Bill James

Fangraphs is once again going to list the projections on their player pages from a variety of sources, Bill James, CHONE, Marcel....maybe more. Bill James projections are up first and here's how the Cubs ranked by wOBA and their 2009 wOBA (explanation of wOBA here). I'll try and expand when new projections are released. Age is their 2010 playing age. You can click on their names to get their full slash line predictions and more.

For the second year in a row, Bill James has ranked the Cubs in the lower third in his top young talent inventory. Last year, the Cubs were 29th, this year they jumped all the way to 26th. He didn't even have the decency to rank Geovany Soto in the top 25 players under 30.

Bastard.

Here's the top 25:
1. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman, age 24
2. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins shortstop, age 24
3. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants pitcher, age 24
4. David Wright, New York Mets third baseman, age 25
5. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder, age 24
6. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox second baseman, age 24
7. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder, age 23
8. Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels pitcher, age 26
9. Jose Reyes, New York Mets shortstop, age 25
10. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles right fielder, age 24
11. Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals pitcher, age 24
12. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals third baseman, age 23
13. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, age 24
14. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies shortstop, age 23
15. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners pitcher, age 22
16. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox pitcher, age 24
17. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman, age 22
18. John Danks, Chicago White Sox pitcher, age 23
19. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres first baseman, age 26
20. James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, age 24
21. Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop, age 25
22. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves catcher, age 24
23. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers first baseman, age 25
24. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians center fielder, age 25
25. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds first baseman, age 24
My understanding, like all things James, is that he uses some statistical formula that incorporates age along with minor league and major league numbers and it doesn't seem like there's any room for defense in there (he uses Runs Created). Soto is probably still being penalized for just having one good minor league season, while some of the others on that list had more distinguished minor league careers. McCann would finish ahead of him just on the strength of already having a couple of plus major league seasons under his belt.
As for the Cubs 26th ranking, well don't fret, James has a ready-made excuse for the Cubs.

As James has noted often, “Competitive teams don’t have as much room to let young players thrash around, and consequently most of the top teams don’t show as having a lot of young talent. They may have the young talent; it just isn’t in the lineup yet.”

I believe James gives the players letter grades but I think you need to get the Bill James 2009 Handbook for that. So I'll give you my own...
Geovany Soto - A
Carlos Marmol - A
Rich Harden - A-
Carlos Zambrano - B+
Jeff Samardzija - B+
Felix Pie - B
Rich Hill - B-
Sean Marshall - B-
Micah Hoffpauir - B-
Angel Guzman - B-
Chad Gaudin - C+
Ryan Theriot - C
Casey McGehee - C-
Kevin Hart - C-
Ronny Cedeno - D+
I used the tried and true tested, "off-the-top-of-my-head" algorithm made famous by anyone who has ever gotten in an argument at a sports bar.

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