Renato Nunez, I could justify putting Nakajima as low as No. 11.
I read your column with your picks for the 2016 season. Do you have your forecast from the 2012 and 2013 seasons handy so that we all can see how accurate you were last year, and what we have to look forward to this season?
Since 2001, I’ve been making three-years-in-advance predictions as part of our annual Major League Previews. My best call ever came in 2005, when I projected that the Rays (who never had won more than 70 games in a season to that point) would emerge as contenders in 2008.
In 2009, I offered these predictions for 2012: the Rays defeating the Marlins in the World Series; the Brewers, Giants, Rangers and Royals winning the other division titles; and the Dodgers and Red Sox gaining wild cards. I didn’t foresee two wild cards in each league, though I did have the Diamondbacks and Yankees as next in line behind Boston and Los Angeles. That adds up to correctly identifying just three of 10 playoff clubs, which isn’t my best work, though I did at least include the eventual champion.
Looking back three years from now, my crystal ball revealed a 2013 future in which the Braves, Rays, Reds, Rockies, Twins and Rangers would be division winners and the Nationals and Yankees would be the wild cards. Again, I didn’t know we’d have multiple wild cards in each league, though I noted New York would edge the Red Sox in the American League and that the Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Marlins and Pirates all would be in the running in the National League. I forecast another World Series championship for Tampa Bay, this one at the expense of the Rockies.
Most of that is plausible. In the predictions I submitted for this year’s Major League Preview, I stuck with six of my eight playoff choices from three years ago. I’m still looking to nail my first World Series winner, so maybe the Rays can help me with that one.