How did Cardinals place on national top 100s?

Our analysis of the placement of St. Louis Cardinals prospects on six national top 100 prospect lists, including our own Scout.com rankings, of course.

As real 2012 baseball is still in our future, February brings us prospect lists, lists and more lists. If you are like me, you are swimming in them. What I have tried to do is offer some clarity and context by putting the elements of selected lists relevant to the St. Louis Cardinals side-by-side.

In an earlier article, I looked at the top ten prospects in the Cardinals system according to a handful on national raters. I closed with their respective views of the Cardinals' system-wide ranking.

The latter point is most important as it provides one yardstick across baseball against which to measure the Cardinals organization, whereas the former point is an internal comparison. In other words, no matter how good or bad a system might be, it will always foster a top 10 prospect list.

Here, I am taking another run at that goal of system-wide comparison from an individual player perspective. Specifically, we will look at the Cardinals players appearing on a group of national top 100 lists.

The included

The six sources I chose to list are nationally-known, with past histories and track records that one can look back upon.

They are from BaseballProspectus.com, compiled by Kevin Goldstein, ESPN, written by Keith Law, Project Prospect, Jonathan Mayo's MLB.com compilation, BaseballHQ, from Rob Gordon and Jeremy Deloney, and finally Frankie Piliere's rankings from Scout.com.

Some of these 2012 lists go beyond 100 prospects, but since they all do not, that is where I drew the line here. The columns in the table below are ordered from left to right by the quantity of Cardinals included in the various top 100s. The players' individual rankings are at the left of each name.

ESPN BP HQ Proj Pros Scout MLB
5 Shelby Miller 10 Miller 17 Miller 5 Miller 6 Miller 5 Miller
22 Carlos Martinez 23 Taveras 37 Martinez 50 Martinez 19 Martinez 30 Martinez
53 Oscar Taveras 31 Martinez 68 Wong 63 Taveras 35 Taveras
66 Zack Cox 69 Matt Adams 78 Taveras 76 Wong 92 Jenkins
74 Tyrell Jenkins 88 Kolten Wong 91 Jenkins
92 Jordan Swagerty

Though it may seem elementary (!), I will still point out that any organization's "fair share" on a top 100 list would be 3 1/3 names (100 divided by 30 MLB organizations). Needless to say, the Cardinals exceeded that amount on five of the six lists.

Only eight players appear on any of the six top 100s, with just two being unanimous selections. The Cardinals two consensus top 100 prospects are Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez. Oscar Taveras made every list except one. Given that MLB.com only included two Cardinals and no Cards were named on four lists, no other Cardinal came close to being a unanimous top 100 player.

Both Lance Lynn and Eduardo Sanchez have appeared in the major leagues. That led to these prospect raters excluding both pitchers, even though they could technically be eligible. The two right-handers do appear on a number of 2012 Cardinals top 10 lists.

At the other end of the spectrum from St. Louis' minimal showing with MLB.com, ESPN named six Cards prospects to its list, including the only top 100 appearances of Zack Cox and Jordan Swagerty. BaseballHQ and Baseball Prospectus each ranked five Cardinals, with the latter featuring the sole top 100 showing for Matt Adams, at an aggressive number 69.

Following is a re-sorting of the same list using a horizontal orientation by player name. That way, you can see how the top 100 placement for each player varied by the source. (Players remain in their same columns as shown in the first table.)

ESPN BP HQ Proj Pros Scout MLB
5 Miller 10 Miller 17 Miller 5 Miller 6 Miller 5 Miller
22 Martinez 31 Martinez 37 Martinez 50 Martinez 19 Martinez 30 Martinez
53 Taveras 23 Taveras 78 Taveras 63 Taveras 35 Taveras
88 Wong 68 Wong 76 Wong
74 Jenkins 91 Jenkins 92 Jenkins
66 Cox
69 Adams
92 Swagerty

Miller made every top 10 with the exception of BaseballHQ. Martinez' rankings ranged from a best of 19 to a worst of 50. On the five lists in which he appeared, Taveras was placed between 23 and 78 nationally.

Kolten Wong and Tyrell Jenkins each made half of the lists, three respectively, though one only source ranked both players, BaseballHQ. The second baseman's best showing was 68 while the right-handed pitcher's earliest placement was at 74.

I had considered trying to create a composite ranking, but with only two unanimous selections, I could not come up with a scoring that seemed fair. What I did do, however, was average the six placements for Miller and Martinez.

Average rank High-low out
Miller 8 6.5
Martinez 31.5 30

As you can see, they averaged out at number eight and 32, respectively. Just to determine the impact of the outlier scores, I then ran the averages for Miller and Martinez again with the single best and worst scores removed. That average of the four middle scores, instead of all six, is called "High-low out" in the table above.

Using this hypothetical method would improve Miller just one spot and Jenkins two on the average. This is a good reminder that there is strength in numbers.

Speaking of strength, there is also strength in the Cardinals system as a whole. In some previous years, there would not have been enough organizational prospects on enough national lists to provide the opportunity to write an article like this. Fortunately, that is not the case here in 2012.

Because I know some will ask, in closing I will acknowledge a number of other sites that have also either already published top 100s or are expected to.

The excluded

Two noteworthy sites are not included in the above. BaseballAmerica.com has not yet posted its top 100, while John Sickels at minorleagueball.com is planning a consolidated top 100 for the first time after having done separate top 50 position player and top 50 pitcher lists for years.

So, be on the lookout for both of those lists later on this spring, probably yet this month. (Update: BA tweeted on Tuesday that their top 100 will be posted on February 21.)

Several other providers of top prospect reports were left out of this compilation due to unfamiliarity. I had not heard of them before this winter and/or they did not exist one year ago. I will take another look next winter if they exhibit staying power and build readership.

Among them are BaseballInstinct.com, MLBProspectPortal.com, deepleagues.com, DobberBaseball.com, TopProspectAlert.com and SeedlingstoStars.com.

Always remember that your mileage may vary. One of the above sites actually offered this explanation with its list: "Disclaimer – I did not attend any minor league games this year, nor do I claim to have any scouting experience." I can understand the latter, but the former is most concerning.

Earlier article: "2012 Cardinals prospects: What the others say"



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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