A day after assessing Ervin Santana as one of the worst offseason transactions in Major League Baseball, FanGraphs Dave Cameron is back to crunching numbers. Today, the drill was to find out exactly how to quantify the worth of a team’s farm system. If you’ve been following along this offseason, you’re aware the Twins have a good one. So just how much is it worth?
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That’s actually a pretty loaded question, and one that deserves a pretty loaded answer as well. Cameron does a good job of explaining how he arrives at the numerical values he placed on each teams respective farm systems.
In a simplified understanding, Cameron takes a look at FanGraphs own prospect rankings, and assigns values to each player tier. Taking things further than the categorical breakdown, players are weight based upon their positioning in each tier, and then are given a said monetary value. The summation of each monetary value is compiled to come to a complete result. In and of itself, the process makes sense and is straightforward. The tricky part is the assumption and extrapolation of worth in terms of dollars and sense.
First, let’s take a look at the results. The Twins slot in second with a projected farm system value of $180 million, just behind the Chicago Cubs. They fair significantly better than their AL Central foes who find themselves as follows:
- Chicago White Sox 11th overall $90 million
- Kansas City Royals 15th overall $80 million
- Cleveland Indians 20 overall $60 million
- Detroit Tigers 30th overall $10 million
Cameron explains that due to weight, the product as a whole is always a representative result. This notion is explained with Cameron saying:
"Interestingly, however, the Twins jump to #2 on overall value by this method, as having Byron Buxton makes up for not having as much prospect depth as some other teams. For instance, the Braves placed three more players on the Top 200 than the Twins did, but this methodology values the Twins system at $60 million more in future savings, because Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Jose Berrios provide significant expected value to the organization."
So while quantity and quality are two different ways to value an asset, they must coexist to produce the best final result. The Twins leverage having both a high ceiling in the quality, with a breadth of options in the quantity department, to find themselves near the top of the results.
Back to what we previously mentioned, the reason this practice is tricky, is because assumptions are extrapolated to such a great extent. To put a monetary worth on a value that has yet to be is something difficult in and of itself. If you look back through Major League Baseball history, many a prospect has seen a high ceiling completely dissolve when finally put through the ringer at the highest level. Suggesting that something has present value when the future return is not yet quantified, makes the current weight largely a matter of opinion.
At the end of the day, the simplest and most juvenile way to read into the information is that the Twins farm system is in a good place by baseball standards. While the returns, and to what extent, largely remain a mystery, the process put in place seems to be one conducive of positive results.
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