Welcome to the debut of this year’s new column, Behind the Numbers. The objective of this column is simply to give specific information on prospects; information that you don’t see everywhere else. There will also be factoids and investment info on specific Hobby sets and cards. Want to know which of the Top 200 prospects can be had on the cheap? Those collectors who are tired of the same old stuff getting printed on every prospect site, this is for you.
CASE STUDY #1- “THE HYPE FACTOR”
* We all know “hype” on a player, whether that player has proven himself or not, drives that person’s autographs and cards higher than anything other factor. Cases in point:
- JP Arencibia, a mid-level prospect since drafted in 2007, homered twice in his MLB debut. As news spread, his 2007 Bowman Draft Auto /500 was getting hit with Buy It Nows in the $200-$220 range. It now regularly sells for $25. The card was under $60 just 48 hours after his debut.
- Bryce Harper is 30x the price of fellow prospects when it comes to his autographs, on average. There was a time where it was common to see statements on a regular basis that got more and more wild. It was once said on a fairly large website. that he hit a nearly 700 foot homerun in batting practice.
- Stephen Strasburg’s lone 1/1 [red bordered] autograph in the 2010 Bowman set sold on Ebay for 1 million dollars. The auction was so bogged down by non-sensical bidders, that all 23 bidders that bid over $30,000 (the amount it was confirmed to have sold for weeks later) we’re all unwilling to actually buy the card, and nearly 50 new accounts were set up within the first hour of the auction, all of which designed to bid on this, at the time, jaw dropping specimen.
So, lets consider hype to be an intangible factor that adds to the value of a card in a manner that the player’s cards don’t correspond accordingly ratio-wise, to the rest of the “unhyped” players. If we believe that, it should also be believed that those unhyped prospects who are considered having similar overall talent, when compared to hyped players, are a bargain. Public opinion is one method to understand who has both talent, and “hype.” So let’s look at who the public believes is close to Bryce Harper. Below are the results of a survey that asked “Who is the best outfield prospect?” The number in parenthesis is the actual ranking given by MLB.com regarding the top outfield prospects.
1- Bryce Harper
2- Gary Brown
3- Brett Jackson
4- Mike Trout
5- Starling Marte
6. Anthony Gose
7. Bubba Starling
8. Jake Marisnick
9. Christian Yelich
10. Wil Myers
First Impressions- Upon looking at the results with the “actual” forecasted rank directly underneath it, a few things stick out. The most obvious is SF’s Twitter jokester/speedster Gary Brown being so close to Harper in the polls. That alone is strange, let alone that he appears that way despite being ranked 8th among outfield prospects. Minor League baseball fans are traditionally less into hype and more in tune with actual baseball talent. How can I make such a broad statement. Well, although I believe that to be true in general, why else would Gary Brown get 2/3s the votes of Harper, when, according to Ebay sales, Brown sells for 1/30th of Harper? Wouldn’t that mean Harper is 30x better? (However you’d like to define “better”). Well, no human can excel at baseball, at the pro level, 30 times better than another pro in every aspect (or even any aspect!). Brett Jackson, who sells around 1/15th of Harper is the 3rd vote getter. The fact that Wil Myers is ranked 4th surprises me a lot more than the fact that he recieved just 1% of the vote, as he has only been playing in the outfield in the last 10 months, and had a down year in 2011. Lastly, Mike Trout, who played in the Majors last year for a short time, ranks behind Brown and Jackson, despite being Baseball America’s #1 overall prospect in 2011. The fact that he can’t even crack the top 3 in a fan poll reinforces how I feel about him: Extremely overhyped, but still a decent prospect.
363 comments- That’s how many people responded to this poll in comment form after it was released. Lets sift through and hear some interesting ones.
- “Just saw highlights on Brown. This kid should be our opening day starter at centerfield and our leadoff hitter”
- “Glad we have Yelich, he’s a great insurance policy for Logan Morrison. Marlins brass is not very happy with his tweeting, radio and nutty picture antics. JUST SMASH IT.”
- “Wait until the world gets a good wiff of Cal States Gary Brown.. talk about a monster. If there is someone i could compare him to I’dd say he’s a right handed Jacoby from boston. He can FLY, and fly meaning he’s most likely safe before he takes off. Unbelievable bat control and plate recognition/dicipline, and his power will develop. I’d say by his prime, 2nd year?? Gold Glove/Silver Slugger race in Center, 50-60 steals, .300 – .320 BA, .390 – .400 obp, .530 – .560 slug, 190-205 hits, 45+ doubles, 15+ triples, 15+ homers, 75-90 walks and 50-60k’s. Im saying 15+ triples and i think 45 doubles wont be enough for him because of the angle’s at ATT. And Cal puts out very bright ball players!! I cant wait. It’s gonna be a show watching posey, pablo, belt moving Gary all around the diamond.” (Ed note- Wow.)
- “Harper is younger, and check the two players’ (Trout and Harper) stats as teammates in the just concluded arizona fall league. It’s not Harpers fault his management wont let him play until he can grow a beard.” Note: this is funny because Harper has had one of the thickest and comically huge mustaches for awhile now. It goes to show how little people actually see of the guys compared to what’s written.
- “Bunch of burners on this list. Seems like everyone but Jackson and Myers has plus or even plus plus speed.”
Disagreements (Andy Mccushion)- Regarding arguments that take place in the comments section. It’s important to point these out, as they’re a tiny version of a “point-counterpoint” debate, and one can think about it as whoever makes the stronger argument has the better read on the player. This should be one of many factors that go into deciding whose cards to buy. Although all monetary gains are good, we are looking for the biggest percentage gain when buying any prticular commodity. So because Harper is the best power hitter by far among the 10, and power hitters generally are worth the most money, you have to think to yourself, “How much higher can this card go?” Can Harper really jump from $300 a copy, to 10 times that? Having seen the Jeremy Lin show unfold like an oragami napkin post-dinner, maybe it can. But in my mind, a BGS 10/10 Gary Brown Bowman Sterling rookie ($28) has a better chance of getting to $280, which, if he was a megastar, would definitely happen.
Pirate Fan- “Can Starling [Marte] play 1b or third if need be??? Convert now while he is young, it worked for the Bucs with Neil Walker. Hey, we might be in dire straights!! Or Jose Tabata at first or third or Alex Presley at one or whatever we may need that stick!!”
The “foil”- “Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Obviously you have never watched Marte play. He isn’t that good. ”We may need that stick”…. What stick? And do you realize he has never had a major league at bat. Tabata and Presley are proven players and have so much speed and have never played infield. This might be the most boneheaded comment I have ever seen. Get with the program Bill, because it’s clear to me that you have no clue what is going on.”
Pirate Fan- “Nah whats boneheaded is you just said Marte “isn’t that good.” My man won a batting title and is developing his power along with his sustained speed and defensive skills.” [Note: "His man? Errrr."]
The “foil”, or “The unnamed disagreer,” comes off as angry, as that is clearly NOT the most bone-headed comment anyone has seen. The Pirate fan could be biased, which would render his comments….well, biased, seems to actually not have a bad argument. Not sure what “sustained” speed is, or why Marte is “his man,” but in this duel one should generally now know what is being debated, and keep an eye on it as the season starts. Read between the uncapitalized words and you’ll see they’re arguing whether the kid can hit, as no one questions his athletic ability. So if Marte shows any pop or multi hit games when the season begins, I for one will jump on his cards.
Pirate Fan- “pirates nead to traid the most ovirated playir in baseball, andy mcCushion (259 avg)! Get marte in cf NOW!”
Disagreeing Pirate Fan (not the same one as above, believe it or not)- “what about his averages before this season, give my man some time, All Star in his second full season.”
Giants Fan- “The Giants will glady take Andrew McCutchen off your hands if you don’t want him… Shoot. I think every team would.”
This is purely comic relief in a long article. Gotta love the first commentor, who is so knowledgeable, he can actually spell the CF for the Pirates’ whole name, a tough thing for most people, andy mcCushion. And Strling Marte is clearly leading people on, as the 2nd Pirate fan also referred to him as “his man.” Well who is it Starling? Are you playing multiple suitors? That’s not nice….
Diamond in the Rough- As I’m reading the comments, I’m thinking to myself, “The Futures Game MVP has annually propelled that player’s cards upwards significanly. Where the heck is Grant Green?”
A’s fan: “where is grant green?”
For that answer see the “Make or Break Year, Part 2″ article