Inspired by my only commenter thus far, I’d like to discuss a couple quasi-theories of mine surrounding "Fantasy Factor," my phrase to describe a basic principle which possibly has already been discussed to death while I slept, and may have a better moniker I’ve not been made aware of.
The Fantasy Factor’s basic premise is the sport and business of baseball, as well as the peripherals including the media, are being moved by the fantasy industry; originally shunned as freaks and geeks, but now being recognized as both knowledgeable and a formidable consumer demographic. Anyone who knows me is aware I projected this at the beginning of the decade, so the fact I write on it now should come with minimal shock value. The evidence is being discussed and is visible everywhere, and there’s even been surprising information and admissions coming from the baseball organizations the past couple of years.
With fantasy evolving into the deeper, keeper-style and dynasty leagues, the industry has awoke to the minor leagues and prospects. And given fantasy is driven by "The List," is it too much of a stretch to believe the enormous popularity of the Top Prospect 100 list is a result, and has been for some time? If you believe this in combination with mine and Boyd Nation’s thoughts on list compilation theory from the previous Blog entry, then those who publish under those guidelines are churning in a giant, watery circle of media spin and popularity, born of the same people who are about to push the handle and flush, as the Fantasy Factor moves this segment of the industry. Fantasy professionals are all about the reality of results, and that is their popularity.
Looking forward I envision the lists will remain, and in fact, become more plentiful, adding different forms and criteria for a better overall package. The sharper mind will take over the minor league analysis from some, but Baseball America – whose best work currently is the Top-30 on each team – will not be crushed by the glacial-paced Fantasy Factor, and will simply change modus operandi to produce more result-oriented lists.
There are still many under-explored facets of prospecting that will come under scrutiny. Between the seasons of 2004 and 2005, months prior to some personal events that stalled what should have been a decent analytical year for me, I determined the second base position –- one whose attrition rate is very high — had been terribly forecasted for years, and the upcoming season was dreary as scarcity of talent and change of position was an issue. So I changed my normal method and concentrated my efforts on organizations and those succeeding in the upper-minors, valuing results over scouting indicators. At the end I came up with the usual suspects for the upcoming, Rickie Weeks, Chris Burke, and Josh Barfield (who I’ll discuss under this auspice in an upcoming blog), but came upon a few others who I overvalued more than anybody else: Ryan Rayburn, Wily Aybar, Robinson Cano and Jorge Cantu. Raburn might have made me look bad had it not been for the success of the latter two, and the end result in my humble opinion, turned a negative position problem into a positive for those that followed the work. The original article was published on Roto Wire and picked up by Yahoo!, but I doubt it’s kicking around there anymore and can only be found at the link above if you have a subscription.
This is but one example of the many changes I project will come to fruition as the Fantasy Factor migrates into the minor league parks.