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Photo Credit: © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

FanGraphs’ KATOH Projection System for Prospects Adores Vlad Jr.

Chris Mitchell has an interesting, evolving, prospect projection system that he’s built from the ground up, called KATOH, which he bases over at FanGraphs.

Unless you’re particularly into prospect stuff, you probably only vaguely recall it from previous years. If at all. In terms of Jays-related content, I don’t think KATOH has produced anything especially noteworthy in the past. Even if it had, personally, I’ve never quite known what to make of the results the algorithm has spit out.

That’s not even me being critical! Back in November 2015, Mitchell himself introduced the system’s top 100 prospects list by cautioning readers. “This is simply the output from a flawed statistical model that fails to take into account many of the factors that go into evaluating a prospect.”

But over time, and in public (conceptually, at least), Chris has been tweaking the system. Because of that, having read a couple things today, I’m actually much more confident in what it’s saying.

Those two things: “Rank: 2”; “Name: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.”

… See what I did there?

In all seriousness, though… Vlad Jr. ranks second on his latest top 100 list!

And I honestly do like the tweaks.

You can read here about last season’s changes — which also takes you deep into the heart of Mitchell’s methodology overall. And in the preamble to this year’s top 100, he explains that he has introduced a parallel KATOH that he calls KATOH+. In that ranking, the stat-line projections of the original system are blended with scouting information. Specifically, he incorporates players’ rankings on Baseball America’s Top 100 list, and, for those outside the top 100, their Future Value grades from FanGraphs’ own Eric Longenhagen.

How he does so, I haven’t the foggiest idea, but I assume it can only be the correct way, because… Vlad Jr. ranks second!

And the KATOH+ leaderboard is hardly a confusing mess filled with non-prospects, like previous KATOH iterations may have been *COUGH*. Benintendi, Swanson, Meadows, Crawford, Margot, and Moncada comprise the rest of the top seven. These are guys you’d be very comfortable having at the top of your top prospects list right now.

Now, granted, Mitchell notes that KATOH and KATOH+ has it in for pitchers, and it’s true that Guerrero ranks as high for BA (20th) as he does any other of the major lists — oh hey, but guess what??? Guerrero ranks third overall on the non-adjusted list!

Yep. Clearly this projection system is doing something right. And what this post presupposes is, maybe it’s doing everything right.

A projected 18.6 WAR over Vlad’s first six big league years? 12.5 WAR on the unadjusted list? Rowdy Tellez and Reese McGuire (!) also both top 100s?

Yeah, I think we’ll take it. (Let’s just, y’know, not look too hard at who ranks first).