Friday, March 4, 2011

The Meaning of the Minors, Part 2.

Here’s what you missed on Glee…er…in my last article.

This study here by Scott McKinney finds that only about 30% of Baseball America Top 100 Prospects go on to be successful major leaguers. The Royals have nine Top 100 Prospects this year, but given the odds, we can expect no more than three or four of them to be quality players in the majors. Ergo, the Royals’ youth movement is doomed to failure. Only I disagree.

Two years ago, on one of the earliest episodes of “Rany on the Radio”, before any of us knew where the farm system was headed, I asked my guest – the intrepid Kevin Goldstein – to name a sleeper in the Royals’ organization. He gave me the name of Salvador Perez, who was such a deep sleeper he was almost comatose – at the time Perez was struggling to hit .200 in the Midwest League. He was just 18 and had plenty of projection, but he had a long, long way to go. Perez struggled so badly that he was eventually sent back to the short-season leagues once their season got underway.

Last year, though, Perez was a quiet revelation. The Royals aggressively started him in Wilmington, jumping him past the same Midwest League where he had struggled so mightily the year before. Despite being the youngest player in the Carolina League to start the year – he didn’t turn 20 until May – Perez hit well over .300 in the early part of the season, before going into a tailspin mid-year when pitchers started taking advantage of his aggressiveness at the plate. But around mid-July Perez adjusted right back, hitting over .300 the rest of the way.

For the season, Perez hit .290/.322/.411, with 7 homers and 21 doubles in 365 at-bats. He was an aggressive hitter (just 18 walks), but also made excellent contact (just 38 strikeouts). Those are respectable numbers for any 20-year-old catcher, but coming in the hitters’ graveyard of Wilmington, they were especially impressive. This is the same ballpark where Mike Moustakas had hit just .250/.297/.421 the year before. This is the same ballpark where Carlos Beltran hit .229/.311/.363, just two years before Beltran was the American League Rookie of the Year.

Defensively, Perez earned nothing but praise, being named the best defensive catcher in the system. He threw out 42% of attempted basestealers, and showed good agility and plate-blocking skills behind the plate.

Last November 8th – the iPhone does a good job of record-keeping – I got a text message out of the blue from Joe Sheehan, who was watching games in the Arizona Fall League. “Salvador Perez just hit a freaking bomb.” He continued. “Extremely young and a big kid. I’m getting a Sandy Alomar feel, and I mean that in a good way.” Alomar was an overrated player throughout his career, as he rarely played at the level he established as the Rookie of the Year in 1990. (That year, Alomar hit .290/.326/.418, numbers eerily similar to Perez’s numbers last year.) But Alomar did play 20 seasons in the major leagues.

(As an aside, with regards to the comments I made about Wil Myers a few days ago, it’s worth pointing out that Alomar was 6’5”, and was so injury-prone – generally suffering from knee problems – that he played in 100 games in a season just four times in his career. Perez is tall, but fortunately not that tall, at 6’3”.)

This spring, as Bob Dutton wrote recently, Perez has been the talk of camp.

“He’s as good a thrower as I’ve ever seen — as I’ve ever seen! — behind the plate,” said manager Ned Yost, himself a former catcher. “I always thought that a 1.8 (second) throw to second base was a myth. I’d never seen one. This kid is constantly in the 1.8s.

“He blocks the ball very well and has great energy behind the plate. He has a lot of leadership qualities. There’s a lot going on with that kid, and it’s all positive.”

There’s even this line later in the article: And Perez is already turning heads while drawing comparisons to Sandy Alomar because of his size and skills.

The Royals moved Wil Myers to the outfield in order to preserve his bat, and in order to get him to the majors more quickly. But there’s no doubt that the decision was made easier by the fact that they already had a prospect in the organization who projects as an above-average catcher. Perez will probably be a solid-average hitter for a catcher, with plus defense. Given his superior defense and high-contact batting skills, I’ve also used Yadier Molina as a potential comp.

Perez should head to Double-A this spring. Most Royals hitters put up raw numbers in Northwest Arkansas that are at least as good as their numbers in Wilmington, and I expect Perez to flirt with .300 once again, with perhaps a little more power. He’s on course to be the Royals’ starting catcher by mid-2012, shortly after his 22nd birthday.

Now here’s the punchline: according to Baseball America, Salvador Perez is the SEVENTEENTH-BEST prospect in the system. According to Kevin Goldstein and Baseball Prospectus, Perez is the TWENTIETH-BEST prospect in the system.

Even better: both of those rankings were issued before the Zack Greinke trade. Once you make room for Jeffress and Odorizzi, Perez moves down two more slots. A player that is widely viewed as a future everyday catcher in the major leagues may or may not be one of the 20 best prospects in the Royals’ organization.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I believe in this farm system. As impressive as the high-end talent in the farm system is, I’m almost more impressed by the quantity of prospects that Dayton Moore has collected than the quality.

That is why I believe that, even with the devastating attrition that waylays travelers on the road from prospectdom to major league stardom, the Royals have enough talent in their system to become a contender.

True, the majority of Top 100 Prospects don’t become successes in the major leagues. But you know what? A sizeable minority of successes in the major leagues weren’t Top 100 Prospects. Not every major-league star was as highly-touted coming through the minor leagues as Chipper Jones or Alex Rodriguez. Brandon Webb was never a Top 100 Prospect, not even prior to the 2003 season, when he was called up in April and wound up throwing 181 innings for the Diamondbacks with a 2.84 ERA. John Lackey was never a Top 100 Prospect, not even prior to the 2002 season, which ended with him being the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the World Series. Johan Santana was never a Top 100 Prospect. Mark Buehrle was never a Top 100 Prospect, nor was Danny Haren. Jim Edmonds never made BA’s Top 100 list, nor did Brian Giles, nor did Jorge Posada. Mariano Rivera, of course, was never a Top 100 Prospect.

Hell, just look at the best players the Royals have developed in recent times. Johnny Damon and Beltran and Zack Greinke were top prospects, sure. But Mike Sweeney was never a BA Top 100 Prospect, not even after he conquered that Wilmington ballpark to the tune of .310/.424/.548 in 1994. Neither was David DeJesus, although I will immodestly point out that in BP 2004, I rated DeJesus the #26 prospect in baseball prior to his rookie season. Joe Randa was never a Top 100 Prospect, nor was Joakim Soria, nor was Jose Rosado.

The Royals don’t simply have more Top 100 Prospects than any team in the history of Top 100 Prospects lists. They also have one of the strongest collections of talents in the next Top 100 Prospects, the guys that you might rank from #101 to #200 in baseball. Don’t take my word for it. I asked Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, Jim Callis of Baseball America, and Keith Law of that question: “Off the top of your head, how many Royals do you think would rank between #101 and #200 in all of baseball?” Their answers:

Goldstein: “Somewhere between 3 and 5 guys, I think?” Goldstein, however, has TEN Royals (the same nine guys from BA’s list as well as Jeremy Jeffress) in his Top 101.

Law: “I'm thinking at least 7, probably more like 8-10. Dwyer, Odorizzi, Ventura, Colon, Yambati, Jeffress, Adam for certain. Probably Collins because at some point I'll start ranking relievers, plus Eibner and Crow. That's 10.” Keep in mind that Law had only six Royals in his Top 100, although he had Dwyer and Odorizzi among his 10 prospects who “just missed”.

Callis: “Guys who I ranked 101-150: Crow, Eibner, Jeffress. Guys who other BA editors ranked 101-150: Adam, Ventura, Collins. If you take it down to 200, you could make a case for Melville, Cuthbert, Yambati, Perez--everyone's lists are all over the place at that point.

I think it's safe to say you could put as many as 17 Royals on the Top 200 (or eight from 101-200).”

There seems to be a consensus that the Royals have somewhere between 14 and 17 players that would rank on a Top 200 list. Let’s split the difference and call it 16 – which means that if the Royals have 9 prospects among the Top 100, they have 7 more among the Next 100. I imagine that number also ranks among the highest in baseball.

To put it another way, a month or two ago I asked Jim Callis where the Royals’ farm system would rank if you simply ignored their entire Top 10 list – if the Royals just released their ten best prospects. His answer: “middle of the pack, probably.” The Royals have basically an entire organization’s worth of talent behind their 10 best prospects.

Here’s a list of Baseball America’s 10 best Royals prospects who are not in their Top 100:

1. Aaron Crow
2. Jeremy Jeffress (I’m guessing this is where he’d be ranked)
3. Brett Eibner
4. Jason Adam
5. Yordano Ventura
6. Tim Collins
7. Tim Melville
8. Cheslor Cuthbert
9. Robinson Yambati
10. Salvador Perez

Jeffress and Collins will probably never make the Top 100 list, both because they’re relievers and because they’ll likely exhaust their rookie eligibility this season. Crow might also not qualify for the Top Prospect list next year, although it’s worth remembering that he already made the list at #40 last year. But the other seven guys on this list all have an excellent chance to make the Top 100 in the future. Just two of those seven (Perez and Tim Melville) have so much as played a game in a full-season league yet.

Between these 10 players, and the #5 overall pick the Royals have in the upcoming draft, the Royals could easily place another four or five prospects in next year’s Top 100 – along with the guys on this year’s Top 100 list who don’t lose their rookie eligibility. It’s not out of bounds to suggest the Royals might break their own record for most Top 100 Prospects on next year’s list.

And then there are the players who are already on the Royals roster. Alex Gordon was the #2 prospect in the game four years ago, and if he serves to remind people of the risk of even the best of prospects, he also shouldn’t be dismissed as a guaranteed bust just yet. I’d say the odds that Gordon still establishes himself as a “success” are at least as high as your typical Top 100 Prospect. Billy Butler was a Top 100 Prospect three times, topping out at #25 in 2007. Luke Hochevar was a Top 100 Prospect twice. And last year, along with Crow at #40, Noel Arguelles checked in at #100.

Those five Royals represent McKinney’s study writ small: only Butler is a clear success at this point, although the other four still have the potential to be impact players. But add those five to the nine current Top 100 Prospects, add on another four or five on next year’s list, and now you’re talking about 18 or 19 players of a “Top 100” caliber. Even if the Royals hit on just a third of them, that’s six quality players. (And keep in mind that Gordon won’t be a free agent until after 2013, Soria until after 2014, and Butler until after 2015.)

Then factor in the guys who never see a Top 100 list. There’s Soria, of course, and also Kila Ka’aihue, who will get the opportunity to prove himself this year. Mike Aviles never sniffed a Top 100 list, but is a versatile and useful player. And the Royals are stacked with relievers – I mentioned Jeffress and Collins above, but there’s also Louis Coleman and Patrick Keating and a half-dozen other guys who could be quality relievers without ever being considered for a Top 100 Prospect list. Hell, Baseball America has David Lough as the #25 prospect in the system, and I still think he has a chance to be the second coming of David DeJesus.

That is a simply enormous amount of talent. It’s rare to find a team with so much minor league talent that even if just one-third of it pans out, the remaining talent is still sizeable enough to form the backbone of a contending team. But this is one of those rare instances.

I am not claiming that the Royals have enough talent in their system to win in 2013 and beyond. No doubt, Dayton Moore will have to go outside the system to fill in holes, and he will have to do so far more judiciously than he has done so in the past. But there’s a perception out there that Moore will have to bring in a massive amount of talent to complement his own, because the Royals’ prospect pipeline will turn out to be just a garden hose. I don’t think that’s the case. Moore has to steer clear of the pitfalls he has plunged into in the past, but he doesn’t have to be the second coming of Cedric Tallis.

Keep in mind that with the Royals’ payroll likely to be the lowest in the majors this year, and with only Butler and Soria under contract after 2011, the Royals have the two most desirable commodities any team can have on the trade market: prospects, and the ability to take on salary. The Royals are perfectly positioned to trade some of their excess prospects for an established major leaguer who is expensive and perhaps even overpaid, but who is a championship-caliber player at a position the Royals need to fill.

If, come the summer of 2012, the Royals are short a corner outfielder, could they trade Chris Dwyer, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Johnny Giavotella for Nick Markakis? If they need a catcher, could they trade Robinson Yambati and Derrick Robinson for Miguel Montero? If they’re desperate for another starting pitcher, could they trade Tim Melville, Humberto Arteaga, and David Lough for Wandy Rodriguez?

Maybe. Don’t focus on the specific trade proposals here; that’s not the point. The point is that in a market where teams have become almost overly reluctant to surrender prospects for ready-now major-league talent, the Royals have an excess of prospects that they can shop around in what is a seller’s market. If Joe Saunders, a borderline Top 100 prospect (Tyler Skaggs), and two non-descript arms can fetch Dan Haren…the Royals may be able to acquire impact players without ever resorting to free agency, and without surrendering any impact prospects in return.

With all that said, it would be easier to make the case that an exceptional farm system can build a contending team all by itself if we could point to some team out there that has done so in the past. Well, there is one, and in my next article we’ll look at that team in more detail. You might be surprised by who it was. I know I was.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Meaning of the Minors, Part 1.

This past week seemed to be the moment that the Royals’ farm system took center stage on a national stage. A year of steadily-building hype that started with an exceptional outing by Mike Montgomery in Wilmington last April, then a two-homer debut by Mike Moustakas coming back from a ribcage injury later that month, has reached full bloom with the unveiling of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list. Some highlights:

- Three Royals’ hitters – Eric Hosmer, Moustakas, and Wil Myers – ranked back-to-back-to-back at #8, #9, #10. I’m not sure if any team has ever had three prospects ranked in the Top 10 before.

- With John Lamb at #18 and Mike Montgomery at #19, the Royals had five prospects in BA’s Top 20. That is, according to Baseball America, unprecedented. (If the Royals had lost two more games in 2009, they’d have six players in the Top 20. The top three players selected last June – Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon, and Manny Machado – are all Top 20 prospects.)

- The Royals had four more players ranked – Christian Colon at #51, Danny Duffy at #68, Jake Odorizzi at #69, and Chris Dwyer at #83. That makes nine Royals in the Top 100 – and none of them scraped onto the bottom of the list. No team has ever had nine players on the Top 100 Prospect list before.

- Using a slightly more sophisticated point system designed by BA, which credits an organization with 100 points for having the #1 prospect, 99 points for the #2 prospect, all the way down to 1 point for the #100 prospect – the Royals had 574 points. Again, in the 22-year history of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect list, the Royals have the highest-ranked collection of prospects ever. Only one team (the 2006 Diamondbacks) come within 100 points of the Royals, meaning that even if the Royals released Eric Hosmer today, they’d still have the second-best group of prospects in the last 22 years.

The Royals’ farm system has been on such a roll for the past year that it’s hard to believe that a year ago, Baseball America ranked the Royals as having the 16th-best farm system in baseball. Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law had them ranked higher – if I remember correctly, 9th and 10th respectively – but it’s safe to say that no one saw this coming. I’m an incorrigible optimist, and I thought that if Hosmer and Moustakas bounced back and the pitchers stayed healthy and Wil Myers hit and…yeah, even I didn’t see this coming. The performance of the farm system last season represents the greatest overperformance by the Royals in any significant facet since 1985.

Word on the street is that Joe Posnanski is in Arizona, writing a column about the Royals’ farm system for Sports Illustrated. Think about that for a moment – a team that has won 70 games just twice in the last ten seasons is getting a feature article in Sports Illustrated solely on the basis of its farm system. Something like a dozen Royals players are going to find their names inside the pages of SI before they’ve played a game in the major leagues. (Already, there’s an article on SI’s website about the Royals’ minor leaguers here.)

And with all that, someone had to go and splash the cold water of reality on the proceedings. Over at Royals Review, a gentleman named Scott McKinney performed a quantitative analysis of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect list over the years, and came to the rather reasonable conclusion that only about 30% of all Top 100 Prospects turn out as “successes” at the major league level. Or to put it another way, about 70% of all Top 100 Prospects go bust.

How very rude of him. (You can read his study here.)

This article got a fair amount of attention, not just on these here internets but also on Kansas City radio, where my friend Soren Petro spent the better part of an hour talking about the implications, and painting a picture of the Royals’ future that can only be described as depressing. I asked for the opportunity to make a rebuttal, and was on Soren’s show this past Tuesday. As things usually go when I’m on the radio, 35 minutes passed in a blink of an eye, and while we covered a lot of topics and discussed a lot of players in detail, I never got around to arguing the main point, which is whether we’re overrating the potential impact that the farm system is going to have on the future of the team at the major league level.

Fortunately for you, that means I can make my case here instead.

I don’t have any real issues with McKinney’s study; on the contrary, I think his results only quantified what most analysts already suspected, which is that the risk of prospects – even top prospects – is far greater than we’d care to admit. For years, we’ve been saying that the best way to develop a starting pitcher in the majors is to start with five pitching prospects. According to McKinney, that rule of thumb is exactly true; the success rate for pitchers on the Top 100 list is 23%. (For position players, not surprisingly, it’s much higher – 37%.)

Five of the Royals’ nine Top 100 Prospects are pitchers, but the risk is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the Royals have three Top-10 hitting prospects, a class of prospect which is about as low-risk as they come. McKinney estimates the success rate of Hosmer, Moustakas, and Myers at around 61% each. So of the nine prospects, McKinney arrived at an “expected value” of 3.104 successes. (Actually, I believe McKinney made a math error – he assigned John Lamb and Mike Montgomery the wrong values – and the actually “expected value” should be 3.452 successes.) Basically, two of the big three hitters should be a success, one of the five pitchers, and then the Royals get a freebie with Christian Colon. Two of the other six players will be “contributors”, guys who aren’t above-average players but still have value in the majors, and the other three or four will be busts.

That’s not nearly the scenario Royals fans are looking for. More to the point, if the Royals end up with three above-average players (including one star) and two contributors out of their farm system, coupled with the 100-loss talent they have in the majors right now, they’re not going to sniff contention in the next few years without a massive infusion of talent from outside the system.

Before you throw yourself off a bridge, let me massage the data a little. While I agree with the gist of McKinney’s conclusions, I do think that the overall success rate he comes up with overstates the risk of prospects a little. I think that for three main reasons, which I’ll expound upon by using three different players as props:

Todd Van Poppel: Van Poppel was considered the best player available in the 1990 draft, but fell to #13 overall because of the bonus demands of one Scott Boras. (In some ways, Van Poppel was the first top draft prospect to fall in the draft because of signability issues.) He made eight starts in the minors that summer, and while he was overpowering – 49 strikeouts and 18 hits allowed in 38 innings – he also walked 19 batters. The following spring, he ranked #1 on Baseball America’s. In 1991, Van Poppel was rushed to Double-A, and in 131 innings he walked 90 batters against just 115 strikeouts. That performance dropped him on the prospect list in 1992…all the way to #2.

I’ve been a subscriber to Baseball America since 1992 or 1993, and they’ve been the gold standard for coverage of the minor leagues since well before then. But I do think that in the early years of their Top Prospect list Baseball America overvalued scouting reports, and understated the risk with pitchers four levels away from the majors. I think even they’d acknowledge that they do a better job of evaluating prospects today than in the past.

(Another good example was Kiki Jones, a high school right-hander selected #15 overall in the 1989 draft by the Dodgers. He wasn’t particularly tall at 5’11”, but he threw hard, and in 12 starts in rookie ball he went 8-0 with 1.58 ERA and struck out a batter an inning. The following spring, Baseball America unveiled their first-ever Top 100 Prospect list. Kiki Jones was #6 overall. Jones struggled with arm problems and never even reached the majors.)

McKinney addresses this phenomenon in his study; breaking out the lists by year, he found that the success rate for players was only 27% from 1990 to 1993, and around 32% from 1994 to 2003. And this year, Jameson Taillon, who compares favorably with Van Poppel as right-handed flamethrowers from Texas high schools, is ranked at “only” #11.

Bill Pulsipher: Pulsipher, a big hard-throwing left-hander selected by the Mets in the second round in the 1991 draft, ranked as Baseball America’s #21 prospect overall three years later. Pulsipher spent all of 1994 in Double-A as a 20-year-old pitcher, and was outstanding – in 201 innings, he allowed 179 hits, and while he allowed 89 walks, he also struck out 171 batters.

Read those numbers again. Pulsipher threw TWO HUNDRED AND ONE INNINGS. In a minor league season that ended around Labor Day. In just 28 starts. And as those walk and strikeout numbers suggest, those weren’t exactly high-efficiency innings.

The following spring, Pulsipher ranked as the #12 prospect in baseball, a part of the Mets’ Generation K along with Paul Wilson (#16) and Jason Isringhausen (#37). All three had shouldered huge workloads – Wilson in college, the other two in the minors. Pulsipher made it to The Show in 1995 and in 17 starts posted a 3.98 ERA. He then blew out his shoulder, didn’t return to the majors until 1998, and was a shell of his former self. No one can fault his effort – as recently as 2009, he was still toiling on the fringes of organized baseball, in Mexico and the Northern League, which is just incredibly sad.

Wilson blew out his shoulder after his rookie season in 1996, and missed three seasons, but returned to the majors in 2000 and managed to find gainful (if not necessarily effective) employment for the next five years. Only Isringhausen – who in 1994 threw just 193 innings in 28 starts, the lucky guy – had a productive career, as a closer, and only after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Teams don’t handle their pitching prospects the way they did 20 or even 10 years ago. John Lamb made 28 starts last year, the same number that Pulsipher threw in 1994, but only threw 148 innings. And he threw the most innings of the five Royals pitchers on the list. Presumably, the success rate of pitching prospects has gone up over time as teams have become more careful with them. But if they have, I’m not sure McKinney’s study would have captured it, as in order to have an extended follow-up period he ended his study with BA’s 2003 Top Prospect List.

Pablo Ozuna: Once upon a time, Pablo Ozuna was a Top 10 Prospect. Prior to the 1999 season, BA ranked him the #9 prospect in the land. Over at Baseball Prospectus, where I had started my own Top Prospect list, Ozuna landed at #5. And why not? In 1998 Ozuna, as a 19-year-old shortstop in the Midwest League, had just hit .357 and stolen 62 bases. He had just been traded from the Cardinals to the Marlins as the centerpiece of the deal that brought Edgar Renteria to St. Louis.

Only it turns out Ozuna wasn’t 19 years old during the 1998 season. He was 23, and turned 24 before the season ended. Needless to say, he shouldn’t have been a Top 100 Prospect, let alone Top 10, but Ozuna’s real date of birth wasn’t revealed until it was too late. Ozuna would eventually break in with the 2005 White Sox as a 30-year-old rookie utility player.

Ozuna is just the most glaring example of what has been a very common phenomenon among Latin American prospects – particularly from the Dominican Republic, where a lack of accurate record-keeping has made it easier for ballplayers to carry around fictitious birthdates and even names. The US government cracked down on identity theft in a post 9/11 era, which has limited but hardly ended the problem. It would be interesting to see whether Top 100 Prospects from the Dominican Republic were more likely to go bust than American-born players.

In any case, this doesn’t affect the Royals. Eight of their nine Top Prospects were born in America; Christian Colon is from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

These three factors all conspire to lower the success rate of top prospects, and I think it’s fair to assume that as these factors are eliminated, that the expected success rate of top prospects should rise. I think it’s a modest difference, but it could be the difference between having three successes and four successes out of the Royals’ collection of Top 100 guys.

Also, while I think that McKinney uses a fair definition of “success” – a player averaging 1.5 fWAR a season over the first six full seasons of his career – for most players, I’m not sure that’s a fair threshold for relievers. Actually, I’m fairly sure it’s not. Robinson Tejeda has been, by any objective standard, a useful reliever for the Royals the last two years. He threw 61 innings last year, 74 innings in 2009 (when he made 6 starts), and had a 3.54 ERA each season. That’s not an elite-level reliever, but that’s a pretty useful set-up man.

But Tejeda didn’t reach the 1.5 fWAR threshold in either season. Daniel Bard, who had an outstanding season as the Red Sox’ set-up man last year, clocked in at exactly 1.5 fWAR. It is quite possible for a pitcher to be a successful reliever in the majors without qualifying as a “success” by the parameters of this study. That’s not a huge failing of the study, because out of 100 prospects, generally only three or four are relievers at the time they’re placed on the list. But with most teams carrying seven relievers at a time, it’s important to note that over a quarter of a team’s roster is exempt from the definition of “success” posed by this study.

Still, out of the other 18 roster spots, if the Royals wind up with four average or above-average players out of their farm system, that’s not going to be good enough. I have no illusions about that. And yet I still think that the Royals have the talent in their farm system right now to build a sustained contender in two or three years.

The reason is quite simple. Oh…but would you look at the time? (Or word count?) It’s getting late. I’ll explain why in Part 2.