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Let’s Settle This Braves-Padres Farm System Debate

MLB Pipeline says the Braves have the No. 2 farm system, but that’s not entirely accurate

MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Talent evaluators all across baseball have made no secret of their reverence for the Braves’ farm system. Not only are the players who comprise Atlanta’s top prospect lists well regarded, but the system as a whole is considered one of the best in the game.

Therefore, when MLB Pipeline released its Top Farm System rankings last week, some eyebrows were understandably raised when the Padres were ranked ahead of the Braves.

The outrage throughout Braves Country was palpable.

To be fair — the Padres system, led by teenage phenoms Fernando Tatis, Jr. and southpaw hurler Mackenzie Gore — is absolutely stacked. As noted in the initial tweet, San Diego placed a total of seven prospects on Pipeline’s Top 100, so a strong ranking is justified.

But the Braves placed eight players on this same list, so what gives?

Of course, Pipeline isn’t the only prospect ranking outlet, so their opinion alone cannot be viewed in a vacuum. Evaluations of certain players can swing wildly from one publication to the next — Kolby Allard is a perfect example (Baseball Prospectus had him 24th, while he didn’t make Keith Law’s list at all). In an effort to aggregate these rankings, I built a top prospect composite list which takes into account the opinions of Pipeline and their contemporaries such as Baseball America, Fangraphs, Keith Law, ZiPS, and Baseball Prospectus.

This composite ranking lists live here:

The first tab shows the aggregated Top Prospect rankings, while the second tab shows the Overall Farm System Rankings.

On these lists, I assigned a reverse point system, in which the 100th ranked player received one point, the 99th ranked player received two points, all the way up to #1 where the top ranked prospect received 100 points (or, 101 in the case of Baseball Prospectus’ list). By adding up any points generated across the six outlets, the players were then ranked according to point values.

Between the six publications used to build this Top Prospects composite, 176 players made the list. Accordingly, the #1 ranked prospect (some kid named Ronald Acuña, Jr. who you might have heard of) received 176 points, and each prospect’s points were assigned to their respective team. Otherwise, the same reverse point system methodology was used to calculate the Farm System Rankings.

Considering this composite takes into account the rankings of some of baseball’s most respected publications, it hopefully offsets any alleged bias created by any one list (this was also done to remove my own bias).

Acuña, Jr.’s top ranking obviously helps buoy the Braves’ numbers. But with 11 Braves appearing in the Composite Top 115, Atlanta’s farm is light years ahead of any other team.

Based on this system, the Top 10 farm system rankings are as follows:

Truthfully, it’s not even close. Even with the aforementioned strength of the Padres’ farm, the numbers still point to the Braves as the superior system.

The gap between the Braves and Padres is 435 points. To put this in perspective, there are ten teams in the Farm System Rankings that don’t even have a total of 435 points.

Of course, prospects are suspects until they are proven, and this is probably small consolation for a large portion of a fan base that has endured several years of losing. But rest easy, Braves fans. There’s safety in numbers, and if there’s anything the Braves have going for them right now, it’s the numbers.

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