If there's one thing in all of sports that can single-handedly annoy seemingly every fanbase, it's an article about rankings. Whether it's about who the best team is, who has the best pitching staff, or who has the best farm system, ranking teams 1-30 is surely going to set off a fiery debate; and that's exactly what Baseball Prospectus has done.
Earlier today, they released their organizational farm rankings, and structured it using a tiered system, rather than just placing a number on each team.
The Dodgers, Braves, and Rockies comprise the top tier in this years list, and "each [has] taken a different path to the top of the mountain, which is kind of an exciting testament to baseball's weirdness." While the Rockies built their farm system the way that we're most familiar with (losing and drafting well), the Dodgers have acquired a lot of talent internationally, and the Braves have reshaped their entire system through trades. Los Angeles and Colorado were both in the top 10 in Baseball Prospectus' 2015 rankings, however Atlanta was just barely in the top 20, making their ascension all the more impressive.
Philadelphia and Milwaukee were two teams that also made significant progress. The Phillies jumped from 20th in 2015, to 4th in 2016; and the Brewers went from 26th to 10th. Both teams have upgraded their clubs through trades, as the "Phillies added six new top-ten prospects in the last calendar year between the 2015 draft and the Ken Giles and Cole Hamels trades"; while the Brewers sent Carlos Gomez and Khris Davis away for solid returns.
As for teams that dropped in the rankings, the Cubs fell from 1st to 12th, and the Mets from 5th to 21st. In 2015 alone, Chicago graduated Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber, and New York had Michael Conforto, and Noah Syndergaard also reach the majors. Steven Matz is still considered a prospect, which means that their system should probably be ranked lower, as he's going to be a member of the starting rotation as long as he's healthy.
Not surprisingly, the Diamondbacks had the biggest fall of any team (17 spots), as they're ranked 24th after placing 7th in 2015. Dave Stewart has said he's emphasized making sure their farm system is strong, but it's hard to believe that after he traded away Touki Toussaint, Aaron Blair, Dansby Swanson, and many others.
The Angles round out the bottom of the list, as their organization is barren. Keith Law called them the worst system he's ever seen, and while Baseball Prospectus doesn't go that far, they don't have any praise for them either.
"There are times when you just kind of run out of ways to describe something, and the state of the Angels' system defies much in the way of analytic vigor these days. It was a dry system before Billy Eppler up and shipped the organization's top two prospects east for Andrelton Simmons, and now the dusty, parched remains don't really even stick to your boot when you walk across it."
Those are harsh words, but they're undoubtedly deserved. They don't have a single prospect in Baseball Prospectus or Baseball America's top 100, and Taylor Ward, their top ranked minor league player, has yet to progress beyond A-ball.
Not satisfied with where your favorite team is ranked? Let us know in the comments section.