(*) FANALYTICS: More prospect hoarding
Last week's exercise was fun. I looked back 10 years to see how successful we would have been hoarding the top 10 prospects of 2002. The point? Many of us sit here in our keeper leagues, refusing to part with today's top prospects that sit in our farm systems. Those guys could deliver a missing piece to a championship run, but nooooo... you can't have Jurickson Profar, or Dylan Bundy, or Wil Myers or Gerrit Cole. Even if trading them could bring us a flag.
Last week, I looked at 2002's top names and found that only three of the 10 hit the ground running and half did not put up a productive season until 4-5 years down the line. Three were complete failures. Bottom line—the success rate is not good.
But that was just one year. Since this is a vacation week for me, I thought it would be a good time do the same exercise with an outwardly better year—2001.
But let's have a specific focus this time. We hoard our farm players now because we expect them to provide a fairly quick return on investment. You might never consider trading Mike Olt for let's say, Paul Konerko. Olt is a player you might be able to keep for several years; Konerko is probably overpriced and unprotectable but perhaps an upgrade that could bring you a title this year.
So let's see how many of the top 10 prospects from 2001 provided a reasonably quick return on investment.
10. Adam Dunn pretty much hit the ground running, hitting 19 HRs with a .262 BA in half a season in 2001. The next two years, he displayed mid-20s power and a low batting average. It wasn't until 2004 that he broke out with his first of six consecutive 40-HR seasons. But for those leagues that only allow you to keep players for three years, you would have missed out on that.
9. C.C. Sabathia quickly became a frontline starter in 2001, winning 17 games for the Indians. While he was certainly productive and serviceable, he posted an ERA under 4.00 just once in his first five seasons. It wasn't until 2006 that he began his current string of ERAs no higher than the low 3s.
8. Josh Beckett was #1 on the 2002 list, and clearly lived up to that billing. He's been highly productive since 2003.
7. Vernon Wells hit the ground running by posting the first of five consecutive highly productive seasons in 2002. He's been erratic since 2007, but those who kept him as a farm player definitely got their money's worth.
6. Carlos Pena moved up to #5 in 2002. While he was moderately productive, his MLB teams considered him a bit of a disappointment until his breakout in 2007.
5. Sean Burroughs was the #3 prospect in 2002 and was a complete bust.
4. Ryan Anderson never made it to the majors. Here's what Wikipedia says: "After a series of injuries and questions regarding his work ethic and diligence, Anderson retired from baseball and is now pursuing a career as a chef."
3. Ben Sheets has been a productive major leaguer for the past 11 years, though he's missed two complete seasons. However, his ERAs in his first three years were 4.76, 4.15 and 4.45, by which time, most of his fantasy owners probably would have let him go.
2. Josh Hamilton was the #6 prospect in 2002 and was essentially MIA for six years, way beyond the time that any fantasy team would have hung onto him.
1. Corey Patterson was marginally productive his first three years in the majors. His breakout year was 2004—24 HR, 32 SB and a .266 BA—but he has had only one comparable season since. Again, keeping Patterson as a farm player would have had limited value for those fantasy leagues that limit ownership to three years.
While there were more productive major leaguers among this group of prospects, very few provided immediate profit. In many cases, it took at least three seasons for these players to show their true potential.
So if you still have a chance to deal off a farm player for your title run's missing piece, it is probably the move with the best percentage play.