Archive for January, 2015

What Can We Learn from the 1959 Chicago White Sox?

The terms “scouting” and “player development” are so frequently seen together that they should probably just get a room. It is axiomatic in today’s game that S&PD is the best, and perhaps only sustainable, route to baseball success.  This seems particularly true for the so-called small-market teams who are far too cash-poor to fish in Lake Boras. Which makes the recent antics of A.J. Preller (and the slightly less recent antics of Alex Anthopolous – see #12 and 13) so surprising. These are teams that play in the shadow of giants – figuratively in the Blue Jays’ case and both figuratively and literally for the Pads. If any teams should be S&PD-ing, its these, yet sweeping trades indicate that the two franchises have been less than fully successful at filling their major league roster holes with home-grown talent.

However difficult it is to be a GM in today’s AL East or NL West, few GMs have labored in a more unforgiving environment than those damned souls condemned to compete in the AL in the late 50s and early 60s, during the last of the pre-division-era Yankees dynasties. From 1947 through 1964 the Evil Empire missed the World Series just three times: in 1948 (Indians), 1954 (Indians), and 1959 (White Sox). Of these three, the 1959 “Go-Go” Sox have always stood out as the least probable Yankee-killers.

In an era when offense and power were essentially considered synonyms, the 1959 White Sox hit just 97 homers, not just last in the AL, but last in the majors. It took just four Indians to reach that total in 1948 (Gordon, Keltner, Boudreau, and Eddie Robinson). Yes, the 1959 Sox had three Hall-of-Famers (Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, and Early Wynn), but only one (Fox) was arguably in his prime.

All this said, the 1959 White Sox did a lot of things well. They got on base at a .327 clip, 3rd best in the AL. They stole 113 bases, leading the league, and totaling almost as many as the next two teams combined. They led the league in ERA (3.29), though the advanced metrics were less impressed with this staff. And they defended. Oh, did they defend.  They led the majors in Total Zone, and only the Spiders were even close. The White Sox had four of the top ten players in the majors, as rated by FanGraphs’ Def stat. And they were the four guys in the middle of the diamond (catcher Sherm Lollar, Fox at second, Aparicio at short, and Jim Landis in center).

So far, so small market. But of the 15 players with a WAR of least 1.0, just three were home-grown (Aparicio, Landis, and backup catcher Johnny Romano). Aparicio would end up in the Hall, and both Landis and Romano would have respectable careers (just over 20 WAR each), though Romano would spend most of his career with the Indians. The rest of the 1+ WAR players on the 1959 team were acquired by trade, with the exception of three aging but effective relievers, two of whom were signed off of waivers and one of whom was purchased.

And these were no ordinary trades. Let’s look at a couple of the more significant ones (many of these were multi-player deals – I’m focusing on the most significant players going each way):

Sox acquire Nellie Fox from the Philadelphia A’s for C  Joe Tipton in 1949.

Fox was just 21 in 1949, and his 300 or so plate appearances to that point had produced nothing of note, except one interesting harbinger of things to come: 34 career walks against just nine strikeouts. Fox would finish with 719 walks  and just 216 Ks in a career spanning over 10,000 plate appearances. No player with that many PAs has struck out less often.

As for Joe Tipton, you can admit you’ve never heard of him – you’re among friends here. Tipton spent one miserable year with the White Sox as a punchless 27 year old backup catcher before being sent to the city where it’s always sunny. He would develop into a useful backup bat, and amass a career war of 5.4. Fox had a WAR of 6.0 in 1959 alone.

Sox acquire Sherm Lollar from the St. Louis Browns for OF Jungle Jim Rivera and assorted Cracker Jack prizes in 1951.

Lollar was a bit of a late bloomer, with both the Yankees and Browns giving up on him before he found a home on the South Side at age 27, where he would be named to the all-star team six times.  This was probably a little generous, but he was a durable contributor at a position not normally associated with “durable” or “offense.” Rivera, for his part, would go on to a modest career WAR of 6.9. Even better, the Browns traded him back to the South Side the following year, where he would remain for the rest of his career.

Sox acquire Early Wynn from the Cleveland Indians for LF Minnie Minoso in 1957.

An exchange of one Hall-of-Famer for anoth- oops! Sorry about that. At age 37, Wynn looked like he might be done, with his ERA jumping from 2.72 in 1956 to 4.31 in 1957.  He was still durable, though (263 IP), so the Sox decided to get him in exchange for their star left fielder whose power had seemingly collapsed (sliding from 24 homers to 12 in the same two years). This one didn’t work out quite as well for the Sox, who got 6.5 WAR from Wynn in 1958-59, while a resurgent Minoso clobbered the ball to the tune of a 10.5 WAR for the Spiders. Wynn was nevertheless the Sox clear ace in 1959, going 22-10 with a 3.17 ERA (3.66 FIP) and leading the league with 255 IP. Minoso would return to the Sox in 1960, and he still had a couple of good years left, but he would never get that World Series ring.

Sox acquire P Bob Shaw from the Detroit Tigers for OF Tito Francona in 1958.

Shaw was the Sox’s second-best pitcher in 1959, behind only Early Wynn. He was 18-6 with a 2.69 ERA (though his FIP, at 3.36, was less kind). His career looks a little like Ervin Santana’s – basically a slightly above average pitcher with wild year-to-year ERA swings. The Sox would deal him just three years later, and he would pitch for seven different teams in his 11-year career, but he came through for the Sox when it counted most. Tito (whose real name is John Patsy Francona) had a forgettable year in a part-time role in Detroit, but showed the on-base skill that would propel him to three superb years in Cleveland before lapsing back into a bench role, albeit a long and fairly productive one, for the remainder of his career.

There were several other trades that went into building the 1959 Sox, but you get the idea. And it wasn’t just this year – the wheeling and dealing continued from 1957 through 1965, during which time the Sox would finish worse than second just three times. It was the White Sox’s misfortune that their dominance of the AL West ended four years before the division was created.

While the White Sox weren’t especially adept at developing players, they were extremely adept at finding them, and this is where scouting comes in. The Sox appear to have been very good at scouting both other teams’ rosters and their own. The only whiff in the transactions above involved Minoso, a player who was not quite done tormenting baseballs, and even in that trade the Sox received a very effective starter. This is what scouting without player development looks like. And it’s not bad if, you know, you like that sort of thing.

There are obviously only so many lessons today’s front offices can learn from those of yesteryear. While the Sox’ strategy may bear some superficial similarity to A.J. Preller’s, the Sox were able to ruthlessly exploit the reserve clause to pay quality veterans vastly less than any reasonable conception of their market value. Trading for veterans was a lot less costly back then. And while Preller was perhaps unimpressed with prospects he traded away, it is safe to say that he benefited to some extent from the Padres’ previous player development machine, in the sense that other teams were impressed enough with the young Padres (what do you call Padres prospects? los hijos?) to take them off A.J.’s hands.

But the broader point, as suggested by a commenter on my previous post, is that not every successful team has achieved that success by following whatever the then-current orthodoxy prescribes. Small market teams may be better off thinking outside the box than getting spent to death in it.

Why the Chicago Cubs Should Keep Starlin Castro

Ever since the Cubs acquired top shortstop prospect Addison Russell from the Oakland Athletics in the Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel deal people began to speculate that Starlin Castro’s time in Chicago may be coming to a close sooner rather than later. Castro’s name began to pop up in trade rumors all the time, Castro to the Mets, Castro to Seattle etc… but Cubs President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer told teams that Castro wasn’t going anywhere. With all the middle infield talent the Cubs have people see Castro as the odd man out. The front office repeated their message about Castro being their guy early in the offseason by saying “ Starlin is our shortstop in 2015.” I know a lot of people expect Castro to be traded at some point, but I’ll go over why I think they should keep the three-time All-Star, and how he’s becoming a better player.


First off Castro is still young currently 24 years old (he’ll turn 25 in spring training). Castro also has a team friendly deal at 7yr/$61M with an option for the 2020 season. This contract averages out to $8.7M each year, although the contract is back loaded, but still an average of $8.7M is a bargain for a premium position in today’s MLB market.

 Year  Age  Salary
2015 25 $6,857,143
2016 26 $7,857,143
2017 27 $9,857,143
2018 28 $10,857,143
2019 29 $11,857,143
2020 30 $16,000,000 (Team Option) $1M Buyout

Lets compare Starlin’s contract to another young shortstop, Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers. Andrus signed an 8yr/$120M contract with the Rangers.

Year Age Salary
2015 26 $15,000,000
2016 27 $15,000,000
2017 28 $15,00,000
2018 29 $15,000,000
2019 30 $15,000,000
2020 31 $15,000,000
2021 32 $14,000,000
2022 33 $14,000,000
2023 34 $15,000,000 (Vesting Option)


As you can see Andrus is due significantly more money than Castro. Compared to Andrus’ contract Castro’s seems like a bargain. But the real question is who is the better player, and is Andrus worth $60M more than Castro? Lets look at each player’s career numbers.

Andrus has posted of career line of (.272/.335/.345) with an OPS of .680, 20 points lower than league average. He has totaled 20 home runs in 6 seasons. Castro has a career line of (.284/.325/.410) with an OPS of .735, 35 points higher than league average. Starlin has clubbed 51 career home runs in one fewer year than Andrus. By comparing these two players numbers and contracts you can clearly see that the Cubs are getting a great deal on Castro. Castro not only makes far less than Andrus he is a superior offensive player, and is also younger with more upside. I believe that Castro’s contract could become more of a steal if Castro becomes a better player, which he is starting to show signs of. Lets go over how Castro is starting to become better in all facets of the game.

Improving Power

Castro totaled 14 home runs in 2014 tying his career high set back in the 2012 season. Starlin would have easily set a new career high if not for an ankle injury that cost him most of September. Despite missing almost 30 games Castro still put up a career high SLG% of .438 besting his 2011 season SLG% of .432. Keep in mind that is the season where Castro hit .307 and had over 200 hits so therefore his slugging percentage was based more on singles and triples and fewer long balls.

One reason for Castro’s improving power is that he is starting to hit more fly balls, and those fly balls are starting to leave the ballpark. In 2010 when Starlin got called up as a 20 year old he looked like a 16 year old due to his lean frame. Castro hit only 3 home runs that year and was mainly a singles hitter when he first started his career. In 2010 Castro’s groundball percentage (GB%) was 51.3% and his fly ball percentage (FB%) was 29.2%, this equaled a groundball to fly ball ratio (GB/FB) of 1.76. Castro’s home run to fly ball ratio (HR/FB) in 2010 was only 2.6%, which ranked 19th out of 22 qualified shortstops. As you can see when Starlin first came up he was a singles hitter who mainly hit the ball on the ground, which isn’t a bad thing, and when he did elevate the ball it rarely left the yard.

Let’s look at these same numbers in 2014. His GB% dropped to 45.3% and his FB% rose to 32.3%, which equaled a GB/FB ratio of 1.40. Now where the biggest change happened is in his HR/FB ratio — it skyrocketed to 10.1%. This means 1 out of every 10 fly balls that Starlin hit traveled over the wall for a homer. His increased HR/FB ratio brought him to 4th among qualified shortstops in HR/FB ratio, which is a huge improvement over his rookie season.

With more fly balls from Castro you’ll see more of this

and this

and this

Not only is Castro hitting more home runs; he is hitting more impressive home runs like these above. Watching Castro’s 2014 season I found myself saying, “wow that was far” on more of his home runs than ever before in previous seasons.

For these reasons above I believe that Castro is poised to show even more power in the coming seasons due to his increased FB% as well as his vastly improved HR/FB ratio.

Improving Defense

Lets take a look at Castro’s fielding numbers from the beginning of his career until now.

Year Errors Fielding Percentage (FP%) FP% Change
2010 27 .950 N/A
2011 29 .961 +11
2012 27 .964 +3
2013 22 .967 +3
2014 15 .973 +6

When Starlin came up in 2010, defense was the biggest weakness of his game by far. In 2010 he committed 27 errors in 123 games, which ranked as the 2nd most in the MLB that year. His FP% of .950, was 2nd to last among qualified shortstops in 2010. In 2011 Castro committed 29 errors, which was the most in the majors that year, although he still ranked last in FP% among shortstops, his FP% rose by 11 points. In 2012 Castro tied for the major league lead in errors at 27. 2013 was more of the same tying for the second most errors in the majors, but in 2014 we saw a great improvement by his committing only 15 errors. This improvement is Starlin’s fielding brought him towards the middle of the pack in FP% among shortstops. Castro even had a 38-game errorless streak in 2014 as well, showing that he has gotten over his problem of making the routine throw to first.

Although the metrics are down on Castro as a defender, I see Castro get to balls that he has no business getting to. For example Castro is one of the best shortstops at making plays on bloopers and shallow fly balls, like this for example.

Castro has great range on balls hit over his head. Not only can he make the plays in shallow left and center field, he covers a lot of ground moving laterally and is quickly able to get to his feet and unleash a strong throw, like this for example.

As you can see Castro is improving his defensive game year by year and there is no evidence to suggest that he can’t get any better in 2015 as well. This is just one of the many ways that Castro is steadily improving his overall game.

Comparing Castro to Other Shortstops

As offensive numbers are down in recent years, finding a premium offensive shortstop is a hard thing to do. Lets see how Castro stacks up compared to other shortstops around the league in 2014.

Among qualified shortstops Castro led all of them in batting average at .292, He was 2nd in OBP at .339, and 3rd in SLG at .438. I’ll take a guy any day of the week that ranks in the top three of those categories among his position. Castro also ranked sixth in line drive percentage at 22.3% (which beat his previous career high by 2%), trailing the leader by only 2%. Castro also ranked first in batting average on balls in play (BABIP); these two categories combined shows that he is putting the ball in play and hitting the ball hard all over the field, which will generate a good average as well as power. Another stat where Castro is ranked in the top three among shortstops is wRC+; his wRC+ was 115, 15 points over league average, good enough for third among shortstops.

One knock on Castro in his career is that he doesn’t walk enough, but looking at the shortstop position as a whole no one is posting a staggering OBP (Except for Troy Tulowitzki, who is in another league compared to every other shortstop, but he can’t stay healthy). Therefore Castro’s .339 OBP is extremely good for a shortstop in the game today. I think people need to compare players to others playing that same position, because if you look at Castro’s numbers compared to other shortstops Starlin is clearly a top three shortstop in the game offensively.

What Do You Do With All These Shortstops?

Some people see the Cubs’ surplus of shortstops as a problem, but I see it as a good problem to have. Normally your shortstop is your most athletic player and covers the most ground, so why not have three of them in the infield? I think if the Cubs fielded and infield of Castro, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell, that infield would gobble up every groundball. Whether Castro sticks at short or if Russell comes up and becomes the shortstop that everyone thinks he will be, the Cubs could have a huge defensive advantage by playing three shortstops in the IF.

Playing three shortstops in the IF would shift Kris Bryant, who will be an average defensive 3B at best, to the outfield where his defense wouldn’t be as much of a concern. Bryant in LF would fill the one spot where the Cubs don’t have a top prospect. This would mean you would have a top prospect at every position in the future. For example C: Kyle Schwarber (if he can stick at C), 1B: All-Star Anthony Rizzo, a combination of Baez, Castro, and Russell all fitting at 2B, 3B, and SS (future positions TBD), LF: Bryant, CF: Albert Almora or Arismendy Alcantara (Alcantara could become super utility as well, a Ben Zobrist role), RF: Jorge Soler. I don’t know about you but a lineup filled with all those top prospects and all that power excites the heck out of me.

Overall I think Starlin Castro is severely under-appreciated not only by the MLB, but also by Cubs fans. Castro has improved in many areas, and I believe that he is among the top three shortstops in the game. Castro is starting to show that he has more power in that bat with an increased FB% and in his FB/HR ratio. Keeping Starlin Castro as well as all of the other shortstops could be very beneficial for the Cubs.

Vegas vs. Steamer

Apparently, there’s a big game in another popular American sport coming up in a couple weeks and many fans of this other sport head to Vegas this time of year to lay down a proposition or two on this big game. Actually, big game doesn’t really do it justice. It’s more like a great game or a fantastic game or maybe even a . . . super game (so as to not be sued for violating any trademarks or licensing agreements, I will leave it at that).

If you’re a baseball fan and you happen to be in Vegas laying down some moolah on this . . . super game . . . you might want to consider throwing a few Benjamins on your favorite baseball team. The most-recent Las Vegas odds to win the World Series are out and there could be some money to be made here. Caveat: I’ve never bet on baseball, nor have I ever been to Vegas, but I would like to go someday because I’m a big fan of The Blue Man Group. I did win $175 on a $5 bet on number 11 the first time I ever played roulette, so I’m not a total novice when it comes to gambling.

Anyway, using the Vegas odds of winning the World Series and the Steamer projected Standings, there are some strong plays on the board. Let’s look at each division, in chart form, starting with the NL West:


Odds Team W L W% RDif RS/G RA/G
13 to 2 Dodgers 91 71 .561 84 4.01 3.50
20 to 1 Giants 83 79 .513 17 3.79 3.69
25 to 1 Padres 79 83 .487 -18 3.76 3.87
120 to 1 Rockies 77 85 .474 -42 4.50 4.76
120 to 1 Diamondbacks 74 88 .454 -66 3.80 4.21


It’s interesting that Vegas is really excited about the Padres, at least compared to the Rockies and Diamondbacks, who don’t project to be that much worse but who face significantly longer odds. With the Giants’ recent success, they are probably the best play here. Even if you don’t think they can beat out the Dodgers for the division, they’ve proven that they can make a run if they get into the playoffs as a wild card team. Of course, this is an odd-numbered year, so you might want to save your money and look elsewhere.


Odds Team W L W% RDif RS/G RA/G
14 to 1 Cardinals 86 76 .533 46 4.02 3.74
30 to 1 Pirates 85 77 .527 38 4.06 3.82
14 to 1 Cubs 84 78 .517 24 4.10 3.95
60 to 1 Brewers 76 86 .468 -47 3.99 4.28
70 to 1 Reds 76 86 .468 -46 3.76 4.04


The play here is the Pittsburgh Pirates. They are projected to be just a game off the division lead, but with odds at 30 to 1. In a world full of parity, every team in baseball would have a .500 record and 30 to 1 odds and there would be no supermodels. That would be a sad, sad, world. In this world, the Pirates are projected to be better than .500 and should have better odds than 30 to 1. Meanwhile, Vegas is excited about the Cubs, giving them 14 to 1 odds (they opened at 45 to 1). Some of you may remember that in Back to the Future, the Cubs won the 2015 World Series (in a 5-game sweep over Miami) after starting the year with 100 to 1 odds. This could be the Cubs’ year, McFly!


Odds Team W L W% RDif RS/G RA/G
5 to 1 Nationals 91 71 .561 86 4.19 3.65
30 to 1 Marlins 81 81 .500 0 3.93 3.93
25 to 1 Mets 78 84 .482 -24 3.77 3.92
60 to 1 Braves 71 91 .439 -85 3.58 4.11
300 to 1 Phillies 68 94 .421 -112 3.53 4.22


There aren’t any real good plays here. As good as the Nationals look now, especially after acquiring Max Scherzer, it would be foolish to put any money on a major league team at 5 to 1 odds to win the World Series. There’s just too much unpredictability come playoff time. None of the teams in this division have appealing odds, unless your name is Lloyd Christmas, in which case you have to jump all over the Phillies at 300 to 1 (“So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”).


Odds Team W L W% RDif RS/G RA/G
14 to 1 Red Sox 88 74 .546 70 4.67 4.24
30 to 1 Blue Jays 84 78 .516 24 4.49 4.34
75 to 1 Rays 83 79 .511 16 4.00 3.90
25 to 1 Yankees 82 80 .508 11 4.14 4.07
20 to 1 Orioles 79 83 .485 -23 4.23 4.37


There’s no love for the Tampa Bay Rays in Vegas, with odds of 75 to 1 in what still looks like a tight division. The Rays opened at 35 to 1. Apparently, Las Vegas does not like their recent moves. Based on Steamer projections, the Rays look like your best longshot option of any team in baseball.


Odds Team W L W% RDif RS/G RA/G
20 to 1 Tigers 85 77 .526 39 4.42 4.17
25 to 1 Indians 84 78 .521 30 4.15 3.97
25 to 1 Royals 81 81 .498 -2 4.06 4.08
20 to 1 White Sox 77 85 .478 -32 4.11 4.31
100 to 1 Twins 76 86 .467 -50 4.13 4.44


No team jumps out here, but if I had to pick one, I’d take the Indians at 25 to 1. They look to be right there with the Tigers to win the division, but with slightly worse odds, so you’d get a bigger payout if they went all the way.


Odds Team W L W% RDif RS/G RA/G
14 to 1 Mariners 89 73 .547 68 4.20 3.79
60 to 1 Athletics 84 78 .519 28 4.20 4.02
10 to 1 Angels 84 78 .517 25 4.28 4.13
50 to 1 Rangers 78 84 .483 -26 4.29 4.45
60 to 1 Astros 77 85 .477 -34 4.18 4.39


I guess when you lose Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester, and Derek Norris, your odds to win the World Series should get worse, but 60 to 1, really? Steamer still has Oakland in the mix for the AL Wild Card and just 5 games back of the Mariners for the division.

Here is a look at the teams in each league who are projected to be in contention, along with their Vegas odds:

Odds Team W L W%
5 to 1 Nationals 91 71 .561
13 to 2 Dodgers 91 71 .561
14 to 1 Cardinals 86 76 .533
30 to 1 Pirates 85 77 .527
14 to 1 Cubs 84 78 .517
20 to 1 Giants 83 79 .513
30 to 1 Marlins 81 81 .500


The Pirates have worse odds than the Padres and Mets, neither of whom are projected to contend for the Wild Card or even finish .500. Aye, this be the National League team you should wager your doubloons on and win some booty!

Odds Team W L W%
14 to 1 Mariners 89 73 .547
14 to 1 Red Sox 88 74 .546
20 to 1 Tigers 85 77 .526
25 to 1 Indians 84 78 .521
60 to 1 Athletics 84 78 .519
10 to 1 Angels 84 78 .517
30 to 1 Blue Jays 84 78 .516
75 to 1 Rays 83 79 .511
25 to 1 Yankees 82 80 .508
25 to 1 Royals 81 81 .498


In the American League, your best options are the Athletics and Rays, and possibly the Blue Jays. The A’s are right in the mix for the wild card, yet have the same odds as the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves. The Rays are projected to be nearly as good as the A’s and have even worse odds, better than only four teams in all of baseball—the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Twins. The Blue Jays don’t look to be as good a play as the A’s and Rays but, like the Pirates, they have longer odds than other similarly competitive teams.

So, if you’re down in Vegas wagering on that super game coming up on the 1st of February, think about putting some money down on the A’s and don’t forget to see The Blue Man Group.

Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises

Would your favorite baseball team make the playoffs if player X had not been traded? Imagine your team’s roster from any particular year. Remove all of the players that your team acquired through trades and free agency. Would you be able to field a competitive team? All right, let us re-populate the roster with every player that the organization originally drafted and signed. Yes, we will include undrafted free agents and foreign players who signed with their first Major League team, as well. How does the team stack up now? Is the club better or worse than the squad that you imagined at first?

In Hardball Retrospective, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present)  on their original teams. Using a variety of advanced statistics and methods, I generated revised standings for each season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition.  Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the real-time or “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

The following article is an excerpt from “Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises”. The book is available in Kindle format on – other eBook formats coming soon. Additional information and a discussion forum are available at

Several new terms are referenced below:

OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

OWARavg – Wins Above Replacement divided by Player-Seasons (based on Draft Round)

OWSavg – Win Shares divided by Player-Seasons (based on Draft Round)

Note: the tables and charts accompanying this chapter in the book have been omitted from this post.

Player Development

I have examined the scouting and development of Major League baseball players from several perspectives, focusing on the Amateur Draft in order to provide a consistent method for player acquisition. Fundamentally, this places all teams on equal ground in terms of selecting from the same group of available players each year. All players eligible for the Draft are not equal with respect to monetary demands and all teams are not equal in terms of resources. Furthermore, teams may chose to pass on drafting a high school graduate who has already committed to a college. Using a half-century’s worth of results from the Amateur Draft, I divided the players into four groups based on the round in which they were selected. I added the number of player-seasons for each range in order to determine the groupings (Round 1, 2-4, 5-10 and 11-89), omitting all players who were drafted but did not sign in a particular season.

The Player Development chart compares the Amateur Draft results for each team by dividing the total OWAR and OWS into total Player-Seasons for each grouping. The Graduation Rate chart represents the number of Player-Seasons per draft, essentially relating how many ballplayers drafted by each team have “graduated” to the big leagues and how many seasons they have played.

The Angels record the second-highest graduation rate (31 player-seasons per Draft) while procuring the fifth-best OWSavg for rounds 5-10 in the Amateur Draft. Jim Edmonds (67 Career WAR, 319 Career WS) tops the list of mid-round recruits for the Halos, which also features Garret Anderson, Bruce Bochte, Wally Joyner, John Lackey, Carney Lansford, Mark McLemore, Gary Pettis, Tim Salmon, Jarrod Washburn and Devon White. Mike Trout is angling for the premier position in the Angels’ blue-chip bunch, which is presently occupied by Tom Brunansky, Darin Erstad, Chuck Finley, Troy Glaus, Andy Messersmith, Frank Tanana and Jered Weaver. Seventeenth-round draftees Dante Bichette and Mike Napoli are the lone late-rounders of note as Los Angeles tallied the third-worst OWARavg in rounds 11-89.

Arizona’s draft choices from rounds 2-4 rank last among the 30 ballclubs in OWARavg and OWSavg. On the other hand, the Diamondbacks’ brass has chosen wisely in rounds 5-10 (5th in OWARavg). The D-Backs’ first-round selections are headlined by Max Scherzer and Justin Upton while the returns from mid-round picks include Brad Penny, Dan Uggla (11th Round) and Brandon Webb.

Atlanta’s late-round selections top the leader boards in OWSavg and place third in OWARavg, including the quintet of Dusty Baker (26th Round), Brett Butler (23rd Round, 305 Career WS), Jermaine Dye, Glenn Hubbard and Kevin Millwood. Chipper Jones (69 Career WAR, 420 Career WS), Jeff Blauser, Dale Murphy and Adam Wainwright are among the notable first-round choices for the Braves. Ron Gant, Tom Glavine (82 Career WAR, 312 Career WS), David Justice, Ryan Klesko, Brian McCann, Mickey Rivers and Jason Schmidt complete Atlanta’s upper-to-mid round draft picks.

Baltimore’s draft record can be described as inconsistent. The blue-chip prospects score a ninth-place finish in OWARavg while the middle-to-late rounders settle near the bottom of the pack. Bobby Grich (327 Career WS) and Mike Mussina (82 Career WAR) headline a flock of first-round selections featuring Ben McDonald, Brian Roberts and Jayson Werth. In rounds 2-4 the Orioles system yields several treasures, Don Baylor, Doug DeCinces, Eddie Murray (58 Career WAR, 427 Career WS) and Cal Ripken, Jr. (66 Career WAR, 423 Career WS). Notable O’s middle-to-late round picks include Mike Boddicker, Al Bumbry, Mike Flanagan and Steve Finley.

Boston wins the award for overall scouting and development specific to players selected in the Amateur Draft. The organization ranks fifth among first-round selections and outshines the competition in rounds 2-10, placing second in rounds 2-4 while nailing down the top spot for rounds 5-10. Roger Clemens leads all Sox draftees with 143 Career WAR and 437 Career WS). Boston blue-chippers Ellis Burks, Rick Burleson, Carlton Fisk (60 Career WAR, 364 Career WS), Nomar Garciaparra, Bruce Hurst, Jim Rice, Aaron Sele, Bob Stanley and Mo Vaughn are prominent, and mid-round prospects, including Jeff Bagwell, Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn, Amos Otis, Curt Schilling and John Tudor flourished under the direction of the Sox’ coaching staff.

The Cubs’ first-round draftees own the third-lowest marks in OWARavg and OWSavg while the organization rates seventh-worst overall in OWSavg. Chicago’s foremost selections are a mixed bag consisting of Joe Carter, Jon Garland, Burt Hooton, Rafael Palmeiro (63 Career WAR, 401 Career WS) and Kerry Wood. The Cubbies claim the eighth-best OWARavg in rounds 2-4 on the shoulders of Greg Maddux (111 Career WAR, 404 Career WS) assisted by fellow hurlers Larry Gura, Ken Holtzman, Joe Niekro, Rick Reuschel and Lee Smith. Among the notable mid-to-late round products of the Cubs’ farm system are Oscar Gamble, Mark Grace (24th Round), Kyle Lohse (29th Round), Jamie Moyer, Bill North and Steve Trachsel.

The White Sox rank worst overall among “Turn of the Century” franchises in OWARavg and OWSavg, placing next-to-last in rounds 2-4. Chicago’s first-rounders grade slightly below average. Frank E. Thomas (70 Career WAR, 405 Career WS) stands out among the Sox selections, which encompass fellow number-one picks Harold Baines, Alex Fernandez, Jack McDowell and Robin Ventura. A short list of mid-to-late draftees for the Pale Hose includes Mark Buehrle, Mike Cameron, Doug Drabek, Ray Durham and Rich Gossage.

Cincinnati excels in the scouting and development of mid-round draft picks, scoring fifth (Rounds 2-4) and fourth (Rounds 5-10) in OWSavg. Featuring Johnny Bench (62 Career WAR, 365 Career WS), this gifted collection encompasses Eric Davis, Adam Dunn, Charlie Leibrandt, Hal McRae, Paul O’Neill, Reggie Sanders, Danny Tartabull and Joey Votto. Barry Larkin (67 Career WAR, 344 Career WS) outdistances the first-round recruits while Ken Griffey (29th Round) and Trevor Hoffman close out the endgame selections.

Despite the presence of Manny Ramirez amid the team’s premier picks, Cleveland notches the fifth-worst record in OWARavg for first-rounders. Chris Chambliss, Charles Nagy, C.C. Sabathia and Greg Swindell round out the Tribes’ blue-chippers. The club follows an unexceptional path through the middle rounds of the Amateur Draft, noting exemptions for Albert Belle, Dennis Eckersley and Von Hayes. The Indians’ redemption occurs with the late-round draft picks as the franchise secured first place in OWARavg and a runner-up finish in OWSavg for rounds 11-89. Superb endgame selections consist of Buddy Bell, Brian S. Giles, Richie Sexson, and Jim Thome (391 Career WS).

The Rockies’ blue-chip prospects place fourth in OWARavg, but struggle to develop late-round draftees, finishing second-to-last in OWARavg for players drafted in rounds 11-89. Todd Helton compiled 60 Career WAR and 315 Career WS, while fellow first-rounder Troy Tulowitzki continues to steadily climb the ranks. Matt Holliday leads the active mid-rounders with 219 Career WAR through 2013. Colorado ranks third-worst in Graduation Rate (23 player-seasons per Draft).

Detroit boasts the worst OWSavg and scores next-to-last in OWARavg among first-round draft picks while the franchise places 26th in overall OWARavg. Only five of the Tigers’ top prospects amassed 20+ Career WAR – Travis Fryman, Kirk Gibson, Howard Johnson, Lance Parrish and current Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander. Other distinguished members of Detroit’s farm system include Curtis Granderson, Chris Hoiles, Jack Morris, John Smoltz (22nd Round, 72 Career WAR), Jason D. Thompson, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker (66 Career WAR, 346 Career WS).

The Marlins first-round draft choices rank eighth in OWARavg, but generally the team’s scouting and development results are dreadful as the club ranks dead last overall in OWARavg, OWSavg and Graduation Rate (18 player-seasons per Draft). Prominent first-round selections for Miami include Josh Beckett, Jose D. Fernandez, Adrian Gonzalez, Charles Johnson and Mark Kotsay. Giancarlo Stanton (2nd Round) stands tall among the remaining Marlins’ draftees in conjunction with Steve Cishek, Josh Johnson, Josh Willingham (17th Round) and Randy Winn.

Houston accrues the sixth-worst OWARavg rate among first-round selections and claims the fourth-lowest Graduation Rate (23 player-seasons per Draft). Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio (426 Career WS) co-star in the Astros’ first-round rankings with Floyd Bannister, John Mayberry and Billy Wagner holding down supporting roles. Mid-round recruits consist of Ken Caminiti, Bill D. Doran, Luis E. Gonzalez, Shane Reynolds and Ben Zobrist. The ‘Stros achieve the fifth-best OWARavg in rounds 11-89 based on the development and consistent production from Ken Forsch, Darryl Kile, Kenny Lofton, Roy Oswalt (23rd Round) and Johnny Ray.

Kansas City’s first-round draft picks have collectively flopped as its second-worst OWSavg attests. Exceptions to the substandard results include Kevin Appier, Johnny Damon (302 Career WS), Alex Gordon, Zack Greinke and Willie Wilson. On the positive side, the Royals lead the Majors in OWSavg and place fourth in OWARavg for Amateur Draft rounds 2-4. George Brett (435 Career WS) highlights a star-studded cast consisting of Carlos Beltran (322 Career WS), David Cone, Cecil Fielder, Mark Gubicza, Ruppert Jones, Dennis Leonard and Jon Lieber. The organization’s prized mid-to-late rounders are Jeff Conine (58th Round), Mark Ellis, Tom Gordon, Bret Saberhagen (19th Round), Kevin Seitzer and Mike Sweeney.

The Dodgers offset pedestrian results in the early rounds with tremendous scores in rounds 5-10 (2nd in OWSavg) and 11-89 (4th in OWARavg). Drafted in the 62nd Round, Mike Piazza (324 Career WS) is a wonderful representative of late-round success. In addition the Los Angeles’ endgame claims consist of Orel Hershiser (17th Round), Ted Lilly (23rd Round), Russell Martin (17th Round) and Dave Stewart (16th Round). Famous first-rounders for the Dodgers include Steve Garvey, Clayton Kershaw, Paul Konerko, Rick Rhoden, Mike Scioscia, Rick Sutcliffe and Bob Welch. Ron Cey tops a throng of mid-rounders which encompass Doyle Alexander, Bill Buckner, Joe Ferguson, Sid Fernandez, John Franco, Charlie Hough, Eric Karros, Matt Kemp, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Steve Sax, Shane Victorino, Steve Yeager and Eric Young.

Milwaukee’s first round draft picks yield the top OWARavg and OWSavg among all Major League teams. Paul Molitor, Gary Sheffield and Robin Yount produced 60+ WAR and 400+ Win Shares in their careers. Other notable Brewers first-rounders include Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Darrell Porter, Ben Sheets, B.J. Surhoff, Gorman Thomas and Greg Vaughn. However the organization is deficient in the scouting and development of middle-to-late round talent. Second-rounder Chris Bosio and eleventh-rounder Jeff Cirillo pace the Brew Crew’s Round 2+ group with 22 Career WAR while Mark Loretta accrued 178 Career WS.

Minnesota’s draft picks in rounds 2-4 place third in OWARavg and OWSavg and the organization scores fifth overall in OWSavg. Headlined by Bert Blyleven (85 Career WAR, 341 Career WS) and Graig Nettles (317 Career WS), the round 2-4 group also counts Scott Erickson, Justin Morneau, Denny Neagle, A.J. Pierzynski and Frank Viola among its members. The Twins’ blue-chip prospects, a group which encompasses Jay Bell, Michael Cuddyer, Gary Gaetti, Torii Hunter, Chuck Knoblauch, Joe Mauer and Kirby Puckett, attained the ninth-best OWSavg. Rick Dempsey, Kent Hrbek (17th Round) and Brad Radke are among the notable mid-to-late round selections.

The Mets rank third-worst in OWARavg for players selected in rounds 5-10 of the Amateur Draft. New York’s scouting and development perform poorly overall, rating 25th in OWARavg and 23rd in OWSavg. The Metropolitans first-rounders, a collection including Hubie Brooks, Jeromy Burnitz, Dwight Gooden, Gregg Jefferies, Jon Matlack, Ken Singleton, Darryl Strawberry and David Wright, are somewhat better than the League in OWSavg. Twelth-round selection Nolan Ryan (63 Career WAR, 339 Career WS) highlights the remaining Mets draftees along with A.J. Burnett, Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson.

The Yankees’ blue-chip prospects place sixth in OWSavg while players chosen in rounds 2-4 rank fifth-worst. Derek Jeter (407 Career WS) heads the first-round crew which includes Tim Belcher, Willie McGee and Thurman Munson. Ron Guidry and Al Leiter are the only Pinstripers of note that were drafted in the next three rounds. More than a few of the Bronx Bombers’ mid-to-late round selections fashioned prolific careers including Brad Ausmus (48th Round), Greg Gagne, Mike Lowell (20th Round), Don Mattingly (19th Round), Fred McGriff, Andy Pettitte (22nd Round), Jorge Posada (24th Round) and J.T. Snow.

The Athletics earn a second-place overall finish in OWARavg for the Amateur Draft and secure a third-place ribbon in OWSavg. Oakland executed particularly well in rounds 2-4 (4th in OWARavg) and 5-10 (3rd in OWSavg). Reggie Jackson (74 Career WAR, 441 Career WS) headlines the Oakland first-rounders club, which also features Eric Chavez, Phil Garner, George Hendrick, Chet Lemon, Mark McGwire, Rick Monday, Mike Morgan, Nick Swisher and Barry Zito. Fourth-round selection Rickey Henderson (115 Career WAR, 543 Career WS) tops the A’s mid-to-late round draftees. Other noteworthy products of the Oakland farm system include Sal Bando, Vida Blue, Jose Canseco, Darrell Evans, Jason Giambi, Tim Hudson, Dwayne Murphy, Terry Steinbach, Kevin Tapani, Gene Tenace (20th Round) and Mickey Tettleton.

Philadelphia rates highly in the scouting and development of players chosen in Amateur Draft rounds 2-4 with a sixth-place finish in OWARavg. On the other hand the team stumbles through the twilight rounds, ranking 25th out of 30 teams in OWARavg and OWSavg. The Phillies’ first-rounders score in the bottom-third of the League, a class consisting of Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Greg Luzinski, Lonnie Smith and Chase Utley. Mike Schmidt (103 Career WAR, 463 Career WS) headlines the recruits from rounds 2-4 joined by fellow members Larry Hisle, Scott Rolen, Jimmy Rollins and Randy Wolf. Mid-to-late round gems include Bob Boone, Darren Daulton (25th Round), Ryan Howard and Ryne Sandberg (20th Round).

The Pirates number-one draft picks score exceptionally well in OWARavg (2nd) and OWSavg (3rd) compared to the League average, due in large part to the contributions of Barry Bonds (156 Career WAR, 694 Career WS). Moises Alou, Richie Hebner, Jason Kendall and present-day center fielder Andrew McCutchen pay significant dividends for the Bucs. A number of Pittsburgh’s mid-to-late round selections achieved stardom including Bronson Arroyo, Jose A. Bautista, Jay Buhner, John Candelaria, Gene Garber, Dave Parker (14th Round, 324 Career WS), Willie Randolph (55 Career WAR, 305 Career WS), Tim Wakefield and Richie Zisk.

The Padres’ woeful performance in the Amateur Draft is underscored by the second-worst OWARavg and fourth-worst OWSavg overall. San Diego’s premier picks rank last in OWARavg in spite of the presence of Andy Benes, Johnny Grubb, Derrek Lee, Kevin McReynolds and Dave Winfield (412 Career WS). Featuring Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn (386 Career WS) and Ozzie Smith (325 Career WS) along with John Kruk, the Friar’s selections in rounds 2-4 provide a positive variance in the franchise record. Jake Peavy (15th Round) is the lone Padre drafted in the fifth round or later to register at least 20 Career WAR.

The Mariners excel in the drafting and development of first and mid-round selections. M’s blue-chippers include Ken Griffey Jr. (402 Career WS), Dave Henderson, Tino Martinez, Mike Moore, Alex Rodriguez (94 Career WAR, 479 Career WS) and Jason Varitek. On the other hand, Seattle’s late-round prospects place third-worst in OWSavg. An exception to the rule, Raul Ibanez (36th Round) tallied 209 Career WS. Bret Boone, Alvin Davis, Mike Hampton, Mark Langston and Derek Lowe highlight Seattle’s mid-round picks.

The Giants furnish an atrocious record in the Amateur Draft, posting below-average results in all OWARavg and OWSavg categories along with the fourth-worst overall ranking. San Francisco’s first-round selections place 27th out of 30 clubs. Buster Posey is steadily ascending the leader boards among the Giants’ premier choices which include Matt Cain, Will Clark (320 Career WS), Royce Clayton, Dave Kingman, Tim Lincecum, Gary Matthews, Chris Speier, Robby Thompson and Matt D. Williams. The franchise cultivated a group of mid-to-late round picks comprised of Jim Barr, John Burkett, Jack Clark, Chili Davis, George Foster, Garry Maddox, Bill Mueller and Joe Nathan.

St. Louis sparkles in the scouting and development of late-rounders as the club’s second-place finish in OWARavg for rounds 11-89 surely attests. Thirteenth-round selection Albert Pujols (92 Career WAR, 405 Career WS) leads the flock of Cardinals’ success stories along with John Denny (29th Round), Jeff Fassero (22nd Round), Keith Hernandez (42nd Round) and Placido Polanco (19th Round). The organization achieves moderate results in the first round including J.D. Drew, Brian Jordan, Terry Kennedy, Ted Simmons, Garry Templeton and Andy Van Slyke. Noteworthy Cardinals’ mid-rounders consist of Coco Crisp, Dan Haren, Lance Johnson, Ray Lankford, Yadier Molina, Jerry Mumphrey, Terry Pendleton, Jerry Reuss and Todd Zeile.

The Tampa Bay organization ranks second in OWSavg and third in OWARavg in terms of first-round Amateur Draft selections. The Rays count Josh Hamilton, Evan Longoria, David Price and B.J. Upton among the franchise’s finest ballplayers. The farm system also bore middle-to-late rounders such as Carl Crawford, Aubrey Huff and James Shields (16th Round). Tampa Bay’s Graduation Rate is an abysmal 20 player-seasons per Draft, the second-worst record in the League.

Texas yields the highest graduation rate (32 player-seasons per Draft) yet the club registers an unremarkable 24th place result for overall OWARavg. The Rangers’ late-round jewels, comprising Rich Aurilia (24th Round), Travis Hafner, Mike Hargrove (25th Round), Ian Kinsler and Kenny Rogers (39th Round), manage a fourth-place showing in OWSavg. The organization’s prized first-rounders include Kevin J. Brown, Jeff Burroughs, Rick Helling, Carlos Pena, Roy Smalley III, Jim Sundberg and Mark Teixeira. The club logs dismal outcomes in rounds 2-4 (third-worst in the Majors) and among the Rangers selected in rounds 2-10, only Ryan Dempster, Aaron Harang, Bill Madlock and Darren Oliver register at least 20 Career WAR.

Toronto’s upper and middle-level draft choices prospered, particularly the ballplayers chosen in rounds 5-10 (2nd in OWARavg). Roy Halladay (64 Career WAR) heads the list of first-rounders developed in the Blue Jays’ farm system together with Chris J. Carpenter, Shawn Green, Aaron Hill, Lloyd Moseby, Shannon Stewart, Todd Stottlemyre and Vernon Wells. Middle-to-late round selections Jeff Kent (20th Round), John Olerud, Dave Stieb and David Wells all post 50+ Career WAR. Other noteworthy Jays draftees include Jesse Barfield, Pat Hentgen, Orlando Hudson, Jimmy Key, Woddy Williams and Michael Young.

Washington posts the highest OWARavg in the Major Leagues for rounds 2-4 and finishes third in OWSavg for rounds 11-89. Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg should augment the Nationals’ first-round scores which presently mirror League average rates. The Nats top selections include Delino DeShields, Cliff Floyd, Bill Gullickson, Tony Phillips, Steve Rogers, Tim Wallach, Rondell White and Ryan Zimmerman. Among the mid-to-late round choices, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Randy D. Johnson (101 Career WAR) and Tim Raines amassed 300+ Career Win Shares. The thriving farm system also produced Jason Bay (Round 22), Marquis Grissom, Mark Grudzielanek, Cliff P. Lee, Brandon Phillips, Scott Sanderson, Javier Vazquez and Jose Vidro.

7 Reasons Why the A’s Will Win the AL West in 2015

The A’s winning the West after a huge offseason makeover in 2015 might seem like an unlikely achievement, but here are seven reasons why this is not at all unachievable:


1. The New-Look Infield

In 2015 the Athletics will be throwing out a fresh face at each of the four starting infield positions. Here’s a quick look:

2014 2015
1B: Brandon Moss 1B: Ike Davis (Mets)
2B: Eric Sogard 2B: Ben Zobrist (Rays)
SS: Jed Lowrie SS: Marcus Semien (White Sox)
3B: Josh Donaldson 3B: Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays)

Especially from an Athletics fan’s perspective, the left side of this chart looks very nice. The names Moss and Donaldson are very important and dear to you; however, the right side of this chart is actually more productive overall. While Moss and Donaldson have the highest wOBA of the eight players at .351 and .339 respectively, Jed Lowrie and Eric Sogard have the two lowest at .300 and .262 respectively. This averages out to be a wOBA of .313. The Average wOBA for 2015’s infield is .320.

You might be thinking that Lawrie does not compare to Donaldson, and you could be right. The fact of the matter is that Lawrie is a downgrade from Donaldson, but not by all that much, meanwhile, Zobrist is a huge upgrade from Sogard at 2B. And even Sogard is an upgrade from Punto as the UTIL infielder.

Other important categories that favor the 2015 infield are BB%, K%, FB%, Contact%, OPS, OBP, etc. Also, the new infield got quite a bit younger and faster.

The 2015 infield also has a higher average wRC+ at 104 in comparison to 2014’s 102.5. These aren’t huge differences, but the A’s are expecting better years from Lawrie, who was injured a lot in 2014, Davis, who hit 32 HR in 2012, and Semien, who hasn’t really had much of a chance in the majors yet. These moves were necessary, not only to save money, but because the 2014 team didn’t actually win the AL West. I’m now going to compare this new INF to a team that did win the West, the 2012 A’s.

The 2012 INF consisted of Josh Donaldson, Stephen Drew, Cliff Pennington and Brandon Moss. There were other guys in the mix earlier on in the season, i.e. Jemile Weeks, Brandon Inge, however, these were the guys that got it done down the home stretch.

2012 A’s INF WAR wOBA wRC+ 2015 A’s INF WAR wOBA wRC+
Brandon Moss 2.3 .402 160 Ike Davis 0.3 .324 108
Cliff Pennington 1.0 .263 65 Ben Zobrist 5.7 .333 119
Stephen Drew 0.0 .310 97 Marcus Semien 0.6 .301 88
Josh Donaldson 1.5 .300 90 Brett Lawrie 1.7 .320 101
2012 AVG 1.2 .319 103   2014 AVG 2.1 .320 104

These numbers are almost identical, however the 2015 team has a slight edge in every category. That is despite the fact that the A’s expect growth from the incoming players this season. Even after the significant losses of Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss the A’s infield is more than capable of pushing them toward another Western division title.


2. The Designated Hitter

The Athletics’ DH numbers from 2014 are not where you want them to be. Yes, Melvin will still use this spot as a “half-rest” day for players like Crisp, Reddick and Lawrie, but the newcomer Billy Butler will most likely fill the spot the majority of the time. Butler is a huge upgrade from the A’s team DH numbers last season in which Callaspo, Moss, Norris, Jaso, Vogt, Dunn, among countless others had at bats. Let’s take a look at the 2014 A’s DH numbers vs. Billy Butler’s 2014 numbers. (he also had a down season):

Player WAR wOBA wRC+
2014 Team DH -1.3 .284 82
Billy Butler -0.3 .311 97

This chart shows that Butler is a significant upgrade at the DH spot, as he will bring a lot more production to the middle of this lineup. I should also bring up his career numbers, which are a wOBA of .351 and wRC+ of 117. If Butler can get back to his career form, the A’s offense is looking at a huge boost, but even if he doesn’t and repeats his 2014 performance, the DH spot is still getting a nice upgrade.


3. The Rotation

The starting rotation for the A’s no longer consists of Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel, but it is still a very strong group with huge potential. I’m going to compare the projected 2015 group to the 2012 and 2013 rotations that led the A’s to division titles.


Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Tommy Milone 190 6.49 1.71 1.14 3.74 1.28 2.8
Jarrod Parker 181.1 6.95 3.13 0.55 3.47 1.26 3.5
Bartolo Colon 111 5.38 1.36 1.00 3.43 1.21 2.4
Brandon McCarthy 82.1 5.92 1.95 0.81 3.24 1.25 1.8
A.J. Griffin 79.1 7.00 2.08 1.09 3.06 1.13 1.4
Team Average  / 6.35


0.92 3.39 1.23




Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
A.J Griffin 200 7.70 2.43 1.62 3.83 1.13 1.5
Jarrod Parker 197 6.12 2.88 1.14 3.97 1.22 1.3
Bartolo Colon 190.1 5.53 1.37 0.66 2.65 1.17 3.9
Tommy Milone 153.1 7.10 2.29 1.41 4.17 1.29 1.3
Dan Straily 152.1 7.33 3.37 0.95 3.96 1.24 1.4
Team Average  / 6.76 2.47 1.16 3.72 1.21 1.9


Projected 2015 (2014 STATS)

Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Sonny Gray 219 7.52 3.04 0.62 3.08 1.19 3.3
Scott Kazmir 190.1 7.75 2.36 0.76 3.55 1.16 3.3
Jesse Chavez 125.2 8.52 2.94 0.93 3.44 1.30 1.7
Jesse Hahn 70 8.36 3.73 0.51 2.96 1.13 0.8
Drew Pomeranz 52.1 8.6 3.44 0.86 2.58 1.13 0.7
Team Average  /







As you can see, the 2015 rotation wins four out of the six categories. They won the majority of the categories already, but this 2015 staff has the potential to be better than these numbers show. In past years, the A’s success had a lot to do with their strong pitching staff — this is a big reason why I believe they will win the west in 2015 — however, we need to take a look at the projected rotations of the four other teams in the division to see how the A’s compare to each of them.

Here are the five teams’ projected rotations for 2015:



Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Jered Weaver 213.1 7.13 2.74 1.14 3.59 1.21 1.5
C.J. Wilson 175.2 7.74 4.35 0.87 4.51 1.45 0.6
Garrett Richards 168.2 8.75 2.72 0.27 2.61 1.04 4.3
Matt Shoemaker 121.1 8.16 1.56 0.67 2.89 1.07 2.6
Andrew Heaney 24.2 5.84 2.55 2.19 6.93 1.50 -0.4
Team Average  / 7.52 2.78 1.03 4.11 1.25 1.7



Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Felix Hernandez 236 9.46 1.75 0.61 2.14 0.92 6.2
Hisashi Iwakuma 179 7.74 1.06 1.01 3.52 1.05 3.2
Roenis Elias 163.2 7.86 3.52 0.88 3.85 1.31 1.4
J.A. Happ 153 7.53 2.71 1.24 4.12 1.31 1.5
James Paxton 74 7.18 3.53 0.36 3.04 1.2 1.3
Team Average  / 7.95 2.51 0.82 3.33





Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Colby Lewis 170.1 7.03 2.54 1.32 5.18 1.52 1.6
Yu Darvish 144.1 11.35 3.06 0.81 3.06 1.26 4.1
Nick Tepesch 125.2 4.01 3.15 1.07 4.30 1.34 0.4
Derek Holland 34.1 6.29 1.05 0 1.31 1.02 1.3
Ross Detwiler   /   /   /   /   /   /   /
Team Average   / 7.17


.8 3.46 1.29 1.85



Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Colin McHugh 154.2 9.14 2.39 0.76 2.73 1.02 3.3
Dallas Keuchel 200 6.57 2.16 0.50 2.93 1.18 3.9
Scott Feldman 180.1 5.34 2.50 0.80 3.74 1.30 1.6
Brett Oberholtzer 143.2 5.89 1.75 0.75 4.39 1.38 2.4
Brad Peacock 122 7.97 4.57 1.48 4.50 1.52 -0.1
Team Average   / 6.98 2.67 0.86 3.59 1.28 2.2



Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP WAR
Sonny Gray 219 7.52 3.04 0.62 3.08 1.19 3.3
Scott Kazmir 190.1 7.75 2.36 0.76 3.55 1.16 3.3
Jesse Chavez 125.2 8.52 2.94 0.93 3.44 1.30 1.7
Jesse Hahn 70 8.36 3.73 0.51 2.96 1.13 0.8
Drew Pomeranz 52.1 8.6 3.44 0.86 2.58 1.13 0.7
Team Average   /





1.18 2.0

The Mariners and the Athletics both have really solid pitching staffs. The Mariners have arguably the best pitcher in the American League in Felix Hernandez. The Angels also have a good young ace in Garrett Richards, but he is coming off an injury; it will be interesting to see how he bounces back. Sonny Gray proved that he is a true ace last season, going over 200 innings and pitching extremely well in big games. The numbers do give the A’s a slight edge; they won three of the six categories and the Mariners won two of them. King Felix, Iwakuma and the solid supporting cast are hard to bet against, but 1-5, the A’s have a better staff according to last year’s numbers.


4. Speedee Oil Change

Anytime manager Bob Melvin calls on the bullpen, the A’s should be confident. There are so many capable arms out there that it’s really not fair. Honestly, a starter could go four innings with a lead and that would be enough for this bullpen with Otero, Abad, Cook, O’Flaherty, Clippard and Doolittle in the mix. There are plenty of other options as well that might not get a shot because it’s already crowded with talent out there. The starters, however, are very capable of giving you six or seven innings consistently, which makes this bullpen even that much more deadly, allowing Melvin to create left-on-left matchups or vice versa. The fact of the matter is, if you can’t score, you can’t win. While the starting staff is very solid, getting to the bullpen might not be the opponent’s best option when facing the A’s. Another positive for the A’s has been their ability to fight their way back into ballgames the last few years. With a bullpen like this who can keep the deficit where it is, the probability of achieving a comeback is that much greater.

As shown by the Royals on the successful end and the Dodgers on the opposite end, the strength of your bullpen can make or break your season.

Let’s compare the A’s bullpen to the other teams in the division by highlighting the projected top six bullpen arms for each team:



Joe Smith 74.2 8.20 1.81 0.48 1.81 0.80 18 15
Huston Street 59.1 8.65 2.12 0.61 1.37 0.94 0 41
Mike Morin 59 8.24 2.90 0.46 2.90 1.19 9 0
Fernando Salas 58.2 9.36 2.15 0.77 3.38 1.09 8 0
Cory Rasmus 37.0 9.24 2.92 0.73 2.68 1.16 0 0
Vinnie Pestano 18.2 12.54 2.41 1.45 2.89 1.23 1 0
Team Average  / 9.37 2.39 0.75 2.51 1.07  /  /



Tom Wilhelmsen 75.1 8.12 2.7 0.72 2.03 1.00 8 1
Danny Farquhar 71 10.27 2.79 0.63 2.66 1.13 13 1
Dominic Leone 66.1 9.50 3.39 0.54 2.17 1.16 7 0
Fernando Rodney 66.1 10.31 3.80 0.41 2.85 1.34 0 48
Yoervis Medina 57 9.47 4.42 0.47 2.68 1.33 21 0
Charlie Furbush 42.1 10.84 1.91 0.85 3.61 1.16 20 1
Team Average  /




2.67 1.19  /  /



Robbie Ross 78.1 5.86 3.45 1.03 6.20 1.70 2 0
Shawn Tolleson 71.2 8.67 3.52 1.26 2.67 1.17 7 0
Roman Mendez 33 6.00 4.64 0.55 2.18 1.12 10 0
Neftali Feliz 31.2 5.97 3.13 1.42 1.99 0.98 0 13
Tanner Scheppers 23.0 6.65 3.91 2.35 9.00 1.78 1 0
Phil Klein 19 10.89 4.74 1.42 2.84 1.11 0 0
Team Average  / 7.34 3.90 1.34 4.15 1.31  /  /



Luke Gregerson 72.1 7.34 1.87 0.75 2.12 1.01 22 3
Pat Neshek 67.1 9.09 1.2 0.53 1.87 0.79 25 6
Josh Fields 54.2 11.52 2.80 0.33 4.45 1.23 8 4
Chad Qualls 51.1 7.54 0.88 0.88 3.33 1.15 2 19
Tony Sipp 50.2 11.19 3.02 0.89 3.38 0.89 11 4
Jake Buchanan 35.1 5.09 3.06 1.02 4.58 1.50 0 0
Team Average   / 8.63


0.73 3.29 1.10  /  /



Dan Otero 86.2 4.67 1.56 0.42 2.28 1.10 12 1
Tyler Clippard 70.1 10.49 2.94 0.64 2.18 1.00 40 1
Sean Doolittle 62.2 12.78 1.15 0.72 2.73 0.73 5 22
Fernando Abad 57.1 8.01 2.35 0.63 1.57 0.85 9 0
Ryan Cook 50 9.00 3.96 0.54 3.42 1.08 7 1
Eric O’Flaherty 20 6.75 1.80 1.35 2.25 0.95 3 1
Team Average   / 8.62 2.29 0.72



 /  /

The Mariners and Athletics each won two out of the five categories. The Athletics also came in second in two other categories. Although this chart shows the Mariners and the A’s as pretty evenly matched, the Mariners have a lot of aging players in their pen, so we cannot be sure if they will keep up the good numbers. The Astros got a lot better by adding Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek, but that still wasn’t enough to make them the best in the division, especially after the A’s went out and traded for the two time All-Star, Tyler Clippard. All of these teams except Texas have a very strong bullpen, so trying to come back from a deficit is going to be a tough feat in this division.

The A’s also have a lot of other options past these six players, probably more so than the other four teams, making injuries less of a factor for them.


5. Coco Crisp

When Coco Crisp is at the top of the lineup, the A’s are a better team. Over the past three seasons there’s no player who has had as much of an overall impact on this team than Coco. Whether it’s at the plate, in the field or in the clubhouse, Crisp’s impact is significant. Despite losing a lot of star players, the A’s will not take a step backward because they still have their most important piece in Crisp. If Crisp would have been traded away this offseason, I don’t believe the A’s would be ready to compete for the AL West title in 2015. There would be too long of an adjustment period, someone else would need to step up big time and fill his shoes. Luckily, the A’s don’t have to worry about that yet. Bottom line: the A’s need Coco Crisp.


6. Depth and Versatility

Having a deep roster is always important in a 162 game season. You will have players go on the DL, it is unavoidable. Being able to replace the injured players with capable major leaguers is key to a team’s success in the long run. Billy Beane has constructed a 40-man roster with tremendous depth, especially with pitching. The A’s have eight or nine guys capable of making the starting rotation, not to mention two others (Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin) due back this summer. There are upwards of ten players competing for a spot in the bullpen as well. It will be interesting to see who makes it on to the 25-man roster, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Triple-A Nashville has a stacked opening day roster. Having great options in the minor leagues is key for any team, and the A’s will definitely have that this season with Kendall Graveman, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and Brad Mills, four starters likely to be starting in Triple-A. Also, RJ Alvarez, Eury De La Rosa and Evan Scriber, three above-average bullpen arms will likely be starting down there as well.

The A’s lineup is a very versatile group this season. Eric Sogard, A’s second baseman the last few seasons, has moved into a utility INF role; he plays excellent defense, and for a defensive replacement, he can handle the stick pretty well. Ben Zobrist is known for his ability to play all over the diamond with above-average defense, and also for getting the job done from both sides of the plate; his career wOBA is .344. Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld can play all three outfield positions with ease while providing speed off the bench in pinch running situations. Marcus Semien will likely be the everyday SS, but he can play all over the infield as well. Stephen Vogt will mostly catch, but he can play first base and corner outfield if the A’s need him to. The amount of options the A’s have, if injuries do occur, are limitless. It will be entertaining to see how Bob Melvin constructs his lineup card every day.


7. The Manager

Bob Melvin is the perfect manager for a team of misfits and players who have never played together previously. He will bring this group to play for each other, as a unit, one day at a time. Melvin is great at creating matchups that benefit the team and give them the best chance to succeed. The roster that has been assembled this season is perfect for just that. It is loaded with skilled, versatile players. Bob Melvin has done it before and he will do it again.

Making Sense of a Strasburg-for-Betts Trade

Now that the Washington Nationals signed Max Scherzer to a seven-year deal, they have an open opportunity to make a blockbuster trade involving one of their aces. The Nationals for all intents and purposes have two aces, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. The idea is that since they’ve acquired a third ace one of these two pitchers will become available in a trade. Zimmermann is on the final year of his contract so he was always available. Strasburg however has only recently became available, as several reports have suggested, due to the signing of Scherzer.

There are very few teams who could potentially create a package attractive enough to the Nationals, for them to trade Strasburg. One of them is the Boston Red Sox and there seems to be an ideal fit. The Red Sox have a glut of outfielders but one of them can also play second base. He’s also young, cheap, and was a highly-touted prospect. By this time you’ve probably guessed that the player is Mookie Betts. The Nationals need a second baseman and while they have Yunel Escobar and Danny Espinosa, Betts is probably a better player already than both of them and he’s younger and cost efficient.

The Red Sox are in need of a front-of-the-line starting pitcher. They’ve added several pitchers this off-season (Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, and Justin Masterson) but none of them would be described as an ace. Clay Buchholz certainly has the potential of being an ace but he’s never pitched 200 innings and has always dealt with a bunch of injuries. Combine that with the fact that he had the worst season of his career last season, posting a 5.34 ERA, the Red Sox simply cannot bank on him being a reliable front-of-the-rotation starter. Then there’s Joe Kelly who is questionably a viable starting pitcher. Many people have argued that he belongs in the bullpen. He’s also never thrown more than 200 innings; as a matter of fact the most innings he’s pitched in a season is 124 in 2013.

Strasburg last year threw 210 innings all the while keeping his K/9 above ten (10.13). He also had the lowest walk rate of his career, at 1.8 BB/9. It was essentially the best year of his career and at the age of 26 he is entering his prime. The Red Sox are currently in a win-now mode. They’ve also acquired Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, this offseason, to beef up the offense, essentially making it one of the best in baseball. The Red Sox have a glut of quality position players with Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, and Brock Holt who can all potentially claim that they deserve significant playing time and at this point there simply is not enough room for them on the Red Sox roster. The Nationals have a glut of quality starting pitchers with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, Doug Fister, and Tanner Roark.

If the Red Sox trade Mookie Betts they could have a bunch of creative options for RF. They could try Victorino again in RF and hope he is healthy. In 2013, when Victorino was healthy, he was one of the best players on the Red Sox, with a 119 wRC+ and a 5.6 fWAR. If that doesn’t work out and Victorino can’t stay healthy, then the Red Sox could always have a platoon of Allen Craig and Daniel Nava. Nava had a career year in 2013, with a 128 wRC+, but he came back down to Earth in 2014 with a 100 wRC+. Nava though was still excellent against righties, even in a down year, posting a .372 OBP and 118 wRC+. If the Red Sox don’t let him hit against lefties Nava should provide considerable value offensively. As for Craig, he had the worst year of his career last season but he had a low BABIP and traditionally has been great against lefties in his career, notching a 130 wRC+. Combining this platoon the Red Sox would probably have above-average offensive production out of RF. Even if they don’t the rest of the lineup is plenty good enough to carry the load.

If the Nationals lose Strasburg, well, they have Scherzer, who has been one of the best pitchers in the game over the past 3 years plus he will be going to the National League, which is an easier environment to pitch in than the American League, as there is no DH. They also have Zimmermann, Gonzalez, Fister and Roark who all, apart from Gonzalez, had an ERA under 3, and it’s not like Gonzalez had a bad ERA as his was 3.57.

There probably would be a lot more moving parts in a deal of this magnitude and I’m still not 100% sure this deal would be beneficial for the Red Sox. Betts is only 22 and while almost every rookie last year struggled, Betts had a 130 wRC+ in 213 AB. He also rated somewhat favorably when playing the outfield, with 3 DRS. The sample size is small for the outfield but Betts seemed to be able to handle his own out there and if he hits the way he did, he could prove to be a franchise player for many years to come. Betts also does not have a history of injury, while Strasburg had Tommy John in his rookie year; another one could prove to be fatal to his career. Betts is also under team control for a much longer time, while Strasburg has already hit his arbitration years; he is therefore more expensive than Betts, and is set to hit free agency in 2017.

The deal may and probably will never happen but it is fun to fantasize about a deal of this magnitude and all the moving parts in it. If both teams were to execute it, the Nationals would inevitably retain their status as favorites to win the NL and the Red Sox would become the favorites to win the AL. It would be a perfect blockbuster to end an offseason full of blockbuster trades.

Analyzing the FanGraphs Early Mock Draft from an Outsider’s Point of View – SPs 41-60

The following is a look at the 41st through 60th starting pitcher taken in the FanGraphs Early Mock Draft, with a comparison to their rankings based on 2015 Steamer projections.

Starting Pitchers: 41-50

The table below shows starting pitchers taken 41st through 50th in this mock, along with their Steamer rank and the difference between their Steamer rank and the spot they were drafted. Pitchers with a positive difference were taken higher than their Steamer projection would suggest. Those with a negative difference were taken later than Steamer would have expected.

FanGraphs Mock Draft SPs 41-50 vs Steamer Rankings
PCK RND $$ SP-Rnk NAME Steamer Rank Difference
149 13 $1 41 Justin Verlander 63 22
153 13 $7 42 Gio Gonzalez 45 3
160 14 $0 43 Chris Archer 66 23
167 14 $10 44 Danny Salazar 30 -14
169 15 $20 45 Jose Fernandez 17 -28
174 15 $7 46 Lance Lynn 44 -2
180 15 $1 47 Andrew Cashner 65 18
181 16 $8 48 Ian Kennedy 37 -11
182 16 -$5 49 Mat Latos 97 48
185 16 $10 50 Scott Kazmir 31 -19


Justin Verlander was drafted as the 41st starting pitcher in this mock, but Steamer doesn’t see Verlander being worth that pick, pegging him for 63rd among starting pitchers. Verlander is coming off his worst season since 2008, when he had a 4.84 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Verlander bounced back from that ugly 2008 season with a much-improved 2009 season (3.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP), but he was 26 at the time. Now he’s 32 and less likely to bounce back like he did in his youth.

Chris Archer was another guy who went earlier than Steamer projections would expect. Archer was the 43rd pitcher drafted but is ranked 66th by Steamer. In his three years in the major leagues, Archer has a career 3.39 ERA. His FIP (3.64), xFIP (3.75), and SIERA (3.78) are not as favorable. Steamer is projecting an ERA of 3.96 and 1.31 WHIP, which knocks him out of the top 60 starting pitchers.

Another pitcher not well regarded by Steamer is Andrew Cashner, taken 47th among starting pitchers but ranked 65th. Cashner has a career ERA of 3.25 but Steamer is projecting a 3.96 ERA in 2015. Cashner’s ZiPS projection is a much more favorable 3.27 ERA.

Finally, Mat Latos has the biggest discrepancy of any pitcher in the top 50 between where he was drafted (49th starting pitcher off the board) and where Steamer would rank him (97th). Latos has not had an ERA over 3.50 since a 10-games stint as a rookie in 2009, but Steamer is projecting a 4.12 ERA for 2015. To be fair, that’s not far off Latos’ 2014 FIP (3.99) or SIERA (4.08).

The Steamer “bargains” in this group of ten pitchers were Danny Salazar, Jose Fernandez, Ian Kennedy, and Scott Kazmir.

Danny Salazar was a popular pick heading into last season after a very good 10-game major league debut in 2013 (3.12 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 11.3 K/9). On the face of it, Salazar struggled last year, finishing with a 4.25 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. The biggest culprit was a .343 BABIP, though, and his FIP (3.52), xFIP (3.45), and SIERA (3.33) were much better than his ERA. Also, he struck out 9.8 batters per nine innings. I don’t have a projection from ZiPS for Salazar, but his Steamer projection (3.62 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) is better than Cairo (3.69, 1.51) or Davenport (3.95, 1.30). Taken as the 44th starting pitcher, Steamer sees great value here.

Jose Fernandez was taken two picks after Salazar (45th starting pitcher), but is even more well-liked by Steamer (ranked 17th). In 36 major league starts over two seasons, Fernandez has a career ERA of 2.25 and WHIP of 0.97. Fernandez is coming off Tommy John surgery and is likely to miss the first couple months of the season. Steamer is projecting 20 starts with a 2.93 ERA. The current Fans projections have Fernandez with 18 starts and a 3.00 ERA. ZiPS projects 19 starts and a 2.87 ERA. You know he’ll be good, it’s just a matter of how many innings he’ll provide and where you want to draft him to get those quality innings.

Scott Kazmir was the 50th starting pitcher drafted and is ranked 31st by Steamer. Kazmir has had a long strange journey in his major league career that led him to miss the entire 2012 season. He came back with the Indians in 2013 and had a 4.04 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Last year he pitched for Oakland and had his best season since 2007, finishing with a 3.55 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Steamer is projecting a 3.71 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, good for 31st among starting pitchers.

Starting Pitchers: 51-60

FanGraphs Mock Draft SPs 51-60 vs Steamer Rankings
PCK RND $$ SP-Rnk NAME Steamer Rank Difference
186 16 $10 51 Homer Bailey 28 -23
187 16 -$3 52 Henderson Alvarez 84 32
188 16 $8 53 Anibal Sanchez 38 -15
190 16 $9 54 Phil Hughes 34 -20
191 16 $4 55 Drew Hutchison 52 -3
194 17 -$8 56 James Paxton 118 62
199 17 $2 57 Jake Odorizzi 60 3
203 17 -$1 58 Jered Weaver 74 16
207 18 $1 59 Collin McHugh 62 3
208 18 $9 60 Francisco Liriano 33 -27


The final group of pitchers who rounded out the top sixty starting pitchers taken in this mock draft are a mixed bunch. There were four guys taken at least 15 picks later than Steamer would suggest (Homer Bailey, Anibal Sanchez, Phil Hughes, and Francisco Liriano). These are the “bargains” of the 16th, 17th, and 18th rounds.

Homer Bailey had his 2014 season cut short in August with a flexor mass tendon injury. He’s been a solid major league pitcher for the last three years (3.61 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) and Steamer is projecting more of the same (3.67 ERA, 1.20 WHIP).

Anibal Sanchez is also coming off a year with some injuries. He missed time in early May and again in August and September, finishing the year with 21 starts and 126 innings pitched (3.43 ERA, 1.10 WHIP). Steamer projects Sanchez to be relatively healthy, with 28 starts (3.80 ERA, 1.21 WHIP). He is ranked 38th among starting pitchers according to Steamer projections but wasn’t taken until the 53rd pick in this mock.

Phil Hughes is an interesting character. From 2011 to 2013, Hughes had an ERA of 4.83 with a 1.37 WHIP. He struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings and walked 2.5 per nine. Last year, he suddenly decided to never walk anyone, dropping his BB/9 to a microscopic 0.7. He also upped his strikeout rate to 8.0 K/9 and finished with a 3.52 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Steamer has some belief in the 2014 version of Philip Hughes, projecting a 3.91 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 1.6 BB/9, good enough to be the 34th-best starting pitcher based on Steamer projections. Hughes was the 54th starting pitcher taken, so if you agree with Steamer that Phil Hughes can keep that walk rate down, then hop on board the Phil Hughes Express.

The fourth “bargain” taken among this group of pitchers was Francisco Liriano, on the board until the 208th pick, the 60th starting pitcher drafted. In his two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Liriano has a 3.20 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. For the rest of his career, he has a 4.40 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. He re-signed with the Pirates and Steamer likes him for 2015—3.59 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 9.1 K/9 (ranked 33rd among starting pitchers).

In this last group of pitchers, there were two guys who stood out as overdrafts, based on Steamer—Henderson Alvarez and James Paxton. Alvarez had a shiny 2.65 ERA in 2014, but his FIP (3.58), xFIP (3.57), and SIERA (3.70) say “buyer beware.” The biggest issue with Alvarez is a low strikeout rate, just 4.8 K/9 for his career. He was the 52nd pitcher drafted but is ranked 84th by Steamer.

Finally, James Paxton was the 56th starting pitcher drafted but Steamer has him way down at 118th. In 17 starts over two seasons with the Mariners, Paxton has a career 2.66 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, but Steamer is projecting a 4.14 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. That seems way off to me, but I’m not a computer program designed to project baseball statistics. The Fans Projections (10 so far) expect Paxton to be much better than that—3.25 ERA, 1.23 WHIP.

After 60 starting pitchers were drafted, there were 11 starting pitchers who had not yet been drafted, including three in the top 30:

SteamerRank Pitcher
22 Brandon McCarthy
25 John Lackey
26 Mike Fiers
39 Jake Peavy
43 Michael Pineda
48 Matt Cain
50 Tony Cingrani
53 Jason Hammel
54 CC Sabathia
55 Wei-Yin Chen
56 Dan Haren


Analyzing the FanGraphs Early Mock Draft from an Outsider’s Point of View – SPs 21-40

The following is a look at the 21st through 40th starting pitcher taken in the FanGraphs Early Mock Draft, with a comparison to their rankings based on 2015 Steamer projections.

Starting Pitchers: 21-30

The table below shows starting pitchers taken 21st through 30th in this mock, along with their Steamer rank and the difference between their Steamer rank and the spot they were drafted. Pitchers with a positive difference were taken higher than their Steamer projection would suggest. Those with a negative difference were taken later than Steamer would have expected.

FanGraphs Mock Draft SPs 21-30 vs Steamer Rankings
PCK RND $$ SP-Rnk NAME Steamer Rank Difference
101 9 $14 21 Alex Cobb 24 3
104 9 $7 22 Jeff Samardzija 42 20
111 10 $24 23 Masahiro Tanaka 12 -11
116 10 $9 24 Jake Arrieta 35 11
118 10 $3 25 Jacob DeGrom 57 32
119 10 $17 26 Hisashi Iwakuma 20 -6
121 11 $5 27 Tyson Ross 51 24
124 11 $9 28 Alex Wood 36 8
127 11 $15 29 James Shields 23 -6
128 11 $3 30 Jose Quintana 58 28


In this mock draft, pitchers started flying off the shelves in the 10th and 11th rounds. It took 104 picks for the first 22 starting pitchers to be drafted. Nineteen more were taken over the next 45 picks. It looks like the second half of the 10th round is when things really started heating up.

In this group of 10 pitchers, there were a few who were picked well before or much later than their Steamer projection would expect. Jeff Samardzija was the 22nd pitcher taken; Steamer has him ranked 42nd. Samardzija had a 2.99 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 2014 and his FIP (3.20), xFIP (3.07), and SIERA (3.06) weren’t far off from his ERA. Steamer isn’t buying on Samardzija, projecting a 3.94 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.

The next pitcher taken was Masahiro Tanaka. Steamer has Tanaka just outside the top 10 and he was taken here as the 23rd starting pitcher drafted. Tanaka’s health is the big issue. He missed more than two months of the 2014 season, so it’s hard to know what to expect from him in 2015. Steamer is still projecting 31 starts and 192 innings. The Fans projections have him at 28 starts and 178 innings.

The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGrom, was the 25th starting pitcher drafted, but is ranked 57th by Steamer. deGrom put up a 2.69 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 9.2 K/9 last year in 22 starts. The strikeout rate was surprising. In 323 1/3 minor league innings, deGrom’s K/9 was 7.4. Steamer projects deGrom for a 3.93 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 8.0 K/9.

Like Jacob deGrom, Tyson Ross was drafted much earlier than Steamer would suggest. Ross very much enjoyed pitching at home in Petco Park last year, where he posted a 1.88 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, with a K%-BB% of 18.9% and a .267 BABIP. He was much more human on the road, with a 3.79 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 11.6% K%-BB%, and .315 BABIP. Ross was the 27th starting pitcher drafted. Steamer has him ranked 51st among starting pitchers.

The 30th starting pitcher taken was Jose Quintana. Quintana has started 87 games over the last three years with a 3.50 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 7.1 K/9. Steamer is projecting a 3.95 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 7.7 K/9, which puts him 58th among starting pitchers based on Steamer projections. In this case, ZiPS is just as pessimistic, forecasting a 3.88 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 7.2 K/9.

The Steamer “bargains” among starting pitchers taken in this grouping were the aforementioned Masahiro Tanaka and a pair of older pitchers—Hisashi Iwakuma and James Shields. Iwakuma was the 26th starting pitcher drafted and is ranked 20th by Steamer. Shields was the 29th starting pitcher taken and is ranked 23rd by Steamer.

Starting Pitchers: 31-40

The next 10 starting pitchers were taken over rounds 11 through 13. Here’s the chart:

FanGraphs Mock Draft SPs 31-40 vs Steamer Rankings
PCK RND $$ SP-Rnk NAME Steamer Rank Difference
130 11 $20 31 Hyun-Jin Ryu 16 -15
131 11 $16 32 Cliff Lee 21 -11
132 11 $1 33 Yordano Ventura 64 31
134 12 $0 34 Zack Wheeler 69 35
138 12 $6 35 Doug Fister 49 14
141 12 $6 36 Drew Smyly 47 11
144 12 $8 37 Garrett Richards 41 4
145 13 $10 38 Marcus Stroman 29 -9
147 13 $2 39 Matt Shoemaker 59 20
148 13 $10 40 Michael Wacha 32 -8


Based on Steamer projections, there were four “bargain” picks in this grouping of starting pitchers, starting with Hyun-Jin Ryu with the 130th pick of the draft. Ryu was the 31st starting pitcher drafted but is ranked 16th by Steamer. Of the first 40 starting pitchers drafted, Ryu had the biggest discrepancy between his Steamer ranking and the spot he was drafted and it’s not like Steamer has a particularly favorable projection compared to what Ryu has done in the past. Last year, Ryu had a 3.38 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Steamer projects a 3.33 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.

The next Steamer bargain was Cliff Lee who was taken 32nd among starting pitchers and ranked 21st by Steamer. It’s understandable that Lee would drop a bit in this mock draft because of his age (36) and his injury-shortened 2014 season (just 13 starts). Steamer has him starting 28 games with a 3.53 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 2015.

On the tail end of this group of pitchers were two more Steamer projected bargains: Marcus Stroman (38th pitcher drafted, ranked 29th) and Michael Wacha (40th pitcher drafted, ranked 32nd). Stroman was a 1st round pick in 2012 and has a history of good minor league performances. He started 20 games with the Blue Jays last year and is getting some buzz heading into this year. Wacha has pitched well over two major league seasons but in limited time with just 28 starts over those two seasons. Steamer is projecting 27 starts in 2015 but the Fans are less optimistic, projecting just 23 starts (based on the projections of nine fans so far).

There were three pitchers in this group who were drafted much sooner than their projection would suggest—Yordano Ventura, Zack Wheeler, and Matt Shoemaker.

Steamer is projecting Ventura to have an ERA closer to his 2014 SIERA (3.87) than his actual 2014 ERA (3.20). Ventura was the 33rd starting pitcher drafted and is ranked 64th by Steamer.

Zack Wheeler was taken 34th among starting pitchers and is ranked 69th by Steamer. Wheeler has been in the bigs for two seasons and has a career ERA of 3.50 and WHIP of 1.34. Steamer is projecting a 3.90 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. Wheeler was a 1st round pick (6th overall) in 2009 and has been a top prospect ever since, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him outpitch his projection.

Matt Shoemaker (39th starting pitcher drafted, ranked 59th by Steamer) has some similarities to Jacob deGrom. Both made their major league debuts at the age of 26, which is later than most successful big leaguers. deGrom had a 7.4 K/9 in 323 1/3 minor league innings, then struck out 9.2 per nine innings at the major league level. Matt Shoemaker had a 7.4 K/9 in 786 2/3 minor league innings and has struck out 8.2 per nine at the major league level. Both were liked much more by the people in this mock draft than their Steamer projections would suggest. Shoemaker has a career 2.94 ERA and 1.06 WHIP (3.26 FIP, 3.28 xFIP, 3.19 SIERA), but Steamer is projecting a 4.06 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.

After 40 starting pitchers were taken, there were 12 pitchers remaining who rank in the Steamer top 40. The pitchers undrafted at this point were Jose Fernandez (Steamer ranked 17th), Brandon McCarthy (22nd), John Lackey (25th), Mike Fiers (26th), Homer Bailey (28th), Danny Salazar (30th), Scott Kazmir (31st), Francisco Liriano (33rd), Phil Hughes (34th), Ian Kennedy (37th), Anibal Sanchez (38th), and Jake Peavy (39th).

Up next: Starting Pitchers 41-60

Analyzing the FanGraphs Early Mock Draft from an Outsider’s Point of View – SPs 1-20

The following is a look at the first 20 starting pitchers taken in the FanGraphs Early Mock Draft, with a comparison to their rankings based on 2015 Steamer projections.

Starting Pitchers: 1-10

Every owner has his own theory on when to draft starting pitchers. Some like to get a couple of big guns early. Some won’t take a starting pitcher in the first few rounds because of the inherent uncertainty around pitchers. Some prefer to wait on pitching and go for high-risk, high-upside arms late in the draft or feel confident trolling the waiver wire during the season.

In this twelve-team mock draft, there were 12 starting pitchers taken in the first five rounds. These twelve pitchers were divided up among nine teams, with Zach Sanders being the first owner to draft two starting pitchers when he chose Felix Hernandez and Corey Kluber back-to-back at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd round. After Sanders, five other teams grabbed their second starter in the 5th and 6th rounds. The three owners who held off on pitchers were Pod, the Blue Sox, and Dan Schwartz, who all waited until the 7th round or later to take their first starting pitcher.

The table below shows the first 10 pitchers drafted in this mock, along with their Steamer rank and the difference between their Steamer rank and the spot they were drafted. Pitchers with a positive difference were taken higher than their Steamer projection would suggest. Those with a negative difference were taken later than Steamer would have expected.

FanGraphs Mock Draft Top-10 Starting Pitchers vs Steamer Rankings
PCK RND $$ SP-Rnk NAME Steamer Rank Difference
5 1 $53 1 Clayton Kershaw 1 0
19 2 $37 2 Chris Sale 2 0
22 2 $37 3 Felix Hernandez 4 1
27 3 $28 4 Corey Kluber 9 5
31 3 $37 5 Max Scherzer 3 -2
33 3 $34 6 Madison Bumgarner 5 -1
37 4 $33 7 Stephen Strasburg 6 -1
39 4 $28 8 Yu Darvish 10 2
41 4 $29 9 David Price 8 -1
52 5 $21 10 Johnny Cueto 14 4


There was mostly agreement between the drafters and Steamer among the first 10 pitchers drafted. Corey Kluber went 5 picks earlier than his projection would suggest and Johnny Cueto went 4 picks early, but most pitchers were within a spot or two of their Steamer projected ranking.

Kluber has seen his K% jump from 19.2 to 22.4 to 28.3% over the last three years. Steamer expects some regression there, down to a 25.0% strikeout rate, but that’s still terrific. Kluber was solid in 2013 but last year was his first elite season. Is that enough to take him ahead of Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, Yu Darvish, and David Price?

Johnny Cueto was taken 9th and is the #14 pitcher by Steamer projection. Cueto had a big jump in innings from 60 innings in 2013 to 243 2/3 innings in 2014. That’s an unusual jump in the number of innings pitched from one year to the next and we just don’t know how it might affect him in 2015.

Starting Pitchers: 11-20

The next 10 starting pitchers were taken over rounds 5 through 9. Here’s the chart:

FanGraphs Mock Draft Next-10 Starting Pitchers vs Steamer Rankings
PCK RND $$ SP-Rnk NAME Steamer Rank Difference
54 5 $23 11 Jon Lester 13 2
60 5 $20 12 Jordan Zimmermann 18 6
63 6 $30 13 Zack Greinke 7 -6
64 6 $19 14 Cole Hamels 19 5
65 6 $20 15 Adam Wainwright 15 0
74 7 $6 16 Julio Teheran 46 30
84 7 $2 17 Sonny Gray 61 44
86 8 $8 18 Gerrit Cole 40 22
96 8 $25 19 Matt Harvey 11 -8
97 9 $12 20 Carlos Carrasco 27 7


Here we start to see some big differences between the Steamer projection rankings and where some of these guys were taken in this mock. Jordan Zimmermann was taken about six picks early, according to Steamer, while Zack Greinke was taken six picks late. The big differences came with the 16th, 17th, and 18th starting pitchers drafted—Julio Teheran, Sonny Gray, and Gerrit Cole.

Over the last two years, Julio Teheran has won 28 games with a 3.03 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, but with a 3.58 FIP. Steamer projects 10 wins, a 3.81 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, making him the 46th-most-valuable starting pitcher. It should be noted that ZiPS has Teheran with a 3.22 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, which would move him into the top 20.

Sonny Gray was the 17th starting pitcher drafted in this mock and is ranked 61st by Steamer. In his two-year big league career, Gray has a 2.99 ERA and 1.17 WHIP (with a 3.29 FIP, 3.34 xFIP, and 3.44 SIERA). Steamer is projecting a 3.81 ERA and 1.31 WHIP (3.62 FIP). A couple of reasons for this increase in ERA would be a higher projected BABIP (.297 compared to a career .277 mark) and lower LOB% (70.2% compared to a 74.6% career mark). ZiPS has Gray projected for a 3.36 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.

Like Gray, Gerrit Cole has just two years in the bigs. In 41 career starts, he has a career 3.45 ERA and 1.19 WHIP (3.09 FIP, 3.20 xFIP, 3.28 SIERA). His Steamer projection calls for a 3.63 ERA and 1.24 WHIP (3.43 FIP), which ranks him 40th.

Julio Teheran, Sonny Gray, and Gerrit Cole were all taken well before their Steamer projections would suggest, but their actual career ERAs and WHIPs are much more favorable. It’s never a good idea to be a slave to projections, so if you like their upside, feel free to take them this early. Some pitchers taken shortly after Teheran, Gray, and Cole who are projected by Steamer to be more valuable were Matt Harvey, Carlos Carrasco, Alex Cobb, Masahiro Tanaka, and Hisashi Iwakuma.

Rounding out the top 20 pitchers taken in this mock were back-to-back selections by Dan Schwartz of Matt Harvey and Carlos Carrasco. These were the first two starting pitchers taken by Schwartz. He was able to hold off on starting pitching until the last pick of the 8th round and still got two guys with great upside. Neither Harvey nor Carrasco are likely to be workhorses, but they could both be top starting pitchers in 2015.

There were four pitchers who rank in the Steamer top 20 who were not drafted in the top 20 in this mock draft—Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jose Fernandez, Cole Hamels, and Hisashi Iwakuma.

Up next: Starting Pitchers 21-40

Would the Dodgers Have Been Better Off Keeping Andrew Heaney?

Earlier this offseason, the Dodgers and Marlins completed a large trade, with Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, and Miguel Rojas getting shipped to Florida (along with $10 million) while Andrew Heaney, Enrique Hernandez, Austin Barnes, and Chris Hatcher headed out west in return. The Dodgers, whose new front office was in a midst of one of the most ridiculous trading benders in recent memory, then turned around and less than an hour later sent Heaney to the Angels in exchange for second baseman Howie Kendrick. While Heaney was a valuable piece, touted as one of the game’s top left handed pitching prospects who was also considered close to the majors if not already capable of handling it, the Dodgers were clearly happy to get Kendrick in return, an under the radar stud at second base who was worth over four and a half wins last year.

Ignoring the other teams in the trades for a moment, the Dodgers come out of these moves looking much better than they had before. Austin Barnes and Chris Hatcher are both valuable pieces that provide the Dodgers with bullpen and bench depth that they sorely needed. Even if Dee Gordon’s first half was not an aberration, and even if you take issue with both players’ defensive stats, the worst anyone could argue is that both second basemen are close to equal, but most would agree that Kendrick is an improvement over Gordon.

Now obviously, there was more to the trade than their straight up value. Gordon is young and affordable with five more years of team control. Kendrick, while also relatively cheap, is 31 and in the last year of his contract. However, I’m not interested in comparing Kendrick and Gordon. I’m interested in the last piece that the Marlins sent to the Dodgers in their trade, a 23-year-old utility player by the name of Enrique Hernandez. Hernandez broke into the majors for the first time in 2014, playing a total of 42 games with both the Astros and Marlins (he was a part of the Jarred Cosart deal). Among many other skills (which we will soon examine), Hernandez has the ability to play second base, and he was actually pretty decent in his short stint in the majors last year. So what I’m curious to look at is whether the Dodgers are better off with Kendrick manning second and Hernandez on the bench, or whether giving Hernandez the starting job and keeping Heaney might have been the better move for the organization.

Let’s start by examining Hernandez. His primary weapon is versatility, having spent time at SS, 2B, and 3B, as well as all three outfield positions, providing plus defense everywhere he played. On top of that, he also managed to provide value with the bat, posting a .248/.321/.421 line, which was good for a 110 wRC+ last year (I know, offense was crazy down last year). Now granted, that was only in 134 PAs, which leads to the question whether that success was sustainable. Hernandez was not a good hitter in the minors. A 6th round pick in 2009, he averaged an 85 wRC+ across three levels from 2011-2013, and for a while it didn’t look like he was going to amount to anything much. However, something seemed to click in 2014, as he posted above average numbers across three levels, including the big leagues.

So what changed? Well, his strikeout rate dropped (at least in the minors, it spiked once he started facing big league pitching), and his walk rated jumped. He also started hitting for a lot more power, which did manage to carry over to the majors. In an interview with Jimmy Price, Hernandez credited his recent success to a mechanical adjustment in winter ball.

I went into winter ball and decided to figure out what was wrong with my swing. I tried a few things, not really worried about how my season was going, I was just trying to get better and there it was. I tweaked a little something in my batting stance and it clicked. All of the sudden [sic] I was seeing the ball better, recognizing pitches a lot earlier and I started driving the ball again.

These signs (increased walk rate, more power, a mechanical adjustment) all point to a real offensive outbreak as opposed to a fluky few games. On top of that, he even posted a below average BABIP in the majors while still being productive. ZiPS also thinks his breakout is at least somewhat sustainable, projecting him for a .306 wOBA for next year. Combine that with his plus defense, and the system believes he will be worth 2 WAR. While nothing remarkable, that seems like a completely capable starting second baseman.

So now let’s turn our attention to Howie Kendrick, who will be manning second base for the Dodgers on Opening Day, save any Simpsons-esque misfortunes. I suppose injury would be another possibility, but I digress. Kendrick was a top prospect coming up through the Angels system, with sky-high expectations set upon him. While Kendrick didn’t turn into a superstar, he carved out a nice niche for himself, playing plus defense while always being at least average with the bat, sometimes much more. And while he started out his career as an average regular, he turned himself into a well above-average player as he entered his prime, averaging more than four wins per season over the past four years. Last year Kendrick hit a very solid .293/347/397, good for a 115 wRC+. He also provided plus defense, posting a 6.7 UZR. In short, he was really good.

However, next year isn’t necessarily a guarantee of the same thing. ZiPS still likes Kendrick to produce 3.7 WAR, which would be right in line with his past few years. However, Steamer is quite pessimistic, projecting a drop in both offense and defense, and sees Kendrick only being worth 2.4 wins. Let’s split the difference and say that Kendrick will be about a 3-win player next year. Now even here, Kendrick is a clear upgrade over Hernandez, but he does come with some caveats of his own. For starters, Kendrick is 31 years old, and he is also in the last year of his contract that will see him make $9.5 million in 2015. While the salary is a major bargain, the Dodgers will likely have to purchase some of Kendrick’s decline years at the price of his prime years if they sign him to an extension, and he could turn from a bargain into another bad veteran contract.

Now if the Dodgers don’t extend him, they can just take his 2015 and its surplus value, offer Kendrick a qualifying offer at the end of the year, accept the draft pick and move on. Since estimates peg a sandwich round pick to be worth about two wins, we can also factor that into Kendrick’s value. But now we turn our attention to the piece that brought Kendrick to Los Angeles from Not Los Angeles: Andrew Heaney.

The 23-year-old Heaney was highly touted coming up through the minors. He was rated as the Marlins’ number-one prospect by Baseball Prospectus and the number-30 prospect in baseball headed into the 2014 season. Scouting reports were all positive, pegging him with three plus pitches and a repeatable delivery. Bringing all of this from the left side made him all the more attractive. Heaney did nothing to disprove that, starting the year by tearing up AA and holding his own in AAA as well. That culminated with him getting called up to the majors in June when the Marlins were in need of some rotation help.

Unfortunately for them (and Heaney), he was flat-out bad upon reaching the show. Across four starts in June, the young southpaw gave up 15 runs in just 20.2 innings. Heaney only struck out 13 while walking six, but his true enemy was the longball, as he gave up five home runs. Those are all bad totals, which led to his FIP of 6.18. His BABIP of .297 also suggests that he wasn’t really unlucky in any discernible way. These bad outings led to Heaney being sent down on July 6, a day after giving up five runs in just 3.2 innings.

After he spent the rest of the minor league season in Triple-A, the Fish called Heaney back up for another cup of coffee in September, this time using him out of the bullpen. While he wasn’t anywhere near as terrible as his starts in the summer, Heaney wasn’t extremely impressive either, posting a 3.71 FIP in 8.2 innings of long relief. While Heaney is still a highly regarded prospect, and his two stints in the majors are an incredibly small sample size, there are some worrying signs. The home runs are obviously not good, but Heaney also had a Z-Contact% of 93.9. This means that pitches in the strike zone that hitters swung at were hit 94% of the time. That number would have been the highest among qualified starters last year by a lot, and it might suggest that he doesn’t quite have enough to get it by major league hitters, at least not on his fastball.

However, a SwStr% of 9.6 was actually quite good, suggesting he might have to live off his breaking stuff in the show. FanGraphs’ pitch values also support this, rating his fastball as a poor pitch while his slider is average and his change is plus. However, these reasons might have given the Marlins the motivation to move him for Dee Gordon when the opportunity arose. Yet, most scouts (or at least the ones who write on the internet) still look highly upon Heaney. Kiley McDaniel gives him an overall future value of 60, which translates to an above-average starter in the majors. ZiPS also sees potential, projecting the youngster to produce more than a win if given a starting role, albeit with a 4.42 FIP (the system anticipates he’ll still have home run troubles).

But the value of Heaney isn’t what he is now, it’s what he will become. Heaney offers his team six years of team control, his age 23 through 29 seasons. Those are exactly the years you want to control, getting a player right through his prime, then being able to say goodbye as the guy turns 30 and starts to decline. Even if Heaney follows a late aging curve, and doesn’t start realizing his potential until 26, and even if he just becomes a league average starter, it’s still a reasonable expectation that he will produce at least 9 wins over the next six years, save for any injury (which is obviously a realistic but unpredictable possibility).

So, would the Dodgers have been better off keeping Andrew Heaney? Going by ZiPS projections, Heaney and Hernandez combined might be able to provide Kendrick’s 2014 in the aggregate this year, and that doesn’t even include the value the Dodgers would have gained from Heaney in the future. But, there is a lot more to it than that. So even factoring in the potential draft pick or extension Los Angeles might get, the two seem to be more valuable over the long term. However, the Dodgers obviously want to win now. Kendrick not only provides an upgrade over Hernandez for 2014, but they can also fill their fifth slot in the rotation with someone better than Andrew Heaney, which they might have done with the combination of Brett Anderson and Joe Wieland. It also allows the Dodgers to move Hernandez to the bench, where his versatility can be fully utilized. Considering the Dodger’s relatively old infield, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect Hernandez to start at least twice a week, possibly more, while providing the team with value on both sides of the ball.

So while keeping Heaney might have provided more value in the long run, it is important to remember that a win now might be more valuable than a win later to a team that is expected to contend for the World Series. Also, the front office folks might not have been as high on Heaney after his brief foray into the major leagues, but they took advantage of an Angels team that still wanted him. Or after already signing Brandon McCarthy, trading for Joe Wieland, and possibly planning on acquiring Anderson as well, the Dodgers might not have wanted to stunt Heaney’s development with another year in the minors. Regardless of the motivation, the LA brass decided that the team was better off with Howie Kendrick than it was with Andrew Heaney. If Heaney turns into a star and Kendrick implodes this year, it might be a move they end up regretting, but this Dodger front office has been executing a very specific game plan all offseason long, and this trade was just another part of it. So odds are they won’t end up regretting this move, because if there is one thing we know for certain, it’s that those guys are much smarter than I am.