Rebuilding and the Draft, The Grand Overview
This quarter in grad school, I’ve been attending a series of lectures by writers. Outside of “the first book takes ten years on average,” the most common refrain I’ve heard is “I throw out far more work than I save.” I don’t think I’ve actually heard anyone claim that their ratio of published work to discarded work is actually pretty good. If you’re lucky, some of the stuff will get cannibalized and turn into something relevant later. Heck, I did that just last week with something I wrote two and a half years ago and didn’t know what to do with.
The baseball journalism shtick operates under similar parameters. Except in some cases it can be worse. Sure, you may not be as concerned with the aesthetic value of what you’re doing, but you’re bound to a news cycle where, true enough there are opportunities for digression into history (2003 Tigers!), but you’re mostly trying to get things out on a schedule. If someone else has had the same idea and managed to beat you to it, that’s a lot of work that you can’t really do anything with. There are about 150 drafts on the server that will never see the light of day, and as I revealed some time ago, I had three pre-written draft articles for last year that I had to throw out when Hultzen got picked.
At some point yesterday, a question was posed in the comments section as to whether or not anyone else had done studies of this ilk on other systems. I don’t know why anyone would bring that upon themselves, but okay. The way I see it, if you’re bad, it’s depressing. If you’re good, you might not have anyone who cares. You probably have other things to enjoy. Like baseball!
But FanGraphs author Jim Breen cared, and thought enough of it to post, first, a Building Through the Draft: Best of the Best article the covers the top 5 success stories (this was Monday), and a piece on the other half of the story, Building Through the Draft: Worst of the Worst, which includes a table of all thirty teams and their production going back to 2002. We are the worst. We were so bad. I, meanwhile, was working on my own variation of the thing and only went with the time span I allotted for my own Monday article. And I spent three hours on that last night. Hours I should have been devoting to other things.
Still, for my own peace of mind, I don’t feel like throwing it out, even if Breen was presumably using FanGraphs WAR data and I went with B-R out of convenience or laziness/time-saving. The parameters, I expect are similar: I’m only considering players that were signed as it doesn’t take too much to spend a 50th round pick on a talented kid you know you will never sign. If I had the capacity to set up a table to re-order things either by team name or WAR, I would, but instead I opted to go by team name. I’ll trust that all of you know how to use a find function on your web browser.
Since Breen already did his thing, I won’t be going too in-depth with the analysis here, like considering what players actually accumulated WAR for their drafted team as I did with the M’s. If someone else wants to pick up that, they’re free to do so. This should provide us enough material for our purposes. I’ve mentioned names that caught my eye in parentheses, but I won’t promise that I found all of them. And because I’m talking about the WAR generated by each class and presenting an average of the classes, that’s somewhat different. Right?
As a final point of clarification before the numbers: this is overall WAR generated, not WAR generated with the drafting team. This is more of a look at the method of drafting and signing than the utilization of the talent, which isn’t really something that the draft people can do anything about.
Angels: 1.0 WAR (Brandon Wood sucks)
Astros: -2.3 WAR
Athletics: 11.4 WAR
Braves: 3.7 WAR (Jo-Jo Reyes sucks)
Brewers: 12.4 WAR (Rickie Weeks)
Cardinals: 18.2 WAR (Brendan Ryan!)
Cubs: 9.3 WAR
D’Backs: 12.7 WAR (Quentin)
Dodgers: 33.0 WAR (Kemp, Billingsley)
Giants: 11.7 WAR (Aardsma, that guy with the beard)
Indians: 8.4 WAR
Mariners: 12.2 WAR (Jones)
Marlins: -1.8 WAR
Mets: 1.1 WAR
Natinals: 5.4 WAR (Chad Cordero)
Orioles: 20.1 WAR (Markakis)
Padres: 2.3 WAR
Phillies: 19.4 (Bourn, Brad Ziegler)
Pirates: 13.9 WAR (Maholm)
Rangers: 47.1 WAR (Kinsler, Danks)
Rays: 0.7 WAR
Red Sox: 26 WAR (Papelbon)
Reds: 1.8 WAR
Rockies: 1.7 WAR
Royals: 4.9 WAR
Tigers: -2.6 WAR
Twins: 12.4 WAR (Scott Baker)
Blue Jays: 33.5 WAR (Aaron Hill, Shaun Marcum)
White Sox: 6.5 WAR (Ryan Sweeney)
Yankees: 8.1 WAR
Average: 11.07 WAR
Angels: 29.3 WAR (Jered Weaver)
Astros: 26.9 WAR (Zobrist, Pence)
Athletics: 26 WAR (Street, Suzuki, Braden)
Blue Jays: 12.7 WAR (Lind)
Braves: -0.8 WAR
Brewers: 14.6 WAR (Gallardo)
Cardinals: -2.5 WAR
Cubs: -0.5 WAR
D’Backs: 16.9 WAR (Drew, Mark Reynolds)
Dodgers: 6.7 WAR
Giants: 1.3 WAR (Jonathan Sanchez and some negatives)
Indians: 2.8 WAR
Mariners: -2.3 WAR
Marlins: 5.2 WAR
Mets: 5.2 WAR
Natinals: 3.5 WAR
Orioles: 2.9 WAR
Padres: -0.2 WAR
Phillies: 5.8 WAR
Pirates: 2.9 WAR
Rangers: -0.8 WAR
Rays: 6.3 WAR
Red Sox: 25.8 WAR (Pedroia)
Reds: 0.1 WAR
Rockies: 10.1 WAR (Ianetta)
Royals: 7.9 WAR (Butler)
Tigers: 26.1 WAR (Verlander)
Twins: 3.1 WAR
White Sox: 5.0 WAR (Gio Gonzalez)
Yankees: 5.7 WAR
Average: 8.19 WAR
Angels: 3.4 WAR
Astros: -0.6 WAR
Athletics: 7.2 WAR
Blue Jays: 11.4 WAR (Ricky Romero)
Braves: 24.7 WAR (Yunel Escobar, Tommy Hanson)
Brewers: 22.8 WAR (Braun)
Cardinals: 7.9 WAR (Rasmus, Jaime Garcia)
Cubs: -0.3 WAR
D’Backs: 16.5 WAR (Upton)
Dodgers: -4.1 WAR
Giants: 3.6 WAR (Romo)
Indians: 1.9 WAR
Mariners: -1.2 WAR
Marlins: 5.3 WAR
Mets: 6.3 WAR
Natinals: 26.4 WAR (Zimmerman)
Orioles: 2.5 WAR
Padres: 14.4 WAR (Headley, Venable, Hundley)
Phillies: 5.1 WAR
Pirates: 11 WAR (McCutchen)
Rangers: 2.8 WAR
Rays: 4.8 WAR
Red Sox: 24.1 WAR (Ellsbury, Buchholz)
Reds: 12.9 WAR (Bruce, Axford)
Rockies: 23.7 WAR (Tulo)
Royals: 9.7 WAR (Gordon)
Tigers: 15.1 WAR (Matt Joyce, Maybin)
Twins: 19.8 WAR (Garza)
White Sox: 2.7 WAR
Yankees: 16.6 WAR (Gardner, Jackson)
Average: 9.88 WAR
Angels: 2.0 WAR
Astros: 1.4 WAR
Athletics: 16.5 WAR (Cahill, Bailey)
Blue Jays: 0.2 WAR
Braves: 0.9 WAR
Brewers: 0.4 WAR
Cardinals: 8.3 WAR
Cubs: -0.2 WAR
D’Backs: 13.3 WAR (Scherzer, Brett Anderson)
Dodgers: 16.7 WAR (Kershaw)
Giants: 20.6 WAR (Lincecum)
Indians: 1.2 WAR (David Huff and his -2.9 WAR)
Mariners: 11.8 WAR (Fister, Morrow)
Marlins: 2.3 WAR
Mets: 6.1 WAR
Natinals: 0.7 WAR
Orioles: 0.7 WAR
Padres: 9.2 WAR (Latos)
Phillies: 0.2 WAR
Pirates: -0.3 WAR
Rangers: 0.6 WAR (Holland)
Rays: 27.0 WAR (Longoria)
Red Sox: 14.2 WAR (Masterson, Bard)
Reds: 11.4 WAR (Stubbs)
Rockies: -1.7 WAR (Greg Reynolds is disappointing)
Royals: 3.4 WAR (Hochevar)
Tigers: -1.3 WAR (Andrew Miller sucks)
Twins: 1.1 WAR
White Sox: 0.1 WAR
Yankees: 19.1 WAR (Kennedy, Joba, Robertson)
Average: 6.20 WAR
Angels: -0.3 WAR
Astros: 0.0 WAR
Athletics: -0.7 WAR
Blue Jays: 4.3 WAR
Braves: 10.5 WAR (Heyward, Kimbrel)
Brewers: 0.4 WAR
Cardinals: -0.2 WAR
Cubs: 0.9 WAR
D’Backs: 2.4 WAR
Dodgers: 0.0 WAR
Giants: 5.7 WAR (Bumgarner)
Indians: -0.2 WAR
Mariners: 0.4 WAR
Marlins: 9.2 WAR (Stanton)
Mets: 2.9 WAR
Natinals: 4.3 WAR
Orioles: 9.9 WAR (Wieters)
Padres: 3.8 WAR
Phillies: -0.5 WAR
Pirates: 0.6 WAR
Rangers: 4.7 WAR
Rays: 10.6 WAR (Price)
Red Sox: -0.7 WAR
Reds: 1.1 WAR
Rockies: 0.4 WAR
Royals: 3.3 WAR (Holland, Moustakas)
Tigers: 3.3 WAR (Porcello)
Twins: 0.2 WAR
White Sox: -0.8 WAR
Yankees: 0.8 WAR
Average: 2.54 WAR
Things I learned from all this:
* The Angels drafted Brandon Morrow, Anthony Vasquez, Brian Matusz, and Buster Posey, but as a pitcher. WACKY
* The Astros, for as much as their farm system has sucked, hit it big on two guys in 2004.
* The Athletics have had eleven graduates from the 2004 draft. Most of them good.
* The Blue Jays 2006 draft has gotten 0.2 WAR out of Graham Godfrey, who went to the Athletics within a year, and 0.0 WAR out of Travis Snider. Buh?
* For a team that had a track record for building internally and player development, the Braves drafts were mostly awful and I don’t know how much one should credit them for Escobar, who was not a prep player. Fortunately for them, the ’07 draft had Heyward, Kimbrel, and Freeman. They could have had Brandon Belt too.
* The Brewers drafted Andrew Bailey before the A’s did. Now you know where those rumors this offseason were coming from. Expect Jake Arrieta or Jemile Weeks rumors eventually.
* The Cardinals missed on Ian Kennedy and Max Scherzer in 2003, but to date, Brendan Ryan has accumulated more WAR than either of them. Let’s see how long that lasts!
* Everyone remembers when the Cubs drafted Tim Lincecum in the 48th round in 2003, right? Boy, we sure did miss an opportunity there. The Cubs 2005 draft was worse than ours by a good margin as their only graduate has a negative contribution.
* I included Clay Zavada from the D’Backs 2006 draft on technicality, since he left and came back. Otherwise, they’ve been more productive than I knew.
* The Dodgers missed out David Price and Hochevar. I can’t imagine it’s common to miss out on two guys who later became 1/1s. Their 2005 class is the worst overall as far as negative contributors.
* The Giants were one of a couple of teams that drafted Doug Fister, but beyond that they struck me as among the most efficient teams as far as signing the guys that got to the majors.
* In the Indians 2004 draft class, B-R has 45th rounder Tony Sipp accumulating 0.2 more WAR over his career than first-round pick and 6th overall Jeremy Sowers.
* The Marlins, despite being around only since 1993, have drafted and signed two of the seven major leaguers to have gone by the first name “Logan.”
* Lastings Milledge has been worth -2.0 WAR, but he was big deal for the Mets back in the day. Most of their first-rounders/first overall picks have been awful or not nearly as good as anticipated. Eddie Kunz, Nathan Vineyard, Kevin Mulvey, Mike Pelfrey (the best!), Philip Humber (the second-best!), Milledge…
* Brad Peacock, a key piece in the Nationals trade for Gio Gonzalez, was a 41st round pick. He was drafted as a catcher. He’s a pitcher now. He is one of only two Peacocks to reach the major leagues.
* The 2005 Orioles draft has Nolan Reimold and Garret Olson canceling each other out. In ’04, they had Will Venable and Jaime Garcia and could sign neither.
* The Padres’ 2005 draft produced two major leaguers named Cesar. There have been twelve major leaguers that have gone by Cesar ever, thirteen if you go with Tavo Alvarez whose first name was really Cesar. The Padres’ 2005 draft has produced 16.7% of our major leaguers who have gone by Cesar.
* The Phillies’ 2006 class is Jason Donald and four negatives right now. They also drafted Rob Johnson before he had any ties to the Mariners. Weird.
* The Pirates’ rebuilding efforts would have been aided by the addition of Lonnie Chisenhall, their 11th rounder in 2006. Like us, they’ve only really started drafting well recently.
* The Rangers could have signed Drew Pomeranz and Cory Luebke too (along with Brad Lincoln, who was a big deal at one time). Of the contributors the Rangers have had from the 2006 draft, three of the five were from after round 20.
* Twelve picks from the Rays’ 2003 draft have graduated. Of those, only four ever were signed by the Rays, Jaso, Delmon Young, James Houser, and Chad Orvella. Their 2005 draft had six graduates, the only one of which they signed was Hellickson. They missed out on Ike Davis and Tommy Hunter. In 2006, it was Mike Minor.
* All of the positive contributors from the Red Sox’ 2005 draft were signed by them, in addition to Craig Hansen, who was the 26th overall pick that year, and has had the worst WAR. Otherwise, none of the other negative WARs signed (This includes Pedro Alvarez and Jason Castro, for the moment).
* John Axford went from a 7th round pick by us in 2001 to a 42nd round pick by the Reds in 2005. He’s been good too.
* The Rockies surely would have liked to have signed Chris Sale, who may not have liked to have been signed by the Rockies. 2005’s WAR is all Tulo.
* Likewise, Alex Gordon is the only player from the Royals’ 2005 draft to reach the majors.
* In a draft where they picked Andrew Miller first, Brennan Boesh has been the Tigers most productive pick. Miller has been so bad as to negate any gains in that draft all on his own.
* The Twins were the first team to draft Yonder Alonso, 16th round 2005.
* Outside of the Mariners, the White Sox have had some pretty dismal drafts. Breen indicated that over a larger timespan, they did better than us, but for the purposes of this sample, they were worse.
* The Yankees drafted Doug Fister. WE SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN MONTERO FOR HIM.
So what conclusions can we draw from this? A few perhaps, but I’m leaving it more as a data playground for people to run around in since Breen did his thing already. The 2004 draft was probably one of the most boom or bust affairs I think we’re likely to see for a while, though its overall quality was substandard. The Mariners’ 2003 draft, while productive, is only a little bit above the average at this point while, as I suspected, their 2006 effort was well above average. I’ve also concluded that I’m right not to go further than 2007 at this point, what with the diminishing returns.
I probably won’t do this again next year because I would have to re-calculate everything and it would take me something like six hours to do it all, but I hope that this has provided some amusing diversion to you on this Wednesday.