Fangraphs weighs in on the state of "Our" Red Sox organization.

Although the team has promoted some of its talent; Lowrie, Buchholz?, and Ellsbury. It is still a very strong system, with the lower minors adding a lot of recently drafted talent as well. Less-known talent of course, but talent nonetheless. The team knows what they are doing in this regard, and even though they will probably experience a few down years in terms of drafting players, they seem to be ahead of most teams in the way they evaluate talent.

Great baseball research is pretty valuable wouldn’t you say? 

And that is exactly what Fangraphs extends to all of us via the web.

If you are unfamiliar with the site, they offer analysis–more importantly, good analysis.  And like The Hardball Times and Baseball Prospectus, they offer a very extensive statistics section.  All of the basic statistics are of course included, but they have their own “cumulative” statistic–kind of like BP’s “WARP1 or THT’s “Win Shares.” 

Of course the formula is different for what Fangraphs calls “Value Wins.”  But the fact that it takes into account both offense and defense, makes it something that I personally value highly. 

But I have to make something clear.  Just because I have faith when a site such as Fangraphs creates a stat called “Value wins,” does not mean that it has some incredible, all-knowing, all-telling, conclusion, which is so complete that it doesn’t even warrant a rebuttal within the context of a debate. 

…Just wanted to get that out there.

Fangraphs has been doing their own “Organizational Rankings.”  And guess who came in at number 1? 

That’s right, your Boston Red Sox.

They separate the ranking into four categories for each team: Ownership, Front Office, Major League Talent, and Minor League Talent.  Each “part” is given a grade, and then at the end there is a grade for the overall well-being of the organization.

So naturally I will discuss each a little…

Ownership:  Receives an “A.”  A willingness to spend money generally is perceived as a “capable” ownership.  Also an ownership willing to let the front office actually do their job helps. 

The analysis includes a reference to the ownership willing to upgrade in certain areas, such as adding to Fenway, rather than simply destroying and rebuilding. 

Front Office:  How could anyone deny another “A” in this area?  Fangraphs does not, giving Theo and crew that well-deserved “A.”  When a front office employs a quality General Manager, who may have some financial help, but is also very adept at what he does.  Not to mention, the Sox front office has included one of the greatest statistical minds to ever walk this Earth in the form of Bill James (greatest in relation to this sport at least, for he is no John Nash). 

Fangraphs also mentions another important aspect of why the FO has been and is so successful: 

 “The Red Sox aren’t just an organization of stat-nerds pushing their Ivy
League degrees on people – they look for every advantage they can find,
and will go to anywhere from Japan to the Independent Leagues to find
talent. Having a significant amount of money certainly helps, but the
Red Sox spend it well, and the results are a franchise that is run as
well as any in baseball.

They go wherever they can to find talent.  Seems logical.

And most importantly, they spend their money “well.”  They may overspend at times; JD Drew, Julio Lugo.  But they at least received a good player when healthy in Drew, rather than an albatross like Jose Guillen. 

Lugo is a sunk-cost, but I felt he had to be included, even though he is one of the few terrible acquisitions in recent years–and everyone makes a terrible acquisition here and there. 

Major League Talent:  Grade A.  This should ease the minds of some of the unsure Red Sox fans that I have come across.

Look, there are unknowns.  But even with the “if’s,” this will be a good-great team. 

A reassuring line…

“There are question marks about the roster, but they aren’t the kinds of
fatal flaws that will sink a team. There’s depth behind the question
marks, and so much excess pitching that swinging a deal to patch a hole
won’t be particularly hard.”

We all knew this, but sometimes we look for the negative where there isn’t much of one.  Sure, there are a few flaws to this team, and a few questions.  But every team is in the same boat, EVERY single team.  And this Red Sox team might very well have the fewest question marks of all the teams.

Minor League Talent:  Fangraphs gives it only a B+. 

Only a B+?  Seems pretty fair to me. 

Although the team has promoted some of its talent; Lowrie, Buchholz?, and Ellsbury.  It is still a very strong system, with the lower minors adding a lot of recently drafted talent as well.  Less-known talent of course, but talent nonetheless.  The team knows what they are doing in this regard, and even though they will probably experience a few down years in terms of drafting players, they seem to be ahead of most teams in the way they evaluate talent. 

So three “A’s” and a B+ make up what?

An “A” overall, of course.

The ability to bring in talent through the draft, the ability to keep and even accumulate a few extra draft picks, and the ability to spend money…Oh, and the ability to win A LOT of games every year, makes the Red Sox organization tops in the Majors. 

I don’t know that I agree with the rankings exactly, but I definitely agree with the Red Sox being at the top right now.

“Well capitalized owner who wants to win and invests in the product? Check
A cohesive front office that combines scouting and statistical analysis? Check.
A major league team that can win immediately and has pieces to build around? Check.
A minor league farm system that will replenish the major league roster? Check.”

That second line from this Fangraphs excerpt is my favorite.  The ability to combine scouting AND statistical analysis.  That says what is most important about this front office.  And they do it well too, because anybody could just combine them.  It’s whole nuther level to actually apply it the right way.  



Categories: Bill James Theo Epstein

5 Responses to “Fangraphs weighs in on the state of "Our" Red Sox organization.” Subscribe

  1. mike f March 28, 2009 at 6:40 PM #

    I love that site. but as a yankee fan it’s sad to get an overall A rating but still coming in at #3 overall. what makes it worse is that the top 2 come from out own little division.
    they seem to be a bit stingy with their assessment of minor league talent. i’d think that the sox, f anyone would get an A there. i am a bit disappointed with my yankees getting a C+ but lets face it. we have but a few “decent” position players. they claim that because of the yankees huge financial resources that having a great farm “isn’t that big of a deal” but i’d have to disagree with them there.
    wouldn’t you?

  2. AEI March 28, 2009 at 7:24 PM #

    What the lack of minor-league talent means is continued higher payrolls for the Yankees. The only way this will have a major impact is if the front office’s financial resources dry up all of a sudden.

  3. Pat Hickey March 28, 2009 at 10:30 PM #

    I’d dock the Yanks a letter grade on failure to sign Gerrit Cole and Scott Bittle, as well as drafting Andrew Brackman the year before.

  4. mike f March 28, 2009 at 11:51 PM #

    drafting cole was a disaster. there is no way they should have picked a guy that wasn’t guaranteed to sign for your 1st pick. especially one from a very rich family who doesn’t need the money

  5. Gerry March 29, 2009 at 12:40 AM #

    Couldn’t agree more on this analysis. Thanks for publicizing it. What amazes me most is the Sox farm system (via drafts and trades) that it’s not just Lowrie, Buchholz?, Ellsbury, becaue in just a few year’s, enough excellent prospects have gone to the Majors to deplete most farm systems, adding Masterson, Pedroia, Murphy, Hansen, Moss, Breslow, Pauley (that’s 10 so far). Yet the Sox farm teams at every level made it to their post-seasons. And even after Bard, Bowden, Jones and others come up, the farm will still be strong. THAT is good baseball knowledge and management.