FanPost

MLB Success and Draft Spot

 

The days after the amateur draft are always full of feel-good optimism, but it also got me to wondering how current successful players would break down by original draft spot. I first took a look at the current Red Sox active 25-man roster. Next I examined the 2010 WAR leaderboard for both position players and pitchers. I decided to use 3.5 as an arbitrary cutoff. I’d feel comfortable labeling any draft pick that became even a ~3-win contributor as a useful piece for a good team, and therefore a success. 3.5 in my (obviously subjective opinion) mind starts to toe the line between “useful” and “important”. After all, drafting is not necessarily a failure if you don’t produce any stars; a couple decent players good enough to hold their own relative to league-average, a few effective relievers, mid-rotation starters, etc, can all provide cheap homegrown value during their cost controlled years even if they never make an All-Star team or win an MVP. 

After the jump: the current Boston roster.

Name

Round/Pick

By?

Aceves

Amateur FA

Blue Jays

Albers

23rd, 686th

Astros

Bard

1st, 28th

Red Sox

Beckett

1st, 2nd

Marlins

Bowden

1st, 47th

Red Sox

Buchholz

1st, 42nd

Red Sox

Cameron

18th, 488th

White Sox

Crawford

2nd, 52nd

Rays

Drew

1st, 5th

Cardinals

Ellsbury

1st, 23rd

Red Sox

Gonzalez

1st, 1st

Marlins

Hottovy

4th, 125th

Red Sox

Lackey

2nd, 68th

Angels

Lester

2nd, 57th

Red Sox

Lowrie

1st, 45th

Red Sox

McDonald

1st, 26th

Orioles

Ortiz

Amateur FA

Mariners

Papelbon

4th, 114th

Red Sox

Pedroia

2nd, 65th

Red Sox

Saltalamacchia

1st, 36th

Braves

Scutaro

Amateur FA

Indians

Varitek

1st, 14th

Mariners

Wakefield

8th, 200th

Pirates

Wheeler

34th, 1024th

Rays

Youkilis

8th, 243rd

Red Sox

 

Impressions: A good chunk of star power was after the first round here. I was especially surprised Crawford wasn’t a first round pick. The fact that the Red Sox developed Lester, Papelbon, Pedroia, and Youkilis from non-1st rounders, all within a short span of time, is a testament to the scouting and player development staff that Theo Epstein has painstakingly assembled. Getting +15-18 WAR from four cheap internally developed players who come up almost at the same time is every GM’s wet dream. Lastly, a big thank you to the Florida Marlins for those 90-loss seasons.

 

 

2010 – Pitchers

 

Player

WAR

Round/Pick

Cliff Lee

7.1

4th, 105th

Roy Halladay

6.6

1st, 17th

Justin Verlander

6.3

1st, 2nd

Josh Johnson

6.3

4th, 113th

Ubaldo Jimenez

6.3

Amateur FA

Felix Hernandez

6.2

Amateur FA

Adam Wainwright

6.1

1st, 29th

Francisco Liriano

6.0

Amateur FA

Jered Weaver

5.9

1st, 12th

Jon Lester

5.6

2nd, 57th

Zack Greinke

5.2

1st, 6th

Tim Lincecum

5.1

1st, 10th

CC Sabathia

5.1

1st, 20th

Clayton Kershaw

4.8

1st, 7th

Roy Oswalt

4.7

23rd, 684th

Yovani Gallardo

4.6

2nd, 46th

Chad Billingsley

4.6

1st, 24th

Dan Haren

4.5

2nd, 72nd

C.J. Wilson

4.4

5th, 141st

Colby Lewis

4.4

1st, 38th

John Danks

4.3

1st, 9th

Gavin Floyd

4.3

1st, 4th

Anibal Sanchez

4.3

Amateur FA

Tommy Hanson

4.3

22nd, 677th

David Price

4.3

1st, 1st

Hiroki Kuroda

4.2

Japanese FA

Mat Latos

4.0

11th, 333rd

Ricky Romero

4.0

1st, 6th

Matt Cain

4.0

1st, 25th

Brett Myers

4.0

1st, 12th

John Lackey

4.0

2nd, 68th

Edwin Jackson

3.8

6th, 190th

Mark Buehrle

3.8

38th, 1139th

Cole Hamels

3.8

1st, 17th

Chris Carpenter

3.7

1st, 15th

Jason Hammel

3.7

10th, 284th

Max Scherzer

3.7

1st, 11th

Clay Buchholz

3.7

1st, 42nd

Wandy Rodriguez

3.6

Amateur FA

Johan Santana

3.5

Amateur FA

Shaun Marcum

3.5

3rd, 80th

Ryan Dempster

3.5

3rd, 66th

 

Impressions: Former first round picks dominate the list, which is to be expected as most first round pitchers are taken for their potential upside to begin with. Of the “star” pitchers (5+ WAR) only Verlander, Greinke and Lincecum were top 10 picks. If nothing else, this illustrates the basic unpredictability of pitcher development. For every Lincecum there are 5, 10, or 20 Luke Hochevar’s that never live up to their potential. Lots of teams must also be kicking themselves for missing out on Tommy Hanson. Of the 42 pitchers above, 20 were first round picks, and only seven were top-10 picks. Two of the most purely dominant pitchers present and past, Felix and Johan, were not acquired through the draft at all.

 

 

2010 Position Players

 

Josh Hamilton

8.7

1st, 1st

Evan Longoria

7.5

1st, 3rd

Albert Pujols

7.5

13th, 402nd

Carl Crawford

7.5

2nd, 52nd

Joey Votto

7.3

2nd, 44th

Ryan Zimmerman

7.2

1st, 4th

Adrian Beltre

7.0

Amateur FA

Jose Bautista

6.9

20th, 599th

Matt Holliday

6.6

7th, 210th

Andres Torres

6.6

4th, 117th

Robinson Cano

6.6

Amateur FA

Troy Tulowitzki

6.6

1st, 7th

Carlos Gonzalez

6.6

Amateur FA

Rickie Weeks

6.5

1st, 2nd

Miguel Cabrera

6.3

Amateur FA

Brett Gardner

6.2

3rd, 109th

Shin-Soo Choo

6.0

Amateur FA

Kelly Johnson

5.9

2nd, 38th

Aubrey Huff

5.8

5th, 162nd

Joe Mauer

5.6

1st, 1st

Angel Pagan

5.4

4th, 136th

Chase Utley

5.4

1st, 15th

Jay Bruce

5.3

1st, 12th

Nelson Cruz

5.2

Amateur FA

Adrian Gonzalez

5.2

1st, 1st

Stephen Drew

5.1

1st, 15th

Justin Morneau

5.1

3rd, 89th

Daric Barton

5.1

1st, 28th

Jason Heyward

5.1

1st, 14th

Dan Uggla

5.0

11th, 338th

Chase Headley

4.9

2nd, 66th

Scott Rolen

4.9

2nd, 46th

Brian McCann

4.8

2nd, 64th

Michael Bourn

4.8

4th, 115th

Chris Young

4.6

16th, 493rd

Hanley Ramirez

4.6

Amateur FA

Ichiro Suzuki

4.5

Japanese FA

Ryan Braun

4.4

1st, 5th

Martin Prado

4.4

Amateur FA

Brandon Phillips

4.3

2nd, 57th

Alexei Ramirez

4.3

Amateur FA

Marlon Byrd

4.3

10th, 306th

Colby Rasmus

4.3

1st, 28th

Kevin Youkilis

4.2

8th, 243rd

Nick Swisher

4.2

1st, 16th

Rafael Furcal

4.2

Amateur FA

Austin Jackson

4.1

8th, 259th

Cliff Pennington

4.0

1st, 21st

David Wright

4.0

1st, 38th

Drew Stubbs

4.0

1st, 8th

BJ Upton

3.9

1st, 2nd

Placido Polanco

3.9

19th, 530th

Vernon Wells

3.9

1st, 5th

Paul Konerko

3.9

1st, 13th

Carlos Ruiz

3.9

Amateur FA

Alex Rodriguez

3.8

1st, 1st

Buster Posey

3.8

1st, 5th

Victor Martinez

3.8

Amateur FA

Ben Zobrist

3.7

6th, 184th

Andrew McCutchen

3.7

1st, 11th

Corey Hart

3.7

11th, 321st

Shane Victorino

3.7

6th, 194th

Alex Rios

3.6

1st, 19th

Curtis Granderson

3.6

3rd, 80th

Torii Hunter

3.5

1st, 20th

Ian Kinsler

3.5

17th, 496th

Adam Dunn

3.5

2nd, 50th

Ike Davis

3.5

1st, 18th

 

 

Impressions: Scouting and signing international amateur FA’s is apparently becoming more and more important. There also seems to be much more variability among position players in regard to draft spot. Of the 68 players listed, less than half (27) are former first round picks. 30 players had “star” caliber seasons (5+ WAR); of those only 12 were first rounders, seven of whom had been top-10. A hell of a lot of teams whiffed on Pujols, Crawford, Votto, Bautista, and Holliday.

 

In the end it seems the overriding principle of the draft is that quite simply, you never know. Intelligent and efficient use of scouting and financial strength allows a team to buy as many lottery tickets as possible, and make calculated investments that a few of them will develop into useful pieces or even superstars. Fortunately, this is something the Red Sox have done very aggressively under the current management group, in conjunction with exploiting the free-agent draft pick compensation system. Especially with the possibility of more overhauls to the collective bargaining agreement and the existing system of signing international amateur players, it makes you wonder how this list might look in another five years.

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