First Pitch: How Much Does Half a Season Matter?

It can be easy to get caught up in the moment with prospect rankings in-season. That’s part of the reason why I usually wait a month at the end of the season to start on next year’s rankings. I like to get away from the previous season a bit, and put the results in perspective with the progression of the player and the career trends.

When you’re in the middle of the season, it’s easy to falsely inflate or deflate the long term value of a player. Take Alen Hanson, for example. He starts off hot in April, and everyone asks how far he should move up the rankings. Then he continues to hit well game after game. And every time he does well, there’s the desire to evaluate his ranking, his upside, and move him up or down accordingly. The same goes with a player who is struggling.

Evaluations are tricky. The only ones that matter are the long term evaluations. Jameson Taillon’s last six starts are irrelevant. Anyone who is evaluating him is focused on his career to date, his arsenal, and his potential going forward. But the thing about evaluations is that you need to focus on the short term. And that’s where we focus on Taillon’s recent struggles. His struggles in those starts are a very real concern. But how much of a concern should the short term struggles be? And likewise, how much credit should short term success get?

There’s a tendency to place more value on a streak in-season. Just look at Kyle McPherson. Coming in to the year he was one of the top pitching prospects in the system. But he was also out for the first two and a half months of the year. During that time, it was easy to see his season as a disappointment. But now that he’s back, that seems silly. McPherson now has two and a half months remaining in the 2012 season. The injury will probably prevent him a shot at the majors this year, but it shouldn’t impact his long term status. (Note: McPherson moved down in our mid-season prospect rankings. Part of that was due to some players moving up. A bigger part was the questions surrounding his shoulder. If the rankings were done a few weeks later, when the news came out that McPherson’s velocity was in the normal 90-95 MPH range, he probably would have been a top ten prospect.)

We’ve gone through half a season, and it’s important to evaluate that half a season. But the evaluations are really just a small part in the overall picture. We should be encouraged by the good performances. We should be concerned by the poor performances. But only in rare cases should we use half of any season to make more than just minor changes to the overall evaluation of a prospect.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates were off today.

**Prospect Watch: Stetson Allie leads a big day on offense in the GCL.

**Pirates Notebook: Is Brad Lincoln at risk of being replaced in the rotation?

**How much trade value does your prospect have? Kevin Creagh updates the trade values for prospects. We’ll be referencing this article all summer with our Trade Values series, starting with Chase Headley tomorrow.

**Can Casey McGehee bounce back to his 2010 season?

**Wilbur Miller does his first half review of the Pirates’ farm system, looking at the lower levels. A lot of good observations about the players in West Virginia and Bradenton. Can’t say I disagreed with many of the evaluations. The two that stood out to me were Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham. Statistically they’ve been disappointing, but they’re both cases where the stuff can trump two months of poor numbers.

**The Pirates signed fifth round pick Adrian Sampson.

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This article is the height of Apologism. The reason the Pirates don’t have any power hitters is that they cost money. The reason they cost money is that they win games.



It depends on how good your pitching staff is. If their ERA is close to 5 I want as many boppers as I can get. It takes a lot of hit’s to score 3 runs in an inning without BB and errors to help.

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