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FiveThirtyEight: Do We Even Need Minor League Baseball?

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#1 Vanimal46

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 06:32 AM

https://fivethirtyei...eague-baseball/

Fascinating read by Travis Sawchik. Once again, the Astros are ahead of everyone else on development and training.
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#2 Mike Sixel

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 09:12 AM

I really found that one interesting.
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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#3 Vanimal46

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 11:01 AM

I'd love for the Twins to follow suit. Make Fort Myers their US training/lab home, and continue utilizing their facility in DR for IFA signings until they're ready for A+ ball.

I realize there are Cedar Rapids fans on this site, but there's little reason to have 2 leagues below A+ ball.
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#4 IndianaTwin

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 11:38 AM

An oversimplified response here, but...

 

While this may make sense in terms of developing MLB players, that's not the only reason to have minor league baseball. If MLB is concerned about marketing to a younger audience, they could be shooting themselves in the foot by taking away the opportunity to provide (relatively) cheap access to pretty-high level baseball for families in their local communities. I certainly cut my teeth as a professional baseball fan by going to a half-dozen games a year at (old) Veterans Memorial in Cedar Rapids. 

 

 

 

(It still doesn't seem right to go to a game in CR and not immediately walk down this steep incline to a musty green hallway and then back up steps to get to the seats, stopping to get a back-issue of The Sporting News for 25 cents. But that's another post...)

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#5 twins1095

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 11:50 AM

 

An oversimplified response here, but...

 

While this may make sense in terms of developing MLB players, that's not the only reason to have minor league baseball. If MLB is concerned about marketing to a younger audience, they could be shooting themselves in the foot by taking away the opportunity to provide (relatively) cheap access to pretty-high level baseball for families in their local communities. I certainly cut my teeth as a professional baseball fan by going to a half-dozen games a year at (old) Veterans Memorial in Cedar Rapids. 

 

 

 

(It still doesn't seem right to go to a game in CR and not immediately walk down this steep incline to a musty green hallway and then back up steps to get to the seats, stopping to get a back-issue of The Sporting News for 25 cents. But that's another post...)

 

Less minor-league baseball teams could mean more Independent Ball teams such as the Saint Paul Saints (where you can very much get that experience you are talking about) and better compensated and situated minor league baseball players who are in systems.

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#6 Mike Sixel

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 12:08 PM

 

An oversimplified response here, but...

 

While this may make sense in terms of developing MLB players, that's not the only reason to have minor league baseball. If MLB is concerned about marketing to a younger audience, they could be shooting themselves in the foot by taking away the opportunity to provide (relatively) cheap access to pretty-high level baseball for families in their local communities. I certainly cut my teeth as a professional baseball fan by going to a half-dozen games a year at (old) Veterans Memorial in Cedar Rapids. 

 

 

 

(It still doesn't seem right to go to a game in CR and not immediately walk down this steep incline to a musty green hallway and then back up steps to get to the seats, stopping to get a back-issue of The Sporting News for 25 cents. But that's another post...)

 

If each team cut 1 team, that would be 30 minor league teams. I can't see how that would dramatically effect MLB interest......

It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#7 Seth Stohs

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 12:41 PM

From the first paragraph, the Astros went from 9 affiliates to 7 affiliates... 

 

The Twins have had 7 affiliates all along...Maybe they Twins were ahead of the game on this years ago...

 

 

Also, the chart that showsthe better first-year performances for guys called up from AA or lower versus called up from AAA is incredibly questionable. First, note the sample size. Second, who gets called up from AA? The top, top prospects. 

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#8 jkcarew

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 12:44 PM

Kind-of a click-bait title (not surprising these days). What's discussed in the article, really isn't close to "not needing minor league baseball"...more like "not needing as much affiliated minor league baseball".

 

IMO, we're already headed in this direction. These days, it's generally agreed (and accepted) that affiliated minor league baseball is not about winning. It's about perfecting the pitch, and/or the swing...and primarily for the 'top' prospects. Everything else is incidental. And it's been pretty easy to observe the major-league results for a while now: diversity of style/approach is disappearing, in-game/situational skills...other than launching a baseball (or throwing it at a high rate of speed)...are eroding. This just takes it to the next logical level, which is to increase the quality and intensity of training for those that already show the most promise regarding those anointed skills. Does it make sense? Yes. Would it probably lead to marginal improvements in performance for the organizations that execute it well? Probably. Is it the kind of thing that gets me excited about the future of the professional game? No.


#9 Riverbrian

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 01:02 PM

There are things to be questioned in the article such as the AA/AAA advancement thing because guys like Tatis and Soto are the very top of the pile...

 

But, Baseball has been trapped in systems created by our Grandfathers. 

 

"Why for so long has the minor league system been immune from disruption?"

 

Everything is life changes... and most times for the better. Baseball hangs on to traditional conventions with both hands and actual change comes slowly as a result.  

 

A small number of teams have broken away from these out-dated systems and are succeeding while the other teams either don't pay attention or dismiss the new approach in order to stay with a familiar system passed down from the generations.  

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#10 Trov

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 01:10 PM

The article is interesting, and does bring the important part of reducing the players to increase the time to spend on the individuals you do have, one reason people want smaller class sizes in schools.I agree with the approach, and the article gives examples of individuals who work pretty much one on one with a trainer to improve.  

 

One thing I feel the article did miss on, in regards to hunter pence, his swing change he played in winter ball to perfect the swing prior to finding a team to play for in spring training.This still shows importance of getting in game action to make those adjustments.  

 

Could they reduce the amount of teams?Yes.Could they take away minor leagues completely and just do training centers?No, in my opinion at least.I feel live game action is needed for players to work on things that simulations cannot.Also, if you reduce the teams too much there will be some diamond in the roughs that get missed because they are ranked too low.Sure they could play independent ball if they love the game enough or feel they can make a team, but that will require a change in how teams view independent ball. 


#11 DocBauer

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 01:53 PM

Seth beat me to the punch. The Twins have always had 6 US teams plus the DL team.

Ft Myers already houses the team for ST, instructional league, the Miracle as well as the GCL team. And that complex allows for not only baseball instruction, but English lessons for foreign players.

With this FO, while perhaps behind the Astros timeline, there has already been a concerted effort for the entire system to be on the same page in regard to instruction and work outs, etc.

Our current FO has been quite aggressive with promotions to this point. But I also agree highly successful promotions straight from AA are somewhat skewed as a sample size because they are usually elite pospects.

If we put validation in to the bulk of the article, I am glad that the Twins are currently doing much of what is discussed.

One thing that I think would assist with development for all prospects is for MLB to find someone to use the same baseball everywhere.
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#12 Sssuperdave

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Posted 10 September 2019 - 03:06 PM

I love 538 but they've had a lot of click-bait headlines lately.It's kind of ironic because I think the article is actually a lot more interesting than the headline implies.It's not a thought experiment regarding getting rid of the minors.Rather, it's a very interesting wholesale look at how player development works and could work.

 

On a different note, I'd love it if there were fewer affiliated minor leagues/teams and more independent minor leagues.Affiliated minor leagues are 99.9% about potential, not necessarily pure merit.  There are tons of players in their upper 20s and early 30s, or even older, that could dominate AA competition, but there is no room for them in organized ball because that is their ceiling.I'd love it if there was more of a market where those sorts of players could make a living playing ball.Independent ball is actually a bit more of a straight-up meritocracy, other than the gimmicky player here and there.

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#13 Sconnie

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 05:40 AM

Interesting to see concepts from my Lean Manufacturing text books. Are they going to 5S the clubhouse next? What’s old is new again I guess. As a few other posters have pointed out, the Twins have had fewer affiliates all along, and changed their double A affiliate last year for one with better training facilities.

Maybe with some better results this year, the Twins can start getting some recognition for strong management principles too.
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#14 biggentleben

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Posted 11 September 2019 - 01:33 PM

JJ Cooper had an impressive Twitter thread on this, but he also made a very good point outside that thread that independent ball would not likely be the winner here - it'd be more college summer leagues, which are nearly cost-free for the communities and bring in similar if not more revenue. Add in the chance that similar things could be done in the realm of high school showcasing, and we could see much less baseball overall in communities as far as total games and the level of play could be much lower (high school/college), not the hangers-on that many view as not getting a shot now in the game.

 

One thing to consider in the piece, and Travis has addressed this on social media in response to the piece, is that while his numbers do correctly show a more successful pattern for players going from AA to the majors, like Seth said, that is the elite of the elite, who will put up significantly more career WAR anyway (10 relievers who come up from AAA and have 10-year careers earning 9 WAR do not equal one Rickey Henderson (and likely not one Trout once he's said and done) in spite of providing 100 years of positive value to the game). The other issue with that AA/AAA conversation is that it does not factor in the AAA ball effect this season. Travis already has mentioned that multiple players were much better prepared for success, especially pitchers, coming from AAA this year over advancing without AAA experience. Frankly, that is one argument for continuing to keep the MLB ball only at the AAA level and why it won't be used at the Arizona Fall League.

 

This was a very good chat among folks in the group chat for the prospects site I'm contributing for now, with some very good arguments on multiple sides. With the weather issues in Florida, moving more toward complex could mean an expedited move for all teams out to Arizona, which is what I honestly believe MLB would prefer long-term. Beyond that, I did find it interesting that the minors released their attendance numbers yesterday for the regular season, which showed a notable increase over 2018, and the playoffs have been very well attended (by minor league standards), which should provide an excellent boost as well.

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