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MLB Influence - June 2012

Last year I rolled out an MLB Influence infographic every month, in place of projected standings. This year, I'm more or less doing the same thing, with an added piece of data.

FanGraphs and Sports Illustrated have teamed up for MLB power rankings this season. The rankings are based on team WAR totals. I've now added this to the Cool Standings data, and search traffic data from Google Insights. I've also tried to make the graphic a little more interactive by sharing it on Google Docs. The result? It's below:

Keep Running, Billy, Keep Running

Speed, slowly but surely (ironically enough), is returning to baseball. Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon sprints to second most times he gets on first. I liked his speed so much I made him my opening day fantasy shortstop, but that's another story.* Juan Pierre continues to make a living swiping bags. Chone Figgins came to the Mariners as a noted thief on the basepaths. Speed didn't die, but it was one of the few things that steroids shriveled up in baseball.

*Gordon hit fantasy free agency a few weeks ago. His speed wasn't nearly as exciting to watch since he uses it mostly to retreat from the batter's box after his latest putout.

The tide is shifting back towards speed in Major League Baseball, but mark my words: when Billy Hamilton makes the majors, he will usher in a new generation of speed. I've struggled all season with when (or if) to post about Hamilton, but today is the day. His speed is the best story going in all of Minor League Baseball, and quite frankly, more exciting than most MLB stories if you ask me.

2012 Draft: Mariners Picks

Draft picks don't matter sometimes. The M's no-hitter is obviously the biggest M's story right now. Moreover, none of the six pitchers who combined for the no-hitter were drafted by the Mariners. Two (Furbush and League) were acquired in trades that involved Mariners draft picks though (Doug Fister and Brandon Morrow).

The draft is still the easiest place to find impact talent without giving any talent up, which is why it is so darn important to draft well.  The talent will get picked; it's just a question of whether your team or a competitor is going to get it. Did the Mariners get their fair share? I'll give pick-by-pick grades, and use an excessively complex GPA calculator to determine a final result*. Players are listed by round:

*Just kidding, maybe.

2012 Draft: Day 3 Preview

If you ask me, day three of the MLB draft should be mostly about senior recognition. The mostly likely MLB talents to sign have almost completely been picked by this point. It's fun to think about potential "diamonds in the rough," but the vast majority of players picked now will only play in the minor leagues.

So, why not reward productive college seniors? I can't think of a better way to recognize a great college player than to draft them, and let them say they played pro ball. Plus, I'm a sucker for production, and whose to say some of these ultra-productive players can't find a way to stay productive as a pro?

My thoughts on college seniors guide my thinking as I compile the day 3 preview. Day 2 is probably my favorite to follow, but this list might be the most fun to put together. History suggests a number of the players I'm about to highlight won't get drafted, but I hope a tip of the cap from my perch in the Pacific Northwest is worth something. Here are some guys to root for as the draft comes to a close:

2012 Draft: Day 2 Recap

It's always good to complete a story. I put out a day 2 preview, and I'll start my recap with a round-by-round breakdown of where my previewed players went. Ones from the top 31 list are bold. There also were a few players I had tabbed for my day 3 preview that popped up today, so I've included them with their write-ups I had prepared:

2012 Draft: Day 1 Recap

The first day only includes the first round and then the "sandwich" round, so I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to go pick-by-pick through the first round. I'll take a page out of Allen's book, and offer arbitrary grades for every pick. Here we go, 1 through 31:

2012 Draft: Day 2 Preview

The first day of the draft is in the books, but there are still 39 rounds to go! Plenty of talent is still available. The draft starts up again at 9am here on the best coast, so stick the draft tracker on in the background as you slog away on whatever engrossing document or spreadsheet at your cubicle. Here are some names to scan for as you periodically check in:

Z Versus B, State By State

Jack Zduriencik has clearly improved the Mariners farm system. He has made 152 draft picks so far as M's GM. His predecessor, Bill Bavasi, made 245 draft picks. I figured both sample sizes were big enough to see some trends in their draft strategies.

To a degree, the big-time prospects are known around the nation. However, as a draft wears on, a GM relies on their scouts and connections. Scouts are typically deployed to cover certain regions. So, I figured if Zduriencik and Bavasi have different people in their ears, and different connections, I would see differences in where Mariners draft picks geographically come from.

Below are the results. Mouse over different states for the raw total of prospects the respective GM selected from that state:

Bill Bavasi 
Jack Zduriencik
Click "continue reading" for some of my thoughts on the data.

2012 Top 31

The 2012 Draft is set to begin on Monday. It is time to unveil my seventh annual list of draft prospects to watch. The Musings coverage started modestly enough back in 2006 - basically 6 hours of me noodling around on the internet and coming up with 15 names from the college ranks.

I'm still no pro scout, and I have to wriggle in research around such nuisances as a full time job, and applying to grad school. In other words, as far as I'm concerned, every MLB team should be able to outperform my rankings. I'm not convinced every team does though.

Without further ado, the 31 players I would draft with the 31 first-round picks this year (in reverse order):