In my post yesterday, I described a very interesting study by Rany Jazayerli of Baseball Prospectus, which found that the youngest high school hitters in a draft class were more valuable relative to where they were drafted than the oldest high school hitters in the class. The implication of these results was that teams don’t seem to adequately take draftee age into account when they are evaluating draft prospects, which made me curious about the Yankees’ evaluation of Cito Culver and Angelo Gumbs, both of whom were drafted at age 17 in 2010.
My main criticism of the initial study was that it only looked at the outliers: the oldest and youngest high school hitters drafted in the first 100 players, and I was curious to see if this effect held across multiple age categories. Fortunately, in Part 2 of the study, Jazayerli did just that, dividing all the high school hitters in the study into 5 groups based on their age at the time of the draft, and compared the difference between actual and expected value produced by the players.
Players in the youngest category produced nearly 25 percent more value than one would expect given their draft position, and those in the second-youngest category produced over 11 percent in excess value. The hitters in the middle category produced 7 percent more value than expected. By contrast, the older hitters greatly underperformed relative to their draft positions, with the two oldest categories providing less than 70 percent of their expected value. The size of the effect is pretty striking, along with the linear effect of age across the categories.
If you’re interested in the calculations behind the findings, feel free to check out the article, as they are laid out in a pretty clear fashion (this coming from someone who has taken statistics but is far from an expert). It’s another must-read in my opinion, which sheds some light on potential areas in which major league teams could improve their ability to predict which draft prospects will be more successful. Even a difference of only a few months can potentially be very significant according to the results of the study.
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