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Nick Madrigal and Baseball Preconceptions

I’ve talked about Nick Madrigal a lot in the last year and a half. There are tons of players in affiliated baseball, but I’ve spent more time on Twitter, in the Baseball Farm GroupMe, doing Google news searches, and just thinking about this diminutive middle infielder than any other player since he came on my radar in the spring of 2018.

Why? His profile is just divisive. The skillset is so strange and unique that he poses a lot of questions without easy answers. Madrigal challenges your preconceptions on what makes a “good” baseball player. He does not pass the eye test. If you feel you can project how he will perform in a future large sample of performance data by watching him swing the bat, you will not project him to do much, as he looks like your nephew playing Cal Ripken Baseball. If you like looking for player comps when evaluating a player, you will find few, as he presents tools that we haven’t seen in this combination in the minor leagues in at least the past 15 years.

If you guess at what his value could be, you will be wrong. It’s too hard to conceptualize, too many moving parts, too much math. I know, because I’ve tried it! Move a guy up “a little bit” because you like the athleticism, down “below those guys” because he plays in an org that “can’t develop anyone.” Squint and think “he could hit 15 home runs,” and then that becomes your mental baseline for how to value Madrigal.

If I’m trying to be accurate with this stuff, I have to admit this basic premise: My initial guess will not be accurate.

But the good part is that there are tools you can use to give you the context. It’s like trying to get a picture level. You don’t have to squint at it and bump it up or down a little bit. You use a level, which is calibrated to be more precise than your eyes. At Baseball Farm, we have a bunch of tools, including a Fantasy FV calculator which can help you evaluate any profile, even one as strange as Nick Madrigal’s. Read the rest of this entry »