Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Organizational Age+ Team

Age+ is a statistic I invented this week. It's so simple that I'm pretty sure somebody else has invented it at some point. It's a measure of how old a player is in relation to their level. What I do is take the league average age for the league the player is in and divide it by the player's age on July 1. I multiply by 1000 to get a nice round number, and it suddenly looks similar to OPS+. If a player has played at multiple levels, their league average age is a weighted average of each level they've played in. A value above 1000 means the player is younger than the level, while a value below 1000 shows that the player is older than his competition. Before showing the results, I want to show the average ages for each league in the Tigers' system to note what these numbers mean:

American League: 29.2, 28.7
International League: 27.4, 27.4
Eastern League: 24.6, 24.7
Florida State League: 23, 23.3
Midwest League: 21.7, 21.7
New York Penn League: 21.5, 21.4
Gulf Coast League: 19.7, 20.6

The first number after each league is the average age of batters in the league, while the average age of pitchers follows. The most notable gap to me is the difference of almost three years between AAA and AA. When looking at prospects, our intuition tells us that if one player is a year older and a year ahead, they have roughly the same age relative to level. The three year jump between AA and AAA may make us rethink that assumption. While the level may be regarded as similar on a talent level, AA does prove to be the end of the road for many players as they suddenly have to compete for jobs with AAA veterans. For this reason, a player who succesfully moves up from Erie to Toledo will likely stand out a little bit more. We are seeing this with several players who were at roughly the league average age last year in Erie and are now part of a young Toledo/Detroit core. The other surprising result is the small difference between the Midwest League and New York Penn League. This undoubtedly has to do with the fact that many top prospects out of high school are pushed to full season ball, thus skipping shortseason A ball. Make no mistake: the Midwest League certainly has more talent and is a more difficult league. Young players in AAA and the Majors will certainly be favored in this, as they should be. These are the guys who have passed the tests in a timely manner. I should also point out that I did not have DSL and VSL average ages, so those players have been left out of this analysis. Bear in mind that actual production is not factored into this equation at all.

Now that we have gone over that, I will present the All Age+ Team:

C-Joseph Bowen 1041
1B-Miguel Cabrera 1158
2B-Michael Hollimon 1059
3B-Brett Anderson 1105
SS-Danny Worth 1081
LF-Wilkin Ramirez 1060
CF-Clete Thomas 1144
RF-Matt Joyce 1167
DH-Brent Clevlen 1116

C-Dusty Ryan 1032
CI-Jeff Larish 1075
IF-Max Leon 1061
OF-Hayden Parrott 1068

Starting Rotation:
SP-Rick Porcello 1194
SP-Yorman Bazardo 1145
SP-Justin Verlander 1130
SP-Jade Todd 1127
SP-Mauricio Robles 1123

Joel Zumaya 1158
Richard Zumaya 1105
Zach Miner 1084
Freddy Dolsi 1069

Extra Starters in the bullpen:
Jeremy Bonderman 1116
Matt Hoffman 1100
Brandon Hamilton 1099

Did I mention performance didn't matter? That's about the only way you will see the 2008 version of Yorman Bazardo on any list with Rick Porcello. In the case of Hollimon, he is the only 2B in the organization who is actually younger than his competition. This is a far cry from last year when he was a man among boys in Erie. This just goes to show the difference between a 26 year old in AAA and a 25 year old in AA. Not many people may have heard of Brett Anderson: this year's 10th round pick who has yet to turn 18.

As for players who you may want to think twice about before getting too excited about their performance, here is the Lowest Age+ Team?

C-Ivan Rodriguez 798
1B-Fernando Seguignol 819
2B-Aldin Carrithers 834
3B-Carlos Guillen 891
SS-Brent Dlugach 778
LF-Timo Perez 825
CF-Freddy Guzman 961
RF-Magglio Ordonez 848
DH-Caonabo Cosme 857

C-Keith Hernandez 825
CI-Jordan Lennerton 881
IF-Derek Wathan 869
OF-Pedro Cotto 888

Starting Pitchers:
SP-Kenny Rogers 657
SP-Jordan Tata 821
SP-Matt O'Brien 900
SP-Alfredo Figaro 905
SP-Ben Fritz 906

Relief Pitchers:
Todd Jones 713
Nick Martin 823
Orlando Perdomo 853
Aquilino Lopez 855
Luis Gil 878
Dario Carvajal 888
Rudy Darrow 890

Perdomo and Dlugach stand out because they are on rehabilitation assigments right now. Most of the other players on this list are either veterans on the big league club or non-prospect filler. Alfredo Figaro is a guy who has pitched very well in West Michigan, but may get a bit too much credit for doing so.

Overall, the Tigers have several more players below 1000 than above. This is probably the direct result of four straight college heavy drafts, which have littered every roster Erie and below with players older than their opponents. While this may sound like a poor strategy, without drafting mostly college players in 2005, the team probably wouldn't have gotten contributions from Clete Thomas, Jeff Larish, Michael Hollimon, and Matt Joyce this year. Each of those players, because they successfully made the jump to AAA, were able to transition from too old to younger than average. Unfortunately, the 2006 draft doesn't look to make as strong of a contribution to next year's team.


Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff, Ed...Joyce in particular was a guy I didn't put much stock into at all heading into the season primarily because I neglected this.


Lee Panas said...

Very simple stat but valuable and I haven't seen it anywhere before. The first thing I think about when I look up minor league stats is the player's age. Then I try to remember the approximate league average age. I'd love to see a stat like this listed on minor league stat lists.