A Look at a Decade of the MLB First Year Draft

Reader Real Neal breaks down the first round of the draft in a variety of ways to see if there's an optimal strategy and how have the Cubs done relative to their drafting position.


 

Two topics are always
in hot debate this time of the year, when it comes to the MLB draft.
How have the Cubs done, and who should they pick?

With that in mind, I am
taking a look at 10 years worth of first round picks to try and help
answer those questions. I am only looking at the top 30 picks each
year (yeah I know the Cubs draft 31st), just to simplify
things. The 10 year range I used was ’96 to ’05. It’s just
too early to tell what is going to happen with highschoolers only
drafted three years ago. I used WARP3, even though Baseball
Prospectus has got something a bit wonky going on with their WARP3
scores for 2009, which seem exaggerated. I figured since the
majority of these players are still playing, though, that the slight
wobble could sort of build in a little projection.

To start off with, here
is some general charts, which should be self explanatory.



Draftees
By Level

Level

Pos

Total

C

1B

9

 

2B

2

 

3B

7

 

C

6

 

IF

5

 

OF

21

 

P

94

 

SS

13

C
Total

 

157

H

1B

6

 

3B

9

 

C

7

 

IF

7

 

OF

35

 

P

64

 

SS

15

H
Total

 

143

Grand
Total

 

300

Nearly even on the HS
vs. College players, but there’s a lot more college pitchers taken
(60% of college players) than there are HS pitchers (45%). Maybe
TINSTAAPP is starting to take hold around major league scouting
departments.





ML
Players by Draft Year

Total
WARP3 by Year

Year

Total

Year

Total

1996

21

1996

172.3

1997

22

1997

263.1

1998

22

1998

246.8

1999

14

1999

152.4

2000

16

2000

82.1

2001

19

2001

151.3

2002

22

2002

213.7

2003

21

2003

127.3

2004

20

2004

42.4

2005

21

2005

99.2

Grand
Total

198

Grand
Total

1550.6

66.0%

Two out of every 3
first round picks get to the majors. That doesn’t always mean
they’re useful major leaguers, though.





MLB's
by College vs HS

WARP3
Coll vs HS

Level

Total

Level

Total

C

120

C

911

H

78

H

639.6

Grand
Total

198

Grand
Total

1550.6

About what you may
expect, if you’ve been following things over the last 13 years.

When these charts are
combined, you can start to see some suggestions about where drafting
has been successful over that decade:





Draftees
By Level

 

 

Level

Pos

Total

Success
%

Avg
W3

C

1B

9

67%

11.1

 

2B

2

100%

5.8

 

3B

7

86%

17.9

 

C

6

67%

0.0

 

IF

5

60%

10.8

 

OF

21

86%

8.8

 

P

94

72%

3.8

 

SS

13

100%

6.3

C
Total

 

157

76%

5.8

H

1B

6

83%

8.8

 

3B

9

67%

7.6

 

C

7

43%

8.3

 

IF

7

43%

1.1

 

OF

35

60%

4.2

 

P

64

50%

4.2

 

SS

15

53%

2.3

H
Total

 

143

55%

4.5

Grand
Total

 

300

66%

5.2

College hitters,
particularly infielders, but not catchers really stand out. HS
corner men, and catchers have done well. Surprisingly HS pitchers
have done better than college pitchers when it comes to WARP3, though
only 50% of them make it to the bigs.

So, all other things
equal, based on those 10 drafts, in the first round you should look
for College infielders, College outfielders HS corner infielders and
HS catchers in the first round. If you’re desperate for a pitcher,
then the upside seems to be with the HS’s, but if you just want to
get a guy to the majors, then go with a college arm (72% chance).

So, how have the Cubs,
and other teams done?The first thing I did was looked at who should
have been drafted where. These are the guys that should have been
the #1’s by year. Determined solely by who has the most WARP3.






Year

Player

Position

Team

Level

WARP3

1996

Eric
Chavez

3B

OAK

H

49.6

1997

Lance
Berkman

1B

HOU

C

54.1

1998

C.C.
Sabathia

P

CLE

H

46.7

1999

Barry
Zito

P

OAK

C

39.8

2000

Chase
Utley

IF

PHI

C

44.2

2001

Mark
Teixeira

3B

TEX

C

39.9

2002

Matt
Cain

P

SF

H

25.7

2003

Nick
Markakis

OF

BAL

C

22.7

2004

Jered
Weaver

P

ANA

C

18.9

2005

Ryan
Zimmerman

3B

WAN

H

19.8

Two things that grabbed
my attention here. There’s only one HS hitter, and one College
Pitcher. There’s also no #1 overalls on the list, though Adrian
Gonzales has a chance, I think to eventually rectify that.

I followed that up by
asking, ‘Did a team make the optimum choice?”. Very simply if no
one behind you did any better than you did, based on WARP3 of the
player, then you made the correct decision. It doesn’t happen very
often.


Team

Total

ANA

1

ARI

2

ATL

2

BAL

3

BOS

1

CHC

 

CHW

 

CIN

 

CLE

1

COL

1

DET

 

FLA

 

HOU

1

KC

1

LA

3

MIL

2

MIN

2

NYM

 

NYY

 

OAK

2

PHI

1

PIT

1

SD

 

SEA

2

SF

2

STL

3

TB

 

TEX

1

TOR

1

WAN

1

(blank)

 

Grand
Total

34

Most teams did it (not
the Cubs, of course), but no team was able to do it more than 3
times. That certainly lends evidence to the ‘draft is a crapshoot’
theory.

I went to take a little
deeper look. How successful were teams at getting their first round
picks to the Majors? How many wins did those players earn? And
what’s the ‘value’ of those wins.





Picks
Per Team

 

 

$
2.63

Team

Total

MLB/Pick

WARP3/Pick

Value/Pick

ANA

8

88%

9.88

$
26.02

ARI

9

78%

2.56

$
6.73

ATL

8

75%

2.86

$
7.54

BAL

14

50%

3.46

$
9.13

BOS

8

63%

2.93

$
7.71

CHC

9

44%

4.84

$
12.76

CHW

11

82%

0.40

$
1.05

CIN

10

60%

2.25

$
5.93

CLE

11

55%

5.56

$
14.66

COL

9

67%

5.70

$
15.02

DET

10

70%

2.78

$
7.33

FLA

11

64%

8.47

$
22.32

HOU

7

57%

9.49

$
24.99

KC

14

64%

2.01

$
5.31

LA

8

88%

3.83

$
10.08

MIL

10

60%

6.29

$
16.57

MIN

12

58%

7.28

$
19.17

NYM

9

78%

3.11

$
8.20

NYY

9

44%

1.86

$
4.89

OAK

16

63%

8.87

$
23.37

PHI

8

100%

17.96

$
47.33

PIT

10

60%

2.49

$
6.56

SD

12

33%

1.38

$
3.62

SEA

6

50%

4.70

$
12.38

SF

11

91%

4.69

$
12.36

STL

11

64%

8.54

$
22.49

TB

8

75%

4.49

$
11.82

TEX

10

80%

7.19

$
18.95

TOR

11

91%

7.89

$
20.79

WAN

10

50%

3.44

$
9.06

Grand
Total

300

66%

5.17

$
13.62

This may need some
explanation. The picks per team is the # of first round picks over
the period, from 6 (Seattle) to 16 (Oakland). The MLB/Pick is the %
of those picks who made the big leagues. The White Sox got a very
good 82% of their picks to the Majors. The next is WARP3/Pick.
Which is how many wins the average first round pick netted the team.
The White Sox players were pretty crappy, you can see. It seems like
if you’re a bad #1 pick but want a cup of coffee in the majors, the
South Side of Chicago is where you want to go. Philly dominates this
category by virtue of having drafted J.D. Drew, who they failed to
sign, along with Utley, Burrell and Hamels. The final is just taking
BP’s 2009 win value and multiplying it by the WARP3. This isn’t
marginal value, for that you’d need to take out the player’s
salaries, signing bonuses and other developmental costs.

The final thing I did
was added in some weighting of the draft picks. If you’re always
picking at the top, you should do better than perrenial
playoff contenders. This to me is the best evaluation of how these
first round picks have done over the time frame.




Weighted
Warp3/Pick

Team

Draft
Position

Wgt
Pos

W3/P*Wgt

HOU

20

131%

12.4

PHI

10

67%

12.0

OAK

20

130%

11.5

STL

21

134%

11.4

ANA

14

90%

8.8

FLA

16

101%

8.5

TEX

16

103%

7.4

CLE

20

127%

7.1

SF

21

133%

6.2

TOR

12

79%

6.2

MIN

13

85%

6.2

LA

22

142%

5.4

SEA

18

113%

5.3

COL

14

90%

5.1

ATL

27

176%

5.0

BOS

20

129%

3.8

CHC

12

77%

3.8

BAL

16

102%

3.5

MIL

9

55%

3.5

ARI

20

127%

3.2

NYY

24

153%

2.8

NYM

13

81%

2.5

WAN

10

63%

2.2

CIN

14

90%

2.0

TB

7

44%

2.0

KC

13

86%

1.7

PIT

9

58%

1.4

SD

16

101%

1.4

DET

7

43%

1.2

CHW

16

102%

0.4

Average

5.1

Here we can see that
Houston, who was in the playoff hunt for most of these years and
Philly, who wasn’t did the best. The Cubs are pratically in a
deadlock with the Red Sox, and are just about middle of the pack,
though more than a win less than the average.

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Comments

Soriano, Theriot, Fukudome, Lee, Hoffpauir, Fontenot, Hill, Blanco, Dempster

vs.

Bourn, Tejada, Pence, Lee, Berkman, Blum, Rodriguez, Keppinger, Ortiz

So, Bradley is day2day again? What did he pull yesterday?

He faked running into the wall in right, and then he faked landing awkwardly on first trying to avoid a DP.

faked?

I thought maybe he pulled something making one of those hopeless swings at the plate.

they seem to be resting him during day games after a night game...he did grimace and stretch on a swing yesterday but stayed in the game.

Haven't seen anything myself....

Len and Bob say that Bradley just had a leg cramp yesterday, that's all, and it is completely unrelated to his getting a day off today. Sounds like Lou just wanted to rest him today.

If by "just" you mean "Sounds like Lou [got sick of Bradley sucking and] wanted to rest him today".

drafted his son in Round 43 for the White Sox...bet he decides he's worth a $2m bonus.

then Harold Baines kid in Round 45

posted today,
LeMahieu's Best Still Yet to Come
by Steve Holley

http://louisianastate.scout.com/a.z?s=107&p=2&c=87...



“I think what they’re getting is a very solid baseball player,”
Mainieri said. “He’s not going to wow you with his tools. He’s not
going to run like the wind. He’s not going to hit balls 400 feet
regularly. He’s not going to throw the ball a hundred miles an hour
across the diamond. But what you’re getting is a very good baseball
player. I think he’s going to get better in pro ball, too.”

Is there anything he can do?



Mainieri is close friends with Jim Hendry and invited the Cubs general
manager to Baton Rouge earlier this season for a team practice at the
Tigers’ complex.



Mainieri said LeMahieu’s swing caught Hendry’s eye right away.



“When Jim was back here in February for our opening banquet and came
out and watched us practice, he whispered to me, ‘This kid is really
going to hit in pro ball,’” Mainieri recalled. “‘You get him with the
right hitting coach, they’re going to teach him how to pull the ball
and I think he’s going to have power.’”



He kinda' sounds like a Matt Murton that can play the infield.

And anyone else find it odd that Hendry told LeMahieu's coach that LeMahieu just needed a better coach?

Batting in college is different from in the Pros.

What I think is odd is that a team notorious for not being able to develop hitting prospects selects two guys who are going to have to have their swings reworked with their first two picks of the draft.

Batting in college is different from in the Pros.

Really? I wasn't aware. Thanks for the brilliant insight.

Obviously you weren't aware since you compared being productive in college to being productive in the pros. There are things you can get away with, primarily 'fisting' the ball for hits, that you can't get away with in wooden bat leagues.

Always glad to be of help.

Cubs drafted Walt Jocketty's kid...3b out of high school with their 47th round pick.

Cards take lead in 8th from Florida. Scored 3 runs, up 6-5.

The Cubs 2009 draft featured 22 pitchers(16 right-handed, 6 left-handed), 16 infielders (5 shortstops, 2 second basemen, 4 third basemen, 4 first basemen), 7 outfielders (5 center fielders), and 5 catchers. They drafted 28 players out of college, 8 out of junior and community colleges and another 14 out of high school.

http://wiklifield.thecubreporter.com/Cubs_2009_Jun...

http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/spor...

Zambrano was diplomatic about the decisions, saying it was the right move because Piniella would've been blamed had he gone out and given up the winning run in the ninth. Informed of Zambrano's comment, Piniella said: "I don't care about the blame. I thought he had done his job, I thought he had pitched enough. Remember, he's only two starts removed from the DL, and we've got another 3 1/2 months of baseball here."

Actually, Zambrano was making his fourth start since being removed from the disabled list on May 22, and he threw 114 pitches in his second game back against Pittsburgh.

Cards with interest in Miguel Tejada, WSox could look to move Dye, Jenks or Dotel if things don't turn around quickly.

maybe they'll take Neal Cotts back for one of the relievers...

Can the Cubs get Tejada and move Theriot to 2b?

since Tejada does not bat from the left side...the answer is no

damn. stupid leftists.

First and Third, Nobody Out = 0 Runs

Lovely

Am I to believe Russ Ortiz is awesome, too? Russ Ortiz, Wandy Rodriguez... the cream of the NL.

I can't fucking believe this fucking team and the offense!

Fucking Russ Ortiz shuts them down too?

I don't think I've ever seen anything like it.

The pitching is fantastic and we can't score runs? Unbelievable.

I'm not optimistic they can pull this one out but you never know.

1 run since blanco's rbi double tuesday. And that was Soto's homer.

Apparently freak-outs like this are unamerican and we're supposed to believe everything will be fine because the division sucks.

Well, Ortiz actually was pretty good today, but I think it's time that Hendry gets off his ass and does something other than waiting for Ramirez to return. Garciaparra and an A baller for Fox sounds good right about now.

garciaparra is having a MRI on his constantly injured calf, fwiw.

It's worth the risk.

~ducks~

I don't think there's ever been a more retarded stadium than this one in Houston. 436 ft to CF with a fucking hill? Eat shit, Michael Bourn.

Did Lou really decide to have Aaron Miles pinch hit rather than Bradley, Johnson, or Soto?

Yeah, that's the real problem. Who PH's.

Yea, because I said that it was the "real problem."

Asking about a bad decision doesn't mean that I think that is the "real problem."

Mitch Williams was right, Cubs need pitchng.

Dumb ass.

Maybe he's lobbying for a job. Think he can still close?

Well Cooper must have money on the Cubs, because Hawkins is in.

God bless you, Cecil Cooper for taking pity on our team.

LaTroy: The Gift That Keeps on Giving.

let me modify the trade:

Garciaparra and a 1.5T MRI unit for Fox sounds good right about now.

...we'll need the MRI more than the single A player the way this season is going.

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