Daily Box Score 7/10: Prospects, Sportswriters, and the Rule Book

Today's box score was all set to be about minor leaguers. And then Alan Schwarz and Sportsvision had to go and do this. Now that I've wiped the drool off my laptop's keyboard, I'll give you some excerpts in case you haven't read about what will likely be, well,

the largest single advance in baseball science since the development of the box score.

I guess Schwarz would know. Excited yet?

[F]our high-resolution cameras sit on light towers 162 feet up, capturing everything that happens on the field in three dimensions and wiring it to a control room below. Software tools determine which movements are the ball, which are fielders and runners, and which are passing seagulls. More than two million meaningful location points are recorded per game.

Harry, we're on the edge of our seats here waiting for your updates. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

How does a non-prospect become a prospect? In how many consecutive games must he record a safety? How's 45 sound? Still not enough, says Erik Manning. Despite Seattle minor leaguer James McOwen's streak, Manning says

there’s nothing whatsoever statistical here that backs up that McOwen is some sort of uber-prospect. He’s 23 years old, put up a ‘meh’ .323 wOBA last year, and as I said, is repeating a level.

Kevin Goldstein isn't impressed either. Yeesh, guy can't get no respect.

So, you might be asking yourself, who ARE the prospects? I'm glad you asked, because it's just the time of year for some mid-season prospect updates. Baseball America has their top 25 (top 5: Heyward, Stanton, Montero, Smoak, Bumgarner), and Baseball Prospectus has their biggest risers and fallers (sub. req.). Of Phillies OF prospect Michael Taylor, in the news a lot lately attached to a potential Roy Halladay deal, Goldstein writes:

He's a bit of a strange player, as a 6-foot-6, 250-pound monster athlete who nonetheless focuses more on contact at the plate than power, Taylor's natural strength sends balls out of the yard. His surprisingly low strikeout rate keeps his average high, and he's a good runner to boot, with 14 stolen bases and good range in an outfield corner.

It can't be easy being a sportswriter for a major American daily newspaper these days, what with the lavish compensation and condos in the Caribbean. But sometimes, you just get fixated on a prospect, as Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin has with the very same Michael Taylor. In an article urging the Phillies to hold on to Taylor, Conlin writes:

My hope is that the Blue Jays, who have a potent current outfield and some prime outfield prospects at Triple and Double A, will lean more toward middle infielders, catching and pitching depth. Or can be overwhelmed by a Red Sox package that includes perennial pitching prospect Taylor Buchholz. That Taylor they can have.

Wait, which Taylor? Or rather, which Buchholz? And what about the OF throw-ins the Blue Jays are reportedly shopping as well?

This is, after all, an economic decision by a GM who has strapped the Blue Jays with future expenditures that will include $140 million owed to outfielders Jose Rios and Vernon Wells.

Jose Rios...hmm, this guy? Or maybe this one

I'm starting to think this is a fun game you can play at home with that bizarre sheaf of papers your parents called a "newspaper."

At least sportswriters don't have to go this alone: Halos Heaven nominates Steve Physioc as the worst announcer in baseball and Jim Henneman says Orioles broadcasters Jim Hunter, Jim Palmer, Tom Davis and Rick Dempsey are all confused on the rules. At least they're not alone:

The Major League Baseball rule book might not follow what we consider the rules of common sense, but it is the rule book. And it very often makes for good reading -- something that perhaps should be required of all players, coaches, managers and media experts. And evidently the umpires could use a refresher course now and then.

You can test your knowledge of baseball's rules with this fun quiz. It's harder than you think.

Finally, do you like spreadsheets? Do you like fantasy baseball? Of course you do, you're reading Beyond the Box Score. Well, I'm sorry to do this to you, but I have to help Derek Carty steal several hours of your afternoon. He's got the xBABIP calculator to beat all xBABIP calculators. 

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