More thoughts on the draft

If you missed it a few days ago, I wrote a very lengthy piece expressing my views on the MLB draft, why its flawed, and how to fix it. Obviously I don’t expect my ideas to be used, or even accepted by the masses, and the debates on how to fix the draft will go on for as long as the draft remains the mess it is today. But I’ve been thinking more about the upcoming draft, and past drafts, and I thought I’d write another piece, because I think maybe we’re missing the mark with our draft analysis and reactions. Check below for more…

As I was walking to work this morning, I was actually reading a few comments here on the site, and the first comment in the box score roundup post is what prompted me to think more about the draft, and about this article I’m about to write. This was the comment

Well, at least we’ve all calmed down from the first week of the season and realized that Anthony Hewitt is, in fact, still a bust.

This commenter isn’t speaking for himself only, there were plenty of people who didn’t like the pick at the time, and I was certainly at the front of the line. This is what I wrote in my draft review, way back on June 5th, 2008

Well, really what can you say here that hasn’t been said. The Phillies were linked to Hewitt a few weeks ago, and from Day 1, it seemed like a Phillies type pick. When you pick near the end of the first round, and you adhere to the slotting bonuses the Commish institutes, you’re really at the mercy of the board and the players taken ahead of you. At 24, the Phillies really had two options; take a lower ceiling college player, or take a toolsy, risky high school player. I don’t have a real problem going the latter route, but the problem is, they took a player that didn’t make a lot of sense, considering the board. We’d heard that they really liked Casey Kelly. Most publications had Kelly ranked higher than 24th, and a lot of mock drafts had him going in the 10-20 range. Wolever commented how the Phillies loved the two sport guys because of their athleticism and what they can bring to the table. It seemed like a perfect fit. Instead, the Phillies took Hewitt. Hewitt, as you may have read, has trouble hitting a baseball. Well, thats probably going to be a problem. No one questions his athleticism and raw physical tools. But the Phillies aren’t training for a decathlon, they are attempting to win baseball games, and unless you’re a pitcher, you should probably be able to hit a baseball. The Phillies are of course talking about how great he was in their private workouts, but the reality is, he’s older than most every high school player being taken, and hes played against inferior competition during his school season. On the showcase circuit last summer, he was horrid and most every evaluator is questioning whether or not he will be able to hit at all, let alone hit professional breaking balls.

Pros; Hewitt has massive tools, in case you haven’t heard. He can run, he has great power potential, and he should be able to play a premium position, whether it be SS, CF, or 3B.

Cons; Everything else? His baseball instincts appear to be very unrefined, he’s already 19, he hasn’t played against good competition, and most troubling, when he has faced quality pitchers, he’s basically done nothing at all. He’s Greg Golson, but 20 times more raw than Golson was when drafted. Its a scary scary thought.

Overview; Is this the worst pick of the round? Actually, no, I think Jason Castro to the Astros was downright stupefying. But is this a good pick? All things considered, I don’t think it is. If Hewitt makes it, you could be looking at a Ken Griffey Jr type player. But the odds of him making it are extremely remote, and if he does make it, it will likely be 5-6 years from now, meaning his career will be shorter than “toolsheds” like Justin and BJ Upton.

So yeah. But here’s the thing. Hewitt could have gone on to become a star. And that brings me to…

1. The MLB draft is, on the biggest scale, a farce. Every year, the draft runs 50 rounds deep. Some teams make more than 50 picks because of compensation picks. But most teams don’t sign 50 players. Some teams don’t sign their first pick, or their last pick, or 30 other picks. When you look at it from this perspective, its really strange right? You spend lots of time and money scouting these players, and you select 15-20 players every year that you know you have less than 1% chance to sign, just because of the mechanics of the draft. Here is the breakdown of the number of players the Phillies have drafted in each draft from 2001 to 2005, and then how many of those players have played in the majors (with any team, not just the Phillies)

2001: 46 drafted, 4 made it to MLB (Floyd R1, Howard R5, Roberson R9, Cherry R10)
2002: 48 drafted, 5 made it to MLB (Hamels R1, Segovia R2, Beam R11, Mathieson R17, Korecky R19)
2003: 48 drafted, 3 made it to MLB (Bourn R4, Kendrick R7, Ziegler R20)
2004: 50 drafted, 5 made it to MLB (Golson R1, Jaramillo R2, Happ R3, Marson R4, Bisenius R12)
2005: 49 drafted, 4 made it to MLB (Maloney R3, Outman R10, Zagurski R12, Huff R19)

This is 5 drafts worth of players, 242 in all. Of that 242, 21 have played in the majors, or 8.7%. And its not exclusive to the Phillies. Here’s a small sampling, with the same criteria as above

Mets: 246 drafted, 17 made it to MLB (6.9%)
Twins: 258 drafted, 21 made it to MLB (8.1%)
Red Sox: 250 drafted, 22 made it to MLB (8.8%)
Marlins: 254 drafted, 23 made it to MLB (9.1%)

You get the idea. If you can find a team that has significantly outperformed this trend, let me know. And remember, this isn’t just guys who have been developed by their team are in their original organization, this counts guys who’ve been traded/released and made it. Of course, this isn’t super scientific. Its a 5 year crosscut. Some of the guys drafted in 2005 will make it eventually for a cup of coffee and the numbers will improve. But the general point is easily made. As soon as you are drafted, you are a longshot to ever play in the majors, let alone be a star. Which brings me to…

2. The very concept of scouting. Baseball scouting is nearly a year round practice. No matter what time of year, there is normally baseball to be played, whether its in the minors, college baseball in February, winter ball in Latin America, the Indy leagues, you name it, guys are out there watching people play baseball. On the amateur side of the game, before guys enter the minors/majors, scouts are out there trying to watch. Some outlets begin to put together profiles on guys when they are boys, 12-13 years old, which is kind of creepy really, but its the business. When you’re a freshman in high school, there’s a good chance scouts know how you are, and by the time you’re a senior, some scouts will have books filled with information about you. And you’ll be 18. If you bypass the pro game and head to college, more scouts will come watch you for 3 years. Sometimes they’ll follow you in the summer when you’re pitching in a summer league. Sometimes they follow you around with Team USA. If you bypass the draft again, they’ll follow you for your final college season. These guys get paid to watch you play baseball. Every time you step on the mound, you know that someone is probably watching, even if they aren’t there to watch just you. But what does that tell you? Scouts get hired and fired every year. Some scouts are apparently better than others. And at the core, they are all doing the same thing, from age 13 till the time you retire. They are determining what you’re doing right now, and what you’re going to do. Which brings me to…

3. Projection is just guessing. This applies more to high school guys than college guys, but its similar even at the college level. A scout looks at an 18 year old and tries to figure out what that player will be in 7 years. Think about that for a second. Some people have a hard enough time figuring out which tomato will still be ripe in 5 days. Yet scouts are being paid by MLB teams to figure out which 18 year old kid who now throws 88 will throw 95 in 5 years. Stephen Strasburg, the greatest prospect in draft history, went undrafted out of high school. Were the scouts who watched him all bad at their job? Or did Strasburg’s body and attitude just change so drastically in 3 years that none of them could have ever foreseen the transformation? Strasburg isn’t unique in this distinction. Plenty of good prospects were never drafted out of high school, and they went on to become great players in the majors. Plenty of great MLB players were taken after the first round. On the Phillies alone, just look at Ryan Howard. Some teams seem to consistently hit on projects like this, but there isn’t one team out there consistently drafting guys in the 40th round, signing them, and turning them into stars. It just doesn’t happen. Draft picks are often referred to as lottery tickets, and in essence, they are.

4. Building on this, every team works differently in the draft, and every team has a different draft board. Every year, if you read the experts at the various draft coverage sites, you will hear that “Player X is a polarizing guy, some teams love him, others hate him”, and this was the scenario with Anthony Hewitt above. If the Phillies hadn’t taken him 24th, there’s a decent chance one of the teams right behind the Phillies would have. In every draft, there will be a very small handful of guys that everyone agrees on. In 2009 it was Stephen Strasburg, who basically no one had anything bad to say about. This year, even the clear cut best prospect, catcher Bryce Harper, has had a fair amount of criticism thrown at him. Each team has a network of scouts, most of them assigned to particular states/areas. These scouts file their reports for the team. Above these scouts, teams have what they call “crosscheckers”, most times responsible for a larger region, like the west coast, the southeast, the northeast, etc etc. These crosscheckers read all of the reports that the area scouts turn in, and then they will go and watch the player who was written up. They will then file a report, and this report is compared to the report filed by the area scout. The director of scouting will then look at these reports and try to spot trends or discrepancies, and all of this info is essentially placed into a big data bank, from which teams will construct draft boards. Along the way, the director of scouting has to talk to the GM, who then has to talk to the President, and a budget/draft plan has to be agreed on. Its easy to rank players 1-30 based on your personal preference on their talent level, but to know how much player X will cost you adds another layer. The construction of these draft boards differs in every organization. In some organizations, the Texas scout might carry a bit more weight, or if a crosschecker in the midwest turns in a glowing report, it might carry more weight when the director of scouting starts to fill in the board. In some cases (see the Ricky Romero/Tulo debacle in Toronto) the GM just takes the guy he wants, even if his scouts disagree. But at the end of the day, no matter how much you love player X, he simply might not be there when you pick. Draft position is key. I touched on this in my previous piece. Because of the mechanics of the draft, teams cannot trade picks. If the team picking at #12 really wants player X, but the team 2 spots ahead of them wants that player, they are out of luck. Conversely, if a team is picking 12th and the 11 guys they really loved are gone, leaving them with less desirable guys, they still have to take one of those guys.

5. At the end of the day, you have to be a lot more lucky than good. As far as I can tell, there are no teams out there who completely disregard scouting. They’d be fools to give it up. But at the same time, the cold hard fact is that baseball is really difficult, and most guys won’t make it, no matter how great they are projected to become, or how highly the scouting community feels about their chances. If you are bored sometime, I highly recommend you go to baseball-reference and look at their draft resources. You can start here. Its amazing the things you will find. 9 teams passed on Tim Lincecum in the 2006 draft. In other words, 9 teams felt that there were better players available at their pick, because Lincecum signed for a slot bonus, he wasn’t dropping because of money concerns. Those teams that passed on him? The Royals, Rockies, Rays, Pirates, Mariners, Tigers, Dodgers, Reds and Orioles. There were some great players taken ahead of him; Evan Longoria, Clayton Kershaw…..and well that’s really it. A few guys still have potential, Brandon Morrow and Drew Stubbs in particular, and maybe Luke Hochevar, who went #1 overall. But what were the Orioles thinking passing on him? What were the Tigers thinking? Well the scouts loved Andrew Miller, who the Tigers took 6th overall, and later traded to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera. But I bet you all of the teams above, except maybe the Rays, would take Tim Lincecum if they had to do it over again. Were the Giants that much smarter than everyone else? What did they see that everyone else didn’t? This is just one of hundreds of examples. In the 2007 draft, 13 players were taken above Jason Heyward. And I bet quite a few of those teams would take Heyward if they had a do over. Again, what did everyone miss? All of this brings me to…

6. Trying to figure out what the ideal draft plan is. There are lots of theories out there. Some of them include;

a. Draft all college guys, because you have more of a track record
b. Draft all high school guys, because they have the highest ceilings
c. Draft college guys first, then high school guys later
d. Spend a ton of money on the best prospects, no matter what the commissioner recommends

You could successfully argue for any of these. Which is why none of them are really the correct answer. Generally speaking, the guys who are perceived as the best players are going to require the best money. In the Anthony Hewitt scenario above, the Phillies liked Casey Kelly, but the Red Sox ended up drafting him, and had to pay him essentially the same money that a top 2 or 3 pick would get, in order to keep him away from college. Right now, he looks well worth the money, but he’s only in AA, and there are still many roads to cross. The big question, which every team asks themselves, is “what is the right mix?”. And because there is no perfect answer, teams continue to fail/succeed at varying rates.

The further down in the draft you go, the higher the beta/risk/volatility in your pick. The Nationals, last season, knew what they were getting in Stephen Strasburg. He was as low risk a pick as you could make. The consensus had him pegged as the clear best prospect in the draft, and one of the best prospects in draft history. In 30 years, when people are writing blog posts or tweets, or whatever is popular at the time, no one is going to say “how on Earth did they come to the decision to take that guy!!”, they will discuss what Strasburg has done, and why he did it. Once you make the draft pick, its essentially out of your hands. The goal is to make the best pick, with what you know at the time, and what you reasonably expect to happen in the future.

Going back to the Hewitt pick. He was a polarizing guy. The big question was whether or not he’d hit at the big league level. Lets say that things went differently. Lets say that he got to instructional league after the 2008 draft, the Phillies tweaked his swing, he really took to the changes, he was seeing the ball better, and the Phillies decide to give him a shot at Lakewood in 2009. He comes out, puts up a .290/.375/.550 line, with 75 walks, 85 K, and 25 HR. This year he moves up to Clearwater and again puts up stellar numbers, all while playing a gold glove caliber 3B. No one is asking how the Phillies could have possibly taken him, instead, we’re saying “how could 23 other teams miss on him?” and thanking the brilliance of our front office. But of course Hewitt didn’t translate his raw tools into baseball skills. Yet. Which brings me to…

7. The big finish. As fans, we want instant gratification. We want to see big results, and we want to see them right away. Already, people are calling the return on the Cliff Lee trade a waste, just as some people are already writing off the players we traded for Cliff Lee. We have a general idea of how things are supposed to go. 18 year old high school kids go to the GCL after being drafted. Some of them then go to the NYPL as 19 year olds, the more advanced guys go to Low A. Then you go to A+, then AA, then AAA, and when you’re 23 or 24, you go to the majors and become a star. Except that really only works for the elite, best of the best prospects. The ultra-mega elite speed up this timetable and reach the majors at 20, 21, or 22 and become stars. But baseball is a game of outliers. In this game, a 47 year old pitcher throwing 81 mph can completely dominate a lineup full of younger players with better raw athletic abilities. In this game, a 5’10 pitcher can win back to back Cy Young awards while a 6’5 guy with the “classic pitcher’s frame” can’t get out of A ball, despite being a high first round pick. Guys like David Eckstein carve out big league careers despite looking more like the bat boy. Its a funny game, and one that sometimes makes no sense. Some guys toil away in the minors for years and don’t get a chance until their late 20’s, when they should be in their “peak” and they prove they belong in the majors. Other guys get their chance and fail, despite always carrying the “potential” or “projection” tag on them.

Maybe, as fans, we have to concede that we don’t really know all that much about the draft. I’m sure I’ll write a bunch of stuff in the next month about guys I like, based on a 45 second video clip. And I’ll no doubt be reading all of the people who get paid (and some who don’t) to write about the draft. And I’ll try and care about which guys the Phillies take. But ultimately, none of us will know how these guys are going to turn out, in some cases, for 8 or 9 years. We get really into it because we’re fans. And because these guys are new to us. Its like Christmas time, getting new toys. In our case, new guys to follow in the box scores, new guys to dream on and imagine stardom. Or in some cases, guys to complain about and label busts after 2 seasons worth of AB’s. Such is the life of a baseball prospect.

20 thoughts on “More thoughts on the draft

  1. The funny thing about that Hewitt writeup is that Jason Castro is one of the lone bright spots in the Astros’ system right now. Especially since JR Towles utterly tanked.

    I’m generally hesitant to pass judgment on drafts immediately. I usually don’t see amateur players in action, while the Phillies have seen virtually every player in the draft pool. They have more information and I generally assume they have greater baseball acumen than I.

  2. Good writeup. Of course, nobody could really disagree that the draft is a lottery gamble.

    And it still is true that some make it to the bigs that many would have given them a “no chance.”

    The better the scouting and reviews, USUALLY gives better choices. But the dice still come up snake-eyes despite the effort and perceptions refined and used.

    IMO, what separates good drafts from lesser ones is reflected only after several years of pro ball. And THAT itself is a reflection of the next most important thing: minor league coaching.

    Only after determining whether the coaching is taking hold can the player be evaluated; that’s why the best coaches produce the most from a player. And, it seems that this organization is less interested in giving job favors (see the past) than providing among the best in the business for the draftees.

    That philosophy seems to stretch from the big club all the way through their teams in the GCL and Latin leagues.

    Besides, watching the draft and draftees is as much baseball fun as watching a tight game.

  3. I would look at the draft from the standpoint of the big league roster or, more specifically, the 15 players on the roster that make the biggest contribution to the team’s success, i.e., the 8 every-day players, the 5 starters, the closer and the main set-up reliever.

    On the current Phillies team, 7 of these 15 came directly from the farm (Howard, Utley, Rollins, Ruiz, Hamels, Happ and Madson) and three others indirectly through trades of prospects (Halladay, Blanton and Lidge). That’s a very good record and shows that money invested in the farm is well spent.

    My thought would be to double the budget for the farm system, raid other teams’ best scouts, where possible, and pay over slot to get the best prospects. The doubling of the farm budget eventually could be offset by limiting the increases in other expense categories such as major league payroll.

  4. Great write up.

    Funny though, I remember commenting in 2008 that I thought the draft was a bit of a “crapshoot” and you shot me down.

  5. In regards to Jason Castro, Ed Wade’s other #1 draft pick from last year is also failing in Low-A. I’ve know for over 10 years that Wade’s greatest strength was conning people into believing he’s GM material. And is he good at it!

  6. Just before coming here I went through MLB.com’s draft database and was struck by just how few of those guys ever made it to the majors and how many probably didn’t even last past one or two minor league seasons.
    If baseball, as a game, is considered a game of failure then drafting players is an even bigger game of failure.

    While I didn’t post a comment on your previous draft commentary/reform proposal , I would like to see teams be able to trade picks. It’s ludicrous that they’ve never been able to.

  7. Great write up.

    Funny though, I remember commenting in 2008 that I thought the draft was a bit of a “crapshoot” and you shot me down.

    Im at the point where I think “crapshoot” is a bit too over the top. I liken the draft to Texas Hold’em poker. There have been lots of books written about the odds of winning a hand if you have x starting hand. And you can use these numbers, backed up by millions of simulations. And if you play perfectly, you can still lose money if the other player catches a card with a weaker starting hand. Thats kind of like the baseball draft. You can do all of the work, do all of the research, make the perfect pick, and the guy can get hurt, or lose 5 mph off his fastball, or forget how to hit a curveball. At the time, you’d done your work, the guy just didn’t pan out. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the work, or try and spend as much as you can on maximizing your chances of hitting. But I think its more of a way to add some perspective to analyzing draft picks.

  8. “Crapshoot” is maybe a little to harsh of a word, the draft is not that random. But I kind of like your analogy to poker.

  9. PP,

    I enjoyed reading this article and I check your site often.

    Regarding this post…
    I’m thinking the overwhelming volume of players drafted is making everyone’s “hit” rate around 7% – 9%. I was wondering if the percentage of “hits” becomes more varied if you only looked at say, the first 8 or 10 rounds when the players picked have more time and money invested in them.

  10. A-Train –

    Probably not, given that in the later rounds there tend to be “lottery ticket” types of players. Using the Phillies as an example: Cosart was a 38th round pick and Brown was a 20th rounder. (or somewhere thereabouts) Both were given healthy signing bonuses to buy out their college committments, and they are both top five prospects in the system.

    Sometimes the later round picks actually get more money than the higher rounds – it all depends on the type of player you draft – a college senior gets far less of a bonus than a high schooler.

    – Jeff

  11. I wrote this elsewhere but wanted to see if I could get some Phillies draft discussion going here (is the right thread?)

    1. Positions of Focus: Pretty much every draft commentator has kinda noticed that the Phillies like raw toolsy OFs based on the last 3-4 drafts. However, in really the only local draft article from a month or so ago Marti Wolever specifically mentioned filling the holes in the organization and mentioned 3B and C. Is this the year we step away from OFs early? The last time they overtly mentioned C’s as a need was the 2004 draft and we took Jaramillo in the 2nd and Marson in the 4th. Given the trade of Marson and d’Arnaud, the failure to sign Susac and the disappointing season of Valle, I expect 2 catchers in the first 5 rounds (1 HS, 1 College). Grandal won’t get to us at 27. Would you spend 27 on Gibbs? I don’t think he makes it to 77. I could definitely see Deglan or O’Connor at 27.

    2. Money: Here is the Phillies draft budgets (i.e. what they spent) for the last couple of years
    2005: 1.8 Million (no first round pick)
    2006: 4.8 Million (full picks + comp pick Cardenas)
    2007: 4.2 Million (full picks + comp pick d’Arnaud)
    2008: 6.7 Million (full picks +comp pick Collier, extra 2nd Gose, extra 3rd comp Pettibone)
    2009: 3.2 Million (no first round pick)

    Ruben expressly touted the Lee deal as about replenishing the farm system depleted by trades. Does he give Marti enough money to be aggressive. I’d really like the budget to be in the 4.8-5M range.

    3. Stategy: The Phillies have not gone overslot for a first rounder or comp pick I think ever. However, they have gone overslot in Rounds 3-end. However, their overslot deals tend to be less than 7 figures in all events. I’ve heard its “easier” to overslot after the 5th round,. I’ve heard the same but 10th round is the cutoff. I don’t know what to believe. Do they overdraft a guy to get him for a slot that they can sign him for? Do they draft him later but lose the summer of development because the deal doesn’t get approved until August 15th?

  12. Jeff,
    Thanks for the response. The scenario you mention is exactly why I was thinking all MLB teams norm toward the 7% to 9% hit rate. Is it paying over slot for good athletes? Good scouting? or just dumb luck? Whatever the case, when you draft 50 players, chances are you get a few good ones. Even a blind squirrel gets a nut now and then.

    My thoughts are this, if we looked at just the first few rounds, when teams are picking guys they project (through a lot of time an effort ~ less so for the guys at the end of the draft) to be big league players, how many of THEM actually make it. AND which teams do a better job at identifying the kids that will turn into good players?

    If statistics show the “hit” rate is no better in the early rounds, perhaps (if MLB allows trading of picks) teams should trade out of the early rounds and load up on later rounds. Heck, if we can get 8 good players out of 50, we should get 16 good ones if we draft 100. (exaggerating I know but you get the point).

  13. A-Train, I’m almost certain the stats show the hit-rate is better in early rounds, perhaps better with each pick. I’ll see if I can run a mini-study later and come up with something.

  14. Alan,

    Thanks for that. I’m not very good at looking up that kind of stuff. I’d be interested to see if (what we perceive) the teams with better farm systems actually do a better job at drafting in the early rounds when the talent is supposedly better.

  15. ****A-Train, I’m almost certain the stats show the hit-rate is better in early rounds, perhaps better with each pick. I’ll see if I can run a mini-study later and come up with something****

    IIRC, there’s a huge dropoff in the 1st round from picks 1-15 versus 15-30. While there are occasional deep drafts, alot of drafts have a significant falloff in sure thing talent after the first 15 or so picks.

  16. To answer your question, most certainly. Just take a look at Tampa Bay. They continually paid off on top draft picks and became an elite team. The Pirates and Royals on the other hand continually failed to pay off on top draft picks and they keep landing in the basement. I don’t know if it’s possible to detect real patterns though, because it takes longer to track results than it does to change scouting directors.

    I tracked the Phillies by round and I found some interesting results. The payoff rate historically for our first rounders is 29/45. Second round is 19/42, 8/45 in the third round with a slight uptick in rounds 4-6, and then we’re getting 5-6 guys per round who made the majors.

    If you look at the average WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of our draftees, we average 5.29 per first round pick, 6.56 per second round pick and 0.02 per third round pick. That second round rate is just about entirely the result of having drafted Mike Schmidt. It would be interesting to see how the Phillies’ results in the first round compare to other teams.

    In the draft overall, there is a SUBSTANTIAL difference in quality between the first and second overall picks. There’s isn’t a tremendous difference between subsequent picks, but you see a steady gradual downward trend. 88% of 1st rounders make the majors. 51% of the 25th picks reach. By the 50th overall pick you have 42%, then 26% of the 100th picks and 15% of the 200th picks.

  17. I’ll add this as well. What teams historically have done the best drafting in the first round?

    Highest Percentage of MLBers reaching the Majors.
    1. LA Angels (72%)
    2. NY Mets (71%)
    3. Texas (71%)
    4. San Francisco (70%)
    5. Tampa Bay (69%)

    Teams appear to convert 50-70% of their first round picks into Major Leaguers. Arizona scores the worst at 47%, but that figure includes their five first and supplemental picks from the 2009 draft. Their percentage will look better as those players eventually develop.

    Now which franchises get the highest average WAR from their picks. I divided the total WAR from their drafted players by the number of picks they utilized.

    Highest Average WAR
    1. Milwaukee
    2. Seattle
    3. Oakland
    4. Boston
    5. Pittsburgh
    6. Philadelphia

    The Brewers hit on Darrell Porter, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Gary Sheffield, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Ben Sheets. Pittsburgh is interesting as the Bucs have one of the lowest conversion rates. They essentially have only three quality picks on their record, but one of those is Barry Bonds.

    The Phillies get an average of 5.3 WAR from their first rounders. Among the strong contributers are Greg Luzinski, Lonnie Smith, Mike Lieberthal, J.D. Drew, Pat Burrell, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels.

    Worst Average WAR
    1. Arizona
    2. Tampa Bay
    3. Chicago Cubs
    4. Detroit
    5. San Francisco

    See above on Arizona. Tampa Bay has a high conversion rate but their best players are still mid-career with the exception of Rocco Baldelli. The Cubs drafted Rafael Palmeiro and a bunch of dreck. Their best players (Wood, Prior, etc.) got hurt.

    I don’t know if there’s any real conclusions you can draw from it, but I find it a bit interesting. Baseball-reference.com allows you to page through all the drafts, and you can sort by several categories. Well worth a visit.

  18. Does JD count??? He always worked for other people.
    Probably best to not count player who are redrafted.

  19. I figured JD Drew would be iffy. The problem is that it’s just far easier to count him, since I’d have to identify the un-signed players in other organizations as well. Besides, the key of the exercise is to measure how good organizations are at gauging talent, not at signing it. There’s no doubt that Drew was a quality talent.

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