Revisiting the 2001 Baseball Prospectus Top Prospects

By Blaidd Drwg

Recently, I was in a conversation with someone regarding the Baseball Prospectus Top Prospects list that comes out annually. We were essentially talking about how much talent made their debut in 2001 so I decided to go back and look at the list to see how well, 12 years later, the guys at BP did. The full article is here and it is worth reading especially with discussion about Ichiro, Nick Johnson and Ryan Anderson.

Below is the top 40 list if you don’t care to read the article:

1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
2. Sean Burroughs, 3B
3. Ryan Anderson, LHP
4. Corey Patterson, CF
5. Ben Sheets, RHP
6. Antonio Perez, SS
7. Jimmy Rollins, SS
8. Roy Oswalt, RHP
9. Vernon Wells, CF
10. Jose Ortiz, 2B
11. Jon Rauch, RHP
12. Joe Crede, 3B
13. Josh Hamilton, CF
14. Chris George, LHP
15. Bobby Bradley, RHP
16. Austin Kearns, OF
17. Brad Wilkerson, OF
18. C.C. Sabathia, LHP
19. Kevin Mench, OF
20. Bud Smith, LHP
21. J.R. House, C
22. Keith Ginter, 2B
23. Alex Escobar, CF
24. D’Angelo Jimenez, SS
25. Adam Dunn, OF
26. Nick Johnson, 1B/DL
27. Luke Prokopec, RHP
28. Hee Seop Choi, 1B
29. Albert Pujols, 3B
30. Adrian Hernandez, RHP
31. Craig Wilson, C/1B
32. Michael Cuddyer, 3B
33. Mike Bynum, LHP
34. Luis Rivas, SS
35. Jack Cust, 1B
36. Wilson Betemit, SS/3B
37. Brian Lawrence, RHP
38. Marcus Giles, 2B
39. Dee Brown, LF
40. Nick Neugebauer, RHP

There are a couple terrible misses on this list, particularly in the top 10. Sean Burroughs, Corey Patterson, and Antonio Perez never really got it together in the majors, although Perez will probably be best remembered as one of the guys the Mariners got for Ken Griffey. Ryan Anderson had all sorts of arm trouble and never made the majors. Beyond that, they did pretty well with the list. Ichiro, say what you want about him, has posted a 57.8 career WAR, won an MVP and a ROY award. Ben Sheets posted a 25.6 WAR in 8 seasons before his arm fell off. Jimmy Rollins has a career 41.9 WAR and an MVP award. Roy Oswalt has a career 50.8 WAR and finished in the top 5 in Cy Young voting 5 times. Even Vernon Wells, as overpaid as he is, has posted a 30+ career WAR.

The guy on this list that they underrated the most? Some guy at #29 who was a 21 year old 3B for the Cardinals who had one minor league season under his belt; Albert Pujols.

Ichiro and His 2012 Batting Average

By Blaidd Drwg

Ichiro saluting Coltrane on his nearly accurate 2012 BA prediction.

Back before the season started at a get together we had, there was a discussion on Ichiro. Without much thought, a number of us placed a prediction on what we thought his batting average would be at the end of the season. We put nothing on the bet and I hadn’t really thought about posting this until I found the paper the other day that we put our predictions on. So here is what we originally guessed:

Coltrane – .282
Annie S. – .292
Blaidd Drwg – .293
Mrs. Iron Chef Leftovers – .275
PW – .352

Thanks to a great last couple of months at the end of the season when he got traded to the Yankees, Ichiro managed to post a .283 average for the season, making Coltrane the winner of absolutely nothing other than recognition in this blog (like that is worth anything).

Ichiro and His Trade to the Yankees

By Blaidd Drwg

At the time the Mariners traded Ichiro to the Yankees, I will be honest, I had absolutely no idea why the Yankees would have wanted him. They were pretty set in the outfield and really didn’t need a DH, so the trade seemed odd, especially since Ichiro has struggled over the last 2 season, particularly against left handed pitching. Something that did not get widely reported by the media in Seattle was this little detail of the deal from

Before completing a trade to acquire the Japanese star, the Yankees spelled out a list of conditions to Ichiro, a former American League MVP and two-time batting champion.

Ichiro would be asked to switch positions, hit at the bottom of the lineup and possibly sit against left-handed pitching.

Ichiro knows his career is coming to an end and he is probably desperate to win a World Series title and the Yankees are his best hope for doing that this season. I found it very interesting that the Yankees scouting has noticed exactly what I have about Ichiro this season:

He can no longer play above average defense in right field.
He isn’t a top of the lineup hitter considering his sub .300 OBP.
He is cheating on fastballs against left handers and can’t hit them effectively anymore.
He has slowed down (there has been a huge drop in the number of infield hits he has had over the last 2 seasons).

The move to the Yankees has not really helped either – Ichrio had slash totals of 261/288/353 with the Mariners and 265/296/368 with the Yankees, translating to an OPS= of 82 with the Mariners and 77 with the Yankees. His time with the Yankees has been bizarre: he hit in 16 out of his first 17 games with them, but managed to only produce 2 multi-hit games. The Yankees have generally batted him in the bottom third of the lineup and have sat him the last 2 games against a lefty starting pitcher.

I have never been a huge Ichiro fan, but he was a fun and frustrating player to watch and I would love to see him win a championship. I suspect that if he does this season, he will call it quits and in 5 years become the first Japanese inductee into Cooperstown. If he does not, I bet he takes a part time role with a contender to try again next season. I think that even Ichiro has realized that he has reached the end of the line. He is currently 449 hits away from 3000 and I just don’t think he has enough left in the tank to get there.