Goodhart’s Law isn’t one of the widely known adages. I hadn’t heard of it until a few years ago, but it’s one that I think can widely apply to all analytical data scenarios. It really should be called the Goodhart-Strathern Law, as anthropologist Marilyn Strathern generalized Charles Goodhart’s observations to the form it’s known today.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.
A cousin to this law is McNamara’s Fallacy. Coined by Daniel Yankelovich and named after former Secretary of Defense, it discuses the challenges of basing decisions only on quantitative measures.
The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.
I am a statistician by trade. My job, when not teaching, has been to build analytical models that try and help people understand phenomena and answer questions from the fields of biology, ecology, engineering, medicine, and of course baseball. Throughout these projects, I’ve tried to keep the principles expressed by these laws in mind. In short, to borrow one last quote from creator of Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projection system Nate Silver…
The key is in remembering that a model is a tool to help us understand the complexities of the universe, and never a substitute for the universe itself.
So what do I do about this? I try to couch what my model says in the assessments of others. I watch whatever video on prospects I can find in my spare time. It’s what led me to spending the last couple of days covering part of the wall of my guest room with post-its (I didn’t have magnets) as I take all this information and shape it into a workable form.
What follows is my rankings of the Top 50 players in the draft. It is informed (Indeed heavily informed) by my DRAFT Model, but not exclusively determined by it. Other considerations include the external rankings of Baseball America, MLB.com, Fangraphs’s Eric Longenhagen, and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, as well as my thoughts from watching tape, digging through performance, and adjusting model outputs that I think are out of line.
1. Marcelo Mayer, HS SS
DRAFT Model: 34.53 (1), BA Rank: 2
There’s a lot of debate not only over who Pittsburgh will take at 1.1, but who that player should be. There’s no generational talent, and one of the best demographics in the draft have four representatives. I think it should ultimately be Mayer at the top of both lists. Some may worry that his fringe-average run times indicate a future move off shortstop, but watching video I think he has the actions to remain there no problem.
2. Jordan Lawlar, HS SS
DRAFT Model: 32.18 (3), BA Rank: 1
In ESPN’s Media Conference Call on the Draft yesterday, I asked Kiley McDaniel about Goodhart’s Law in regards to age in analytical models, and whether we were reaching a point when age will be irrelevant in these models. He discussed his slight aggravation about models and teams that are overly beholden to age, and that we are indeed nearly to a point where the 19-year old high school player will be undervalued. Lawlar will be 19 on Draft Day, and should he fall like some mocks are projecting he could go to Vanderbilt and be an age-eligible sophomore in 2023. That said, the tools are all there to be an All-Star player, and I’m not going to let age keep him lower in my rankings.
3. Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt RHP
DRAFT Model: 33.85 (2), BA Rank: 3
At times the top-ranked player in the class, Leiter seemingly has everything you’d want from a topline starter: big fastball, impressive secondaries, and a feel for pitching. It wasn’t all rosy though, as his walk rate this season (Over 10%) was a little high and he allowed more home runs (14) than you’d like to see. However, in the aforementioned conference call, McDaniel stated that he sees something like a 30% chance Leiter turns into an ace, which is an incredibly high number comparatively speaking.
4. Kahlil Watson, HS SS
DRAFT Model: 28.13 (4), BA Rank: 6
Of the four prep shortstops, Watson has the highest floor. His quick hands allows him to have much more power than his 5’9″ frame would imply. He’s athletic, posts above-average runs, and plays a solid enough shortstop. Some have concerns that he’ll move off the position to second or even to center, but I think he works well enough where he is.
5. Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt RHP
DRAFT Model: 27.45 (5), BA Rank: 5
Has there been some prospect fatigue with Rocker? Yeah, probably. But there definitely is some concern that he racked up his strikeout totals by blowing college hitters away with big velo and sliders way out of the zone, which wouldn’t play up in the higher levels of pro ball. That said, you can only ignore a guy who strikes out over a third of batters for too long.
6. Brady House, HS SS
DRAFT Model: 24.02 (8), BA Rank: 7
If Watson has the highest floor of the prep shortstops, House has the highest ceiling. He’s been comped to Bobby Witt Jr., the #2 pick in 2019 and current top-10 prospect, but with a worse hit tool for the age. I understand and have my own worries about his final position and power-over-hit focus, but I think the hit tool will develop and he will stick at shortstop enough.
7. Henry Davis, Louisville C
DRAFT Model: 20.25 (10), BA Rank: 4
The draft is about value, and catchers are a tough one in that regard. The taxing nature of the position means that catchers play a dozen fewer games or so over the season. Also, with the advent of the robo-zone in the distance, I think catchers positional value will take a little hit since teams will be able to throw more bat-focused players back there. Hence my relatively low rank for Davis. Even if you viewed him as a third base candidate where he’d play more often, his model score still comes in just north of 20. All that said, I do like the tools that he brings to the game and think he will be successful. I just like the upside of the prep shortstop demographic more.
8. Colton Cowser, Sam Houston CF
DRAFT Model: 16.71 (13), BA Rank: 11
I am probably one of the highest on Cowser, with Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs also having him 7th overall. Some question his power potential as he has a bit more of a line drive swing, but that’s what the developmental staff is for. I think he can stick in centerfield with adequate defense, has an advanced hit tool, and ultimately deliver 20+ homeruns yearly with double-digit stolen bases. That’s a profile I’d bet on.
9. Jackson Jobe, HS RHP
DRAFT Model: 12.03 (17), BA Rank: 8
High School pitching is definitely a risky demographic, though in the update of the model it turns out it’s not as bad as previous iterations thought. Even further, when evaluators say that Jobe may have the best pure stuff in a draft populated by Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker you have to pay attention. Jobe brings potentially three pitches graded 60 or higher, but unsurprisingly needs a little refinement with his pitchability and command. However, the raw stuff means I can only knock him back so much.
10. Gunnar Hoglund, Ole Miss RHP
DRAFT Model: 19.22 (11), BA Rank: 19
I know he’s had TJ just a month ago. The model doesn’t see injuries, and while I do see them I can’t ignore what he was becoming. Before the injury he was ranked 8th overall in the DRAFT model outputs. He brought above-average stuff that would flash plus, plus command, and performance that rivaled Leiter and Rocker. There will be questions about how the stuff will come back, but with so many TJ pitchers able to come back to their previous levels it’s a risk I’d be willing to take at the right price.
11. Will Bednar, Mississippi St. RHP
DRAFT Model: 24.42 (6), BA Rank: 18
The College World Series MVP has experienced a major rise over the past month, going from a BA rank in the 60s to 18, with his score rising similarly. Scouts see a plus slider and a fastball that plays well, though some have command questions. The model sees a 37% strikeout rate compared to a 7% walk rate. I tend to lean towards the model, especially if a good player development crew gets ahold of him.
12. Sam Bachman, Miami (OH), RHP
DRAFT Model: 18.53 (12), BA Rank: 14
Bachman is very divisive, at least in one regard. Scouts like the 100 MPH fastball, and his slider is one of if not the best secondary in the draft. But he does lack a third pitch, and his delivery does scream relief risk. But he’s consistently thrown enough strikes to let people think he can be a starter. I tend to lean on the two-pitch combination with the hope of developing a third, and the worst case being he has the stuff to be an elite bullpen arm.
13. Michael McGreevy, UC Santa Barabara RHP
DRAFT Model: 23.69 (9), BA Rank: 16
Big numbers against mid-major competition is always a tough question. McGreevy has elite control, walking 2.5% of batters this Spring. His stuff is slightly above-average as a whole, with his curveball near plus. He has advanced pitchability, and is often mentioned with Shane Bieber, though that’s likely because the AL Cy Young Winner also went to UCSB. There is projection remaining for McGreevy as he stands 6’4″-200 and will be 21.0 on draft day. I’m leaning into the projection combined with elite control and performance, even at the mid-major level.
14. Sal Frelick, Boston College CF
DRAFT Model: 8.55 (26), BA Rank: 9
I see the appeal with Frelick; an above-average hit tool, plus speed, plus defense at a premium position. I just worry about how much he can produce with fringe power. With a career ISO around 0.170 with aluminum bats, there doesn’t seem like he has room to grow that too much given he’s 21. That said, I don’t want to discount everyone else’s views too much, and since everyone has him 11th or better this is as far as I feel I can drop him.
15. Jordan Wicks, Kansas State LHP
DRAFT Model: 24.1 (7), BA Rank: 13
I’ll admit I have a weakness for left-handed pitchers and strong changeups. Wicks ticks both boxes, with a 70-grade changeup that he plays up well with good arm speed. Pitchability-wise, Wicks has plus control and good command on his pitches, leading to an upper-20s strikeout rate and walk rate near 6%. The fastball is average and his breaking stuff is average, but the elite changeup is definitely something to play off of.
16. Ty Madden, Texas RHP
DRAFT Model: 15.27 (14), BA Rank: 12
The assessments of Ty Madden are a bit split. Some like the velocity on his fastball and his slider. Others worry about the lack of a third pitch and the lack of movement on the fastball despite the velocity. I fall in the latter camp somewhat, with the lack of movement leading to worse performance than you’d necessarily want to see.
17. Harry Ford, HS C
DRAFT Model: 13.75 (16), BA Rank: 17
Harry Ford is definitely unique. His athleticism and plus speed mean he could play in centerfield, but everyone seems to agree he could stick behind the plate. At the plate, he occasionally seems to press a little and didn’t have the best senior spring season. High School catchers are a risky demographic, but Ford’s flexibility mitigates that risk greatly.
18. Andrew Painter, HS RHP
DRAFT Model: 11.41 (18), BA Rank: 15
Painter is a big guy at 6’7″-220 with an solid feel for pitching and a solid arsenal that has one plus fastball and three more that are above-average. Given his size, he can generate some unique angles for his pitches that can give hitters fits. The questions for him come in the value of high school righties, as well as the track record of young pitchers who are that big.
19. Bubba Chandler, HS RHP/SS
DRAFT Model: 10.01 (22), BA Rank: 20
Chandler is one of two players projected in the first round who are signed to play football at Clemson. Just that alone tells you a lot about Chandler. The four-star quarterback has elite athleticism all across the board. His fastball touches 97, has a good feel for spin, and has surprisingly average command given his split focus. However, he is raw on the mound (Where most teams prefer him), and he could make a jump with a focus solely on baseball where he could refine and more consistently replicate his pitching motion.
20. Matt McLain, UCLA SS
DRAFT Model: 9.99 (23), BA Rank: 10
McLain went to campus after being draft 25th overall in 2018, and had a horrible freshman year. While things have improved, he still strikes out more than you’d want to see and and walks less. There’s a chance he ends up at second base, but I tend to believe he’ll stick at short. I see this as a reasonable place for him, but still think there are better values for similar players later on.
21. Gavin Williams, ECU RHP
DRAFT Model: 4.65 (59), BA Rank: 30
This is one where I actively think the model is wrong, and it’s easy to see where: the model gives Williams a 5% chance of being a starter. While I agree that Williams has relief risk, this is way too low. If we up his starter percentage to 50%, which is still pretty low for a first-round talent, he suddenly jumps up to a top-15 score. That’s a bit high, but it’s impossible to ignore his plus fastball and average to above-average secondaries.
22. Will Taylor, HS CF
DRAFT Model: 10.1 (21), BA Rank: 21
Here’s your other Clemson signee: a three-star athlete (QB-WR), two-time state champion wrestler, and soon to be 1st round pick. Right now his swing is more geared to hit over power, and I’m a little concerned about the leg kick in his swing. Much of one’s assessment comes down to how you think the raw power will develop, whether it’s fringe to above average. I think it’ll settle in to be a tick under average (45 or 47.5 if I were to put a number on it), so can’t raise him above the model.
23. Joe Mack, HS C
DRAFT Model: 10.44 (20), BA Rank: 22
Mack’s hitting profile is power over hit, with him showing a little more swing-and-miss than is ideal. His raw power flashes future plus, and if he reaches that level he could be an occasional All-Star. While he isn’t a defensive savant, he is likely to develop into a solid defensive catcher behind the plate due to his solid athleticism for a catcher and 60-grade arm.
24. Benny Montgomery, HS CF
DRAFT Model: 8.08 (30), BA Rank: 23
Some people, including ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, are really high on Montgomery, ranking him as a top-15 talent. There’s a lot of raw potential there, with 70-80 grade speed, plus arm, and plus defense in centerfield. However, everything comes down to the hit tool, and one of the scariest phrases in the draft is “if the hit tool develops” (Followed only by “if he can harness his command”). I’ll take a moderate tack and say the hit tool comes in closer to a 47.5 hit tool rather than the 55 that could make him a star.
25. Frank Mozzicato, HS LHP
DRAFT Model: 7.1 (36), BA Rank: 42
Baseball America is the low outlet on Mozzicato, with more publications having him in the upper 20s. The model underrates his chances of reaching the majors, and a small uptick in that department, commensurate with an uptick in rank, brings him to here. His plus curveball grabs your attention, while his age and physical projection give you something to dream on.
26. Anthony Solometo, HS LHP
DRAFT Model: 7.9 (31), BA Rank: 28
Solometo’s funky delivery will scare some teams off, but he is able to repeat it consistently and throw strikes from it. His arsenal is above-average, but may lack a true plus secondary depending on your view of his slider. When it’s on, it definitely is plus, and I tend to think that it’ll consistently develop into such.
27. Peyton Stovall, HS SS/2B
DRAFT Model: 8.15 (29), BA Rank: 33
Stovall’s fringe-average arm and low run grades means he’ll likely wind out at the keystone, taking away some of his value. However, much of Stovall’s value comes from the fact that he might be the best pure hitter in the class. He hit over .500 his Senior year, projects to have a plus hit tool, and some think he may reach 20-homer power. That’s enough to put a second baseman into the first round.
28. Chase Petty, HS RHP
DRAFT Model: 8.46 (27), BA Rank: 29
In order to generate velocity you have to have a fast arm, and Petty’s is one of the fastest this year. He has run the fastball as high as 102, and his slider grades out as a potential plus as well. What holds Petty back is his high-effort delivery and fringe-average control, leading to a high relief risk. A team that can harness the raw stuff could get a steal, but again, “harnessing control/command” is easier said than done.
29. Carson Williams, HS SS
DRAFT Model: 7.85 (32), BA Rank: 41
Williams put on 10+ pounds this spring and reaped the power benefits, rising up dramatically from February. Now, he grades out at average to above-average pretty much everywhere while playing a solid shortstop with a plus arm. That combined with being very young would make him a high-priority target for analytically-inclined team.
30. Jaden Hill, LSU RHP
DRAFT Model: 6.3 (43), BA Rank: 24
Another SEC TJ case. Hill has more relief risk than Hoglund, but his raw stuff may be superior. However, Hill has a shorter track record of performance, and decidedly less command of his stuff. Even so, I think he has a better starting percentage than the 33% the DRAFT Model predicts. Adjusting that closer to 55% (Again, low for a first-round talent) brings him up to this point.
31. Ryan Cusick, Wake Forest RHP
DRAFT Model: 7.24 (34), BA Rank: 39
Many outlets are high on Cusick, who has a 70 grade fastball and an above-average to plus breaking ball. This worked well in college to the tune of a strikeout rate over a third, but the lack of an average third pitch and questionable control leaves him here rather than the top 20.
32. Joshua Baez, HS COF
DRAFT Model: 7.83 (33), BA Rank: 31
70 grade raw? Check. 70 grade arm? Check. One of the youngest high school players in the draft? Great! Baez is a prototypical outfielder, but has a huge question with his fringe to fringe-average hit tool. I tend to lean toward the fringe-y side, which is why he’s here rather than in the 20s.
33. Jud Fabian, Florida CF
DRAFT Model: 3.44 (78), BA Rank: 27
Fabian scares me. He sort of reminds me of Jeren Kendall, the Vanderbilt CF who had 4 tools but struck out too much to be a five-tool player. Well Fabian strikes out more often than that, over 25% of the time. I see the other tools; the 60 power, above-average run, and elite defense in center field. But I’m not entirely sold.
33. Izaac Pacheco, HS SS/3B
DRAFT Model: 6.9 (37), BA Rank: 36
Pacheco has been noticed for a while due to his plus power, but he has some swing-and-miss to his game. He’s likely a third basemen in pro ball, but should be a solid defender there.
34. Ky Bush, St. Mary’s LHP
DRAFT Model: 8.61 (25), BA Rank: 46
Bush has a short track record with only one year at St. Mary’s, but he put up numbers there with a strikeout rate over 33%. He lacks an average third pitch right now, but there seems to be feel for his changeup and others see the opportunity for growth with some mechanics work.
35. Joshua Hartle, HS LHP
DRAFT Model: 7.15 (35), BA Rank: 37
Hartle is a lefty with room to add strength to his 6’5″-195 frame. Right now, his stuff is all average to above-average that plays up thanks to his solid control. However, he seems intent on heading to college at Wake Forest.
36. Matt Mikulski, Fordham LHP
DRAFT Model: 6.34 (42), BA Rank: 40
The Fordham Senior is hoping that teams lean on McDaniel’s disdain for age, as he comes in at 22.2 on Draft Day. Mikulski really jumped up boards this year, striking out over 46% of his batters faced after upping his fastball velocity and deception through a delivery mechanical change. It isn’t the prettiest delivery, and combined with his age it definitely lends to an increased relief risk. I think the arrow is pointing up for his though and with development could be a middle of the rotation piece.
37. Adrian Del Castillo, Miami C
DRAFT Model: 6.22 (45), BA Rank: 25
After starting out the year as the top college hitter, a .275 average with .120 ISO has dropped him way back. The biggest red flag is the loss of power, after having an ISO over .200 his first two seasons. There are still those who like the tools, but he has to recover some value as he seems unlikely to stick behind the plate.
38. Dylan Smith, Alabama RHP
DRAFT Model: 10.86 (19), BA Rank: 56
Smith was a late bloomer, but from a model perspective boy did he bloom. In his Junior year, he struck out nearly 28% of batters while walking under 5%, all in the toughest conference in the country. His stuff is mostly average with a slider flashing plus, and he is a little older than you’d like at 22.2. But he has room to add strength to his 6’2″-180 frame, and I’ll always bet on a performer with room to grow.
39. Jay Allen, HS OF
DRAFT Model: 6.36 (41), BA Rank: 38
Opinions vary widely on Allen, from a first-round talent to mid-second. Much of this comes down to the belief in his hit tool and the chances that he sticks in centerfield. As is, he seems like a solid power-speed combo with enough of a chance to land in centerfield that a team could get a good value.
40. Lonnie White Jr., HS OF
DRAFT Model: 6.24 (44), BA Rank: 32
White is built like a corner outfielder with 70 speed and plus defense. He seems like a decent bet to stick in center but his size will always make that a question. Otherwise, his above-average power makes him an interesting option at the start of the second round.
41. Steven Hajjar, Michigan LHP
DRAFT Model: 14.77 (15), BA Rank: 61
This is way higher than anyone else is on Hajjar. His stuff is average across the board, he has solid enough command, he’s been limited by a torn ACL during his freshman year, and his fastball is slower than his 6’5″-215 frame would imply. But at some point you can’t ignore that he struck out over 30% of batters over his career. I think the right team could bring an extra 2-3 MPH on the fastball, which would move it up to a 55, which already plays up due to its vertical movement. Combine that with a 55 breaking secondary and his already 57.5 changeup and that’s a starter’s profile.
42. Sean Burke, Maryland RHP
DRAFT Model: 6.56 (40), BA Rank: 53
Burke’s another performer who’s beginning to show the potential expected of him before TJ surgery in took his freshman year in 2019. In his career, he’s struck out over a third of all batters, though his walk rate is higher than you’d like. His delivery is low-effort and big fastball say starter, though his control questions could force him to the bullpen.
43. Ethan Wilson, South Alabama LF
DRAFT Model: 5.41 (50), BA Rank: 26
Wilson continued to put up solid power numbers in the Sun Belt, but still struggled to move up the model ranks. By adjusting his walk rates and ISO upward as a reaction to his slow start to the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he winds out closer to this point. He is also limited by his high-probability COF landing spot.
44. Ben Kudrna, HS RHP
DRAFT Model: 5.86 (46), BA Rank: 47
Kudrna brings two nearly-plus offerings in his fastball and slider. People are more divided on the changeup, with some viewing it as fringe-average and others as above-average. His control is good enough, and he shows enough projection to grow on.
45. Trey Sweeney, Eastern Illinois SS
DRAFT Model: 4.24 (64), BA Rank: 55
Some outlets have Sweeney as a first-rounder. Others see him as a third-round fit. Such is the profile of a mid-major shortstop performer. His athleticism spells a move to third base for some, but I’m not so sure. Hence I moved up his shortstop percentage in the model. Regardless of position, his above-average hit tool and raw power gives him a chance to excel.
46. Tyler Black, Wright St. 2B
DRAFT Model: 3.76 (72), BA Rank: 82
Another mid-major middle-infield performer. Baseball America is by far the low outlet on black, and some even have him as a mid-first round guy. If you up his ranking more in line with other outlets and up his future second base percentage in the model (And correspondingly lower his corner outfield percentage), he comes in around 40. I think this is a better spot for his performance and talent than what the model implies.
47. Jonathan Cannon, Georgia RHP
DRAFT Model: 8.82 (24), BA Rank: 68
Cannon is another of the average to above-average stuff, excellent control crowd. He walked 5% of batters over his two years at Georgia, while striking out over 22%. He’s young, turning 21 the week after the draft, and has shown flashes of more. And as I said, I like young performers who show flashes of more, particularly if they did so in the SEC.
48. Connor Norby, ECU 2B
DRAFT Model: 2.76 (93), BA Rank: 44
Norby stepped onto campus in Greeneville and had a horrible Freshman year. The pandemic-shortened 2020 made it harder to put that behind him from a statistical point of view. His Senior year was excellent, with a .415 batting average and ISO over .200. Like Black, he gets too much corner outfield projection and not enough second base, so adjusting that with a few other adjustments to put his overall line closer to his Senior year brings him up to this level.
49. Joe Rock, Ohio LHP
DRAFT Model: 6.87 (38), BA Rank: 71
Rock came on big this season after a rough freshman year. This year, he struck out nearly a third of batters while walking around 7.5%. All his stuff is around a 55, but he may have room to add to his fastball given his 6’6″-200 frame and his young age (21.0 on Draft Day). Despite the solid walk numbers, the strikes don’t come easy, leading some to worry about the relief risk.
50. Thatcher Hurd, HS RHP
DRAFT Model: 5.78 (47), BA Rank: 44
It came down to Hurd and Chase Burns for this last spot, and I went with the guy who has better command and control. Not that Hurd’s stuff is particularly lacking. His breaking stuff grades out as above-average, and his fastball is average with room to add strength on his 6’4″-205 frame. His changeup even grades out as average to above-average. And to boot, he’s only been pitching for a couple years, working primarily as a catcher up until last summer. So there’s your opportunity for huge growth as he continues to hone his craft on the mound.
So there it is. For players outside this list, you can look at my DRAFT Model scores at Sabermetric Sandlot. On Sunday night, I plan to live update an article as the draft goes with my thoughts, and I’ll write summaries of the Orioles picks after each day of the draft. Finally, I’ll be a guest on the On The Verge podcast after the Orioles pick on Sunday night and on their regular show on Monday night.
All that said, it’s an exciting time for the Orioles, as the team has an opportunity to add exciting talent. After a year of preparation, speculation, and work, we’re finally here!
Dr. Stephen Loftus received his Ph.D. in Statistics from Virginia Tech in 2015 and is an Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Randolph-Macon College. Prior to that, he worked as an Analyst in Baseball Research and Development for the Tampa Bay Rays, focusing on the Amateur Draft. He formerly wrote at FanGraphs and Beyond the Box Score. As a lifelong fan of the Orioles, he fondly remembers the playoff teams of 1996-97 and prefers to forget constantly impending doom of Jorge Julio, Albert Belle’s contract, and most years between 1998 and 2011.