Battle of the 2010 Top 100s

February 26, 2016

With six full baseball seasons completed since 2010 Top 100 prospect lists were released, we've seen multiple players from below win MVP awards, over a dozen players no longer in baseball and one former 2010 prospect banned from baseball. The oldest prospects from 2010 lists, like Todd Frazier, are now in their thirties and the youngest top prospects, like Miguel Sano (17 at the time), are now into their their early twenties. Things are shaping up.

So how about our lists? If sports betting sites had bets for who would ascend to the top of their prospect classes, Mike Trout would have been an solid pick in 2010 but not the favorite. Jason Heyward, Domonic Brown and Chris Carter all ranked ahead of him on each of our lists.


List were given weighted WAR (Fangraphs) values based on how high or low players ranked, starting at 150% for each No. 1 prospect then dropping by one percent per slot (finishing at 51% for its No. 100 prospect). It's that simple. You can view each publication's list here.


This peer review study only looks at one year of prospect ranking. We are no longer actively ranking, and 2009 was the year that we devoted the most time to analyzing prospects. Surely a longer timeframe of list comparisons would been needed to determine which publication/ranker get it right the most.

Results and Analysis

1. Project Prospect

Top 25 WAR Prospects Ranked: 22/25

Different to be different was something I read pretty regularly when we were ranking prospects. Yes, we didn't accept players as being potentially great just because they were bonus babies or highly touted by scouts who spoke to the media. We also didn't put much weight into amateur history once a player was producing in the minors and passed our eye test. I spent hundreds of hours on the road scouting players in 2009. Lincoln Hamilton was as active as ever analyzing mechanics, scouting and studying numbers. And Steve Carter spent hours and hours studying swings. This first-hand scouting approach helped us find Jonathan Lucroy and Anthony Rizzo and is part of why we were so high on Mike Leake. Our respect for numbers gave us confidence in Ian Desmond, Alex Avila, Jon Niese, Carlos Carrasco and Josh Reddick -- Niese has a higher career WAR to date than Aroldis Chapman.

That said, our list certainly had some big misses and is hardly a lock to remain the top 2010 Top 100 prospect list by WAR. As our Twitter followers like to remind us, we missed Dee Gordon. We also missed Mike Moustakas, Matt Moore, Miguel Sano and Shelby Miller. A few 20+ WAR careers from those players and we'll almost certainly drop down this list, especially given that we went with more of a big-league-ready approach than any other list. Many of the players from our list produced value during short careers and are now either out of baseball, back in the minors or no longer in starting roles. But I'm proud of our work and I think we did show that in 2009 minor league numbers could have been used better by other publications. And scouting players for yourself can be more fruitful than contacting scouts and executives and making a list that is heavily influenced by their opinions, which was the BA and BP approach in 2009.


Top 25 WAR Prospects Ranked: 17/25

On top of ranking over two-thirds of the top 25 WAR players thus far on his list, Law has had fewer complete misses than anyone else. Only about 25% of his players have 0 WAR (or negative WAR) careers thus far, compared to about 33% for BP and Piliere. Overall Law's list was pretty very conservative and he missed a lot in his top 25. Only three players on it didn't show up on any other Top 100s, which likely means he mixed contacting scouts and front office members with some of his own picks. One of the players that Law got right and everyone else missed is Eric Hosmer (34) who was coming off a 2009 season where injuries and vision problems derailed his prospect stock. Law's list is also one of only two with Michael Brantley and Anthony Rizzo. His list is a sound bet to stick in 2nd, with a chance to take over the number one spot.

3. Frankie Piliere

Top 25 WAR Prospects Ranked: 17/25

Being the only list with A.J. Pollock and Craig Kimbrel and ranking Austin Jackson much higher than everyone else (25th vs. 49-98) have kept Piliere in the running for the best Top 100 prospect list of 2010. Having 33 players with 0 WAR has kept him out of the top 2 for now, though. Credit to Frankie for clearly doing a lot of independent research. Phillippe Aumont, Austin Romine, Lars Anderson, Tyson Gillies, Jared Mitchell and a number of flamed out arms may ultimately keep this list from being the best of 2010, but it's still far too early to make that call.

4. Baseball America

Top 25 WAR Prospects Ranked: 17/25

Baseball America's 2010 list has fallen behind ESPN and Piliere primarily for two reasons. First, they ranked Mike Trout 30 spots lower than everyone else (85 vs. 49-54). Secondly, their list is very conservative, with very few picks different from the rest of the pack. And the few times they did go out on a limb, they missed (Chad James, 78; Adam Moore, 83; Noel Arguelles, 100). They also gave high rankings to a number of players who have had very little MLB value. Tyler Matzek, Casey Kelly, Kyle Drabek, Logan Morrison, and Aaron Hicks were all in their Top 25, part of a group of nine players with less than 2 WAR careers this far in their Top 25. BA's 2010 list won't likely fall behind Baseball Prospectus' but it also likely won't end up cracking the top 3.

5. Baseball Prospectus

Top 25 WAR Prospects Ranked: 16/25

Kevin Goldstein's list was just as conservative as Baseball America's except for the bottom quarter of it, where he took a lot of risks. His list is at the bottom of this grouping because nearly every one of those risks was a swing-and-miss on a high-upside player. Seven of the eight players that were unique to his list have had 0 WAR carreers (Hak-Ju Lee, Michael Ynoa, Brandon Allen, Tim Melville, Gabriel Noriega, Fabio Martinez and Ethan Martin; with Jordan Walden being the exception). He also had Donovan Tate, Josh Vitters and Brett Wallace ranked ahead of Mike Trout. Still, his list is the only one with Miguel Sano ranked in the top 50. A monster career from Sano would give this list a chance of climbing out of fifth place.