A prospect who will play his home games at Coors Field with formidable ISO numbers in the minor leagues? Sign me up. Sign everybody up.

It was easy to buy in, but McMahon hasn’t lived up to the hype.

With Rockies prospects in particular, evaluation is difficult. At nearly every level of the Rockies minor league system there is a park that heavily inflates home runs for a particular handedness according to Stat Corner. McCormick Field of the Asheville Tourists is advantageous for left-handed bats. The Hangar of the Lancaster Jethawks is one the most home run-inflating parks in the minors for either handedness of hitter. Dunkin’ Donuts Park for the Hartford Yard Goats is great for right-handed bats. Isotopes Park of the Albuquerque Isotopes is in the Pacific Coast League, which is all you really need to know. Memorial Stadium of the Boise Hawks is neutral for home runs, yet my conversations with an individual in their media department gave me the perspective that even in Boise, balls do carry.

This makes live looks at McMahon essentially to fully understanding the level he is playing at and what he projects to be. The funny thing is that I got live looks at McMahon in Double-A when the Yard Goats were homeless, playing an entire season on the road despite a few games in Norwich, CT.  I bought fully bought in at the time, but I may have been overzealous.

McMahon graded out as a 60 raw power bat with discipline that miraculously improved as he graduated through the minors. His swing has always been silky smooth, even with its length. A strikeout rate around 20 percent now feels like it will take some work rather than the 50th-percentile outcome it once felt projected to be. The hype around McMahon decayed because he couldn’t steal consistent playing time in 2017, ending up with only 24 plate appearances after the Rockies signed Ian Desmond to play a mix of first base and outfield. I tend to defer to organizational assessments of players when a signing blocks a prospect the industry determines “ready.” (This goes back to how important it is to refrain from aggressive stat-sheet scouting with Rockies prospects). The Rockies didn’t think McMahon was ready last season and they were probably right, even if the Desmond contract looks terrible at the moment. This season has been much of the same with small windows of playing time starting to shape the road ahead.

With those small windows McMahon has developed… in weird ways.

Each of the last two seasons in the minor leagues, McMahon has struggled versus left-handed pitching. This season has been oddly different.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Jon Gray made two starts in the minor leagues on July 3 and 8. His first was ok (6 IP, 2 ER, o BB, 6 K) and his second wasn’t great (4 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K). Craig Edwards of Fangraphs wrote a great column on whether Gray deserved his demotion. His premise highlighted the massive discrepancy between Gray’s ERA and FIP, something brought on by a mix Coors Field and poor luck.

My affinity for statistics often wins out over “gut feelings” and other intangible factors, but I’ve also never been in the shoes of a baseball operations employee staring at seven consecutive starts of more than three earned runs and considered how confident I was in the numbers winning out. Particularly odd about the demotion is the seven-inning, 12-strikeout performance Gray twirled against the Marlins after his stretch of misery. He followed this rebound up with another poor outing on August 28 and then was demoted. If anything, I would’ve been encouraged Gray’s dominance of the Marlins and more willing to tolerate a poor performance similar to his prior stretch. The Rockies were not that tolerable.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Eric Hosmer is in the first year of an 8-year contract. When the news broke back in February, the general consensus considered this a perplexing deal. It was an extended contract for a team that’s three-plus years away from competing. Hosmer will be 31 years old when games start to matter in San Diego, on the downswing of production if he tracks like most players leaving their 20’s.

I like to deviate from the pack. Part of it is for me to make sure I understand both sides of the argument before subscribing to one. The other part is simply my enjoyment of debate – I like disagreement. This lead me to consider whether backloading the deal actually made the signing significantly more tolerable over the long haul.

Hosmer is making $20 million through 2022 and only $13 million for the final three years of his contract. Going inside the mind of A.J. Preller, for this contract to make sense, he’d expect surplus value on Hosmer for the first few years. If dollar-per-WAR estimates say a 1-WAR player is worth around $8 million and Hosmer produces another 3- to 4-WAR season, he would be underpaid for his level of prouduction. Preller can rationalize the back half of the contract by saying Hosmer already produced enough to fulfill the cost incurred. Add in inflation and the likelihood that by the year 2025, a 1-WAR player might be worth around $12-13 million makes it easy to see how this contract isn’t terrible.

The issues with the above train of logic are apparent, which is why contract evaluation pre-mortem is complex.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Projecting prospects is extremely difficult. In the case of Amed Rosario, this could not be more apparent. Everybody has been wrong so far, including myself. I ranked him 25th overall in a December update of my top prospect list back in 2016. I had him ahead of Vlad Guerrero Jr., which in retrospect is laughable. Others had Rosario inside their top 5. It might be hard to place yourself in the same state of mind, but I’m not citing examples of those who were aggressive on Rosario, this was the consensus.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I am bringing back an oldie-but-goodie for this week. Pitcher Thoughts was initially a Razzball column idea that I periodically spun-off into a subset of my podcast (I do another one with Ralph too!). My intention was to give readers more information about a pitcher’s performance (or lack thereof) past the simple baselining of FIP versus ERA and the standard jargon. I’m a sucker for pitch mix and predicting what might change and why. This also allowed me to gain an understanding of a specific pitcher far deeper than I would otherwise considered. A mutually beneficial column is always good. It’s a no-brainer that another iteration was necessary. Our pair for today is Mariners southpaw, Marco Gonzales, and Brewers righty, Chase Anderson.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It is with great honor I submit to the fantastic readers of Razzball my first prospect-centered column. The concept will be a fun one for anybody looking forward to Ralph’s prospect omnibus that will drop in the coming days (stay tuned!).

Two prominent lists dropped in the last few weeks. One comes from Fangraphs, the other comes from Baseball America. Below I look at a few players with large differentials between the two lists. This gets tricky with players who are on one list and not on another, but I made it work.

Before we launch ourselves into the prospect stratosphere, a few logistics…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Let’s pretend for the rest of this column that the lat injury Carlos Martinez returned from four starts ago isn’t an issue. I don’t know if it is. I don’t know if it isn’t. Creating a hypothesis on imperfect information is futile. I prefer to instead to try and understand if other tangible problems exist and whether they can be fixed. Martinez’s injury will be used as a natural timeframe to separate. Why? Because fantasy owners would be happy to take the early 2018 version of Martinez back.

The Cardinals ace has 20 walks and 18 strikeouts in his four starts since returning on June 5. Let’s nerd-out and take a look at how his approach to both handedness of hitter has changed.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Taking a week off from Razzball feels kind of like not eating. It’s an essential part of your life, it’s enjoyable, and it’s something you can’t live without. Bucking my usual Monday column last week, however, came with good reason. I was traveling around the midwest, watching numerous minor league baseball games in the process. If you like the sound of my voice and want to hear about these travels and the prospects I saw (Hunter Greene, Nick Senzel, Blake Rutherford, Seuly Matias, Nick Pratto, and more) then listen to Ralph and I talk about my travels for one whole hour on our latest Razzball Prospect Podcast (we’ll be on Spotify soon!). If you’re not sure if you like the sound of my voice, set your expectations relatively low and prepare to be blown away.

The consequence of taking some time off is the catch-up that needs to be done in order to restore an up-to-date understanding of present-day baseball. That’s harder than you think. I’ve been following some players closely that I have to now backtrack to update my understanding of their trend line (first-world problems, I know). Time is unfortunately something we cannot buy more of.

Trevor Story has run into this issue as well. He can’t buy the time of analysts to give him the breakdown and endorsement he is deserving of. Sitting 34th overall rest of season on our Player Rater, a question I would’ve laughed at preseason – Story or Blackmon – is now answered with the name “Charlie Blackmon” in a questioning tone as opposed to blurting it out in dismissal of the questioner’s wits.

Story’s fix stems from a very simple change in theory, but one that’s hard to apply in practice.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ll be honest, I don’t like the term sophomore slump. As with most “catch-all” phrases, there are times where use can be misleading, likely because the definition is ambiguous. We know it occurs in the second year of a player’s career, characterized by noticeable decline after success, but that’s pretty much it. Does it matter how long the player was in the league during the preceding year? What if the player began to slightly decline in his “freshman” season and it carried over into the subsequent year? How about a scenario during a player’s second season where the consensus is the lack of production is luck based? Is that technically a sophomore slump or simply poor luck?

Struggles come after success because pitchers are smart; they adjust to their opposition with exceptional haste. The never-ending game of chess – aka, baseball – requires constant adjustment and by using the phrase “sophomore slump”, we omit the complexity of this adjustment for a simpler, verbal shrug of one’s shoulders.

Cody Bellinger warrants that shrug. But while some may cite the sophomore slump, the immensely more valuable alternative is to venture under the hood.

Let’s start with how Bellinger is being pitched…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The answer to this question would ease the minds of owners all across the fantasy universe [insert Avengers joke here]. Chris Archer hasn’t performed well enough to warrant selection in the same stratosphere as his preseason ADP. His strikeout rate is down, walks are up, and he’s getting hit harder than he ever has. This has created the notion that the Rays’ ace is declining, simply because he is approaching the age of 30 with numbers that don’t represent his past performance.

Please, blog, may I have some more?