Erik Manning wrote an article on FanGraphs a couple of days ago in which he reminded us just how few first round picks panned out. For evidence, he used every player drafted in the first round during the 1990's. In the comments section, two questions caught my eye. 1) What is the breakdown on a team by team basis and 2) How does WAR correlate with where the player was drafted within the round.
The second question has been covered extensively before, so I won't comment much other than there was little statistical significance in the sample of players that I examined. My equation was 7.716 - (overall selection slot * 0.237), but had an r squared of only .062. On a related note, college players produced on average 4.59 WAR, while high school kids produced 4.00. I haven't broken it down by position yet, but I think that will deserve its own article.
A little juicier is to look back at how each team did with their first round draft picks in the 1990's. To do this, I simple listed every player that was drafted, tagged them with the team they were drafted by and used Rally's WAR database to figure out roughly how many Wins Above Replacement each player garnered during their first six years of Major League service. A quick warning, the data is not going to be perfect. I pinpointed guys like JD Drew and Jason Varitek that did not sign the first time they were drafted, but it is conceivable that I missed some less well-known players and they could be assigned to the wrong team. On a couple of occasions I also guesstimated a player's service time, so it may be off by a little bit. However, as this exercise is more for fun than to teach us anything, I wasn't going to sweat it.
You can draw your own conclusions from the table, but there are a couple of observations I would like to make:
· The Giants were the only team to have their first round picks produce negative WAR. Two of their picks produced nothing, two produced 2.3 WAR between them, and the rest were all negative.
· The Blue Jays did very well (3rd highest average WAR) despite drafting ten high school players among their twelve picks. The big contributors were two pitchers (Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay) and four outfielders (Shawn Green, Shannon Stewart, Vernon Wells, Alex Rios).
· Going heavy on pitchers backfired big time on a couple of teams:
o The White Sox drafted pitchers with seven of their eleven picks and had an average WAR of 2.3.
o The Royals used eight of their 12 selections on pitchers and achieved an average WAR of 0.5.
o The Tigers drafted six pitchers with their nine picks and had an average return of 2.2 WAR.
· A couple of teams were bailed out by one good selection:
o Todd Helton contributed 33.7 of the Rockies 56.1 WAR.
o Derek Jeter produced 31.3 of the Yankees 43.0 WAR.
o Mike Mussina was worth 30.4 of the Orioles 52.3 WAR.
o Chipper Jones was worth 32.6 WAR to the Braves; their other five selections worth -1.9.
· Since the A's were mentioned specifally in the FanGraphs comments, they produced three excellent players (Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito). It may be hard to remember because they are terrible now but these three were dynamitein their pre free-agency years.
Well I hope that was an enjoyable read and you don't exit this window too frustrated at your favourite team's draft record.