Building Through the Draft: Worst of the Worst

On Monday morning, I wrote an article that revealed the top five teams in Major League Baseball at drafting and developing talent for their big league club over the past decade, starting with the 2002 Draft.

Several people commented that they wished to see the entire list of teams, ranked by total accumulated WAR and also including average WAR per homegrown player. Here is the entire league:

Team Total WAR Average WAR
Boston Red Sox 100.3 4.36
San Francisco Giants 97.9 2.88
Los Angeles Dodgers 95.5 3.98
Milwaukee Brewers 86 3.91
Tampa Bay Rays 80.2 4.46
Detroit Tigers 78.7 2.25
Atlanta Braves 70.9 3.22
Oakland Athletics 70.8 2.83
Kansas City Royals 65.2 2.61
Cincinnati Reds 64.5 2.58
Colorado Rockies 63.7 2.45
Los Angeles Angels 60.2 2.15
Miami Marlins 59.1 1.48
Minnesota Twins 58 2.64
Washington Nationals 57.7 2.31
Arizona Diamondbacks 57.6 2.22
Toronto Blue Jays 54.8 2.19
Texas Rangers 48.7 2.32
San Diego Padres 44.7 1.44
Baltimore Orioles 41.5 1.73
Pittsburgh Pirates 40.3 2.02
New York Yankees 34.7 1.73
St. Louis Cardinals 30.9 0.97
New York Mets 30.8 1.62
Philadelphia Phillies 30.2 1.78
Houston Astros 24.2 1.51
Chicago Cubs 19.3 0.92
Cleveland Indians 15.5 0.65
Chicago White Sox 11.9 0.54
Seattle Mariners 8.9 0.45

The disparity between the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners is 91.4 wins. That’s unbelievable. That’s as many wins as the Tampa Bay Rays netted last year, which ended in an AL Wild Card and a postseason berth. Heck, that paltry +8.9 WAR represents fewer wins than Jacoby Ellsbury was worth in 2011 alone!

In some ways, analyzing the bottom teams is more entertaining (or painful, depending on your loyalties) than looking back at the top teams’ successes. Here are the bottom five teams at building through the draft, who all finished below .500 and averaged 70.6 wins last season:

#26) Houston Astros — 24.2 WAR (1.51 WAR/player)

The Astros have developed the fewest homegrown players since the 2002 Draft — only graduating 16 draftees to the big leagues — and exactly one of them has been even above-average: Hunter Pence. The remainder of their picks have either fizzled out or were lost in free agent compensation. 2002 first-round draft pick Derick Grigsby left baseball due to crippling depression issues. 2006 first-round draft pick Maxwell Sapp left baseball after three years of hitting only .224/.310/.313 in A-ball. Houston didn’t even agree to terms with a draft pick higher than fifth-rounder Collin DeLome in 2007. It has simply been a rough road for the Astros in the draft. Things remain on the upswing, though, especially after the Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn trades.

#27) Chicago Cubs — 19.3 WAR (0.92 WAR/player)

If the Astros have only developed one stud player since the 2002 Draft, the Chicago Cubs have developed no one significant. They have been relatively successful at drafting and developing minor role players — Tony Campana, Rich Hill, Darwin Barney, Tyler Colvin, etc — but the homegrown talent is lacking star power. The best the Cubs have done is Sean Marshall, who found success as a dominant set-up man — which, while nice, has little overall value for creating a homegrown core to build around. Perhaps the 2005 Draft personifies the Cubs’ developmental success over the past decade. The 2005 Draft saw one Chicago Cub draftee make the big leagues (thus far), and that was left-handed reliever Donnie Veal, who pitched 16.1 innings for the Pirates in 2009 and compiled a 7.16 ERA. The system suffered yet another blow prior to the 2011 season, when they sent Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, and company to Tampa Bay for Matt Garza.

#28) Cleveland Indians — 15.5 WAR (0.65 WAR/player)

The draft history since 2002 for the Indians is fascinating. On one hand, seven of their last ten first-round picks have made big league debuts with Cleveland. That is obviously a plus. On the other hand, though, the vast majority of those first-round draftees have not provided much in terms of value. Jeremy Guthrie, Michael Aubrey, Trevor Crowe and Alex White all netted negative value in their respective stints in the Indians’ big league club. The organization had some luck with mediocre left-handers — Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, and David Huff — but that’s hardly anything to get excited about. Considering ESPN’s Keith Law recently ranked the Indians’ farm system as the second-worst in all of baseball, overall production from homegrown talent does not appear poised to skyrocket anytime soon.

#29) Chicago White Sox — 11.9 WAR (0.54 WAR/player)

The White Sox have never been known for spending money in the draft, and like it or not, spending money (for the most part) acquires better talent. Gordon Beckham has provided the most value (+4.6 WAR) of any homegrown player drafted since 2002. Gordon Beckham has also been labeled an underachiever thus far in his big league career, which illustrates the level of success the White Sox have experienced over the past decade. It gets worse. The legendary Chris Getz is the organization’s second-best position player acquired through the draft since 2002. Chris Getz and his whopping +0.8 WAR through 117 games with the White Sox. Eesh. The light shines a little more brightly now that Chris Sale has firmly broken into the majors, though he may turn out to be nothing more than a set-up man down the road and nothing is percolating down in the minors.

#30) Seattle Mariners — 8.9 WAR (0.45 WAR/player)

With this last-place ranking, it should be no surprise the Seattle Mariners have finished under .500 in six of the past eight seasons. The organization lost numerous picks to free agent compensation, struck out on a couple of position players — Matt Tuiasosopo and Jeff Clement — and also traded away top prospects for big league talent. All three components led to this dead last ranking. Right-hander Doug Fister (+6.4 WAR) is the highlight of this group, with Dustin Ackley being the only other player being with more than two wins. The addition of Jack Zduriencik as GM has helped flush the organization with quality prospects, which will help end the bleeding in Seattle, but it’s not difficult to understand why the Mariners have fallen out of contention in the AL West for the better part of a decade. It’s difficult to build a winning franchise without a constant stream of effective cost-controlled talent.




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J.P. Breen is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. For analysis on the Brewers and fantasy baseball, you can follow him on Twitter (@JP_Breen).


87 Responses to “Building Through the Draft: Worst of the Worst”

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  1. st says:

    I’ll do everyone a favor….#6!!

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    • Johnny Slick says:

      Actually, this ranking really highlights why Dave Cameron was so high on Jack Z a couple years ago. After a decade in the wilderness the Mariners *finally* had a guy who knew what he was doing, and not only that, he appeared to pull a moribund franchise out of the gutter in a single season. It’s easy to overrate someone when his predecessor was unbelievably, otherwordly bad.

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      • Slartibartfast says:

        Which highlights exactly why that entire “franchise rank” series was such a failure in the first place. There was no criteria. You could say “the Mariners suck now, but in 6 years once they’ve recycled their entire farm system under Jack Z they’ll be great!”

        It was an enormous waste of time by not defining the actual criteria.

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      • Snowman says:

        Oh, c’mon, Slick, you know you loved Bavasi.

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    • Justin Bailey says:

      You sir have done no one any favors.

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  2. Andrew says:

    Yeah, I can imagine how hard it would be for a team like Seattle to contend in the AL East…

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  3. CircleChange11 says:

    Aren’t the Cardinals #27 at 0.97 WAR?

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  4. Will says:

    It’s absolutely incredible that some teams have gotten under 20 WAR from the draft.

    Drafting just using a copy of Baseball America’s draft rankings would yield far greater success than whatever the heck Kenny Williams and Bavasi (and to a lesser extent Jack Z) have been doing.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I’m starting to really think that drafting after the top 5 picks or so must just be an absolute crap shoot.

      Seriously, there’s no way any team/GM could be this bad … and there’s no way that GMs can have absolute great drafts for 3 years and then suck at drafting for the next decade.

      The teams that have been really good at drafting, IMO, are those that gets high picks multiple years and those that over-slot.

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      • Will says:

        How does that explain the Pirates and Orioles, two teams consistently in the top 5 picks, having such low totals?

        I think willingness to go over-slot is a much better correlation to success than consistently having a high draft pick.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Buster Posey is the only draftee the Giants have gone significantly over slot on.

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      • Phantom Stranger says:

        The draft is not a crapshoot, but you need effective and proper instruction at the minor league levels in conjunction with the talent. It’s not a coincidence that certain minor league systems churn out quality MLBers year after year, while some organizations never produce anything of value.

        The teams on this list need to shutter almost all of their minor league coaches and development systems. Starting over completely would begin to close the great disparity seen between the best and the worst.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        The draft is not a crapshoot, but you need effective and proper instruction at the minor league levels in conjunction with the talent.

        This is where I say “prove it”.

        The Rays are a well-respected org, but even Ben Zobrist went outside of the organization for individual hitting instruction and it transformed his career, to the Rays benefit.

        How are these organizations developing these players in a way other organizations do not. It’s been my experience that most organizations pretty much do things the same way or at least very similar.

        How do the A’s (or Phillies) go from elite level drafting over a 3-4 year span to not being able to draft a very good batter in the last 10 years?

        Minor league managers and coaches turnover continually … so I’m doubtful that minor league coaching is THE difference, although probably a factor.

        We’ve seen the same organizations/GM be inconsistent with draft quality, so if that’s not an indication of crapshoot I’m not sure what would be.

        In draft research, isn’t the #1 indicator of MLB success the draft slot they get drafted in? Aren’t many of the exceptions overslot picks?

        I suppose the NFL might have the same type of crapshoot if they drafted players out of high school (i.e., 3-5 years away from highest level) instead of guys that are established in college and 1-2 years from highest level.

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      • CircleChange11: yes, the draft is an absolute crap shoot, I studied the draft a while back and wrote it up, it is available here: http://sfgiants.scout.com/2/343576.html

        A GM could look good for 3 years – losing years where you get good draft picks – then look bad for 10 years while you are winning and ending up with picks in the last third of the first round. My study found that the odds of finding a good player (using admittedly poor metrics, but that was all that was available to me publicly for free back then) was roughly 10-11% with a pick in the 21-30 overall range. So while it is unlikely that you go 10 years without finding a good player, a team roughly a third of the time, just by random luck, would end up doing just that (what with the 89-90% failure rate).

        I’m working on an update using WAR and the lack of good players continue to be the biggest impression.

        If you want to look good in the draft, lose badly for a number of years so that you end up with top 5 picks for a long while (like the Braves did under Cox), and eventually you find your Hall of Famer if you are any good (Chipper) and you ride him good. But if you are cheap or just bad at talent evaluation or both, then that losing skein would last a lot longer than a fan would hope.

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      • cpebbles says:

        In 2005 you didn’t have anything more advanced than ERA and batting average available to you?

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    • M.Twain says:

      Jack Z has drafted Ackley, Taijuan Walker (43rd overall), and Hultzen with his first picks. Not much to complain about there.

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      • Will says:

        You also forgot Franklin and Steve Baron in 2009.

        No doubt he has a better record of building a major league team through the draft than Bavasi (though that is quite possibly the easiest thing to do).

        But he did give up the 18th overall pick for Figgins…

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      • seattlecougar says:

        @Will – Hard to knock Jack Z for making a deal that was pretty universally adored here. (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/mariners-sign-figgins/)

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      • ThundaPC says:

        But he did give up the 18th overall pick for Figgins…

        Well as far as Seattle being #30 in draft production over the past decade, in terms of scope, this is like watching a building collapse, and then blaming a single ant (gave up draft pick for Figgins!) as one of the causes.

        Since this exercise starts with the 2002 Draft, this includes Pat Gillick’s blatant disregard of the farm system as he often built the Mariners to contend at the expense of it. The baton got passed to Bill Bavasi right as the whole thing first imploded in 2004. What few talented players Bavasi was able to add to the farm system were traded for “veterans” in an effort to hurry up and get back to contention.

        Bad farm system and terrible major league core meant Jack Zduriencik has to completely rebuild the organization from scratch. Obviously, this takes longer than three years to do so. And since this exercise is only counting WAR from the draft……well, consider the process. First you draft them, then you spend time developing them until they become major league contributors in a few years give-or-take. Yeah, that’s gonna take a while to show up in the WAR totals.

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    • slamcactus says:

      The Mariners total is depressed significantly by bad trades. Adam Jones himself would more than double their output in the draft during these years.

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  5. Will says:

    The Phillies should get a special badge of distinction for their terrible efforts.

    Cole Hamels accounted for 23.0 of the Phillies total 30.2 WAR. Remove Hamels from the picture, and the Phils got a grant total of 7.2 WAR from every other player. That’s truly terrible.

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    • cable fixer says:

      another way to look at that is that they turned mediocre drafts into cliff lee, roy halladay, and hunter pence.

      prospects can be good not only for contributing to the ML team, but acquiring talent from other teams.

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    • Michael Schickling says:

      About the Phillies, if you include Chase Utley (drafted in 2000) and Ryan Howard (drafted in ’01), you wind up with a total of 103.9 WAR, better than the Red Sox. I’m sure other teams have similar players, so I’m not declaring the Phillies homegrown talent the best, but to call the Phillies’ homegrown talent “truly terrible” ignores the fact that two of their biggest homegrown contributors were drafted shortly before the arbitrary 2002 cutoff.

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      • Jon says:

        Youkilis and Freddy Sanchez has accumulated 45WAR together if you want to play the 2000 game.

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      • seattlecougar says:

        Looking at what players from the past 10 drafts have done doesn’t seem like an “arbitrary” cutoff to me.

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      • Nadingo says:

        Because 10 is a nice round number?

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      • Michael Schickling says:

        I didn’t try to say that the Phillies were the best. As I stated, “I’m sure other teams have similar players, so I’m not declaring the Phillies homegrown talent the best”. And to call ten years non-arbitrary simply because it’s round is goofy (Kudos with the sarcasm, Nadingo). I was just trying to draw attention to two homegrown players who are currently producing for the Phillies but were left off this graph.

        Also, the fact that the Phillies’ prospects who were traded didn’t pan out shouldn’t reflect poorly on the Phillies. It should, in fact, reflect poorly on the receiving team’s development staff. Obviously when the Phillies traded their prospects they were valuable, as they got Cliff Lee (the first time), Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, and to a lesser degree Joe Blanton. In the majority of cases, prospects will never become valuable in the first place without solid drafting and development.

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      • TerryMc says:

        Besides being a nice round number, going back 10 years seems about right to me as players selected in that draft should have already peaked for college age draftees and just be cresting for high schoolers. This means we would be looking at whether or not they met projections rather than if they had sustained longevity.

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    • Andrew says:

      Yeah, because if there’s one thing that Fangraphs has demonstrated over the years, it is definitely a strong pro-Phillies bias and this is just more evidence.

      Sarcasm aside, let’s look at the facts here, the Phillies drafted what remains a lot of their core talent before the 2002 draft (Utley, Rollins, and Howard) so the (somewhat arbitrary) cutoff skews things there. They have developed additional talent since then through the Rule V draft (Victorino) and international signings (Ruiz). Since they play those still productive players who were drafted before 2002, a lot of the talent accumulated since 2002 was traded. The Phillies’ drafts since 2002 netted them numerous prospects (they were ranked a top ten minor league system multiple times 2008-2011) who have been traded for players who have contributed a lot of wins (Halladay, Lee, Blanton, Pence etc.). Not getting a lot of WAR from home drafted (not home grown) players over a specific timeframe does not equal drafting poorly.

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      • Actually, it does equate to drafting poorly. They clearly drafted poorly in the 10 year period, which I agree is unfortunate for the Phillies because they had their big success in the years just before. Perhaps a look at the past 20 years would have been a better study in that regard for the Phillies.

        What they have done well is finding suckers to accept players that have not really turned out so far.

        Though I would add another problem with the study is that studying the last 5 years is not going to show very well which teams drafted well, because there are undoubtedly prospects who suddenly figure it out and are good producers of WAR, but for now, the teams look bad. It would have been much better methodologically if the author had studied, say, the 1997-2007 period instead and total all the WARs to today. Most of the latter prospects would have developed by now and producing.

        But even that is flawed because there are probably players drafted late in the study period who are just starting to produce, and could surpass what some of the prospects early in the study produced.

        Ideally, you want all the drafted players to have mostly stopped playing. But then that has no application to today, because all of the GMs today were not in their jobs in the early to mid 90’s, as there are still players from that period still playing. Hence, probably, why the author chose 2002-2011.

        Still, a team by team comparison ultimately does not really work in comparing. Most teams have different GMs during that period, so there could be that effect. In addition, to my point above about the draft being a crapshoot, the teams who lost significantly over that particular specific time period would have a great advantage over other teams in generating WAR from the draft. There is also the luck factor of happening to select a HOFer early in this period and gaining the WAR generated over a longer period of time than a HOF (yet to be known as such) starting his career late in the period. And the luck factor of finding a great player vs. “merely” a good player.

        What would be interesting, to the point of the crapshoot, is for the author to include a column for how much of that team’s WAR is contributed by the top 3, top 5, top 7 draftees. Then you will get a better idea how much of that leading number was contributed by one great player rather than a series of good picks.

        And then to point out how many draft picks that team selected in that time period. Then you can see the magnitude of what I’m saying. What I expect to see is the top draftees will account for a large percentage (over 50%, probably around the 80% rule) of the WAR, and yet there were around 500 draft picks, meaning that roughly 1% of the draft picks accounted for 50-80% of the WAR value. The draft value is very lumpy and concentrated in relatively few players.

        This is not like football where you can pick up 2-3-4 starters (I think Bill Walsh once selected 6 starters in one draft) FOR NEXT SEASON, or even basketball where the top pick could become a clear HOF type player their first season. Most picks take at least 2-3 seasons to figure it out, and usually 3-5 seasons to reach the majors and be a good player (they make it sooner as a part-time player). And the vast majority never even make the majors, let alone be a good player.

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      • ben w says:

        “What they have done well is finding suckers to accept players that have not really turned out so far”

        travis d’arnaud is the top prospect in a loaded jays system…

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  6. Al says:

    The Cubs blurb (perhaps unintentionally) highlights the flaw in this analysis. Teams don’t only benefit from their drafts by nurturing those players to the MLB level, but by using them as trading chips. It would take a lot of breakdown of transaction info, but you really should include the WAR of players acquired by trading draftees as well. The Cubs WAR total should include Graza’s contribution.

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    • MikeS says:

      I disagree. The players you develop yourself will be cheaper then the ones you acquire. Yes, they are assets and can be used to acquire other assets but developing those players and having them produce for you is still the best way to be a perennial contender.

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      • skippyballer486 says:

        That is missing the point, MikeS. If you draft and develop three players, and then trade them for a superstar right before they reach the majors, why should you not get credit for that star player’s production? You could not have acquired said superstar without doing a good job of drafting and developing, so your talent for drafting and developing directly led to having a superstar player.

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      • Preston says:

        But this is true for most teams on this list. In just one trade the Yanks sent Kennedy, Jackson and Coke for Granderson, those three players have combined for 17.4 WAR over the last two seasons. Yet they’ve still had other drafted players contribute, even though they routinely draft near the end and often don’t have their first rounder. The point of this is analyzing who grooms cheap cost controlled players from the draft all the way to the big leagues.

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  7. JT Grace says:

    I don’t think this is list is truly indicative of an organization’s ability to draft and develop players. Money also must be factored into the equation. If Team A spends 10 – 15M per year on draftees and IFAs and Team B only spends 3M to 5M person season on draftees and IFAs then those two organizations aren’t on level playing fields.

    As an example, the Atlanta Braves are 7th on this list yet they rarely ever go above slot money to sign their draftees and they don’t spend big on the International market. IMO, this shows that the Braves are VERY good at drafting and developing talent. The Red Sox routinely go over slot to sign draftees and frequently sign high collar IFAs. IMO, the Braves are better at the Red Sox at drafting and developing talent because they do more with less money.

    I would like to see this list re-done with $$$$ spent as a factor.

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    • The Ancient Mariner says:

      IFAs are irrelevant, because outside the scope of this analysis; and a team’s willingness to spend on the draft affects its ability to draft well, and thus is a relevant part of the picture.

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      • JT Grace says:

        Ok, we can eliminate IFA’s for the purpose of this report.

        However, I disagree with your 2nd statement. If you are trying to answer the specific question, “how does each team draft AND develop it’s players” then money spent MUST be factored into the equation.

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    • LeftBrainSwag says:

      The amount of money the Red Sox spent on the draft is within the budget of any team if they choose to do so, the expenditure is relatively small when compared to MLB roster costs. It’s part of their strategy to take these signability guys, that’s the point. They routinely draft from the end of the rounds, so they’re forced to sign overslot guys or search through bargain basement flawed players.

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  8. Judy says:

    I am hoping that “Building through trades” and “Building through free agency” are coming.

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  9. Tom says:

    In this list do teams get credit for WAR generated by a player after he left the organization? For example, if the Red Sox drafted a player and traded him to the Mariners where he ran up some WAR does that factor into the Red Sox number?

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    • Nadingo says:

      Wait, are you talking about a player who provided more value after being traded to the Mariners? I’m pretty sure that’s mathematically impossible.

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  10. MikeS says:

    Came here looking for the White Sox and was not dissappointed. Kenny Williams gave me my favorite sporting moment ever in October of 2005 and I will never forget it but this right here is why he should be fired. He has been both lucky and good to stave off the collapse coming in 2012 (and beyond if the team doesn’t get better at drafting) but it looks like the crows are coming home to roost at The Cell.

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    • JK says:

      As has been pointed out, teams do things a different way to get their results. If this list was indicative of on field success, then the White Sox would be annually the worst team in the league, which of course has not been the case. KW has used these assets many times to get WAR from other sources.

      The White Sox drafted Brandon McCarthy, then traded him for Danks, who has provided 16+ WAR in the time this chart covers. He provided the same cheap years of team control, etc. The Sox traded homegrown guys Olivo/Reed/Morse to get Freddy Garcia. When Garcia was used up, he was traded for Gavin Floyd. Again, Floyd wasn’t “home grown” but has provided 12+ WAR, with the same low price, control, etc.

      Same thing with Chris Carter for Quentin. And while their rep for not spending on the draft is well earned, they have spent on some Cuban guys. Alexei Ramirez isn’t considered a “home grown” player, but signing him for 4 years and a total of around $5 million and getting $50+ million of value over that time is pretty good no matter what the label was. Good player/low salary however you slot it.

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  11. Steven says:

    I think it is interesting to note that the last two WS champs are on opposite sides of this list, Cardinals, 30.9 WAR and .97 WAR/ player and Giants 97.9 WAR and 2.88 WAR/ player. Does drafting well correlate with winning?

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    • Terence says:

      I am certain that if this excercise went back to 1999, the Cardinals would be #1 on the list.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Agreed. The cutoff is what is causing the issue.

        Also, StL drafted JD Drew … and traded him for Wainwright. So, Wainwright doesn’t count for StL, even though their drafting of JD Drew led directly to Wainwright.

        IMO, there’s too much **** being made of the draft. It’s important because teams can get good young players for cheap and under team control. But as of now, teams haven’t shown the ability to draft really well for over a decade, and even teams that have had lots of high draft picks don;t always get great results.

        Aside form the top few picks generally being much more valuable than everyone else, there doesn’t seem to be much consistency in the draft … or perhaps I don’t know any better.

        Looking at it this way doesn’t give a very good overview of how teams use the draft for success. In this specific article, Philly would have been better off keeping Drabek rather than acquiring Halladay as Drabek’s WAR would count for them (even though that might not be a good thing).

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      • phoenix2042 says:

        and if you went back to 1990, it would be the yanks. and if you went back indefinitely… now wouldn’t that be fun!

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        The cutoff starting at 2002 is for a sound reason, it’s when the compensation rules changed.

        However, in 2012, those drafted in 2002 have already hit free agency. So, we’re just measuring their MLB production for a handful of team controlled years, except for those guys that resigned with the teams that drafted them.

        I’m not sure that really helps us see who drafted “the best”, especially if/when teams use their prospects to acqiuire even better MLB talent.

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      • ben w says:

        “However, in 2012, those drafted in 2002 have already hit free agency. So, we’re just measuring their MLB production for a handful of team controlled years, except for those guys that resigned with the teams that drafted them.”

        Completely agree. There is a selection bias no matter where you make the cut-off.

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    • jeff_bonds says:

      Is winning the WS a useful measurement of winning?

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    • Bad Bill says:

      This looks like a regression analysis that needs to be done. An off-the-cuff look does not suggest a strong correlation between teams’ position on this list and how well they have done for the last five or ten years. Can someone look at it more rigorously, please?

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  12. Michael F says:

    Yeah, there’s kind of a huge problem with the arbitrary endpoints and international data here.

    I mean, the Yankees are 22nd (which is actually pretty impressive considering where they pick each year), but that excludes players drafted before the cutoff who are still contributors like Derek Jeter, as well as international signings like Mariano Rivera and Robinson Cano.

    I mean, international scouts work hard too; it’s a two way street. And while you can say that a team like the Yankees used to be able to go out and get any international player they want, they really didn’t do that.

    In any case, those three players add up to an astounding almost 140 WAR.

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    • todmod says:

      I agree that international signings are a big part (though this exercise isn’t about talent acquisition), but post-arb players who are drafted shouldn’t really count. They’re being kept by teams at free agent market value, any team can have them if they pay the money.

      Jeter/Rivera are providing good value to the Yankees now because they paid them. They provided great value in their first 6 seasons because the Yankees developed them.

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  13. spankystout says:

    Bill Bavasi was a demon sent to destroy our team! Only 8.9!… Ackley has out WAR’d multiple Bavasi drafts–this is amusing and nauseating how that guy ever got a job in the Majors, that didn’t require lugging cotton candy around screaming for customers.

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    • rja3 says:

      Kyle Seager provided more WAR for the M’s last season than the 03,04,05, and 07 drafts combined.

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    • joser says:

      It wasn’t just Bavasi — Gillick appears to despise even having draft picks and seemed to go out of his way to get rid of them by signing FA. So Bavasi inherited a threadbare system… and then proceded to give away the few remaining threads, while failing to find any significant new ones. Is it any wonder the past decade has featured the M’s wearing the piebald clothes of shame?

      The 2005 draft, though, has to be singled out for some kind of special award of failure. M’s fans tend to beat themselves up over focus on the “could’ve had Tulo instead of Clement” aspect, but it’s much bigger than that. Except for Wade Townsend at #8 (a pitcher who never made the majors) every pick after Clement in the top 12 has a positive WAR… except for Clement. The average accumulated WAR for the top twelve (including Clement’s -1.2) is over 10. That was maybe the most overwhelmingly top-heavy draft in a generation; you almost couldn’t go wrong picking any of the top players. And yet, somehow, wrong the Mariners certainly did.

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  14. CubbieBlue66 says:

    I’m not going to argue that the Cubs have done a pretty awful job of developing talent through the draft. They have been pretty awful. But that 2002 cutoff hits them particularly hard. They lose Mark Prior (15.8 WAR), Geovany Soto (10.8), Ryan Theriot (9.8, of which 9.2 came with the Cubs). They also drafted Ricky Nolasco (15.4 WAR, sent to the Marlins for Juan Pierre), Sergio Mitre (3.1 WAR, also sent for Juan Pierre), Brendan Harris (2.5 WAR, sent for Nomar Garciaparra) and Andy Sisco (0.7 WAR, nabbed as a Rule 5 pick) in that 2011 draft.

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    • BlahBlahBlah says:

      I think its a perfect place for a cutoff in the Cubs case.

      It means their data is solely those drafts under the Problems term as GM.

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  15. china_dave says:

    how would trading bourne and pence aid in developing “homegrown” prospects? or am was I wrong in assuming homegrown = drafted by one’s own org?
    perhaps the argument is that there is more money to spend on future drafts now that the active roster is so cheap

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    • Ben says:

      Great question. I was wondering that, too. Does Adam Wainwright count for the Cards or the Braves, in this scenario? Waino was drafted by the Braves, but moved to the Cardinals when they traded two of their drafted players (I believe) JD Drew and Eli Marrero. Wainwright was in the minors when we got him and we finished developing the talent.

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  16. Ben says:

    As a St. Louis fan, I would like to see since 2005, when Jeff Luhnow took over the scouting department for the Cards. The last six drafts for the Cardinals have already produced 23 players that have seen time at the major league level. Out of those 23, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Chris Perez, Michael Stutes, Daniel Descalso, and Lance Lynn have all produced reasonably well given their playing time. In ’05, Lunhow helped with the draft and also got Colby Rasmus and Jaime Garcia (along with Tyler Greene, who looks to be a possible starter this coming season.)

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  17. Nate says:

    Kinda seems like IFA signings should have been included in this analysis, as this is another route that teams use to acquire minor league talent. Leaving this out makes the study seem incomplete.

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  18. cs3 says:

    When you look at the guys that Seattle has passed on in some recent drafts it makes sense that they have been so terrible at producing MLB talent.

    2007
    drafted Phillip Aumont
    passed Heyward, Mesoraco

    2006
    drafted Brandon Morrow (and inexplicably jerked him between bullpen/SP before moving him)
    passed Lincecum, Kershaw, Scherzer, Kennedy, Stubbs

    2005 (this is the one that REALLY hurts)
    drafted Jeff Clement
    passed Ryan Zimmerman, Braun, Tulo, Ellsbury McCutchen, Bruce, Rasmus, Maybin, Pennington,

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  19. the fume says:

    I always kind of thought the Tigers got more out of their drafts than the internet generally gave them credit for.

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    • j6takish says:

      The Tigers really benefit from going over slot and they are actually pretty decent at developing their players. They have been around 500 the last few years though, which is dangerous territory for a mid-market team. They are always trading away prospects and forfeiting draft picks.

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  20. Marver says:

    Not sure I like the way this has been assembled. Basically, Adam Jones — drafted by Seattle in 2003 — shows up nowhere in these charts because he was dealt to Baltimore, where the bulk of his WAR has been accumulated. However, because these charts only count WAR accumulated for the drafting team provided the drafted player remains on the drafting team, this isn’t really a clear picture of the phenomena it’s mistakenly being referenced as in a bunch of the comments I’ve read here.

    You should either accumulate all the WAR of the players through their arbitration years and award that to the drafting team — so you’re measuring the effectiveness of their draft classes — or you should place the WAR for these traded prospects on the teams in which they accumulated the WAR — so we get a measurement of how much cost-controlled WAR each team has had since 2002.

    As it is, it artificially makes teams that swap young, cost-controlled players seem like they do a much worse job than they actually do at producing young talent.

    As it is, this is a very noisy article.

    (Shane Heathers made a similar comment on your first article which elicited no response.)

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    • Marver says:

      As it is, I should tone down how often I use ‘As it is’.

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    • Marver says:

      Another suggestion I have would be removing players from the most recent few draft classes, since you don’t want to bias results in the favor of teams who produce more ‘MLB ready’ prospects than teams who emphasize high school talent. It wouldn’t make much sense to have more favorably ranked the Nationals in 2009 because Drew Storen made the immediate jump, while a team like the Angels got 0 WAR out of Mike Trout that season.

      You should be evaluating past draft success without biasing the results, and I see numerous sources of bias here.

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      • Ben says:

        I don’t think it’s necessarily intended bias – but a bias comes out through the numbers post-research because of the chosen methods of research.

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      • Marver says:

        Yeah, I’m not referring to a chosen psychological bias, ala MSNBC presenting the news, just that the statistics presented will be biased towards some particular result due to the methodology. They’re both bad.

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      • Ben says:

        Marver – a brief political aside, I wish FoxNews and MSNBC would both just go away.

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    • BlahBlahBlah says:

      I agree completely

      If team A drafts at least two 2WAR/Year players every year on average, but has traded 6 of the 8 accumulated from 2002-2009, all of a sudden they are going to be sitting really low in the rankings despite success which should indicate a top spot. If you want to know how well a team drafts, you have to include everyone they actually drafted.

      Where the problem in this article comes in is in the fact that the article is called “building through the Draft”, and that Jim unfortunately (apparently) feels as though drafting Stud-B who you trade for AllStar-C doesn’t factor into “building” your club. As you indicated, controllable playing time received by trading said drafted players should have been included in the article for a true indication of actual value received.

      This article doesn’t really tell us anything at all – at best its a vague recounting of “who kept the most (and sometimes best) players they were willing to give playing time too after they had drafted them”

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  21. Eminor3rd says:

    I posted this on WSox board, and after a couple back and forth replies, one poster replied with this:

    ———

    I just went through and totaled up the WAR, as of this year, for Brandon McCarthy, Chris Young, Daniel Hudson, Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeney, and Clayton Richard…6 players that the Sox have traded away. I came up with over 47 fWAR within those 6 players, and there’s probably another kid or two the Sox have traded away since 2002 I’m forgetting. If one were to add that to the 12 that the Sox have, that would put the Sox in the upper 1/2 of the league. But that’s not how the Sox have operated. The Sox have instead traded away those guys to go after this quality of player:

    The Sox got 15 fWAR out of Gavin Floyd, 16 fWAR out of John Danks, and 15 fWAR out of Javier Vazquez. That of course doesn’t even count the big fWAR steal that was Alexei Ramirez. And then there’s 8 fWAR from Carlos Quentin, who was also obtained by trading away prospects.

    Yes, there is a downside, but there is a downside to trying to hold onto prospects whenever possible as well. Some guys take time to develop (Gordon Beckham). Some guys develop and then break down, when instead you could have traded them for a guy who wouldn’t break down (Brandon McCarthy for John Danks, for example).

    Yes, the Sox have been weaker in the draft than they should have been. But the statement that the Sox are not prioritizing player development simply isn’t supported here…the Sox just identify their value in a different way.

    ——–

    I think he’s got some good points. Those example (minus Alexei) total 57fWAR. Curious to how you’d react to the above.

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    • Greg says:

      Chris Young was drafted in 2001, before the cutoff here. But I think you’re making an important point. This ranking represents some mixture of drafting, development, and Not Trading Away Your Guys. The latter might dominate the rankings or it might hurt each team about the same.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Some teams have prospects that simply won;t play on their team because a star is already in place there. But it was still a good idea to draft the prospect because he had talent, serves as insurance, creates options, and can be traded.

        When looking at drafting I think it is by far more important to look at the number of players that contribute above replacement level.

        Extremely good players skew the data. If Pujols were included, practically all of the Cardinals significantly increased totals would be because of him, and they valued him so much they decided to draft him in the 14th round instead of waiting until the 15th (Yes, I’m making a joke).

        I do think the SFG deserve some credit for draft TL55 when other teams had chances but had concerns about his size/mechanics. But, I’m not going to go all overboard with praise and respect for the Nats selecting Harper and or Strasburg when their WAR value is awesome in the next few years.

        Many of the top picks are obvious, although sometimes an org like CHC will stretch and take a D2 pitcher in the 1st round (16th IIRC), and the ones that fall down the list are generally for signability issues.

        So, we sit here and mock PIT for poor drafting when the reality is they couldn’t sign the best available players (until recently) because of signability issues.

        If we had each organizations list of draftable players in order of highest talent to lowest talent we would probably see very similar list. Draft selections has not always been in regards to the player with the most talent.

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  22. tom says:

    Re: Cubs – fair enough but isn’t Starlin Castro at least worth a mention despite his errors? I see fangraphs assigns his a 2.2 WAR for 2010 and 3.4 for 2011. I thought he was homegrown since he spent time in the Cubs system but does he count as a free agent signing from the DR? Anyone’s answer appreciated.

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  23. JP says:

    Max Sapp got meningitis pretty bad. But he never really did well. Just worth pointing out.

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  24. Brig says:

    Saying that Jack Zduriencik is doing a good job because he’s done better than Bill Bavasi is a sad joke. I could have done better than Bavasi by just reading the Sporting News. The guy that complained that the Mariners were hamstrung because they were not awarded Adam Jones’ WAR must not have noticed that in his best season it was only 2.9. The sad fact about Seattle is that the same management team that allowed the team to deteriorate in the first place are still in charge, and after a 95 loss season slashed the budget by $10 million. That is a crime.

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  25. Diane says:

    I’d love to see the White Sox numbers since 2006 (after winning Series in ’05)

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