2021 Overview of the Talent Pool

by Pat Cloghessy

Welcome to the 3rd annual installment of what we refer to as “a high-level accounting of the player pool”. A bird’s-eye view, if you will. Plenty of assets to play with at all phases of the draft. But beware, not all asset mixes are created equal. Liabilities are also part of the ledger.  


A year ago at this time, BABS projected 37 starting pitchers as full-time (F) players (180+ IP). The game is changing. Innings-pitched per start has been in steady decline for years now. Lending credence to this pattern, BABS projects just 19 starters to eclipse the 180 IP mark. All but four of them come equipped with some mix of both pitching effectiveness and strikeout skill. The totals: 2 (E+), 6 (ER), 8 (e), 4 (K+), 8 (KK), 4 (k). As of this writing, ten of the nineteen are gone by pick 40. According to BABS, these are the most bankable rotation stalwarts. Bankable in the sense that they toe the rubber every fifth day. 

Seeing the decline in full-time projections, it stands to reason that the starting pitcher pool will lean more heavily to mid-timers (M). Last year, BABS had 92 starting pitchers slated for (M) status (120+ IP). In 2021, she projects 116 SP as mid-timers. The shift continues. 

Just because playing time forecasts have shifted does not mean skills have disappeared. The BABS database shows 28 mid-timers with dual asset (pitching effectiveness/K skill) combos. Here are the totals: 0 (E+), 10 (ER), 25 (e), 5 (K+), 20 (KK), 43 (k). That’s 35 /116 (30%) who won’t hurt your ERA. Yikes. Strikeouts fare better, as 68/116 (58%) can provide help in that category.

Mid-time estimates can indicate an increase in liabilities. Injuries and ineffectiveness have a funny way of slashing playing time. Injury liabilities strike 31% of the (M) pool (36/116). Skill liabilities hit 49% (57/116). Negatives in experience appear in 41% (48/116). Land mines aplenty. 

After that it’s on to the 72 part-timers. There is upside here, but it’s tempered by a boatload of liabilities. This is where we see the Sales, Ohtanis, Syndergaards and Kopechs. Plenty of recognizable names appear here. Seriously, peep the part time list! You might find an end gamer, or worse:  The BABS bucket of ice cold water falling on your favorite sleeper.


For the third straight season, BABS projects the amount of full-time batters to be at or near 180 (180/178/181 last 3 seasons). After clocking in at 56 percent each of the last two years, the percentage of full-timers with power assets has increased to 60% (110/181) for 2021. Breakdown of power assets of the 110: 11 (P+), 40 (PW) and 59 (p). The power/batting effectiveness pairing counts 57 members (52%). 

Speed appears in 50/180 batters (28%): 5 (S+), 11 (SB) and 34 (s). There are  12 full-time triple asset blends, 13 power/speed melds and 16 speed/batting effectiveness combinations. That leaves 9 single-asset speedsters. 

Batting average boosters show up in 106/180 full-timers (59%). The totals: 5 (A+), 47 (AV) and 54 (a). There are 33 who hold batting effectiveness as their lone asset. 

Liabilities appear as follows: 31 skill (-P, -A); 32 injury (inj-, INJ), 54 experience (e, EX) and 39 regression (Rg). 

As for mid-time batters, there are 89. Of the 89, 34 have a power asset (9 power/batting eff., 5 power/speed, 20 power only).  Speed assets are present in 16/89 mid-timers (3 speed/batting eff.). Finally, 30 of the 89 are projected to help in batting average, 18 of which claim batting effectiveness as their only asset.