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Scouting the Stat Line – The Best Minor League Seasons of the 2010’s

Throughout 2019, The Dynasty Guru maintained projected peak wOBA leaderboards to help indicate the best minor league hitting performances throughout the year. The final 2019 update to the leaderboards was posted on 9/3/2019, at the end of the minor league season.  To view these results, please follow this link.

We’ve finally turned the page on the 2010s.  In the spirit of the New Year, I find myself reflecting on what has been and what lessons can be learned for the future.  The result of this, of course, is a list of the best offensive seasons we have witnessed over the last decade, as judged by Jordan Rosenblum’s infallible and highly scientific peak wOBA projections.  If you’re just interested in the results, skip to the list already!  If you’re interested in hearing some of the context behind why I have put together this list, read on!

Near the end of the 2019 season, I wrote an article detailing the top minor league hitters of the previous decade by aggregating their overall minor league numbers and the projected peak wOBAs of each season they played.  The purpose of the article was to get a sense of how well Jordan’s research and our methodologies can help predict future success.  The result was an impressive list of 101 players from the 2010s.

During the time I was drafting this article, Jordan and I discussed and debated whether multi-season or single-season results (with that single-season being the current or most recent one) is more important in predicting future success.  I won’t attempt to describe Jordan’s position, but in general, I fall on the multi-season side of that discussion.  To me, the more data to slice, dice, and analyze, the better; though for me that also comes with the caveat that a player can show signs of greatness sometimes before greatness shows up regularly in the box score.  I have rather simple reasoning to support my position – if a mediocre hitter is suddenly a great or very good hitter, it seems just as possible/likely, that he has gotten lucky (even for a full season) as it is that he has truly improved.  So, while I have no problem jumping at a prospect posting huge numbers in his first 30 minor league plate appearances, when a player spends two years in the minors posting uninspiring numbers, then turns around in his third season to put up surprisingly good numbers, I am almost always skeptical.

In the Dynasty Guru offices (if you didn’t know, we each have 500 square feet of office space in our sky-rise, desks made of marble, and crystal computer screens [what’s that now?- Ed.]), a variation of this debate manifested while discussing who deserved higher placement in outfielder rankings between Kyle Tucker and Dylan Carlson.  Carlson had a great, breakout season last year, moving all the way up to Triple-A while posting an overall slash line of .292/.372/.542.  Tucker, by 2018’s standards, had a down year, though he rebounded from a dreadful start to finish with solid .266/.354/.555 line before receiving a cup of coffee and producing more solid numbers for the World Series runner-up.  Carlson is the younger of the two (by a considerable 1.5 to 2 years), and the reasoning is that he had the better season and should be ranked higher as a result.

Both are rock-solid prospects, but for me, their seasons were close enough that I think their fuller body of work merits examination.  In fact, I may take that a step further and suggest that perhaps past performance should almost always be taken into consideration.  In the aforementioned Top Minor League Hitters article, Tucker ranks 62nd overall with a .368 overall peak wOBA, while Carlson ranks 94th with a .356 peak wOBA. In evaluating their track records, to me, Tucker’s remains well ahead of Carlson’s, and as such, I fall squarely in the #teamtuck camp.

Nonetheless, part of being a successful General Manager is keeping your biases in check.  So, it only seemed fair to buttress 2019’s Best Minor League Hitters of the Past Decade article with a look into the 101 best single seasons for minor league hitters, based on our future peak wOBA projections.  Between the aggregated list and the single-season list, which of these lists is more helpful in helping predict Major League success?  We’ll leave it to you to decide!

The Top 101 Minor League Hitting Seasons of the Past Decade

Rank Name Year Organization &
Highest Level
Age PA wOBA
1 Juan Soto 2018 Nationals (AA) 19 182 0.530
2 Giancarlo Stanton 2010 Marlins (AA) 20 240 0.500
3 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 2018 Blue Jays (AAA) 19 408 0.498
4 Malcom Nunez 2018 Cardinals (R) 17 199 0.478
5 Jhailyn Ortiz 2017 Phillies (A-) 18 187 0.460
6 Mike Trout 2011 Angels (AA) 19 412 0.455
7 Oswaldo Arcia 2013 Twins (AAA) 22 155 0.454
8 Carlos Correa 2015 Astros (AAA) 20 246 0.453
9 Oscar Taveras 2011 Cardinals (A) 19 347 0.451
10 Chris Parmelee 2012 Twins (AAA) 24 282 0.449
11 Brett Lawrie 2011 Blue Jays (AAA) 21 340 0.447
12 Kris Bryant 2014 Cubs (AAA) 22 594 0.447
13 Anthony Rizzo 2012 Cubs (AAA) 22 284 0.443
14 Jorge Soler 2014 Cubs (AAA) 22 236 0.442
15 Yordan Alvarez* 2019 Astros (AAA) 22 253 0.442
16 Mike Zunino 2012 Mariners (AA) 21 190 0.442
17 Joey Gallo 2014 Rangers (AA) 20 537 0.441
18 Avisail Garcia 2013 White Sox (AAA) 22 216 0.441
19 Bo Bichette 2017 Blue Jays (A+) 19 499 0.439
20 Chris Davis 2011 Rangers (AAA) 25 218 0.439
21 Juan Soto 2016 Nationals (A-) 17 207 0.439
22 Victor Robles 2015 Nationals (A-) 18 261 0.439
23 Ronald Acuna Jr. 2017 Braves (AAA) 19 612 0.436
24 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 2017 Blue Jays (A+) 18 527 0.436
25 Anthony Rizzo 2011 Padres (AAA) 21 413 0.436
26 Mason Martin 2017 Pirates (R) 18 166 0.435
27 Austin Riley* 2019 Braves (AAA) 22 162 0.433
28 Addison Russell 2012 Athletics (A) 18 244 0.432
29 Mike Trout 2010 Angels (A+) 18 601 0.431
30 Kyle Schwarber 2015 Cubs (AAA) 22 310 0.431
31 Josh VanMeter* 2019 Reds (AAA) 24 211 0.429
32 Miguel Sano 2013 Twins (AA) 20 519 0.429
33 Wander Franco* 2019 Rays (A+) 18 445 0.429
34 Eric Hosmer 2010 Royals (AA) 20 586 0.428
35 Luis Robert* 2019 White Sox (AAA) 21 465 0.428
36 Heliot Ramos 2017 Giants (R) 17 151 0.428
37 Mookie Betts 2014 Red Sox (AAA) 21 464 0.428
38 Byron Buxton 2013 Twins (A+) 19 574 0.426
39 Gavin Lux* 2019 Dodgers (AAA) 21 469 0.426
40 Wil Myers 2010 Royals (A+) 19 541 0.425
41 Franmil Reyes 2018 Padres (AAA) 22 250 0.425
42 Oscar Taveras 2012 Cardinals (AA) 20 531 0.424
43 Kyle Schwarber 2014 Cubs (A+) 21 311 0.424
44 Eloy Jimenez 2018 White Sox (AAA) 21 456 0.424
45 Freddie Freeman 2010 Braves (AAA) 20 519 0.423
46 Carlos Santana 2010 Indians (AAA) 24 246 0.422
47 Wander Franco 2018 Rays (R) 17 273 0.421
48 Bryce Harper 2011 Nationals (AA) 18 452 0.421
49 CJ Abrams* 2019 Padres (A) 18 165 0.421
50 Joc Pederson 2014 Dodgers (AAA) 22 553 0.421
51 Kyle Tucker 2018 Astros (AAA) 21 465 0.421
52 Mike Moustakas 2010 Royals (AAA) 21 534 0.420
53 Wil Myers 2012 Royals (AAA) 21 591 0.420
54 Gary Sanchez 2010 Yankees (A-) 17 196 0.420
55 Bobby Bradley 2014 Indians (R) 18 176 0.420
56 Domingo Santana 2015 Brewers (AAA) 22 411 0.420
57 Rafael Devers 2017 Red Sox (AAA) 20 358 0.419
58 Keston Hiura* 2019 Brewers (AAA) 22 243 0.419
59 Alexander Mojica* 2019 Pirates (R) 16 201 0.418
60 Tyler Austin 2011 Yankees (A-) 19 201 0.417
61 Maikel Franco 2015 Phillies (AAA) 22 151 0.417
62 Joey Gallo 2013 Rangers (A) 19 467 0.416
63 Brandon Belt 2010 Giants (AAA) 22 394 0.416
64 Austin Meadows 2013 Pirates (A-) 18 211 0.415
65 Corey Seager 2014 Dodgers (AA) 20 526 0.415
66 Nolan Jones 2017 Indians (A-) 19 265 0.415
67 Tyler O’Neill 2018 Cardinals (AAA) 23 273 0.414
68 Tyler Freeman 2018 Indians (A-) 19 301 0.414
69 Carlos Correa 2013 Astros (A) 18 519 0.414
70 Stone Garrett 2015 Marlins (A-) 19 247 0.414
71 Jurickson Profar 2011 Rangers (A) 18 516 0.413
72 Scott Van Slyke 2013 Dodgers (AAA) 26 272 0.413
73 Vince Belnome 2011 Padres (AA) 23 318 0.413
74 Andrew Benintendi 2015 Red Sox (A) 20 239 0.413
75 Antonio Cabello 2018 Yankees (R) 17 192 0.413
76 Paul Goldschmidt 2011 Diamondbacks (AA) 23 457 0.413
77 Jose Altuve 2011 Astros (AA) 21 391 0.412
78 Josh Rutledge 2013 Rockies (AAA) 24 162 0.412
79 Andrew Calica 2016 Indians (A) 22 216 0.411
80 Alex Kirilloff 2018 Twins (A+) 20 561 0.411
81 Eloy Jimenez 2017 White Sox (AA) 20 369 0.411
82 Fernando Tatis Jr. 2018 Padres (AA) 19 394 0.411
83 Jon Singleton 2010 Phillies (A) 18 450 0.411
84 Daniel Vogelbach 2012 Cubs (A-) 19 283 0.410
85 Alex Bregman 2016 Astros (AAA) 22 368 0.410
86 Roberto Ramos 2015 Rockies (A) 20 234 0.410
87 Xander Bogaerts 2012 Red Sox (AA) 19 532 0.410
88 Vicente Lupo 2012 Mets (R) 18 269 0.410
89 Jesus Montero 2010 Yankees (AAA) 20 504 0.409
90 Byron Buxton 2016 Twins (AAA) 22 209 0.409
91 Luis Garcia 2018 Phillies (R) 17 187 0.409
92 Xander Bogaerts 2013 Red Sox (AAA) 20 515 0.409
93 Desmond Lindsay 2016 Mets (A-) 19 150 0.409
94 Fernando Tatis Jr. 2017 Padres (AA) 18 575 0.409
95 Jon Singleton 2012 Astros (AA) 20 555 0.408
96 Anthony Rendon 2013 Nationals (AAA) 23 166 0.408
97 Joey Gallo 2012 Rangers (A-) 18 260 0.408
98 Brendan Rodgers 2019 Rockies (AAA) 22 160 0.407
99 Nate Lowe 2018 Rays (AAA) 22 555 0.407
100 Steven Souza Jr. 2014 Nationals (AAA) 25 419 0.407
101 Gilberto Jimenez* 2019 Red Sox (A-) 18 189

0.407

Bold* denotes that this was in the 2019 season

Observations of the Top 101 List

  • Right off the bat, I am struck by the higher “whiff” rate (players that did not become successful pro ball players), than with the aggregated rankings. This may be expected as there is likely a good deal more “luck” that can play into the equation. Whiffs on this list include Jhailyn Ortiz, who has come nowhere near his 2017 performance in two subsequent minor league seasons, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Parmelee, Avisail Garcia, Scott Van Slyke, Vince Belnome, Stone Garrett, Josh Rutledge, Andrew Calica, Jon Singleton, Vicente Lupo, Jesus Montero, and Desmond Lindsay.
  • Will Malcom Nunez rebound in 2020 or is he destined to join this list as well? Add young hot performers with confidence, but as I quoted in my Tenets for Fantasy Success article, “don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”
  • Of that list, only Singleton and Montero were highly regarded as prospects. Further, Singleton and Arcia are the only two that appear on this list that were also on the Best Minor League Hitters of the Past Decade
  • Juan Soto leads both lists. Was there ever any doubt?  I also remember that impressive break-out campaign for Giancarlo Stanton – who did *not* make the cut for our Best Minor League Hitters of the Past Decade
  • Does anyone else remember how good Jurickson Profar looked as a prospect when he was coming up before the injuries kept setting him back? Peak wOBA projections do, as his 2011 season ranks #71. That ranking also suggests that he may have been overrated as the #1 prospect in 2012.  Above him in the ranks for 2011 are Oscar Taveras (oh what could have been!) and Anthony Rizzo.
  • While we’re on the top prospects train:
    • Jason Heyward (2010’s top prospect) did not make the list
    • Mike Trout’s (2011) best season ranks #6
    • Byron Buxton’s (2013, 2014, and 2015) best season ranks #38
    • Yoan Moncada (2016) did not make the list and 2017’s Shohei Ohtani did not play in the minors
    • Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.’s (2018) best season ranks #3.
    • Wander Franco’s (2019) best season ranks #33
  • Joey Gallo is the only player who has 3 seasons in the top 101! I maintain my position that Gallo will have a ridiculous peak career (you will want to be a part of it!).  The players who made the list twice are Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Mike Trout, Carlos Correa, Oscar Taveras, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Wander Franco, Byron Buxton, Wil Myers, Eloy Jimenez, Jon Singleton, Xander Bogaerts, and Fernando Tatis Jr.  Not a bad list to be on!
  • Paul Goldschmidt and Jose Altuve never received a lot of prospect fanfare before they embarked on their impressive careers, but they can be found here!
  • Ten players from 2019 made the list. What a perfect ratio! Those players include, in order of highest peak wOBA projected, Yordan Alvarez, Austin Riley, Josh VanMeter, Wander Franco, Luis Robert, Gavin Lux, CJ Abrams, Keston Hiura, Alexander Mojica, and Gilberto Jimenez.

Since we all love lists so much, below are more lists related to these rankings and the Best Minor League Hitters of the Past Decade rankings!

Players that Made Both Lists

 

 

 

Name

 

Rank in Combined Seasons list

 

 

Combined wOBA

Best Single Season in Top 101 Top Single Season wOBA Difference in Combined and Best Season
Juan Soto 1 0.467 1 0.530 6%
Mike Trout 2 0.444 6 0.455 1%
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 3 0.437 3 0.498 6%
Kris Bryant 4 0.437 12 0.447 1%
Bryce Harper 5 0.431 48 0.421 -1%
Kyle Schwarber 6 0.429 30 0.431 0%
Wander Franco 7 0.423 33 0.429 1%
Anthony Rizzo 8 0.417 13 0.443 3%
Eric Hosmer 9 0.412 34 0.428 2%
Joey Gallo 11 0.404 17 0.441 4%
Ronald Acuna Jr. 12 0.402 23 0.436 3%
Carlos Correa 13 0.397 8 0.453 6%
Paul Goldschmidt 14 0.396 76 0.413 2%
Oscar Taveras 15 0.395 9 0.451 6%
Bo Bichette 16 0.395 19 0.439 4%
Xander Bogaerts 17 0.393 87 0.410 2%
Fernando Tatis Jr. 18 0.393 82 0.411 2%
Mookie Betts 19 0.393 37 0.428 3%
Andrew Benintendi 20 0.393 74 0.413 2%
Luis Robert 21 0.392 35 0.428 4%
Yordan Alvarez 22 0.391 15 0.442 5%
Miguel Sano 23 0.390 32 0.429 4%
Eloy Jimenez 25 0.387 44 0.424 4%
Addison Russell 26 0.387 28 0.432 4%
Byron Buxton 27 0.387 38 0.426 4%
Domingo Santana 29 0.383 56 0.420 4%
Victor Robles 36 0.380 22 0.439 6%
Rafael Devers 37 0.380 57 0.419 4%
Keston Hiura 38 0.379 58 0.419 4%
Corey Seager 44 0.375 65 0.415 4%
Carlos Santana 45 0.374 46 0.422 5%
Austin Riley 47 0.374 27 0.433 6%
Oswaldo Arcia 51 0.373 7 0.454 8%
Gavin Lux 54 0.371 39 0.426 5%
Jurickson Profar 55 0.370 71 0.413 4%
Joc Pederson 58 0.368 50 0.421 5%
Alex Bregman 65 0.367 85 0.410 4%
Austin Meadows 74 0.364 64 0.415 5%
Jorge Soler 77 0.362 14 0.442 8%
Brendan Rodgers 79 0.362 98 0.407 5%
Daniel Vogelbach 80 0.361 84 0.410 5%
Jon Singleton 82 0.360 83 0.411 5%
Tyler O’Neill 85 0.359 67 0.414 6%
Maikel Franco 98 0.356 61 0.417 6%
Gary Sanchez 100 0.355 54 0.420 7%

 

Players that Only Made the Single Season List

 

 

Name

Organization &
Highest Level
 

 

Age

 

 

PA

 

 

 

wOBA

Giancarlo Stanton Marlins (AA) 20 240 0.500
Malcom Nunez Cardinals (R) 17 199 0.478
Jhailyn Ortiz Phillies (A-) 18 187 0.460
Chris Parmelee Twins (AAA) 24 282 0.449
Brett Lawrie Blue Jays (AAA) 21 340 0.447
Mike Zunino Mariners (AA) 21 190 0.442
Avisail Garcia White Sox (AAA) 22 216 0.441
Chris Davis Rangers (AAA) 25 218 0.439
Mason Martin Pirates (R) 18 166 0.435
Josh VanMeter Reds (AAA) 24 211 0.429
Heliot Ramos Giants (R) 17 151 0.428
Wil Myers Royals (A+) 19 541 0.425
Franmil Reyes Padres (AAA) 22 250 0.425
Freddie Freeman Braves (AAA) 20 519 0.423
Wander Franco Rays (R) 17 273 0.421
CJ Abrams* Padres (A) 18 165 0.421
Kyle Tucker Astros (AAA) 21 465 0.421
Mike Moustakas Royals (AAA) 21 534 0.420
Wil Myers Royals (AAA) 21 591 0.420
Bobby Bradley Indians (R) 18 176 0.420
Alexander Mojica* Pirates (R) 16 201 0.418
Tyler Austin Yankees (A-) 19 201 0.417
Brandon Belt Giants (AAA) 22 394 0.416
Nolan Jones Indians (A-) 19 265 0.415
Tyler Freeman Indians (A-) 19 301 0.414
Stone Garrett Marlins (A-) 19 247 0.414
Scott Van Slyke Dodgers (AAA) 26 272 0.413
Vince Belnome Padres (AA) 23 318 0.413
Antonio Cabello Yankees (R) 17 192 0.413
Jose Altuve Astros (AA) 21 391 0.412
Josh Rutledge Rockies (AAA) 24 162 0.412
Andrew Calica Indians (A) 22 216 0.411
Alex Kirilloff Twins (A+) 20 561 0.411
Roberto Ramos Rockies (A) 20 234 0.410
Vicente Lupo Mets (R) 18 269 0.410
Jesus Montero Yankees (AAA) 20 504 0.409
Luis Garcia Phillies (R) 17 187 0.409
Desmond Lindsay Mets (A-) 19 150 0.409
Anthony Rendon Nationals (AAA) 23 166 0.408
Nate Lowe Rays (AAA) 22 555 0.407
Steven Souza Jr. Nationals (AAA) 25 419 0.407
Gilberto Jimenez Red Sox (A-) 18 189 0.407

*Bold denotes that 2019 was the player’s first year in the minors

Overall, the aggregated rankings seem to provide the best quality results but has certainly also missed some high-risers such as Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Altuve.

It seems the best approach to finding top prospects seems to be: stay mindful of the full body of work, but also keep an eye out for statistical climbers while weeding out remarkable-but-lucky performers. Over the next decade, we at the Dynasty Guru pledge to do our part to help you sort through the sea of prospects!

 

The Author

Ross Jensen

Ross Jensen

Ross has been an avid fantasy baseball player and League Manager for over a decade. Ross's fantasy approach is to build league powers is through hunting down talented minor leaguers and targeting players on the verge of breakout based on a variety of metrics, statistical analysis, and assumptions.

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