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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Prospects and Suspects (An Unscientific Study)

by Paul Semendinger

June 1, 2022


Yesterday, in the Tuesday Discussion, I suggested that the Yankees should trade any or all of their top prospects for Juan Soto. I make this claim because most prospects just don't pan out. I think there is a better likelihood that Juan Soto has more All-Star games and a higher lifetime WAR than the Top 5 Yankees prospects combined over their careers.

Sometimes, for fun, I look at old baseball guides and books. Over the weekend, I was flipping through the 1990 edition of The Complete Handbook of Baseball. In the report for each team, they listed that team's top prospect. Sometimes, they listed two.

This isn't a scientific study. For example, I don't know how that yearly guide chose the top prospects. I also don't know if they did a better job in previous or subsequent years, but here are the top prospects throughout MLB as listed in that book. Looking back in retrospect, how many of these players ended up as good at Juan Soto is even today (at just 23-years-old). How many had a career as valuable as Juan Soto's to date?

  • Orioles - Ben McDonald

  • Red Sox - Phil Plantier

  • Indians - Sandy Alomar & Steve Olin

  • Tigers - Brian DuBois

  • Brewers - Greg Vaughn

  • Yankees - Kevin Mmahat

  • Blue Jays - Glenallen Hill

  • Angels - Dante Bichette

  • White Sox - Robin Ventura

  • Royals - Kevin Appier

  • Twins - Willie Banks

  • A's - Felix Jose

  • Mariners - Tino Martinez

  • Rangers - Juan Gonzalez

  • Cubs - Kevin Blankenship

  • Expos - Marquis Grissom & Mark Gardner

  • Mets - Julio Machado

  • Phillies - Pat Combs

  • Pirates - Stan Belinda

  • Cardinals - Todd Zeile

  • Braves - Mike Stanton

  • Reds - Joe Oliver

  • Astros - Eric Anthony

  • Dodgers - Ramon Martinez & John Wetteland

  • Padres - Andy Benes

  • Giants - Greg Litton

In short, that's a lot of big names, most of whom didn't pan out.

This wasn't a comprehensive study, but it does illustrate the idea that most prospects are suspects. Most don't pan out.

If a team can get a superstar by trading prospects, the best call is to trade the guys.

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