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Dynasty League Hot Corner: Just what is a top prospect worth?

If you’re playing in any kind of Dynasty League, you probably have a strong tie with top prospects coming up through the ranks.  Chances are you have a farm system were you can actually draft and hold some of this talent and once they make their big league debut you can call them up in the same way the majors does.  But what are the odds of your next top prospect actually coming up, succeeding, and preforming well enough that he becomes the star player you hoped he’d be?   Should we value these prospects to the extent that we end up making bad decisions when some other owner starts barking up our tree about trading for them?  I’m just like everybody else; I love the next hot prospect coming up just as much as the next guy, but what are the success rates for said prospect turning into a future star?

In order to gain some prospective we must go and look at past top 10 lists.  I would like to turn the clock back to the 2004-2006-2008 top 10 prospect lists.  I went every other year to eliminate duplicate names in the list.  Here is the list of the top ten prospects in those years.

2004

2006

2008

1.  Joe Mauer MIN 1.  Delmon Young TB 1.  Jay Bruce CIN
2.  B.J. Upton TB 2.  Justin Upton ARZ 2.  Evan Longoria TB
3.  Delmon Young TB 3.  Brandon Wood LAA 3.  Joba Chamberlin NYY
4.  Edwin Jackson LAD 4.  Jeremy Hermida FLA 4.  Clay Buchholz BOS
5.  Rickie Weeks MIL 5.  Stephen Drew ARZ 5.  Colby Rasmus STL
6.  Alexis Rios TOR 6.  Francisco Liriano MIN 6.  Cameron Maybin FLA
7.  Kazuo Matsui NYM 7.  Chad Billingsley LAD 7.  Clayton Kershaw LAD
8.  Greg Miller LAD 8.  Justin Verelnder DET 8.  Franklin Morales COL
9.  Grady Sizemore CLE 9.  Lastings Milledge NYM 9.  Homer Bailey CIN
10. Prince Fielder MIL 10. Matt Cain SF 10. David Price TB

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/rankings/top-100-prospects/all-time.html

Take a look at that list.  Sure this is a small sample size, but this is the top ten of each of those years, the elite of the elite minor league talent.  At this point in time, we have one MVP in Joe Mauer, two Cy Young winners in Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander.  But how many of these guys are just everyday players or are not even in the league anymore?  For every Joe Mauer and Justin Verlander there is an Alex Rios, Lastings Milledge, or Chad Billingsley.  Average everyday big leaguers or they’re not even playing in the league anymore.

According to a study performed by Victor Wang titled “How Much is a Top Prospect Worth?” he studied the top 10 prospects from 1990-1999, he found that only 17% of position players and 4% of pitchers reached star level production as measured by WAR.  21% were bust, 62% were Everyday players or Contributors.  The further the prospect is down the list, the likely hood of them becoming a star decreases and a bust increases.  For example, prospects between 11-25 rankings have a 14%(positon players), 3%(pitchers)chance of becoming a star and a 31%(position players), 61%(pitchers) chance of being a bust .   Whether you like it or not, the odds say that the top prospect you are holding onto has a slim chance to be the next star at his position.  So when some owner starts coming to you offering up solid players that are already performing well at the MLB level, don’t be so quick to blow him off.  There might be real potential to get a great deal off some star struck prospect fan.  It’s true, you could be giving up on the next MVP or Cy Young winner, but the good thing is that there is always another one coming up around the corner.

Aaron Price, follow me on twitter @baseballrantman