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View Full Version : Gap Between AAA & ML levels?



redsmetz
08-02-2007, 07:06 AM
Last night while Marty and Tom were yapping with each other, Marty commented that the talent level gap between AAA and the major league level has never been wider. He asserted this as something those familiar with baseball agree on.

Obviously with this banter between play by play, he didn't elaborate, but I'm not sure I concur. I think he was engaging in hyperbole. My reason for questioning it is that, IMO, for the last 10-15 years, I think we've seen a significant rise in the number of veteran players who are offered minor league contracts or who have split contracts. In some ways, it's the classic AAAA that folks mention here. I have no data on it, but I would be willing to bet that the average age of AAA players has risen in the last 20 years or so.

It would seem to me that "back in the day", players were making their ML debut at a younger age, therefore they would tend to be a little more raw than they used to be. Until Krivsky came along, in the Reds systems, it seemed that a number of our top prospects were skipping AAA or spending a brief time at AAA before coming to the big club.

NB: This isn't meant to be a thread bashing Marty. Heaven knows he gives us enough reason to do that. The intent is to foster a discussion as to whether that gap is wider than it's ever been, as Marty asserted.

redsmetz
08-02-2007, 11:07 AM
So I'm guessing folks agree that the gap is wider today than in the past? That it's a bigger stretch for players to do well at the ML than at AAA? Or have I misunderstood Marty?

Chip R
08-02-2007, 11:24 AM
It seems that on the Reds, a lot of guys - especially pitchers - are excelling in AAA but they struggle once they get to the Reds. They go back to AAA and they again do well. They come back up and they don't do well. It's a good question.

dfs
08-02-2007, 11:31 AM
I'm confused.

Marty has been very vocal in his belief that because of expansion the level of play in the major leagues has seriously degraded since he was a younger man. Does he believe somehow that the level of play in AAA has ....degraded faster than the level of play in mlb?

I find it very tough to come up with a line of reasoning why it would be so. I can think of several reasons why it would not be so.

First of all, if you are a marginal player the financial incentive to stay in baseball is enormous. A little bit of service time and you've accumulated a nice pension. A little bit of service time and a few lucky breaks and you are set for life. A few lucky breaks and a manager that likes you and you and your children are set for life.

Second of all, if you think of talent and the normal distribution, the freaks that can play major league baseball live out on the tail. Move just a bit out of the tail, and there is an much large population to draw from. No matter where you draw the demarcation point between major league and minor league baseball this is true. If AAA baseball is just a bit easier to play than major league baseball, there would be tons of people able to play it well. I don't see that.

TOBTTReds
08-02-2007, 12:18 PM
I think he is saying this to cover his Ricky Stone beliefs :). He was crying for Stone to be brought up, and he was nothing more than terrible in the bigs.

I think it is a huge gap. There are some very good AAA hitters, that once they last a while in the bigs, get exposed. It may not be so much the talent, but the prep, video, coaches, learning tools.

westofyou
08-02-2007, 12:18 PM
So I'm guessing folks agree that the gap is wider today than in the past? That it's a bigger stretch for players to do well at the ML than at AAA? Or have I misunderstood Marty?

Talent and Potential is what I think he's referring to. It used to be that the vets would hold the AAA guys down longer, there used to be more talent in baseball as a whole and that bled into the minors, that also was enriched by the lack of other sports avenues and MLB teams, thus the AAA was more elite. Now a days the fringe MLB player is usually seasoned in AA, and makes the jump to the bigs more often then not without getting too many AB's in AAA. This makes AAA ball more of a holding station for guys that can be used as 2 week replacements or something of that ilk. You might see better pitchers in AAA ball, but most teams don't have a ton of position prospects at that level anymore.

AA is kinda like the Contential Basketball League, there's talent there, but when compared to MLB it's a wide gap.

pedro
08-02-2007, 12:26 PM
I read somewhere recently that the trend to jump some of the better prospects from AA to the majors is due to some teams perception that there are many more bitter "fringe" players in AAA who have already had a taste of the majors and may not be the best examples of how to be a good teammate for some of the younger players.

Redsland
08-02-2007, 06:14 PM
A little bit of service time and you've accumulated a nice pension.
FWIW, it takes ten years of service time to become fully vested in the MLB pension. :beerme:

Doc. Scott
08-02-2007, 06:19 PM
FWIW, it takes ten years of service time to become fully vested in the MLB pension. :beerme:

I thought it was either five or seven years.

RedsManRick
08-02-2007, 07:27 PM
So if I understand this right, the quality of the players at the major league levels is at an all-time low and the gap between MLB and AAA is at an all-time high. This means that AAA players suck more now than ever. Man, the pool of talent is so much bigger than it used to be, even in proportion to the number of teams. We must have de-evolved. Or maybe we're just not as smart as they were back in Marty's day....

redsmetz
08-02-2007, 08:11 PM
So if I understand this right, the quality of the players at the major league levels is at an all-time low and the gap between MLB and AAA is at an all-time high. This means that AAA players suck more now than ever. Man, the pool of talent is so much bigger than it used to be, even in proportion to the number of teams. We must have de-evolved. Or maybe we're just not as smart as they were back in Marty's day....

I think part of what's happening is that athletes have a multitude of outlets. Plus, look how few kids play baseball as youth anymore; particularly once they hit their teen years. My son played knothole through his sophomore or junior year, took a year off, but he couldn't find a team as an 18 year old that wasn't select. He may try to play intramural at OSU, but we'll have to see.

dougdirt
08-03-2007, 01:29 AM
I think baseball is at its all time highest talent level. Players are the best conditioned that they have been in history. Everyone is a better athlete now than they were due to dieting and a much better understanding of training.

I am with Rick on this one. To suggest that guys aren't as good of players now as they used to be is absolutely ridiculous.

dfs
08-03-2007, 09:06 AM
FWIW, it takes ten years of service time to become fully vested in the MLB pension.

When the 90 strike was setteled they had it so that you were vested on your first day. Now, it was at a low amount, but it does acrue. When did that change? (and more importantly ...why? that was one of the things the union had done right.)

westofyou
08-03-2007, 11:13 AM
I think baseball is at its all time highest talent level. Players are the best conditioned that they have been in history. Everyone is a better athlete now than they were due to dieting and a much better understanding of training.

I am with Rick on this one. To suggest that guys aren't as good of players now as they used to be is absolutely ridiculous.

If that's the case then AAA might beat it's best level talent wise, but if you allow the fact that other sports take more elite jocks then ever before and that organizations tend to leave their best prospects out of AAA then the argument that MLB and AAA has a wider gap then ever before might hold some water. The thrust of the debate centers on the talent level between the two leagues, not the total talent in the game.

I get to watch some AAA ball here in town, I don't see a close match, AAA ball is often awash in tweeners and studs, but a lot of tweeners.

dougdirt
08-03-2007, 11:17 AM
Lots of tweeners in AAA because your studs don't stay there long.

westofyou
08-03-2007, 11:30 AM
Lots of tweeners in AAA because your studs don't stay there long.

Thus, the quote from Marty concerning the gap.

Now if you compare AA talent and MLB talent you'll probably get a different opinion.

dougdirt
08-03-2007, 11:32 AM
Im not sure about that, becuase while there is probably more high end talent guys there, there is a lot more low end talent there as well.

Redsland
08-03-2007, 12:13 PM
When the 90 strike was setteled they had it so that you were vested on your first day. Now, it was at a low amount, but it does acrue. When did that change? (and more importantly ...why? that was one of the things the union had done right.)
I couldn't tell you the whens and the whys, I'm afraid. I do know that the most recent version of the plan was written in 1996, though.

But it definitely takes 10 years to become fully vested. In Tom Browning's book, for example, he denies that he closed out his career with two starts in KC simply to accrue the necessary service time to get him up to ten years. But that's what happened, coincidentally. ;)

Chip R
08-03-2007, 12:36 PM
I think part of what's happening is that athletes have a multitude of outlets. Plus, look how few kids play baseball as youth anymore; particularly once they hit their teen years. My son played knothole through his sophomore or junior year, took a year off, but he couldn't find a team as an 18 year old that wasn't select. He may try to play intramural at OSU, but we'll have to see.


That's true. We've had this discussion before and this reason is often given about why African-Americans don't play baseball as much as they used to in the big leagues.

But this is a different discussion. We're talking about the difference between AAA and MLB and if there is as large of a gap as the Marty says.