NPF College Draft 2019: Inside The Numbers
The National Pro Fastpitch draft is Monday night. And fans of the NPF are obviously wondering who their teams will pick.
Last Monday, Softball America provided a mock draft. Constructing a mock draft requires the analyst to consider a host of factors including the needs of each team and both the subjective and objective qualities of each player. In other words, mock drafts tend to take a holistic view to player evaluation.
I am going to address a far easier question: As we think about the players who might be selected on Monday night, how well have these players performed in college softball both in 2018 and so far this season (as of April 7th)?
A player's college statistics should tell us something about how they might perform professionally. But of course -- as anyone who has tried to study the link between college and professional performance in any sports would tell you -- statistics can't tell you everything. Nevertheless, it is useful to look at just the numbers from the top prospects.
This exercise begins by creating a list of "top prospects." The players listed in Softball America's mock draft is a good place to start. This list will be supplemented with the seniors listed among the top 50 softball players put forward by USA Softball.
These players will be ranked according to the statistics collected by the NCAA. Specifically, for hitters we will consider that traditional batting average (BA) and OPS (on-base percentage + slugging average). In addition, I will use a linear weights model to estimate how many runs each hitter has created. Each hitter's runs created per plate appearance (RCPA) will be primarily used to rank the hitters.
The list of hitters reported below includes 23 players. And as one can see, since the start of the 2018 season the most productive hitter has been Alyssa DiCarlo of the University of Georgia. Across 102 games DiCarlo has produced 112.2 runs and is the only player listed to post a RCPA above 0.300. Amanda Lorenz -- the top hitter in the Softball America mock draft -- has been only slightly less productive per plate appearance. But because Lorenz played six more games than DiCarlo, Lorenz leads all hitters with 114.8 Runs Created. In other words, both DiCarlo and Lorenz have been really good!
Alyssa DiCarlo (INF, Georgia): 0.407 BA, 1.475 OPS, 0.304 RCPA
Amanda Lorenz (OF, Florida): 0.415 BA, 1.311 OPS, 0.286 RCPA
Abbey Cheek (UT, Kentucky): 0.383 BA, 1.318 OPS, 0.276 RCPA
Jessica Hartwell (INF, Texas Tech): 0.381 BA, 1.265 OPS, 0.270 RCPA
Lilli Piper (SS, Ohio St.): 0.389 BA, 1.219 OPS, 0.262 RCPA
Amanda Sanchez (INF, Missouri&LSU): 0.410 BA, 1.286 OPS, 0.261 RCPA
Kelsey Horton (INF, New Mexico St.): 0.372 BA, 1.271 OPS, 0.261 RCPA
Sydney Romero (INF, Oklahoma): 0.418 BA, 1.206 OPS, 0.255 RCPA
Aubrey Leach (INF, Tennessee): 0.437 BA, 1.086 OPS, 0.233 RCPA
Morgan Turkoly (OF, Louisiana Tech): 0.394 BA, 1.088 OPS, 0.233 RCPA
Andria Booth (OF, Gardner-Webb): 0.455 BA, 1.043 OPS, 0.231 RCPA
Libby Sugg (C, BYU): 0.373 BA, 1.109 OPS, 0.227 RCPA
Casey McCrackin (INF, Auburn): 0.345 BA, 1.061 OPS, 0.209 RCPA
Kiana Sherlund (OF, Illinois): 0.391 BA, 1.017 OPS, 0.205 RCPA
Morgan Howe (OF, Arizona St.): 0.372 BA, 1.089 OPS, 0.203 RCPA
Cali Harrod (INF, Florida St.): 0.291 BA, 0.969 OPS, 0.199 RCPA
Nichole Fry (INF, Long Beach St.): 0.357 BA, 1.016 OPS, 0.193 RCPA
Madi Sue Montgomery (INF, Oklahoma St.): 0.337 BA, 1.037 OPS, 0.190 RCPA
Kylan Becker (OF, Ole Miss): 0.392 BA, 0.952 OPS, 0.187 RCPA
Kendall Veach (INF, Auburn): 0.276, BA, 1.012 OPS, 0.178 RCPA
Jenny Schaper (C, Kentucky): 0.329 BA, 0.974 OPS, 0.169 RCPA
Katie Reed (INF, Kentucky): 0.354 BA, 0.967 OPS, 0.161 RCPA
Morgan Podany (OF, Auburn): 0.251, 0.707 OPS, 0.106 RCPA
What about the pitchers? The most common statistics used to evaluate pitchers is won-loss record and the classic earned run average (ERA). Voros McCracken, though, noted back in 2001 that ERA is not the best measure of pitching performance since it depends on the defensive players around the pitcher. A better measure should focus on defensive-independent factors, or such factors as strikeouts, walks, home runs, and hit-by-pitches. Consequently the pitchers listed are ranked according to FIP ERA (a measure of a pitcher's performance based on strike-outs, walks, home runs, and hit-by-pitch briefly detailed at Forbes).
If we focus on ERA and competition (i.e. is the pitcher in a top conference?), Kelly Barnhill of Florida and Meghan King of Florida State -- the top players in the Softball America mock draft -- are the top pitchers. However, FIP ERA says that Taran Alvelo of Washington and Makayla Martin of Auburn shouldn't be overlooked. And if you are looking past pitchers from the top conferences, Nicole Newman of Drake should get some serious consideration.
Nicole Newman (Drake): 36-11, 1.05 ERA, 1.04 FIP ERA
Taran Alvelo (Washington): 40-9, 1.56 ERA, 1.60 FIP ERA
Morgan Rackel (Austin Peay): 37-12, 1.72 ERA, 1.67 FIP ERA
Meghan King (Florida State): 45-8, 1.17 ERA, 1.89 FIP ERA
Makayla Martin (Auburn): 26-9, 1.34 ERA, 2.09 FIP ERA
Kelly Barnhill (Florida): 50-9, 1.22 ERA, 2.12 FIP ERA
Julie DiMartino (Liberty): 42-14, 1.53 ERA, 2.26 FIP ERA
Taylor McQuillin (Arizona): 40-17, 1.58 ERA, 2.37 FIP ERA
Savannah Heebner (Houston): 34-18, 1.34 ERA, 2.57 FIP ERA
Tara Trainer (Indiana): 36-24, 2.32 ERA, 2.77 FIP ERA
Megan Good (James Madison): 11-5, 1.80 ERA, 3.19 FIP ERA
Samantha Show (Texas A&M): 24-10, 2.12 ERA, 3.34 FIP ERA
The Chicago Bandits have the top pick on Monday night. So who should they take? If we go strictly by the numbers Alevelo, King, Martin, and Barnhill should be looked at among the pitchers. And DiCarlo and Lorenz are the top hitters.
Obviously the Bandits can only take one of these players. This means the USSSA Pride -- who have the next two picks -- are very likely to get two excellent players. Certainly one of those players can be among those we have already mentioned. Of course, Sierra Romero -- who is already starring for the USSSA Pride -- may have a different suggestion. Sydney Romero of Oklahoma -- Sierra's sister - has created 90.1 runs since the start of the 2018 season. Of the hitters listed, only DiCarlo and Lorenz have created more. Hence, maybe a family reunion is in the cards for the Pride.
Whether or not the Pride re-unite the Romero sisters or not, the Pride are likely to land two very good players with the 2nd and 3rd picks. This is the same story for the Bandits at 4 and the Cleveland Comets who pick 5th and 6th. The stats say this draft has an abundance of talent. It will be interesting to see which players can translate their college success into a top performance in the greatest professional softball league in the world.