Do the Cardinals Really Know How to Draft Pitchers Better?

by CubsfaninCA

Much has been made over the Cardinals “voodoo” that suddenly takes no-name pitchers and makes them stars. They seem to do the same with some hitters on occasion, but it’s mostly the pitchers that seem to come out of nowhere.

I wondered if it’s luck or voodoo, or do they really just know how to draft and/or develop pitchers better than other teams.  So I went through the last 10 drafts and pulled out the pitchers drafted by 4 teams—the Cards, our Cubs, the Braves (who also seem to have an abundance of young pitching) and the Phillies (who lately as an organization don’t seem to be doing anything well). I listed the pitchers who got to the majors and to eliminate the cup of coffee guys, used 20 Ks as a minimum threshold.   

There were a few interesting anomalies: the Cards drafted Michael Stutes but he didn’t sign and later signed with the Phillies, the Cubs originally signed Sonny Gray but he also didn’t sign, and it was fun seeing our own Brian Schlitter’s name in another team’s column.

Here are the results:


    W L SV K WAR
St. Louis Cardinals 52 32 1 666 9.1
St. Louis Cardinals 31 20 0 361 8.3
St. Louis Cardinals 24 27 32 431 5.8
St. Louis Cardinals 16 7 0 194 5.0
St. Louis Cardinals 43 27 0 484 4.8
St. Louis Cardinals 8 10 4 254 4.6
St. Louis Cardinals 5 12 61 245 3.9
St. Louis Cardinals 22 20 0 263 3.2
St. Louis Cardinals 11 11 4 212 1.8
St. Louis Cardinals 6 5 1 111 1.2
St. Louis Cardinals 13 15 6 233 0.8
St. Louis Cardinals 8 11 0 104 0.4
St. Louis Cardinals 4 2 0 39 0.4
St. Louis Cardinals 3 2 0 64 0.3
St. Louis Cardinals 4 2 0 31 0.1
St. Louis Cardinals 6 11 0 112 -0.2
St. Louis Cardinals 1 3 0 26 -0.8
St. Louis Cardinals 2 8 0 96 -0.8
St. Louis Cardinals 6 10 0 104 -2.4
  20 265 235 109 4030 45.5
    W L SV K WAR
Chicago Cubs 40 50 1 792 7.9
Chicago Cubs 22 33 0 391 4.9
Chicago Cubs 16 9 2 309 3.4
Chicago Cubs 10 17 3 224 1.9
Chicago Cubs 32 33 1 347 0.7
Chicago Cubs 4 9 0 70 0.5
Chicago Cubs 1 0 1 47 0.4
Chicago Cubs 2 3 1 85 0.3
Chicago Cubs 3 3 1 73 0.2
Chicago Cubs 8 13 0 123 -0.9
Chicago Cubs 1 2 0 30 -0.9
Chicago Cubs 10 10 1 165 -1.5
  12 149 182 11 2656 16.9
    W L SV K WAR
Atlanta Braves 15 11 198 502 11.9
Atlanta Braves 34 20 1 434 9.6
Atlanta Braves 49 35 0 648 6.6
Atlanta Braves 17 16 0 285 5.6
Atlanta Braves 38 36 0 566 3.8
Atlanta Braves 9 18 0 142 3.4
Atlanta Braves 9 10 25 211 3.3
Atlanta Braves 5 4 2 185 2.8
Atlanta Braves 8 3 1 89 2.0
Atlanta Braves 9 15 4 188 1.6
Atlanta Braves 6 5 0 60 1.5
Atlanta Braves 4 3 0 77 0.9
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0 34 0.9
Atlanta Braves 21 21 0 295 0.6
Atlanta Braves 7 9 9 130 0.3
Atlanta Braves 1 2 1 23 0.3
Atlanta Braves 2 2 0 23 0.0
Atlanta Braves 3 3 1 68 -0.1
Atlanta Braves 1 0 0 26 -0.2
Atlanta Braves 4 8 0 65 -1.1
  20 243 222 242 4051 53.7
    W L SV K WAR
Philadelphia Phillies 15 15 0 172 5.5
Philadelphia Phillies 29 25 0 366 5.2
Philadelphia Phillies 21 11 0 235 4.3
Philadelphia Phillies 19 19 0 163 3.1
Philadelphia Phillies 16 11 0 226 2.7
Philadelphia Phillies 4 2 1 84 2.0
Philadelphia Phillies 7 5 0 124 1.2
Philadelphia Phillies 5 5 0 72 1.1
Philadelphia Phillies 6 13 0 83 0.6
Philadelphia Phillies 1 0 0 75 0.4
Philadelphia Phillies 9 3 0 72 0.4
Philadelphia Phillies 3 2 0 32 0.0
Philadelphia Phillies 2 2 0 35 0.0
Philadelphia Phillies 8 15 0 121 -0.1
Philadelphia Phillies 3 2 0 52 -0.1
Philadelphia Phillies 5 9 0 59 -0.4
Philadelphia Phillies 0 1 1 42 -0.4
Philadelphia Phillies 7 11 0 200 -0.5
Philadelphia Phillies 4 2 1 52 -0.7
Philadelphia Phillies 1 1 0 33 -0.8
Philadelphia Phillies 4 9 0 71 -0.8
Philadelphia Phillies 2 6 0 42 -0.9
Philadelphia Phillies 6 9 0 80 -0.9
Philadelphia Phillies 25 28 0 229 -1.2
Philadelphia Phillies 7 13 0 117 -1.2
  25 209 219 3 2837 18.5



Based on WAR, the Braves actually have fared the best, Cards 2nd and the Phillies and Cubs are quite a ways behind. The Cardinal names that jump out are Lynn, Miller, Gregerson, Wacha, Garcia, Rosenthal, Kelly and now Marco Gonzales. The Braves have Kimbrel, Medlen, Doolittle, Hanson, Jeff Locke, Alex Wood and Minor—definitely have gotten lucky with closers. The Cubs can at least point to Shark and Cashner, but the best the Phillies can do is Jarred Cosart and Vance Worley. Interesting that they had the most pitchers overall, but few of them amounted to much--i.e. “throw it against the wall and see what sticks.”  Another way of looking at Cards vs. Cubs is this: The Cards have drafted 116 more wins over 10 years than the Cubs, which could explain 12 games of why we’re usually behind them.


And if you’re thinking “That will probably change soon because of the new regime!,” from the 2011 draft they already have Seth Maness in the bigs and our hopes lie with Dillon Maples and the suspended Andrew McKirahan. And while Michael Wacha (picked #19 in 2012) is tearing it up this year, the best we can hope for from 2012 is Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn, and Duane Underwood.    


It’s a good thing we’ve been good at drafting hitters.



I think you're second choice, development, is probably the key. For the most part I imagine that teams pretty much have the same general scouting reports on guys, except for that occasional scout that goes all gaga for a guy he just knows is the next Whoever. I have a hunch that if you gave the Cardinals the same set of draft picks the Cubs have made over that time period, you'd end up with about the same number of successes. Time to poach their system and offer them Ricketts money?

Very interesting comp, thanks. Especially with pitchers, I imagine development is more important than scouting, but what do I know.

Maybe even with a lot of hitters, but it can be argued that the very very best of each self develop. Doesn't look like K Bryant has needed a lot of help from anyone.

I just searched the entire history of the Internets, that's the first time Schlitter and fun have appeared in the same sentence. Over time I have come to believe whatever is being evaluated, it's never ever ever just one thing. It occurs to me that some scouts might have a better eye for pitchers rather than hitters. St Louis probably has some of those. Long-term success suggests organizational thinking to me....something the current Cubs regime seems to have instituted with "The Cubs Way" rather than 5 separate levels of stream-of-consciousness coaching and development we were treated to previously. I think there also has to be a potential confounding effect--recent Cards pitchers have pitched in front of the Cards hitters and defense, recent Cubs pitchers have been overly-dependent on the Barney's and Sweeney's and Sappelt's of the world for W's.

I can corroborate that information regarding Schlitter.

This isn't an endorsement for Tribune reporting, but note the difference between one reporter's discussion with Theo and another's. That's the Tribune. Next is Willemeyer with the Suntimes. I'm not going to even link to that. Somehow, he got "Cubs going after Zobrist" out of that same discussion. Since a bunch of other quotes are the same, you can tell that Theo was holding court with beat reporters. I don't see the article on the Suntimes sports page but it showed up on my Flipboard. Maybe they took it down, but holy crap that guy needs an editor.

seriously, though...what would the cubs do with zobrist? turn him from a nice 2nd/SS/LF multi-tool into a boring LF guy? if he doesn't play 2nd/SS as a majority of his playing time he would be rather boring, and the cubs dont have a need there so he's rather boring in that respect. hell, he's not much of a SS anymore...he wasn't sharp there in 2014 and hasn't been healthy enough to snag play there in 2015.

Not that I'm eager for a trade like that, but I think the reasoning is he'd be a bench guy to spell others - gosh I don't really know. But in a long season it would be good to have a guy come in for the infielders once in awhile, even if he's not top grade anymore. I just hope that Cubs fans don't pressure TheoCorp to rush things. We've got three rookies starting every day, and suddenly no bullpen. It's gonna be rough sailing. I don't want them selling the farm to fix this. That's not a wait til next year call, it's just that I'm happy seeing these guys work through their inconsistencies, and see what happens. Eventually Soler is going to be ready for the 4 spot, and that will knock Starlin down to where he needs to be, lower in the lineup. They have no bench, either. So these are pretty big holes. I thought going in that it would be a 6 and out team, meaning you get to the sixth inning with the Cubs and you better be winning, but it hasn't worked out that way so in my mind this is a .500 team, and that's if things don't get any worse. The rookies will keep getting better, good enough, along with Rizzo, to keep things interesting. Unless there's some killer trade on the horizon I'm hoping they just hold fast, although maybe Vogelbomb could bring something nice from an AL team.

his cost vs already having castro/russell/baez in house makes it sketchy to me. OAK didn't give up the farm, but they gave up a cheap C (who got badly injured 1st game he played), an interesting SS prospect, and a utility OF "prospect" in the deal to get zobrist. i'm sure they'd want a fringe prospect at the very least (such as vogelbomb) as a starting point to move him. if the cubs needed a 2nd, i'd be stoked to have that link being made (even though a weak link, as pointed out in the original media critique post). it's nice that the cubs pretty much only have a need in the pen + LF...and one could argue that LF is being adequately covered anyway (especially when deno gets back to support cog). aside from the pen, the biggest holdup is the normal curve of youth development in the bigs...not a bad place to be.

Not sure I'd call Vogelbach a "fringe" prospect just yet, limited to 1B and DH for sure, but he could have a special bat and OBP that would make him very attractive to an AL team. He's one of our best chips and no way I'm trading him for a rental of a 34-yr old utility player. Maybe as part of a package for a rental (Price?) starter but Zobrist isn't that important of an upgrade for us.

the prospect game always has it's outliers. i view him as a fringe guy, others are excited about him to the point of calling him a legit prospect. he's done very little so far in his career to argue with someone who views him as a legit prospect. the holes in his game seem to mostly revolve around his defense now that his weight issue seems to be on the backburner. it's worth mentioning that p.goldschmidt didn't make hardly anyone's top prospect list, though some people saw greatness in him. we know where that stands now. i also agree that zobrist is unneeded on this club given it's excess of talent up the middle, or at the very least a luxury piece. they have needs elsewhere as of now.

righty pitcher, Tayler Scott promoted from Pelicans to Smokies

Re: Weinermeyer, #SunTimes, a close friend of mine was the Union Steward recently, and fortunately found a job after being offered severance (which he took), after having been a writer there for 14 years. The whole "ship" is going down unless a miracle happens and its not a surprise that this guy will say anything to sell a few more papers or get a few more eyeballs. There has been a rumor during the ThoJed regime that the guy purposely is told to be negative by his Editor, but I have never corroborated that.

Whiny-Meyer? The new Paul Sullivan.

Interesting article on pitchers, but remember this -Samardzija/Hammel was flipped for Addison Russell/Billy McKinney/Dan Strailey. -Strailey with Valbuena was traded for Dexter Fowler -Cashner was traded for Anthony Rizzo -James Russell was traded for minor league prospect Victor Cartini So it's not as bad as people may think

and we got Hammel back a few months later.

And James Russell!

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  • Jackstraw 2 hours 22 min ago (view)

    Thanks, AZ Phil


  • Craig A. 7 hours 7 min ago (view)

    If the cardinals loose and the giants win, the cardinals will have to play and win on Monday to make the playoffs. 


  • crunch 9 hours 35 min ago (view)

    ...and dodger stadium loses power.


  • Charlie 10 hours 42 min ago (view)

    Game 2 somewhat less fun than game 1.


  • crunch 11 hours 53 min ago (view)

    lester goes out with a whimper...7 runs given up in his last start

    5.16era/1.33whip on the year.


  • Arizona Phil 11 hours 54 min ago (view)

    JACKSTRAW: The Cardinals & Tigers will only play the first game of Monday's doubleheader (and it will be a seven-inning game) if what needs to be determined is determined by the result of the first game (the second game will be canceled), but they won't play the games at all (and the Cardinals won't go to Detroit) if everything that is affected by the two missing STL games is settled and resolved by end of MLB play on Sunday. 


  • crunch 13 hours 16 min ago (view)






  • crunch 15 hours 9 min ago (view)

    happ / rizzo / contreras / heyward / bryant / schwarber / baez / kipnis / caratini(DH)

    game 2

    bryant's back, and at 3rd.  neat.


  • Jackstraw 16 hours 55 min ago (view)

    I don't know if the math works out but (at least to me) it raises the possibility that they would play one game on Monday and if that decided what was left that they'd skip game 2.


  • Arizona Phil 21 hours 22 min ago (view)

    The Cardinals have to play the doubleheader on Monday at Detroit if either the games impact who or who does not get into the playoffs, or if the games will determine whether the Cards or Cubs finish 1st in the division and get home field advantage in the Wild Card series.


  • Charlie 22 hours 35 min ago (view)

    Maybe he should stick with it for a while.


  • Hagsag 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    Cardinals have two games left with Detroit, not the Cubs.


  • blockhead25 1 day 8 hours ago (view)

    Ahh, 2 games against the Tigers, but seems to imply they'd only play those games if it will impact which teams make the playoffs.  If the Cardinals win their last 2, I don't believe the other games could impact which Team makes it.  Why would Detroit have any incentive to win those games?  Well, hope the Cubs won one of the next 2 so it doesn't matter.


  • crunch 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    yeah, it may be another team.  i just know they have a possible monday double header...unless i got that wrong, too.


  • blockhead25 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    Cubs?  We played the cards the full 10 slate?

    if Cards make playoffs, I would think they'd want nothing to do with having to play a double header Monday to improve playoff seeding.


  • crunch 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    the cubs may or may not have to play a doubleheader vs STL on monday depending on the next game or 2...i think