During our MLB draft coverage, Erik beat to death the point that draft prospects are extremely unpredictable, especially pitchers. But as these prospects climb the minor league ladder, the good ones start to shine and after a couple seasons worth of stats at AA and AAA, they are suprisingly projectable to MLB. No, we can't know what they're going to do as much as we know what MLB veterans are going to do, but well, how much do we really know what major leaguers are going to do going forward? Here's some anecdotal "proof" that you can't count on players with major league experience quite as much as many people think:
Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?
Jimmy Rollins --.224/.276/.349, enough said.
Pat Burrell --Sure, he's only batted 200 times, but his ISO sits at .103 compared to a career average of .223.
Kelly Johnson -- Aren't 27 year olds supposed to have career best seasons?
Brian Giles -- Recent history's most underrated player sits below the Mendoza line and sports a 54 OPS+.
Garrett Atkins -- If he doesn't start to pick things up, the Rockies will pinch hit Jason Marquis for him.
Magglio Ordonez -- His SLG is .070 points below his career low, set in his first full season and his batting average has come down since his benching.
Russell Martin -- Everybody slugs at least .300, right? Martin's trying to prove that statement wrong.
Milton Bradley -- From MVP candidate to Chicago whipping boy.
David Ortiz -- He could actually fit in the other category, too, after people talked about his early 2009 struggles as the end of his career.
Rebounding Better Than Dennis Rodman
Jason Varitek -- He's no stud with the bat, but is back to being at least average, which is awesome for a catcher.
Andruw Jones -- "I would appreciate it if out-of-shape players with slow bats would stay that way once we declare them finished." - Marc Normandin.
Freddy Sanchez -- Pirates fans thought he forgot how to hit and take a walk last year. Now he's posting the highest SLG of his career.
Robinson Cano -- A 115 OPS+ one year after Yankee fans tried to trade him to the Dodgers for Scott Proctor's damaged ligament.
Kosuke Fukudome -- The league figured him out! The league figured him out! Wait, what? A .359 wOBA while holding down center field? Uh, look over there...
Gary Sheffield -- Maybe the Tigers should have dumped Magglio instead? When he's 45, might we be looking at Sheff's age 39 season in 2008 as the one that doesn't belong?
Brandon Inge -- Raise your hand if you foresaw not only 19 home runs by the All-Star break, but also a .360 OBP? You're all liars.
Aaron Hill -- Shhh, nobody tell Hill he's not Jeff Kent.
My point isn't that MLB players are completely unpredictable, it's that they aren't perfectly predictable compared to minor leaguers. To pull some subjective numbers out of you-know-where, if we're able to project veterans with an ability of 7/10, we're able to project upper level prospects with an ability of 5/10.