For two years running now, the Angels’ farm system has been classified as the worst in the game by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus in their annual organizational rankings. Some writers and fans have taken this ranking to mean that the club has no MLB talent in the pipeline, and have made a point of questioning the system’s reputation when players like C.J. Cron and Mike Morin make a positive impact in Anaheim. The standard thinking goes: “If their prospects are so bad, how come so many of them are in the Show?”
The issue with that line of thought is that it attempts to make the organizational rankings into something they are not. The purpose of those lists has never been to determine how many prospects will make a contribution to the MLB club in any given season. Rather, they are simply a measure of the volume of high-ceiling talent within an organization that has yet to reach the big leagues. It doesn’t matter if prospects are five months away or five years away, if they have an All-Star or top-of-the-rotation ceiling, they move the club up the list. A place at the bottom of the rankings, then, doesn’t preclude an organization from having productive rookies, it just means that the overall system has a dearth of potential impact players.
Let’s put this to a quick test. If the organizational rankings were really designed to determine which clubs would reap the most benefit from their farm system in a given season, there should be some correlation between a team’s ranking and the production they receive at the MLB level from their prospects.