I found something pretty interesting for evaluating minor league players on-line today. It's called the Minor League Equivalency Calculator (click here). Basically, it's a tool that lets you put in minor league numbers for your favorite minor league stud in your team's farm system, and spits out a projected batting line for the player in the same number of plate appearances. It sounds like it would be pretty difficult to calculate, and there are certainly flaws, but they use historical ball park information to calculate how a ballpark will effect certain batters, and also accounts for heightened competition level depending on what league they are from in the minor leagues with a pretty accurate algorithm, so it's an interesting tool, albeit one that should not be assumed as always correct.
The calculator also doesn't take account of player progression, and simply shows what a player would have hit in the major leagues had they been playing there instead of the minors for whatever year you are putting stats in for. In other words, if you are putting numbers in for a rookie this year using his minor league numbers for the year before, chances are his numbers will be a bit better this year.
I decided to run a few players through the calculator who are rookies this year to see what I would get:
Note: For those unfamiliar with "slash-lines", i.e, .300/.350/.400, they indicate batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage
OF Jason Heyward (ATL): Using only Jason Heyward's AA numbers from last year, since it's difficult to get projections for guys who played in three different leagues in a year, I got this:
In 167 AB, .297/.367/.480 with 11 doubles, 5 Home Runs, 4 SB, 24 Runs, and 23 RBIs . Project that out to a full major season of around 600 AB, and you get about 35 Doubles, 17 Home runs, 14 SB and about 75 RBIs while scoring around 90 Runs. Those are pretty impressive numbers for a rookie, and I'm sure Braves fans would like to see that (or more) out of him.
SS Alcides Escobar (MIL): Using Alcides Escobar's full season at AAA-Nashville last year, I got this:
In 439 AB, .263/.306/.349 scoring 61 Runs with 20 Doubles, 4 Triples, and 3 Home Runs as well as stealing 35 Bases. Over a full major league season this would project to about 73 Runs, 26 Doubles, 5 Triples, 4 Home Runs, and 43 Stolen Bases. Once again, pretty solid numbers for a rookie shortstop, although if these projections are right for both Heyward and Escobar, I'm giving the Rookie of the Year to Heyward.
OF Austin Jackson (DET): Using Austin Jackson's full season at AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year I got this:
Over 513 AB, .262/.310/.346 scoring 53 Runs with 20 Doubles, 7 Triples, 3 Home Runs, 51 RBIs and 21 SB. Jackson's number of ABs is only slightly off what he would get in a full major league season, so his numbers aren't all that different from what they would be in the majors, although he IS batting near the top of the Detroit line-up at this point, so he could get more at-bats and score more Runs. Once again, fairly solid numbers for a rookie, especially if he plays defense like they say he can. The one that that looks like it will really kill him is his projected 131 Strike Outs, which is an incredibly high number for a guy with a .346 SLG. He has a horrible BB/K ratio in the minor leagues, so unless he gets some plate discipline he could be in trouble.
2B Scott Sizemore (DET): Using Scott Sizemore's 71 Games at AAA Toledo last year I got this:
In around 300 At-Bats, .271/.347/.399 scoring 40 runs with 17 Doubles, 7 Homers, 27 RBIs and 12 SB. In 600 At-Bats this would come out to 80 runs with 34 Doubles, 14 Homers, 54 RBIs and 24 SB, very good numbers for a rookie, good enough for Rookie of the Year candidacy. If Detroit can get these projected numbers (or better) out of their two rookies up the middle, they could have a pretty good season.
It will be interesting to see how accurate that calculator is at the end of the year. That's about it for now, enjoy some weekend baseball!