Each of the players I picked to cover in the Playoff Prospect Series represents a Prospect Archtype, if you will, from which we can learn something.
Matt Holliday: A tools guy who made good.. Traditionalists praised his athleticism and strength, while statheads looked at the minor league numbers and couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. Of course, for every Holliday there are a lot of tools players who flame out and never develop. What makes him different?
Fausto Carmona: Most traditionalists always liked him, statheads didn't. Low strikeout rate scared off some statheads when he was a prospect, but he successfully improved his breaking ball, that combined with his hard sinker made him a big success. Lesson: don't rely overly on K/IP as an indicator, make sure to look at ground ball ratios and scouting reports too.
Eric Byrnes: Many traditionalists downplayed him due to lack of tools even while praising his makeup. Statheads like his numbers. Lessons for both sides: performance counts (something traditionalists need to remember sometimes) and makeup counts (something that statheads sometimes forget).
Rich Hill: the flip side of Fausto Carmona. Traditionalists always had very mixed opinions about him, while statheads were attracted to the K/IP ratio but were worried about his command. Lesson: Sometimes guys really CAN improve their control.
Chone Figgins: A speedster made good. Lack of power was always an issue for him in the minors, but he controlled the strike zone well even when he wasn't hitting much, at least giving him the potential to improve.. Lesson for both sides: for the statheads, speed DOES matter. For the traditionalists: watch the walk rates, the speedsters who make something of themselves usually can draw some walks even when they aren't hitting.
Kevin Youkilis: Another performance guy, downplayed by traditionalists even more than Byrnes, but beloved by statheads. Lesson: perfect example of a successful Moneyball player: maybe he looked dumpy in a college uniform, but he really knows how to hit. Flipside of Matt Holliday.
Kyle Kendrick: Example of the importance of athleticism in pitcher development. The lesson: a guy with a live arm who is getting killed in the Sally League might still be a good prospect. QUALIFIER: I am still concerned about his very low strikeout rate and am not convinced he will be a long-term success.
Shelley Duncan: Minor league slugger archetype. And like many such players, if he gets hot at the right time he can get himself noticed and find a role, even though there are other guys just as good stuck in the minors for ten years.
A final point: the whole dichotomy between "statheads" and "traditionalists" has blurred in recent years as the smarter members of both parties have learned from each other. I still believe the next frontier in player analysis will be in the area of makeup, finding better ways to assess the "intangibles" of personality, work ethic, and intelligence. Is that something that Holliday, Carmona, Byrnes, Hill, Figgins, Youkilis, Kendrick, and Duncan all likely have in common?