Conventional wisdom has said for years that the MLB draft is essentially a crapshoot. There are too many variables, and scouting is so inexact, that there is no way that any one team can be consistently successful.
Also, as a lifelong A’s fan, I’ve always thought there were a lot of former A’s farmhands playing for other teams, and I’ve thought that meant that Billy Beane really is better at drafting than others.
So, with all that in mind, and the fact that my company “displaced” me (read that as laid me off) last week, I spent some of my free time living off my my severance package looking through the draft records, etc. to try and de-mistify the draft process.
I used the USA Today roster of 2008 salaries, and then used The Baseball Cube (baseballcube.com) and compiled a list of who was drafted by which team and also what round they were drafted.
So, is it really true that the draft is a crapshoot, or are some of the team professional gamblers while others haven’t even purchased their copy of Craps For Dummies?
Here is some of the information I came up with.
Of the 854 players listed on the USA Today roster of salaries, I looked at how many players were either drafted by a team, or signed as a free agent (either undrafted or foreign free agents). If it were evenly spread out, and essentially random each team would end up with 28-29 players.
There are obvious things that will skew the numbers…compensation picks, the ability to sign as many/as few free agents as your budget allows, etc. But in general, it does seem that some teams are more successful at drafting than others. It would be interesting to compare scouting budgets to these numbers, but I couldn’t find them.
Here is how it breaks down…
36 players - Arizona
33 players – Atlanta
20 players - Baltimore
27 players - Boston
33 players – Chicago Cubs
25 players – Chicago White Sox
18 players - Cincinnati
30 players - Cleveland
32 players - Colorado
32 players – Detroit
27 players - Florida
28 players - Houston
27 players – Kansas City
30 players – LA Angels
41 players – LA Dodgers
19 players - Milwaukee
28 players - Minnesota
29 players – New York Mets
30 players – New York Yankees
36 players – Oakland
27 players – Philadelphia
32 players – Pittsburgh
29 players – San Francisco
13 players – San Diego
37 players - Seattle
22 players – St. Louis
26 players – Tampa Bay
26 players - Texas
35 players - Toronto
26 players – Washington/Montreal
In looking at the breakdown, it would appear that the Dodgers, Seattle, Oakland, Arizona, and Toronto must be on to something, while San Diego, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee, and Baltimore are just ON something.
The Dodgers, Yankees, and Tigers seem to have been the most successful (and maybe most active) at signing Free Agents, with most of them being foreign drafts.
While I was at it, I also looked at where in the draft the players were picked to see if it really matters when you get drafted. Here’s the breakdown on that information:
222 (26%) - Free Agent (both undrafted and foreign)
181 (21%) – 1st Round draft picks
78 (9%) – 2nd Round draft picks
104 (12%) - 3rd -5th Round picks
121 (14%) – 6th-10th Round picks
70 (8%) - 11th-20th Round picks
44 (5%) – 21st-30th Round picks
34 (4%) – 31st Round and above
Here are a few late round successes – Rajai Davis (Pit 38), Orlando Hudson (Tor 43), Julio Lugo (Hou 43), Mark Buehrle (CWS 38), Todd Coffey (Cin 41), Kenny Rogers (Det 39), Vance Wilson (NYM 49), Brad Ausmus (NYY 48), Scot Shields (Ana/LAA 38), Justin Speier (CUB 55), David Riske (Cle 56), Gabe Kapler (Det 57), Kyle Farnsworth (CUB 47), Jason Isringhausen (NYM 44), Jason Botts (Tex 46), and Rob Mackowiak (Pit 53)
I’ve also looked at other things, but this is already so long, I’m sure most people skipped the diary. But, if Billy Beane happens to be reading this far into it, I am available to do projects like this for you on the side…especially since I’m temporarily unemployed.
Hope this is interesting and/or useful for people. If people want me to break down the info in some special way…just ask, and I will check to see if I can answer it.