Long article, but here's the intro:
Maybe Scott Boras finds a technicality in the eighth paragraph of the fourth amendment of the collective bargaining agreement. Maybe Bud Selig and Don Fehr, dreading another round of labor negotiations, decide to call one another's bluff and blow the whole thing up. Maybe al-Qaida has invented a new, amnesia-inducing biological weapon, and for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, decides to test it on the executive offices of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs.
But here's what happens. The rosters of the 30 MLB teams, the organized minor leagues, and the professional leagues in Japan, Cuba and Korea are dissolved. All contracts are declared null and void. Everybody is a free agent. There is going to be a fantasy draft to end all fantasy drafts. And you're on the clock.
One important ground rule before we begin. Although a player's real-life contract is no longer of any consequence -- for instance, the Rockies can get out of paying Denny Neagle without having to invoke the Hooker Clause -- the current structure of Major League Baseball still applies. What that means, specifically, is that the players you draft will be under your club's control for six years of major league service time -- first under the reserve clause, then under the arbitration system. After that, they become free agents. The six years of service time don't necessarily have to be the next six years. For example, you could draft Brandon Wood, keep him in the minor leagues for two years, and then get his services for 2008-13. But it's still just six years. In other words, we're looking at the long term, but not the infinite term
These rankings are informed by Baseball Prospectus' projection system, PECOTA. Among its other bells and whistles, PECOTA predicts a player's value not only for the current season, but also for many years upcoming. You can see, if you're really curious, how many sacrifice flies Torii Hunter is going to hit in 2009. But the rankings also take into account scouting judgments, injury reports, and a healthy dose of old-fashioned gut feel.