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2016 Red Sox top prospect voting: Starting over, and looking back

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It was a big year for Boston's farm system, with three of the last year's top prospects graduating to the majors. That's left a vacuum at the top that has to (and has) been filled. Let's get to voting.

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

It's that time of year again. Spring is...well, not all that near if you've just been hit by a major blizzard. But if you do some math and project it out, we've got about 10 weeks left before Opening Day will be at our door, and that means it's time to renew Over The Monster's top-20 prospects list as voted on by you, the readers.

Before we get to that, however, it's worth looking back at last year's list. Lamenting the failures, celebrating the successes, and waving farewell to those who have moved elsewhere. Here's what we ended up with going into 2015:

  1. Blake Swihart, C
  2. Yoan Moncada, IF
  3. Henry Owens, LHP
  4. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
  5. Rafael Devers, 3B
  6. Manuel Margot, OF
  7. Brian Johnson, LHP
  8. Garin Cecchini, 3B
  9. Matt Barnes, RHP
  10. Deven Marrero, SS
  11. Michael Chavis, SS
  12. Trey Ball, LHP
  13. Sean Coyle, 2B
  14. Michael Kopech, RHP
  15. Edwin Escobar, LHP
  16. Sam Travis, 1B
  17. Steven Wright, RHP
  18. Teddy Stankiewicz, RHP
  19. Travis Shaw, 1B
  20. Wendell Rijo, 2B

The first thing that jumps out to me is how much change there's going to be, particularly at the top. Three of our top four are either going to start the year in Boston, or have spent enough time there already to be considered graduated. Manuel Margot is gone now, having served his club in the Kimbrel trade. Garin Cecchini as well, albeit under less...glamorous circumstances. Matt Barnes has been struggling, but doing so at the majors. Steven Wright finally managed to establish himself as, if not a lock in any specific role, a useful major league arm good for 72 innings last year. And of course Travis Shaw turned things on in a big way in Boston. That's a whole bunch of names gone due to eligibility.

There's going to be a lot of movement based on results too, of course. Sam Travis earned a spot in the last five after an encouraging debut, but breezed his way through High-A and repeated his success in Double-A this season. A strong performance in the AFL at 22 suggests his time in Portland was no fluke, either. He's ahead of the curve, and might be knocking on the door of the majors earlier than expected. Michael Kopech, too, was playing extremely well in Greenville...right up until that Oxilofrine suspension, at least. Not the best look.

And then there are players perhaps going the other way. Michael Chavis' first full year in the system was not pretty. Ditto Trey Ball's second. The injuries may have finally done Sean Coyle in. And...well, honestly, there might be a decent amount of attrition throughout the middle ranks if it weren't for all the players being taken off the list. While Boston's system remains strong, the fact of the matter is that it's a lot more due to the top-end these days, particularly if the class of 2015 (non-Benintendi division) doesn't turn things around in 2016.

But for now, we get to focus on that top-end. In particular, the big four. I generally try not to sway the vote too hard, but I don't think it's a controversial statement to say that this system is divided into tiers, and the top tier is four players deep. Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Anderson Espinoza, and Yoan Moncada stand alone. The question is: in what order? I chose alphabetical there. Your mission today, and over the next couple weeks, is to sort them out by quality.

We'll be sticking with the poll system this year. It's just very lightweight, and so long as we throw enough names at the wall--or have a clearly defined group as we do here--there don't seem to be too many problems with people not getting to vote for the player they want. So without further ado, here's the first:

Well, that didn't work.

One player had a large, early lead in the poll and everything looked normal. Then about 30 minutes later, a different player had a large lead, and things did not.

Specifically, checking our site statistics, this particular page had a wildly unusual number of non-unique page views. That is to say, repeat views by users who had already been on the page before. How far off? To this point, 46% of the page views for this article came from repeat users. Or a single one as might be the case. To give you a frame of reference, the next highest mark for an article today is 9%. Given that we don't have some raging argument in the comments where the same people kept coming back to reply...well, the implication is obvious.

While technically the polling system isn't supposed to allow one person to vote twice, a quick check shows that incognito mode and the like get around that with ease. Vote, refresh, and vote again.

Unfortunately, based on this evidence, I've chosen to wipe the poll, and instead return to the rec system of yesteryear. That means you'll have to be a registered user to vote (sorry to the rest of you), which you can do by going to the appropriate comment below, and clicking the "rec" button next to the star symbol. This makes it a lot harder to flood the vote, and allows us to clearly see when someone does.

Wish we could've done this the normal way, but someone's not playing by the rules.