Last year, according to the Baseball Prospectus Rankings, the Royals had the third best farm system...
... in the AL Central. Overall, BP ranked the Royals at #10, while Baseball America had the Royals at #17. (Why Goldstein, who uses the BA methodology and worldview is now so prominent at BP is a topic for another day.) One year ago, while the Royal system had potential, no one was really talking about them as a sleeping giant. In fact, overall, there was decent reason to be disappointed.
So now, as we all know, the Royals have an awesome farm system. Literally every Royals blog has been writing about the meaning of this for months, including this one. It's been quite fascinating watching the most beaten-down fanbase in the American League struggle with these strange new feelings of hope. There is considerable buzz, at both the prospect hound level, and in the mainstream baseball press, about the system. The phrase "best ever" has seen considerable action.
Here's my query: what do we do with the fact that this has really happened quite soon? Does the fact that the system essentially had the communal equivalent of a "career year" matter? Does it simply mean everything is awesome? Or, as we might with an individual, does a part of you worry that there's some potential for regression? Finally, what do we make of last year's rankings?
Please don't misunderstand my tone. I'm really curious and open-minded here. These questions aren't necessarily leading ones. However, when I think about how the "best farm system ever" gets assembled, I imagine a more gradual progression (which, btw, might happen next year when Tampa's zillion-pick 2011 Draft enters their loaded organization). When I think about something being, again, "the best ever" I don't see a sudden rise as making the most sense, but rather a sustained build. I really see this across the spectrum: art, sports, whatever. The system was mediocre last year because a number of important guys had iffy years. Now, it's unbelievably insanely beautifully amazing because the same guys had good years? Maybe it is that simple. However, that doesn't sound like the most rigorous methodology.
So you tell me.