With the 2012 draft behind us, I thought it would be fun to look at some drafts of recent vintage. All of this data came from baseball-reference.com. I pulled in the top 150 picks from each draft for the ten year period from 1996 to 2005. I figure if anyone from the 2005 draft hasn’t already arrived, they are not likely to be in impact player in the future. I wanted to look at a couple of things. First, how often do these picks make the Show? Second, how has quality of the draft varied yearly? Also, what effect does taking high school kids versus college kids make? Lastly, which teams do pretty well and which teams don’t? I also look at how Neal Huntington did during his time in Cleveland.
Typically the top 150 picks would take the league into the early to middle part of the fifth round. It depended on how many supplemental picks there were. So, every team isn’t represented with an equal number of picks.
In spite of my misgivings about WAR (expressed in an blog earlier this week), I’m using that stat (from baseball-reference.com) because I needed to be able to measure pitchers and hitters all together.
Results by Draft Position
I broke the draft positions into 15 different slots, with ten picks per slot. So, picks 1 through 10 are in the first slot. For each slot, 100 different picks were made (ten years time ten picks) over the course of the study. Is there a big spread among these slots for accumulated WAR and if so, at what point does that spread become narrow enough as to be inconsequential? What percent of each slot actually makes it to the Majors even if only for a day. I also list the highest single player career WAR along with who that player is. I also list the lowest WAR among all those players who actually made it to the Majors.
|Draft Position||% in MLB||Total WAR||Max WAR||Best||Worst|
|1-10||75||828.3||42.4||J.D. Drew||John Van Benschoten|
|21-30||63||236.9||27.6||Matt Cain||Brandon Wood|
|31-40||54||152.3||35.3||David Wright||Buddy Carlyle|
|41-50||51||156.3||38.1||Jimmy Rollins||Jo-Jo Reyes|
|51-60||50||185.1||33.1||Carl Crawford||Rocky Biddle|
|61-70||47||159.1||27.8||Dustin Pedroia||Andrew Miller|
|71-80||42||149.7||32.1||Dan Haren||Jason Grabowski|
|81-90||33||93.6||18.2||Justin Morneau||Kory Casto|
|91-100||36||32.2||10.5||Scott Downs||Charlie Morton|
|101-110||37||96.7||30.9||Cliff Lee||Todd Wellemeyer|
|111-120||38||94.0||21.5||Josh Johnson||Peter Bergeron|
|121-130||31||21.0||9.0||Eric Byrnes||Lance Cormier|
|131-140||42||73.2||19.1||Chone Figgins||Hayden Penn|
|141-150||23||51.8||24.0||Michael Young||Chad Meyers|
There is a drop between each of the first four slots. Then picks 31 to 80 produce a relatively equal amount of quality. It drops off form there as we approach pick #100 and fluctuates between 21 WAR and 97 WAR over the final 70 picks in this study.
Including the first time J.D. Drew was picked, 25 picks made in the Top 10 failed to reach the Show. Those include eight guys picked in the first five (excluding Drew). They were Matt Bush (Padres), Chris Gruler (Reds), Kyle Sleeth (Tigers), Corey Myers (DBacks), Mike Stodolka (Royals), B.J. Garbe (Twins), Clint Everts (Expos) and another Royal, Chris Lubanski. Bush was the most recent of those picks, taken in 2004.
Results by Year
Similar questions, but now looking at it year-by-year.
|Year||# in MLB||Total WAR||Max WAR||Best|
Through the first five years of this study, 65 out of 150 picks on average would get to the Big Leagues. In the next five years, that moved up to almost 74 out of 150. A couple of possible reasons for that that I can come up with. First is that the information age has made it easier/simpler to get good data and video on prospects and allowed teams to draft smarter. Second, as bonus money continued to rise, general managers felt more pressure to get their picks to the Show even if they weren’t really playing well enough to earn the promotion. I tossed the drafts for 2006, 2007 and 2008 on there as well. It looks like we’ll continue to see a higher percentage of the top 150 make the Majors.
Results by Type of School and Position
Do the best players come from high school or college? What position is least likely to be drafted? I list players in the position that is listed for them on draft day. So, Mark Teixeira is a 3B even though he spent just 15 games in the Majors at third.
|Type||Pos||# of Picks||# in the Majors||Total WAR||Max WAR||Best|
|4 Yr College||LHP||123||71||224.5||32.9||Barry Zito|
|4 Year Total||712||370||1455|
|Type||Pos||# of Picks||# in the Majors||Total WAR||Max WAR||Best|
|High School||LHP||102||50||163.3||50.4||C.C. Sabathia|
|Type||Pos||# of Picks||# in the Majors||Total WAR||Max WAR||Best|
|Jr College||LHP||10||4||-2.4||0.4||Matt Chico|
There are three players missing from the tallies above, two from Puerto Rico and one from Cuba. Yunel Escobar with 17.8 WAR in his career is the only one of consequence.
Looking at the numbers: 4 year college players are more likely to make it. The average among college kids who make it is 3.9 WAR. High school players make it less frequency, but the ones who do posted an average of 4.3 WAR. Junior College players are inconsequential with two players – Markakis and Lackey – accounting for nearly 2/3 of the WAR.
If you play second base in high school, switch positions. If you play second base in college and your name isn’t Chase Utley, switch positions. Other than high school second baseman, the other slot with a low average WAR per Major League player is collegiate catcher (uh oh Tony Sanchez). College lefties fair better than high school lefties.
The average value for the best from the positions listed is 36.7 for four year colleges and 31.3 for high school. The biggest discrepancy is at second. The college numbers are skewed upward by Utley and the high school numbers are almost non-existant. If you take second base out of the equation, the peak college performer is 34.7 WAR on average versus 35.5 WAR for high school.
Results by Franchise
|Franchise||# of picks||# in the Majors||Total WAR||Three Best|
|Phillies||42||21||220.4||Utley, Rollins, Hamels|
|A’s||61||34||167.7||Zito, Chavez, Mulder|
|Nationals||55||21||139.4||Cliff Lee, Sizemore, Zimmerman|
|Cardinals||51||25||139.1||J.D. Drew, Haren, Adam Kennedy|
|Rangers||49||27||131.1||Teixeira, Carlos Pena, Danks|
|Blue Jays||51||28||130.6||Vernon Wells, Michael Young, Alex Rios|
|Twins||57||26||130.6||Mauer, Morneau, Scott Baker|
|Rockies||53||27||123.9||Tulowitzki, Figgins, Aaron Cook|
|Red Sox||52||27||119.6||Pedroia, Lester, Papelbon|
|Tigers||53||28||114.7||Granderson, Verlander, Inge|
|Brewers||46||17||114.5||Braun, Sheets, Hardy|
|Marlins||47||26||114.2||Beckett, A. Gonzalez, J. Johnson|
|Angels||46||21||109.0||Glaus, Jered Weaver, Lackey|
|Braves||53||29||90.3||McCann, Wainwright, Yunel Escobar|
|Astros||44||18||84.6||Berkman, Pence, Lidge|
|Rays||41||26||82.8||Crawford, Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton|
|Orioles||55||24||80.4||Brian Roberts, Werth, Markakis|
|Royales||58||26||70.9||Greinke, DeJesus, Alex Gordon|
|Mets||43||19||70.7||Wright, Kazmir, Angel Pagan|
|Indians||56||16||68.1||Sabathia, Jeremy Guthrie, Garko|
|Yankees||46||18||63.7||Eric Milton, Brett Gardner, Nick Johnson|
|Pirates||46||17||62.2||McCutchen, Chris Young, Benson|
|Cubs||51||20||61.6||Garland, Prior, Scott Downs|
|Reds||50||18||59.5||Votto, Dunn, Kearns|
|Giants||50||25||56.6||Cain, Noah Lowry, Linebrink|
|D-Backs||41||22||54.9||Stephen Drew, Justin Upton, Cust|
|White Sox||61||31||52.7||Rowand, Crede, Gio Gonzalez|
|Mariners||41||17||32.6||Meche, Adam Jones, Matt Thornton|
|Dodgers||48||22||29.9||Billingsley, Loney, Broxton|
|Padres||53||17||29.7||Chase Headley, Khalil Green, Burroughs|
A couple of things to note with this. First, there are plenty of good players missing. Some were taken in drafts of more recent vintage (Tim Lincecum taken in 2006) and some were taken in later rounds (Matt Kemp was a sixth round pick in 2003). Some guys who are still mashing were taken earlier than than 1996 (Paul Konerko). Some guys were not drafted, like Miguel Cabrera. So, this is a measurement of how well teams did with their selections among the top 150 in this ten year period.
First glance: makes sense the Pirates are in the bottom third. Player development has been putrid. The Yankees are just above them. But they aren’t getting credit for international signee Robinson Cano or the still relatively productive Derek Jeter. Plus, they have a huge payroll. That’s a steep drop off a cliff for the Reds once you move beyond Votto and Dunn. Too bad the Expos traded for Bartolo Colon. The Indians fleeced them.
The Phillies were unbelievably good during this period. They drafted nine players who posted a 10 or higher career WAR value. Ryan Howard doesn’t even crack their top three. The Blue Jays, Brewers and Twins are next up with six players posting a career WAR of 10 or better. The Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Mariners, Padres and Pirates were the only teams not to develop a player with a career WAR of 15 or higher. Barring something unforeseen, Stephen Drew, Justin Upton, Chad Billingsley, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Chase Headley will top 15 career WAR.
Top and Bottom
Here are the top 20 players in terms of WAR for the drafts examined:
CC Sabathia 50.4
Chase Utley 50.4
Lance Berkman 49.1
J.D. Drew 42.4
Mark Teixeira 42.3
Jimmy Rollins 38.1
David Wright 35.3
Troy Glaus 35.0
Joe Mauer 33.9
Carl Crawford 33.1
Barry Zito 32.9
Eric Chavez 32.6
Dan Haren 32.1
Josh Beckett 31.8
Cliff Lee 30.9
Curtis Granderson 30.5
Justin Verlander 29.2
Zack Greinke 27.8
Dustin Pedroia 27.8
Matt Cain 27.6
Ryan Braun 27.6
Here are the bottom 20:
Jo-Jo Reyes -4.1
Brandon Wood -4.0
Andrew Miller -3.9
John Van Benschoten -3.6
Rocky Biddle -3.5
Dewon Brazelton -3.5
Hayden Penn -3.5
Dee Brown -3.3
Peter Bergeron -3.2
Garrett Olson -3.1
Charlie Morton -3.0
Aaron Myette -2.8
Blaine Boyer -2.4
Koyie Hill -2.4
Tim Drew -2.3
Buddy Carlyle -2.1
Todd Linden -2.1
Lance Cormier -2.1
Craig Hansen -2.1
Eric Munson -2.0
Chad Allen -2.0
Denny Stark -2.0
Jason Grabowski -2.0
Eric Munson -2.0
Casey Fossum -2.0
Joe Borchard -2.0
Phil Dumatrait -2.0
Chris Nelson -2.0
I might be missing some, but including guys who were with (or are with) Pittsburgh (including the minors), I count seven Pirates on the list – Reyes, Wood, Van Benschoten, Penn, Morton, Hansen and
Comments on the Indians Drafts
Why Cleveland? Because in November 1998, Neal Huntington took over as the Tribe’s Director of Player Development. Three years later, he was promoted to Assistant GM while, according to the Pirates 2012 media guide, ‘concentrating particularly in player evaluation, acquisition and retention.’ So, I feel comfortable saying that Huntington has had an intimate involvement in drafting and developing players either for the Tribe or the Pirates since the 1999 draft and season. How has he done?
The Indians 1999 draft produced four Major Leaguers. Pitchers Jason Davis and Fernando Cabrera were the only two with a career of any length and they both posted career ERA+ numbers worse than league average. Cabrera was eventually waived and then picked up by another club. Davis was traded to Seattle for a career minor leaguer in 2007.
Things were kind of better in 2000. The Indians drafted Ryan Church who went on to an 8.4 WAR career. However, he was traded to Montreal for reliever Scott Stewart before taking a Big League swing for the Tribe. Stewart would post an ERA of worse than seven in 23 appearances for the Indians. Goofy reliever Brian Wilson was drafted in 2000, but didn’t sign. OF Joe Inglett was the next best player that Cleveland drafted and signed in 2000. He spent parts of six years in the Show and left with a career OPS+ of less than 100. He left Cleveland in 2007 on the waiver wire.
Luke Scott was one of three picks in 2001 draft that made the Majors. He also was traded before donning the uni of the big team. He went to Houston for pitcher Jeriome Robertson. Scott is currently active with the Rays. He has a career OPS+ of 119 and has hit 20 or more homers in three different seasons. A 15 game winner with Houston in 2003, Robertson pitched in just eight games for the Indians in 2004 and struggled mightily in the Majors and minors that season. He wouldn’t pitch again in the Show after 2004 and perished in a motorcycle accident in 2010.
2002 first round pick Jeremy Guthrie pitched 16 games for the Indians over three seasons before being waived. He was picked up by Baltimore where he has been part of their rotation since 2007. The second best player from that draft, Ben Francisco, has posted decent numbers (OPS+ of 102 and a current Blue Jay) while primarily playing a fourth outfielder role. Francisco was sent to Philly in the Cliff Lee deal after Huntington was hired by Pittsburgh. Anderson High School grad (my alma mater) Jensen Lewis was also picked in 2002. He didn’t sign but would be drafted again in 2005 by the Indians. He spent four years as a reliever for the Tribe, posting pretty solid numbers.
From the 2003 draft, Kevin Kouzmanoff posted the best career with a 5.7 WAR. He is just shy of 100 career homers and has a career OPS+ of 95. He is in AAA Omaha with KC. The Indians picked up second baseman Josh Barfield for him and Barfield spent one awful season as a starter for the Indians. After that came catcher Ryan Garko with a 2.5 WAR and pitcher Aaron Laffey. He spent some league average time as a member of the Indians rotation before being converted to a reliever and bouncing around the league. He is currently starting at AAA with Toronto.
The most significant acquisition in the 2004 draft was lefty Tony Sipp. He is a career reliever with a WAR of less than 2.0. After three pretty solid years, he remains in the Cleveland bullpen but is having a rough 2012. Jeremy Sowers was their #1 pick that year. He is out of baseball after struggling as a starter for parts of four years. Wyatt Toregas and Chris Gimenez were both drafted that year and neither did anything of substance in the Big Leagues.
The 2005 draft would’ve been wonderful had the Indians been able to sign 42nd round pick Tim Lincecum. They also picked current Rays OF Desmond Jennings, but he also didn’t sign. The best they have is aforementioned reliever Jensen Lewis. OF Trevor Crowe posted a negative WAR in over 200 career games.
It might be too early to judge the 2006 draft. The Indians had six of the top 101 picks in the draft. The only hitter to make the Majors is utility infielder Josh Rodriguez. He did that as a member of the Pirates. David Huff made nearly 75 starts in the Majors and is currently in the minors with the Tribe. He has a career ERA+ of 74 and a negative WAR. 20th round pick Vinnie Pestano has been the best of the bunch. He continues to pitch effectively out of Cleveland’s bullpen in 2012. 19th round pick Josh Tomlin exhibited great control and a worse than league average ERA in winning 12 times in 2011. He is with the Big Club again in 2012.
It is also likely too early to judge the 2007 draft. But the results so far don’t look good. Matt Hague was drafted but didn’t sign. We know what happened to him. The only other player to crack the Majors from the draft so far is reliever Josh Judy who compiled a 7.07 ERA in twelve appearances in 2011.
During his tenure in Cleveland, the Indians drafted and developed three hitters who had or have a career WAR of better than 5.0. Two of them – Ryan Church and Luke Scott – where traded for little return before donning a Big League uniform. Kevin Kouzmanoff spent a brief period in Cleveland before being traded for a player who lasted just over a year with the Indians. My conclusion is that the Indians did a poor job of drafting when Huntington was involved.