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Postby Ender » Sat Jan 28, 2006 12:40 pm

Thats not how it works in general, you define your skillset in the minors as well as the majors. His power index jumped 45 points last year including his minor league stats, that is generally not sustainable, though his 2002 season did indicate he is capable of that type of power. His speed index jumped 28 points and was higher than it ever was in the minors, again I don't think that is sustainable. His eye jumped significantly and is higher than it was in the minors. His Hit rate jumped as well, his flyball rate jumped to its highest point ever. He pretty much showed large improvements across the board.

Its not like he didn't play much in the minors, he had over 1000 PA's in AAA which is over three times as many as Wright and over 1700 PA's in A ball+ which is a good bit more than wright had.

Thats not to say he can't maintain it, its just unlikely that he's going to take another leap like that this year and when a player has a year like that they almost always regress slightly the next year, not grow more, I expect a slight regression out of Utley this year and then improvement the next season.

Wright on the other hand pretty much put up exactly the numbers you would expect from his minor league stats over the past few years. His eye stayed the same, his hit rate was too high so I think his average will fall some, his contact rate was down, his power and speed were actually lower than last year by a small amount, his flyball percentage was down 11 points. I just think Wright has much more upside on the year.

I don't personally like either player, I'm not a mets or phillies fan and I actually dislike the mets so I'll be pulling for Utley to be better. But from a fantasy standpoint I just don't think Utley has a lot of room to improve this year and Wright does. The biggest advantage Utley has is in his ballpark, swap teams and I think Wright destroys him in stats, Utley getting to play in an extreme HR park might keep them closer than I expect.
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Postby TB13 » Sat Jan 28, 2006 1:41 pm

Ender wrote:But from a fantasy standpoint I just don't think Utley has a lot of room to improve this year and Wright does.


Basically, what this boils down to is this (from the pro-Wright crowd):

1. Wright is younger and will contintue to improve and get better.
2. Then, when the magical age of 27 hits, he will only then approach his peak and improve that much more.
3. Utley is older so his improvement will not be on the same grade as Wright and is a long-shot to improve over his last year at all.

By those arguing the magic 27 years-old theory, such logic should state that Utley, now 27, will make a major step forward becuase of just that and Wright will see no such step forward until he attains the same age.
It is simply not logical to argue that Wright will continue to improve his game for the next 4 years and then take a major step forward once he hits 27 years old and Utley will, at best, maintain what he did last year. Using such logic, one can state that since Utley turned 27 this year that he will be the one to take a step forward of such proportions that Wright will not be able to match for the next 4 years.
My point is this, over the long, long haul, yes, Wright will be better. He is 4 years younger after all. However, for the next 5 years, there is simply nothing showing of why he would be better than Utley. Hitting half of his games in Philly, I think that a very strong case is to be made for Utley's pure numbers to be better than that of Wright for the next 5 years.
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Sat Jan 28, 2006 2:22 pm

TB13 wrote:Basically, what this boils down to is this (from the pro-Wright crowd):

1. Wright is younger and will contintue to improve and get better.
2. Then, when the magical age of 27 hits, he will only then approach his peak and improve that much more.
3. Utley is older so his improvement will not be on the same grade as Wright and is a long-shot to improve over his last year at all.

By those arguing the magic 27 years-old theory, such logic should state that Utley, now 27, will make a major step forward becuase of just that and Wright will see no such step forward until he attains the same age.
It is simply not logical to argue that Wright will continue to improve his game for the next 4 years and then take a major step forward once he hits 27 years old and Utley will, at best, maintain what he did last year. Using such logic, one can state that since Utley turned 27 this year that he will be the one to take a step forward of such proportions that Wright will not be able to match for the next 4 years.
My point is this, over the long, long haul, yes, Wright will be better. He is 4 years younger after all. However, for the next 5 years, there is simply nothing showing of why he would be better than Utley. Hitting half of his games in Philly, I think that a very strong case is to be made for Utley's pure numbers to be better than that of Wright for the next 5 years.


You don't seem to understand the research on or importance of age. It's not magic. it's based on solid research about player aging trends that covers about 60 years of data on major and minor league players. Players do not make a sudden and huge jump exactly at age 27. They improve at an average rate of 2-4 percent per year. The rate certainly varies by player and year. It might be 6 or 7 percent one year and 1 percent the next. And then somewhere around ages 26-30, that increase rate stops.

And, because Utley probably has no more than 1-3 years of growth, while Wright has 5-7, Wright the better bet over the next 5 years.

Furthermore, since Utley's year last year was so out of keeping with his past history, he's less likely to sustain, so over the short term, the better bet is Wright, too.

And, as I pointed out, ballparks are already included in those numbers, so your argument on that point is simply double-counting.

Finally, I already pointed out why positional scarcity is a relatively minor issue, given the dpeth of both positions over the next few years.
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Sat Jan 28, 2006 2:32 pm

TB13 wrote:I think that such an argument is a falicy. Yes, most research shows that players begin to peak at around 27. But, most of that takes into account the fact that most of the players involved in such research arrive in the majors long before the age that Utley did. Utley took some important steps forward as he learned to hit lefties last year. Not to mention that his overal game took major steps forward from the previous years. So to suggest that his growth curve has almost peaked by this year cannot be factual.


No, that argument is solid research. It's based on studies of major league baseball players over the past 60 years, and includes players who entered the majors at every age from their teens to over 30. I'm not sure how Utley's .219 batting average against lefties shows that he took an important step forward. But, even if you think his numbers really look different against lefties last year, I'd be careful about drawing conclusions based on 153 plate appearances.

Every player is different, but the odds are good based on research covering tens of thousands of players, that Utley's performance in 2006 is not going to be a repeat or better of 2005.



Wright has far more at-bats in the minors that Utley did. So he had far more time to adjust to professional pitching than Utley did. The correlation being that a case can be made for Utley making the necessary adjustments much faster than Wright did.
I believe that in most cases the age of 27 argument can be had, but Utley is an exception due to his late start. As he learns and makes even more adjustments, his overall game will improve at the same rate as Wright's. You can even say that it will improve faster and further due to the fact that Wright has been facing professional pitching for more years than Wright did.
It is due to those two factors that I do not think that a case can be made for Utley to have already peaked and Wright will continue to improve.[/quote]
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Postby Dan Charette » Sat Jan 28, 2006 3:27 pm

This is great stuff guys. This is one of the best posts I've seen.
I like them both. After hearing both sides of the argument, I have to say that both can still improve, and will have similar values over the next 5 years. I do agree though, that if they swapped home parks Wright would have better numbers. But, they're not changing.
Both sides have made great arguments. My only concern with Utley is the batting average against lefties. I guess that's where some of his improvement can come from. That will tell a lot about what his ceiling will be.

Dan the Bluesman B-)
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:05 pm

Rough estimates for the next 5 years, just basing it on OPS:

Wright: 900-950, 925-975, 950-1.000, 975-1.025, 1.000-1.050

Utley: 850-900, 850-900, 825-875, 825-875, 800-850

While Utley might be similar or even higher in one of the next 2 years, after that, it's unlikely.
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Postby George_Foreman » Sat Jan 28, 2006 4:27 pm

It's also worth noting that even with the influx of good 2Bs, those are still REALLY good numbers for a seconbasemen.

And like GTWMA said, the facts ( 8-o ) he mentioned are based on TONS of research. If you really thinkg that age-when-called-up has such a profound effect, I'd suggest you find a study that takes it in to account. I am sure there are many out there that exist.

Utley will be good but not as good as Wright over the next few years. As a Braves fan, though, what I'm really counting on is Francour being better than both of them (although that's not exactly what I would call likely. :-b)
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Postby djacks » Sat Jan 28, 2006 5:52 pm

GotowarMissAgnes wrote:Rough estimates for the next 5 years, just basing it on OPS:

Wright: 900-950, 925-975, 950-1.000, 975-1.025, 1.000-1.050

Utley: 850-900, 850-900, 825-875, 825-875, 800-850

While Utley might be similar or even higher in one of the next 2 years, after that, it's unlikely.


Where exactly are you coming up with these figures...???

And if all this great research is so valid...how do you explain players like Beltre, Vladdy, and Berkman?

Beltre - made his major league debut at age 19 and for the next five years showed little improvement at all. Then came his steroid year...and then last year back to career mediocrity.

Vlad - best years so far have been when he was 23-24...declined slightly after that.

Berkman - best years so far have been 25-26...leveled off, slight decline since.

I'd say Utley's career might take a path similar to David Ortiz, who didn't get full playing time until age 28 and has improved every year since...(he is now 30). I'm not saying Utley has the upside of Ortiz, but there is no reason he cannot continue to improve year to year for the next several just as Ortiz has in his late 20's.
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Sat Jan 28, 2006 6:40 pm

djacks wrote:
GotowarMissAgnes wrote:Rough estimates for the next 5 years, just basing it on OPS:

Wright: 900-950, 925-975, 950-1.000, 975-1.025, 1.000-1.050

Utley: 850-900, 850-900, 825-875, 825-875, 800-850

While Utley might be similar or even higher in one of the next 2 years, after that, it's unlikely.


Where exactly are you coming up with these figures...???

And if all this great research is so valid...how do you explain players like Beltre, Vladdy, and Berkman?

Beltre - made his major league debut at age 19 and for the next five years showed little improvement at all. Then came his steroid year...and then last year back to career mediocrity.

Vlad - best years so far have been when he was 23-24...declined slightly after that.

Berkman - best years so far have been 25-26...leveled off, slight decline since.

I'd say Utley's career might take a path similar to David Ortiz, who didn't get full playing time until age 28 and has improved every year since...(he is now 30). I'm not saying Utley has the upside of Ortiz, but there is no reason he cannot continue to improve year to year for the next several just as Ortiz has in his late 20's.


There have been tons of studies cited on this in past Cafe articles, so for where I get it, I'd encourage you to just do a search using terms like peak,age and hitting.

Second, as with any study, players vary in their performance. The research summarizes what the typical player does. That's what your best expectation for any given player should be.

But, examine the three you cite:

Vlad, using OPS+ as the measure:
Best year was at age 24, followed by 26, 29, 28, 22, 27, 23, 25, 21.
Looks to me like your summary of his performance is wrong. His best years have been between 24 to 29, while his worst years were 21-25.

Berkman: 25, 28, 26, 29, 27, 24. Not sure what you see wrong with this pattern. Came up at 23, and has been in his peak years around 25-28, as the model suggests. Not even really in a decline phase yet.

Beltre: pass. The model doesn't claim to predict every player perfectly.

Utley could be like Ortiz, though your description of his career isn't right. Ortiz had several years of VERY strong performance in the major leagues from age 21 to 26, while Utley at some of those ageas was still trying to cope with AAA pitching or performing at a much lower level than Ortiz did.

But, again, if you are looking at what's the best expectation for Utley...it's a slight decline this year, followed by some stability around that level.
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Postby J_Cuz » Sat Jan 28, 2006 8:29 pm

What's up with the guy who used AARON SMALL as a supporting argument that Utley has "peaked." This fella has an OPEN INVITATION to join my league because that is the weakest correlation I have ever seen.

Bottom line in this argument: Take the left handed batter in Citizen's Bank Park and you'll be happy. Basic physics and ball park dimensions suggest that Utley is just as likely to increase production than Wright (if not moreso).

Sometimes, I find the stuff here downright bewildering.

Lucky these guys didn't "peak" at 26

GARY SHEFFIELD

http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/sheffga01.shtml

LARRY WALKER

http://www.baseball-reference.com/w/walkela01.shtml

BARRY BONDS

http://www.baseball-reference.com/b/bondsba01.shtml

CARLOS DELGADO

http://www.baseball-reference.com/d/delgaca01.shtml

JEFF BAGWELL

http://www.baseball-reference.com/b/bagweje01.shtml

SAMMY SOSA

http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/sosasa01.shtml

JASON GIAMBI

http://www.baseball-reference.com/g/giambja01.shtml

DERREK LEE

http://www.baseball-reference.com/l/leede02.shtml

CARLOS LEE

http://www.baseball-reference.com/l/leeca01.shtml

VINNY CASTILLA

http://www.baseball-reference.com/c/castivi02.shtml

Sorry I left out the Aaron Small comparisons but I hope that this establishes the absolute and undeniable FACT that the argument that Utley has peaked holds ZERO validity.

btw, ANYONE who trys to use the "steroid" or "ballpark" enhancement arguments in order to support an accelartion of ANY of these player's stats is ACTUALLY ARGUING FOR Utley and AGAINST Wright simply BECAUSE of the fact that UTLEY plays in Citizen's Bank Park and steroids are illegal so now no one has an edge.

I'm done.[/b]
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