you read this study a few years ago, there have been 35-40 players added to the study and a couple of failed projected successes
taken out (Carlos Pena and Joey Mays). Plus, a small section on draft failures and a new set of conclusions have been added.)
Robinson this spring of 2006 is starting its 16th season. Every draft result, every protection list, and every
trade has been recorded and saved since its inception and many “records”, of course, too. That is enough history
to give us some insights into among other things when the best players are snared. By examining when those stars were drafted
for the last time and their reputations at that moment, we can, perhaps, make some judgments about how soon to pounce on a
developing colt or hold off and wait for that breakthrough year at the Major League level.
understanding of team building would increase if I extended this study to our failures as well as our successes. That will
be a follow-up I hope to do soon. However, I do have a brief review of all the first overall picks in the AL Robinson Phase
2 drafts which were considered busts.
story is unique – not just a matter of numbers. It is worth taking a closer look at the best players (for Scoresheet,
anyway) who became available in the A.L. starting 1991. Here they are in chronological order of their selection. Their draft
positions referred to are for AL Robinson.
Alomar: 1st round crossover in ‘91. And I mean first round of the first phase. He was only 23 and
had already played in one or two all-stars games!
Thomas 22 going on 23 and Juan Gonzalez 21 may or may not have been drafted by 1991. If we were as in tune to prospects back
then as we are now, they would likely have been protected. Gonzalez was Baseball America’s
number four prospect in 1990 after a nice season in AA. Thomas was listed 29th with no particularly impressive
showing. However, he hurt AA pitchers so badly that year, an astute SS GM would have locked him up in a July supplemental.
They were my 3rd and 4th picks after Robbie Alomar and Cal Ripken and became instant stars.
Mussina was bravely drafted R#26 in 1991. This prospect aged 22 was a Stanford grad who pitched a mere 9 professional games
– although at the AA and AAA levels. He was called up during the 2nd half of the season and became the Orioles’
Knoblauch 22 was an AA prospect in ‘91 who impressed in spring training and was drafted R#31. A few years later he was
rivaling Alomar as the A.L.’s top 2ndbaseman.
Rodriguez was the first overall pick of the July supplementals. That must have been just after this 20-year-old super prospect
was promoted to the Rangers.
Belle was a 24-year-old troubled soul in ‘92. He made no progress from the previous season, except a name change. His
owner had drafted him early (R#14 – third round), didn’t want to concede a mistake, so kept him, anyway. Then
Kevin Brown was an average starting pitcher until he hit
the magic 27. That’s when he was snared R#17 in ‘92.
Bernie Williams at 23 in ‘92 was struggling to establish
himself as a New York Yankee. After dropping him, I redrafted him at R#18.
Gary Sheffield was scooped up R#19 in ‘92 as a 23-year-old
disappointing struggling 3rdbasemen just before he was traded to the National League.
Sammy Sosa: I’m as surprised as anybody about his
incredible success. (We were naive.) I took him as a 23 year-old with an R#19 pick in 1992, but I just couldn’t keep
a National Leaguer who only batted .203. Woops.
David Cone a 30-year-old crossover in ‘93 was for
a long time the best first overall pick in our league history.
Carlos Delgado in 1993 was the number four prospect in
the land. He was 20, had consistent OBAs around .400 in the lower Minors coupled with an ever increasing Slugging Avg. now
up to .579 in the hitter unfriendly FSL. And, he was a Blue Jay. Our league full of Torontonians let him slip to what was
the second round in 1993 R#13. Well, he was originally a catching prospect.
Mo Vaughn had spent the three previous seasons murdering
AAA pitching, but having a bit of trouble with the MLB. In ’93 he was 25 and selected 20th when he broke
through as a star.
Jim Thome’s first call-up in ’91 was unimpressive,
but he was only 21. In ’92, he spent time at AA, AAA, Cleveland, and the DL. His Minor League hitting was fine,
but again didn’t impress the Tribe. Hence, he lasted until R#24, in ’93, when his career took off.
Manny Ramirez: R#15 at 21 in 1994 after blazing through
AA, AAA, and a September call up. Shame on all of us for letting him slip through to the last pick of R#15. But, oh -
Alex Rodriguez 18 was snared two picks later R#16. (Alex
Gonzalez was a first rounder in this predominantly Torontonian league.) A-Rod signed too late to have played before ‘94.
His superstardom began in 1996.
Derek Jeter with a year and a half of pro experience at
age 20 was listed as the 10th best prospect in the AL
by Baseball America. That and a .374 OBA in the Florida State League was good enough
to get him picked R#28 in our league.
Jim Edmonds: this surprising talent was nearly 25 before
he was snagged R#36 in ‘95. His previous season was spent as a back-up firstbaseman-outfielder.
Jason Giambi: a 25 year-old taken in the 2nd
round in ‘96 took 5 more years before he developed his MVP swing.
Rivera was an R#20 pick up in ‘96 at 26. He had only mastered AAA, but struggled his first try with the Yanks in ‘95.
He’s been one of the best every year since.
Nomar Garciaparra 22 in 1996 with only AA experience was
drafted R#24. In 1997 he won Rookie of the Year, then ratcheted it up to superstar in the following years.
Giles was drafted R#15 as a 26 year-old after pulverizing the International League for three seasons. Still, for the next
two years (’97 & ’98) the Indians would only platoon Giles. So when they finally just shipped him off to the
Pirates for a lefty reliever (Ricardo Rincon), his AL Roby owner just let him go.
Tejada – I’m proud of this pick as I snagged him out of A ball in 1997 before he appeared in BA’s top 100.
He was only 20. However, I’m not proud that I traded him for a bunch of spare parts to shore up my championship drive.
I had to trade Glaus to get him back (before Glaus became a crash test dummy and Tejada became a consistent star).
Martinez was 26 in 1998 and replaced Cone as the best first pick crossover ever.
Glaus at 21 was ranked 36th by Baseball America without playing any
professional baseball. Cory Watson of Scoresheet Canada sets up a youth oriented master draft list for abandoned teams which
in 1998 drafted Glaus on the second round (R#15) and Eric Milton on the next.
Chavez at 20 in 1998 with a full season in the California League was ranked slightly above Glaus at 30th. However,
he wasn’t drafted until well into the third phase (R#27).
Posada drafted R#28 gave George Tsuji two better consecutive star prospects (including Chavez) at a cheaper price than Scoresheet
(see Glaus)! However, Posada wasn’t actually a prospect as he had spent ’97 as back-up to Joe Girardi. He would
spend the next two season as his platoon mate, before blossoming into a full time star in 2000.
Beltran was stalled in the high A level until suddenly in ’98 he blew them away, then for the second half blew away
AA, too. He then held his own in a September call-up. The 21 year-old was drafted with the last pick of the first round in
Ordonez wasn’t protected after the 24 year-old’s mediocre rookie season of ‘98. Dropping to the 17th
round, Ordonez became a big star from age 25 to 29.
Hudson didn’t make Baseball America’s top 100 prospects of 1999. Yet,
after completely dominating AA and AAA batters over a total of 11 starts early that year, the A’s handed a rotation
spot to the 23 year-old. He was drafted in the first round of the July supplemental.
Varitek was protected by Blair Tobin as a AAA prospect drafted with Jim McCullough’s last supplementary round of 1997.
After a respectable but-not-outstanding rookie season Varitek was dropped, then picked up by Gil Lau in R#16. Varitek was
outstanding in his sophomore season, but had a very disappointing third year in the Majors in 2000. Gil won his championship
that year and had no room to keep him. So at age 29 Varitek was free again to be grabbed by Saleem Kaleem in R#15. Gil must
have missed Varitek, so he traded for him that April. He looked outstanding, but missed half the year due to injury. Varitek
was back to mediocrity in 2002, but a bright star ever since.
Teixeira 22 without playing any pro baseball was the number 5 AL
prospect (according to Baseball America) in 2002. He was our 8th overall
Ortiz was a young powerful excellent hitting 27 year-old shaking off part-time stigma as he was drafted in the 22nd
(9th) round of 2003.
Santana was a Rule V acquisition from the low level A ball of the Astros in Y2K. However, the Marlins dealt him to the Twins
for someone who never made it. He was obviously over his head, but he was just 21. Surprisingly, the Twins kept him north
in ’01 (first hint), although he missed half the season with an injury. Starting ’02 in AAA, he had 75 strikeouts
in less than 50 innings (2nd hint). When he was called up, he continued his mastery over Major Leaguers prompting
his selection in the first round of the supplemental draft. Why it took the Twins another year and a half to give him his
full time starting position, I hope has only to do with preserving his young arm.
Guerrero was an established big star in his prime (28) available as a crossover, so, naturally he was taken first overall.
This was a Pedro-esque first pick.
Hafner was a 26 year-old firstbaseman/DH who slowly worked his way through the minors with formidable power and astronomical
walk rates along the way. He had spent most of ’03 with the Indians, didn’t disappoint, but became a star after
selected in the 19th round of 2004.
is the full list of successful players selected for this study. As 1991 was the year the league started, only a cross-over
and players who likely wouldn’t have been protected are eligible. Players listed in bold are the “big stars”
mentioned above and used to examining differences in quantity of good long term selections and higher quality long term selections.
You could quibble with my selections (Varitek made it, but Sexson didn’t?), but that has little to do with the point
of this exercise.
can be criticized is the method of selecting players for this study. It likely wasn’t thorough enough, nor was it objective.
(I’ll be happy to hear of admissions you feel adamantly belong here firstname.lastname@example.org.) Each player should have, at least, two years of being above average at his position – preferably consecutive or within
a span of three years. Some players I included just if they had one incredibly good season (Peralta), or one fantastic season
among several roughly average seasons of which he was protected. (The idea being a player is more valuable to his Scoresheet
team if his great season was anticipated. Otherwise, he might well have been on his team’s bench for a good chunk of
it. Having several near MVP / Cy Young seasons gets the big star designation.
of the weakest players on this list are first overall picks (Charles Johnson, Carl Everett, Godzilla). That is because I went
over each of those picks more closely to determine if they were a hit or miss. Hence, they received a second look instead
of so many others I may have overlooked. This special attention to the first overall picks skews the concluding data on the
importance of R#14s unless acknowledged.
rest is self-explanatory, I hope.
^ 11 man protection limit in ‘93 or before
! first overall pick
/ generally separates level at previous draft from most current league (excluding Sept. call-ups).
// did not
play year preceding pick
his league two years ago from preceding season - notable if demoted a level
AA... Levels AA & AAA
A+++ Levels A+, AA, & AAA
* dropped prematurely and re-scooped R#14
~dropped due to NL trade; instant stardom
YR Rnd# Age Pr.Level GM
91 R#01 23 NL
Abbott 91 R14^
23 AL Sanderson
Steinbach 91 R18^ 29 AL Carter
Mussina 91 R#26 22 univ./AA... Arnone
Knoblauch91 R#31 22 AA Haynes
Rodriguez 91 R#40 20 A+/AA/AL Matthws
McDonald 92 R12^ 24 AL Tsuji
Belle 92 R14^ 25 AL
Brown 92 R17^ 27 AL Flint
Williams 92 R18^ 23 AAA/AL Carter
Vizquel 92 R19^ 24 AL
Sheffield 92 R19^ 23 AL Tsuji
92 R19~ 23 AAA/AL Carter
Lofton 92 R#25 24 AAA (NL)Sanderson
Salmon 92 R#37 23
93 R12^! 30 NL Flint
Fernandez 93 R12^ 23 AL Sandrsn
Buhner 93 R12^ 28
Carlos Delgado 93 R13^ 20 A+ McCullough
Valentin 93 R15^ 26 AAA/AL Sanderson
Hentgen 93 R15^ 23
O’Neill 93 R15^ 30
Mo Vaughn 93
R20^ 25 AL
93 R24^ 22
93 R#37 27 AAA/AL O’Leary
Ramirez 94 R#15 21 AA/AAA Carter
Rodriguez 94 R#16 18 h.s.
Stanley 94 R#16 29 AL
Anderson 94 R#16 30 AL
Rogers* 94 R#18 29 AL
Jeter 94 R#28 19 A Matthws
Durham 95 R#14! 23
Wells 95 R#14 31
Martinez 95 R#18 27 AL
Mesa 95 R#22 28
Cirillo 95 R#25
25 AAA/AL Tsuji
Radke 95 R#36 22
95 R#36 24 AL Milne
Pettitte 95 R#36 22 AAA Tsuji
Damon 96 R#14! 22 AA/AL O’Leary
Wetteland 96 R#14 29 NL/AL Lau
96 R#15 25 AAA/AL Lau
Mariano Rivera 96 R#20 26 AAA/AL Milne
N. Garciaparra 96 R#24 22 AA Milne
Fassero 97 R#14! 34
97 R#15 26 AAA/AL Lau
Miguel Tejada 97 R#16 20
Anderson 97 R#16 25 AL Ethier
Stewart 97 R#18 23 AAA
Easley 97 R#31 26 AL Haynes
98 R#14 26 NL Haynes
Troy Glaus 98 R#15 21
Milton 98 R#16
22 A+/AA Scoresheet
Colon 98 R#21 23 AAA/AL Bordage
Sexson 98 R#23 23 AAA Creaney
Eric Chavez 98
R#27 20 A+ Tsuji
Jorge Posada 98 R#28
26 AL Tsuji
Johnson 99 R#14! 27 NL Sowdrn
Konerko 99 R#14 23 AAA/NL Tsuji
Carlos Beltran 99 R#14 21
Magglio Ordonez 99
R#17 25 AL Lau
Mulder 99 R#17 21
Lee 99 R#18 23
Soriano 99 R#20 23 Japan// Lau
Garcia 99 R#25 22 AA (NL) Sowden
Tim Hudson 99
R#40 23 AA/AAA Bordage
Vernon Wells 99 R#41 20 A+/AA Tsuji
Everett 00 R#14! 29
Zito 00 R#27
21 univ./A+++ Sowden
Sabathia 00 R#28 20 AA Sowden
Suzuki 01 R#14! 27 Japan Kaleem
Foulke 01 R#14 28
Jason Varitek 01 R#15 29
Isringhausen 01 R#17 28 AL
Nixon 01 R#19 27
Hunter 01 R#20 25
Halladay 01 R#21 24 AL
Buehrle 01 R#31 22 AAA/AL Carter
Blalock 01 R#37 20 A+ Sowden
Orlando Hudson 02 R#14 24 AA/AAA Carter
Mark Teixeira 02 R#14
22 univ. Cormier
Pierzynski 02 R#17 25 AL
Harden 02 R#40 20 A+/AA Carter
Matsui 03 R#14! 29 Japan Pingree
Young 03 R#18 26 AL Pingree
03 R#22 27 AL Cormier
Johan Santana 03 R#40 23 AL
Crosby 03 R#38 23 AA/AAA Lau
V. Guerrero 04
R#14! 28 NL Collette
Schilling 04 R#14 37 NL Lau
Lopez 04 R#14
34 NL Pingree
Guillen 04 R#16 28 AL
Mora 04 R#16 32
Travis Hafner 04 R#19
Peralta 05 R#19 23 AL\AAA Lau
a good year in ’06, I would include Lackey, Haren, Felix Hernandez, Crawford, Sizemore, Lugo, Roberts, Ellis, Cantu, and Cano – perhaps, others. Unreliably good players such
as Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young have had their share of good or outstanding seasons as a few others on this list, but those
are mixed in with too many bad years that it makes them questionably protectable over their time. If Peralta can repeat his
showing last year, we’d have to acknowledge him as a big star. Halladay will get an upgrade to star status if he can
stay healthy and dominant.
conducted three tallies. The first is by draft round. “First round” is the first round of the 2nd phase.
“High 2nd phase” would be the 2nd or 3rd rounds. “Mid 2nd phase”
would be what is now R#17, 18, and 19. “Late 2nd phase” is now R#20-R#23. “High 3rd”
is now R#24-R#28. Yes, I know R#24 is actually in the 2nd phase, but it makes these fairer brackets, if I include
it with the High 3rd Phase. The rest of the 3rd-rounders make up the “Low 3rd phase”.
other tallies are by Previous Level (corresponding to their league or level they were previously established at) and age.
number of “best long-term picks” or “gems”: 95. Big stars: 35
Draft Round no.
1st Round: 23 (6 big stars) 14
High 2nd Phase: 16 (9 big stars) 15,16
Mid 2nd Phase: 17 (4 big
Low 2nd Phase: 13 (5 big stars) 20-23
High 3rd Phase: 11 (6 big stars) 24-28
Low 3rd Phase: 3 (1 big star)
1st Supplemental: 7 (1 big star) 36-39
2nd Supplemental: 5 (3 big stars) 40-43
the number of rounds included increases as the rounds get lower.
Level gems big stars x-overs
Japan: 3 0
A or less 6 4
Age bracket: gems big stars x-overs
18 or 19
Interpretation of these findings
study is needed. These picks need to be compared to the ones that were just merely useful for the year of the draft and those
that were complete wash-outs. It might not make any difference, actually, but we should find out. Certainly any conclusions
based on age and league level will be greatly skewed by only looking at this data, because very young players in the Minors
are going to be busts far more often than players drafted in their mid 20s to early 30s who are playing in the Majors. Obviously,
the number of large successes (as opposed to not being a bust) drops considerably during those years. Subtract the cross-overs
from the Age bracket gems and stars above and the drop is even clearer.
study sheds no light on the problem of keeping a player before he blossoms into the star you were hoping for. In Economics
we call this opportunity cost. There is the cost of not having the player you could have drafted instead. There is the cost
of not being able to draft a low 3rd round draft pick in order to protect your prospect for the following year.
Once your star-in-waiting blows his SS rookie status, the cost skyrockets to giving up one of your top 13 regulars. Then,
you have to do this for each year of the wait. That cost is serious if you are trying to defend a title or make that final
push needed to grab one.
study does blow a little bit of dust off the theory brandied about on mcscoresheet http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/mcscoresheet/ started by Ari Houser that players generally get as good as they’re going to get by about 22 or 23. You can see from
the Age bracket table that most often we know how good a player is going to get at around age 23 – not that he will
necessarily play that well by then. These numbers make sense when you consider many players these days go to university and
aren’t even professionals until they are 22.
Level table might surprise you that almost 40% of successful long term drafts are at the Major League level – that’s
excluding the cross-overs and Japanese players. Even if you just look at the biggest stars, that percentage only drops to
a championship team is better off trading a prospect for necessary parts in August, then trade to get him back with excess
talent before the former prospect gets too good. Well, that’s a thought – it’s not always so easy.
timely trading can help just as much as timely drafting, except, of course, every team gets to use 30 new draft picks each
year. No one makes that many trades. However, trades can often involve players who would not be available in the draft. Hence,
the impact of a single trade can be worth far more than a first round pick.
McEleny managed in AL Robinson for three years and didn’t make one pick which made this list. Scoresheet drafted Alex
Rodriguez (out of high school) for him, but Mike passed along ARod for Chris Bosio! However, he turned his team around from
perennial losers (around .440) into consistent contenders (around .600) giving me some of the closest pennant races I’ve
The chart which shows
the most conclusive information is the one which shows competent and star picks by draft round. You see a pretty steady decline
in pick value until the supplementals come up. Despite the missing bad pick data, this probably shows the relative merit of
each pick pretty well. (Don’t forget to multiply the value of the star picks when comparing pick groups. And, notice
that each level has more picks.) Considering 9 of the 23 first round gems were the first overall pick, you see that otherwise
a first round pick is only marginally (but significantly) better than a second or third round pick. The value of each pick
gradually lessons from there continuing to drop rapidly deep into the third phase. However, that huge drop-off with the last
seven picks of the pre-season draft is exaggerated unless you consider that many of those picks don’t get used, but
are for holding a protected prospect.
The value of a supplemental
pick appears to be half that of a low 20s pick, but probably higher than a low third phase pick. The large bulk of good supplemental
picks come in the first round. Three of the seven best May picks and four of the five July picks were in the first round of
those drafts. Those would include all of those gems who became big stars (I-Rod, Edmonds, Hudson, and Santana). Harden is the fifth – and he could move
into the star status soon.
Top Picks Gone Wrong
Mitchell (Matthews) crossed over at 30 three years after his MVP season. Every aspect of his game including health was in
decline and it continued into 1992. Seattle sent him back
to the NL, and his career revived to some degree for two years before falling apart again for good.
S. Gonzalez (McCullough) in 1994 at age 21 after a strong season in AA was the number four prospect in all of baseball (according
to Baseball America) – even ahead of Alex Rodriguez (taken R#16) and Derek
Jeter (R#28). His career has been one of consistent mediocrity.
Ho Park (Cormier) turned 29 at mid-season of 2002 after five and a half seasons as an ace for the Dodgers. His previous two
seasons averaged 230 innings and a 3.38 ERA. According to his age, Park was past the theoretical tender arm nexus, however,
in reality his arm was finished. Stephane had three other first round picks that year hitting the bulls-eye on the fourth
one: Mark Teixeira.
the way, Will Carroll and Thomas Gorman have a series of articles in Baseball Prospectus https://baseballprospectus.com/ called Team Health Reports. I just wish they came out a month earlier. (They are still coming.) The Park incident is a prime
example of why injury projections are possibly more important than statistical performance projections. I remember coming
across the 2002 Sports Illustrated spring training issue in my fitness club and
reading from their secret scouts that Park had nothing left. If Stephane Cormier had the fortune to see the same article,
he wouldn’t have wasted his best pick.
year’s 2005 number one pick Adrian Beltre (Lau) has been a large disappointment. However, he was good enough and is
still young and promising enough that he was protected and could well turn into a success.
Well, that’s all
I have to say for now. Send me email@example.com your observations and suggestions and, if you allow, I can incorporate them into my follow-up report which will include more
on the bad picks.