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THT Extra: Mancrushing on Tyler Holt

May 27, 2010

In Jeff's Hardball Times article today, he ranks Florida State center fielder Tyler Holt as the seventh-best draft-eligible college player, second only to Yasmani Grandal among position players.

The rankings are based only on results, so they don't exactly mean that Holt should be the seventh college player off the board. But when Holt doesn't even crack some top 100 lists, his performance gives us a lot to think about.

The THT article includes a comparison to Jacoby Ellsbury, and that's a great place to start. Holt doesn't have (or project to have) big power, but he does just about everything else well. Scouting reports, like this one, don't list a lot of drawbacks, so there don't appear to be worries that his skills will translate to higher levels. Obviously it hasn't held back Ellsbury; the Red Sox should be happy with their choice to pick Jacoby when they did.

We think our statistical-based rankings are so important because they can contextualize all that other stuff. Teams want to take potential impact players in the first round, guys who will be middle-of-the-order hitters, or top-rotation starters. Sure, a potential sparkplug leadoff hitter with good defense at a premium position may be just as valuable, but it's a tougher sell early in the draft.

And yes, Holt's bat is decidedly second- or third-round quality. If we took fielding and baserunning out of our calculations, he'd rank well outside of our top 25, among guys like Cameron Rupp and Jarrett Parker.

But my oh my, how about that fielding and baserunning. The last three years, Holt has been +3, +7, and +4 in center. Those numbers are heavily regressed, and they represent a ~60-game season. If any college player this year has the potential to be an elite major-league defender (besides Trent Mummey), it's Holt.

And he can run. 26 steals in 27 tries? Yep. He's been worth five runs on the basepaths this year, four last year.

We keep looking for concerns in his statistical record, but they are few and far between. He's had a down month in May, posting a sub-1.000 OPS for the first time all year, but it's due in part to a low BABIP. He's made up for it by stealing 12 bases in 12 tries despite getting on base only 25 times.

Put it all together, and you have the third-best offensive season of all 2010 draft-eligibles. He's behind only Grandal and Kyle Parker, the Matt LaPorta-esque "big bat" that is getting way more love at the top of draft lists.

You've got the point by now. Tyler Holt is a really good player. Whatever's causing him to drift down draft boards doesn't show up in the numbers. And it certainly isn't holding back our fast-developing mancrush.