Saturday, February 7, 2004

A's Minor League RC/27

At the risk of exposing my inablility to hit even my own loosely defined deadlines, I point you back to this post. Here, finally, is my entry on the A's Minor League RC27 (you'll have to forgive me for jumping on the bandwagon a few weeks late). I'm going to use the work of the raindrops and No Pepper as a guideline along with this definition for RC27 (Runs Created per 27 Outs):

A=Hits+Walks+Hit by Pitch-Caught Stealing-GIDP

B=Total Bases+.26*(Walks+Hit by Pitch)+.53*(Sacrifice Flies+Sacrifice Hits)+.64*(Stolen Bases)-.03*(Strikeouts)

C=At Bats+Walks+Hit by Pitch+Sacrifice Flies+Sacrifice Hits

RC = ((A+2.4*C)*(B+3*C))/(9*C) -0.9*C


-James Fraser's Sabermetric Statistics Glossary

But, we'll take it a step further, dividing a player's RC27 by the league average and multiplying by 100 to create a 'RC27+' (a score over 100 is better than average). I did not, however, adjust for position or for park factors.

I looked at the A's top four farm teams from Low-A to AAA: Kane County, Modesto, Midland and Sacramento. Using the stats from and Clay Davenport's MjEQA from Baseball Prospectus (thanks to No Pepper for the link), I came up with a league average RC27 for each team.

Kane County - 4.28 (Midwest League)
Modesto - 5.23 (California League)
Midland - 4.94 (Texas League)
Sacramento - 5.26 (Pacific Coast League)

And the 31 A's farmhands with 100+ AB with an RC27+ at or above 100...

Brian Stavinsky - 144
Brant Colamarino - 129
Marcus McBeth - 111
John McCrudy - 107
Andre Ethier - 107
Nelson Cruz - 101
Kory Wayment - 100
Jason Basil - 100

John Weber - 190
Jed Morris - 126
Matt Bowser - 125
Jason Perry - 121
Gary Thomas - 120
Mark Kiger - 119
Mark Teahen - 113
Casey Myers - 101

Dan Johnson - 161
Jeremy "Moneyball" Brown - 127
J.T. Stotts - 109
Steve Jackson - 108
Steve Stanley - 103
Adam Morrissey - 100

Bobby Crosby - 190
Graham Koonce - 158
Mike Edwards - 135
Jason Grabowski - 130
Mike Rose - 124
Esteban German - 123
Mike Lockwood - 118
Jose Flores - 106
Chris Prieto - 104
Mark Johnson - 100

It's a little hard to believe the Sacramento River Cats had 10 batters over the PCL average RC27. In fact, they only had one batter with more than 100 ABs that failed to reach a RC27+ of 100 - Luis Lopez, the River Cats' 2002 MVP. It's also interesting to note that Nick Swisher, of Moneyball fame, is not on this list. He finished with a RC27 of 90 in 76 games for the Midland RockHounds.

Thirty-one above-average minor league hitters bodes well for the A's, but how many of them are really true prospects? Consider this:

The most important of the principles is what I call Age/Level relation. On the surface, a .300 batting average with 30 home runs is very impressive, but if the player is 23 years old and still playing in A-ball it's probably a result of overpowering younger pitchers, rather than transferable major-league hitting ability. Following is the age range a player should be within at each level:

Low-A: 19-20 years old
High-A: 20-21 years old
AA: 21-22 years old
AAA: 22-23 years old

-David Cameron,

If you use those age guidelines, only three of the A's minor leaguers still stand out:

Kane County (A)
Andre Ethier - OF, 107 RC27+ in 162 AB

Midland (AA)
Adam Morrissey - 2B/3B, 100 RC27+ in 469 AB

Sacramento (AAA)
Bobby Crosby - SS, 190 RC27+ in 465 AB

It's a well known fact that the A's have a "zealous focus on picking college over high-school players in the amateur draft" as Larry Stone of the Seattle Times points out. So, if you're only drafting college kids, you're picking from a crop of Juniors and Seniors who are likely to be 21-22 years old at the time of the draft. That leaves those "prospects" only one or two years to reach Triple-A, according to Cameron's Age/Level relation -- and makes the accomplishments of Bobby Crosby (to date) that much more impressive.

Looking through our minor leaguers has gotten me very excited about Bobby's rookie season with the A's, but I'm not as excited about the remaining prospects in our system. As always, we A's fans are left muttering to ourselves, "In Beane we trust."

UPDATE: Dan Johnson had a tremendous year in Double-A before finishing the season in Sacramento. But his Midland stats weren't listed with the team on, and I managed to overlook him. His RC27+ of 161 was the best in Midland, but at 24, he's well above the level for "Prospect." (Thanks to Tyler for catching this one.)


  1. Good stuff Andrew!
    Crosby's numbers look especially nice - how do you thin he will fare with the big club in 2004?

  2. A good rule of thumb, especially with the A's, is that 25 years old is the cut off limit for 'prospects'. Comparing the A's farm system to other farm systems is precarious since, well, the A's don't do things like everyone else. The A's stock their AAA with players who can fill in if there's an injury and players only move up from AA to AAA if there's a need in AAA - or they are 18 months to a year away from the next step. Remember, too, the A's are on the tail end of their overhaul. By the beginning of 2005 there will be a few true prospects peeking out. But keep in mind, a lot of the prospects other teams tout never pan out in the major leagues. So what the hell do they know! I do think that Runs Created is a better stat to use with minor league numbers than Equivalent Average. Though it can be incomplete as players have injuries, change positions and issues that are not immediatley known without further research. For instance, Grabowski and Brown both had injuries last year and Dave McCarty and Billy McMillon tore up Sacramento before being called up. Those two displaced some other players and limited their at-bats.