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Top of the Draft - What Type of Player is Best?


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#1 philly sox fan


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Posted 04 June 2008 - 07:21 PM

One of the interesting things about this draft is that there is not a consensus top talent. As a result there’s a lot more talk about what the top talents are not, then the best case scenario of what they might became. The latter is much more the norm. Tim Beckham is the consensus top HS position player, but he’s not a “once in a generation” guy like Griffey ARod and maybe the Upton brothers. The top college pitchers, Aaron Crow and Brian Matusz, are high quality collegiate arms, but future aces. There are an unusual number of elite 1B, but there is a strong, traditional and sabremetric preference for middle of the diamond players. There isn’t even a HS pitcher in the conversation for the top of the draft. So much of the coverage of these players has focused on their weaknesses and why they are not elite amateur talent that one of the hottest rumors has the Rays thinking about drafting collegiate catcher Buster Posey as a “safe” alternative at #1.

I don’t have anything more than a superficial opinion of any of these players, but the idea that Beckham is the consensus top HS position player without being a “once in a generation” type intrigued. What does it mean to be an “average” best HS player in a draft class? For that matter, what does the best C position player, C pitcher and HS pitcher actually look like? In a year when the individual differences are small, should we be interested in what demographic history tells us about these general types of players?

Well, obviously I think so. So here’s what I did. I’ve generated draft slot values both in terms of pre-free agent production and career production based on the 1987-1996 drafts. For each of those drafts I can look at how the best HS hitter and pitcher and the best C hitter and pitcher did in comparison to those baselines. That yields nice, pretty quantitative results, but they’re old results. Maybe what happened 10+ years ago isn’t relevant anymore? To see if things may have changed since then we’ll look at the same top players subjectively from the 1997-2001 drafts and then the 2002-2007 drafts. Players from the former interval are pretty well established so even without any quantitative data we can draw pretty strong conclusions. The more recent drafts won’t be much more than trends at this point, but we should at least look to see which way the wind may be blowing.

In the following tables the last six columns are:

Pre-FA (slot) – baseline WARP1 produced by players drafted in that slot
Pre-FA – the player’s actual pre-FA WARP1
Pre(Act-Exp) – the actual WARP1 produced above (or below) the baseline slot expectation

And then the same trio based on career WARP1 totals.

We’ll start with C position players.

Table
Year Rd Pick Team Name Position School State Pre-FA (slot) PreFA Pre(Act-Exp) Career (slot) Career Car(Act-Exp)
1995 1 1 Ana Darin Erstad OF C NE 22.9 34.4 11.5 51.4 44.9 -6.5
1992 1 1 Hou Phil Nevin 3B C CA 22.9 25.2 2.3 51.4 35.8 -15.6
1990 1 7 Cinn Dan Wilson C C MN 7.8 21.9 14.1 14.3 33.5 19.2
1996 1 2 Minn Travis Lee 1B C CA 12.0 22.1 10.1 18.1 26.2 8.1
1987 1 13 Mil Bill Spiers SS C SC 9.9 7.4 -2.5 18.0 22.2 4.2
1991 1 2 Atl Mike Kelly OF C AZ 12.0 3.2 -8.8 18.1 3.2 -14.9
1993 1 10 Chi-NL Brooks Kieschnick 1B-OF C TX 10.8 3.0 -7.8 18.6 3.0 -15.6
1988 1 6 Tex Monty Fariss SS C OK 8.5 0.3 -8.2 14.8 0.2 -14.6
1989 1 5 Tex Donald Harris OF C TX 9.6 -0.4 -10.0 15.7 -0.4 -16.1
1994 1 4 Mil Antone Williamson 3B C AZ 9.8 -0.6 -10.4 15.1 -0.6 -15.7
Average 5.1 12.6 11.7 -1.0 23.5 16.8 -6.7


It’s a shockingly pedestrian group “led” by Darin Erstad and Phil Nevin. Dan Wilson (probably not a great comp for whomever drafts Posey) and Lee actually had solid careers with respect to slot baseline expectations, but hardly the stuff of elite, best in class talent. An astounding six players failed to crack 10 WARP prior to free agency.

Let’s look a the C pitchers.

Table
Year Rd Pick Team Name Position School State Pre-FA (slot) PreFA Pre(Act-Exp) Career (slot) Career Car(Act-Exp)
1988 1 1 SD Andy Benes RHP C IL 22.9 30.6 7.7 51.4 54.3 2.9
1989 1 1 Bal Ben McDonald RHP C LA 22.9 27.9 5.0 51.4 38.6 -12.8
1996 1 1 Pitt Kris Benson RHP C SC 22.9 16.8 -6.1 51.4 24.5 -26.9
1991 1 8 SD Joey Hamilton* RHP C GA 9.6 20.3 10.7 17.3 24.4 7.1
1992 1 2 Cle Paul Shuey RHP C NC 12.0 18.2 6.2 18.1 23.9 5.8
1993 1 2 LA Darren Dreifort RHP C KS 12.0 17.3 5.3 18.1 20.6 2.5
1990 1 13 StL Donovan Osborne LHP C NV 9.9 13.9 4.0 18.0 14.7 -3.3
1994 1 1 NYM Paul Wilson RHP C FL 22.9 13.5 -9.4 51.4 13.5 -37.9
1987 1 4 Chi-NL Mike Harkey RHP C CA 9.8 11.1 1.3 15.1 11.0 -4.1
1995 1 7 Tex Jonathan Johnson RHP C FL 7.8 0.6 -7.2 14.3 0.6 -13.7
Average 4.0 15.3 17.0 1.8 30.6 22.6 -8.0


One note – Joey Hamilton was actually the second C pitcher taken behind John Burke who did not sign. Including Hamilton boosts the C pitchers.

Benes and McDonald had very strong pre-free agency careers though I’m not sure either were every really considered aces. Benes maintained mid-rotation productivity into his free agency years. McDonald’s career was derailed relatively quickly by injuries. And that’s true of most of the rest of these pitchers as well. With the exception of Johnson all of the pitchers made solid pre-FA contributions (and all actually made the majors), but most produced very little post-FA. In fact, the nine non-Benes pitchers combined for 32.2 post-FA WARP – just a little less than Benes himself.

The top collegiate pitcher drafted has a very good chance to make the majors and contribute, but in this interval not much star power and just about no post-FA production. We’ll talk later about how important that last part is.

If we’re looking for star power, let’s go right to the top HS position players.

Table
[td=*]HS [/td][td=*]OH [/td][td=*]12.0 [/td][td=*]8.6 [/td][td=*]=J10-I10 [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*]18.1 [/td][td=*]8.5 [/td][td=*]-9.6 [/td][td=*]1989 [/td][td=*]1 [/td][td=*]2 [/td][td=*]Atl [/td][td=*]Tyler Houston [/td][td=*]C [/td][td=*]HS [/td][td=*]NV [/td][td=*]12.0 [/td][td=*]5.3 [/td][td=*]=J11-I11 [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*]18.1 [/td][td=*]5.3 [/td][td=*]-12.8 [/td][td=*]Average [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*]3.1 [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*]14.6 [/td][td=*]24.4 [/td][td=*]9.8 [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*]27.5 [/td][td=*]50.0 [/td][td=*]22.5 [/td]
Year Rd Pick Team Name Position School State Pre-FA (slot) PreFA Pre(Act-Exp) Career (slot) Career Car(Act-Exp)
1987 1 1 Sea Ken Griffey OF HS OH 22.9 41.0 =J2-I2 51.4 109.8 58.4
1993 1 1 Sea Alex Rodriguez SS HS FL 22.9 43.3 =J3-I3 51.4 109.2 57.8
1990 1 1 Atl Chipper Jones SS HS FL 22.9 30.6 =J4-I4 51.4 83.0 31.6
1992 1 6 NYY Derek Jeter SS HS MI 8.5 34.9 =J5-I5 14.8 73.4 58.6
1996 1 10 Oak Eric Chavez 3B HS CA 10.8 35.3 =J6-I6 18.6 49.6 31.0
1991 1 4 StL Dmitri Young OF HS CA 9.8 16.0 =J7-I7 15.1 31.1 16.0
1994 1 2 Oak Ben Grieve OF HS TX 12.0 18.5 =J8-I8 18.1 20.3 2.2
1995 1 2 SD Ben Davis C HS PA 12.0 10.2 =J9-I9 18.1 10.2 -7.9
1988 1 2 Cle Mark Lewis SS


Griffey and ARod, of course, are inner circle Hall of Famers and the absolute embodiment of the “once in a generation” elite HS position player. If Beckham or anybody else in this draft class was that good, we wouldn’t even be talking about this quandary at #1. But in terms of relevance to this year and Beckham, I’m more interested in those next three players – Jones, Jeter and Chavez. They were not “once in a generation” amateurs. Jones did go #1 overall, but he was seen as a coin flip choice over Todd Van Poppel. Jeter was someone the Astros passed over at #1 overall because they didn’t think he was worth 300k more than Phil Nevin. Chavez lasted all the way until #10 and really never had anything close to the “once in a generation” buzz. I’ve read countless times that Beckham isn’t Griffey/ARod/Upton brothers, but how does he compare to the Jones/Jeter/Chavez types of top HS position players? That’s a much more relevant question, because if he’s that good then there’s still no doubt that he should be #1.

Of course, the bottom half of this group produced some solid contributors and busts although again all at least made the majors. That’s been true of every group except…

The HS pitchers.

Table
[td=*]Year [/td][td=*]Rd [/td][td=*]Pick [/td][td=*]Team [/td][td=*]Name [/td][td=*]Position [/td][td=*]School [/td][td=*]State [/td][td=*]Pre-FA (slot) [/td][td=*]PreFA [/td][td=*]Pre(Act-Exp) [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*]Career (slot) [/td][td=*]Career [/td][td=*]Car(Act-Exp) [/td][td=*]1995 [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Chi-NL[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Kerry Wood[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]TX[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]9.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]35.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]25.4[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]15.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]37.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1988[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Atl[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Steve Avery[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]LHP [/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]MI[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]12.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]28.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]16.4[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]18.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]33.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]15.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1994[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]10[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Cle[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Jaret Wright*[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]CA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]10.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]14.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]3.8[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]18.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]17.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-0.7[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1987[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Minn[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Willie Banks[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]NJ[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]12.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]9.7[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-2.3[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]18.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]9.7[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-8.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1996[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Mon[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]John Patterson[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]TX[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]9.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]8.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-1.1[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]15.7[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]8.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-7.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1989[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Sea[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Roger Salkeld[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]CA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]12.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]2.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-9.8[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]18.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]2.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-15.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1992[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]17[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]KC[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Jim Pittsley [/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]PA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]6.3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-4.5[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]10.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-8.7[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1990[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Pitt[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Kurt Miller [/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]CA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]9.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-0.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-10.5[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]15.7[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-0.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-16.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1993[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]NYM[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Kirk Presley[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]MS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]9.6[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-9.6[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]17.3[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-17.3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1991[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]NYY[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Brien Taylor[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]LHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]NC[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.9[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-22.9[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]51.4[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-51.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Average[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]5.9[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]11.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]12.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-1.5[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]19.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]13.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-8.8[/color] [/td]


One note – Jaret Wright was the second HS pitcher drafted. The first, Doug Million, died due to complications from ashma. No need to punish HS pitchers for that freak occurrence.

Wood and Avery were very good pre-FA pitchers. Wood especially tends to be thought of as a disappointment (and I guess for good reason) but from a return on draft slot basis he was a major success. However, both succumbed to serious injury before even hitting free agency. Wright was a solid contributor as well for a time and also suffered serious injuries. The rest were marginal and two never made it at all.

These pitchers clearly lived up (or down?) to the high risk/high reward cliché.

At least in this interval, it’s pretty clear that the best HS position player dominated the other three player types and would do so even without Griffey and ARod.

A small table to summarize those findings based on pre-FA WARP above expectation.

Table
[td=*][color="#000000"]Position[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]School[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Pick[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Pre-FA (slot)[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]PreFA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Pre(Act-Exp)[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Career (slot)[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Career[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Car(Act-Exp)[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Hit[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]3.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]14.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]24.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]9.8[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]27.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]50.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]P[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]C[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]4.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]15.3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]17.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1.8[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]30.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-8.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Hit[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]C[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]5.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]12.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]11.7[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-1.0[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]23.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]16.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-6.7[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]P[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]5.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]11.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]12.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-1.5[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]19.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]13.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-8.8[/color] [/td]


The three non-HS position player groups are basically break-even with respect to pre-FA production. The HS position players were significantly above baseline. The other interesting difference is that whereas the bottom three groups did not add much post-FA production the HS position players doubled their pre-FA production. There has been a belief that teams should only care about pre-FA production because once a player attains free agency rights the team loses contractual control and the ability to pay less than free market value. That is the primary value of farm systems, but I’ve always thought that was too simplistic. It’s been true for a very long time that teams routinely buy out a year or two of free agency and even if a player leaves via free agency the team will often receive valuable compensation picks. Those things have significant value that is missed in a strict six year cutoff. With the recent flurry of very young players signing extending and the general lack of elite talent on the recent free agent markets, it may be becoming increasingly clear that the potential value from drafting and developing an elite player may extended well beyond six years of MLB service time.

Before we move on, here is one last table sorting these forty players who were first in their sub-group by pre-FA WARP production (minimum of 20 WARP).

Table
[td=*][color="#000000"]Year[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Rd[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Pick[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Team[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Name[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Position[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]School[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]State[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Pre-FA (slot)[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]PreFA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Pre(Act-Exp)[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Career (slot)[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Career[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Car(Act-Exp)[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1993[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Sea[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Alex Rodriguez[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]SS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]FL[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]43.3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]20.4[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]51.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]109.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]57.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1987[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Sea[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Ken Griffey[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]OF[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]OH[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]41.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]18.1[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]51.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]109.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]58.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1996[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]10[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Oak[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Eric Chavez[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]3B[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]CA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]10.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]35.3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]24.5[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]18.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]49.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]31.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1995[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Chi-NL[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Kerry Wood[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]TX[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]9.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]35.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]25.4[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]15.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]37.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1992[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]NYY[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Derek Jeter[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]SS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]MI[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]8.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]34.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]26.4[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]14.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]73.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]58.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1995[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Ana[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Darin Erstad[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]OF[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]C[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]NE[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]34.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]11.5[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]51.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]44.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-6.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1988[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]SD[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Andy Benes[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]C[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]IL[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]30.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]7.7[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]51.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]54.3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]2.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1990[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Atl[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Chipper Jones[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]SS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]FL[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]30.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]7.7[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]51.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]83.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]31.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1988[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Atl[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Steve Avery[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]LHP [/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]HS[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]MI[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]12.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]28.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]16.4[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]18.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]33.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]15.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1989[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Bal[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Ben McDonald[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]C[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]LA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]27.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]5.0[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]51.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]38.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-12.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1992[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Hou[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Phil Nevin[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]3B[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]C[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]CA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]25.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]2.3[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]51.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]35.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]-15.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1996[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Minn[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Travis Lee[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1B[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]C[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]CA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]12.0[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]22.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]10.1[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]18.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]26.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]8.1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1990[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]7[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Cinn[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Dan Wilson[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]C[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]C[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]MN[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]7.8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]21.9[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]14.1[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]14.3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]33.5[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]19.2[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1991[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]1[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]8[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]SD[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]Joey Hamilton [/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]RHP[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]C[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]GA[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]9.6[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]20.3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]10.7[/color] [/td][td=*] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]17.3[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]24.4[/color] [/td][td=*][color="#000000"]7.1[/color] [/td]


The first thing to note is that only fourteen of these elite amateurs exceeded that rather pedestrian minimum threshold. And although the group of fourteen is evenly split amongst C and HS players, it is the HS players that dominate the top of the list. Naturally Griffey and ARod were the only two to exceed 40 WARP, but Chavez who was very much not a “once in a generation” HS position player just nudges out the rest of the field. How much of a hit does Beckham take if despite not being a Griffey/ARod/Upton he can be a Chavez?

In this interval the relative rankings of the best player in each sub-group would be something like: HS position >>> C pitcher > C position >> HS pitcher.

#2 philly sox fan


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Posted 04 June 2008 - 07:24 PM

Let’s see how that holds up in the 1997-2001 interval. I’ll loosely rank players from best to worst based on what they’ve accomplished to date.

Here are the HS position players.

Table
Year Rd Pick Team Name Pos School State
2001 1 1 Minn Joe Mauer C HS MN
2000 1 1 Fla Adrian Gonzalez 1B HS CA
1997 1 5 Tor Vernon Wells OF HS TX
1999 1 1 TB Josh Hamilton OF HS NC
1998 1 3 Chi-NL Corey Patterson OF HS GA


The top four have all been significant successes. For a long time it didn’t look like Hamilton would make it, but since all of his problems occurred prior to reaching the majors he hadn’t started his service clock. Despite the long delayed start to his career he will be a pre-FA production monster if he can stay healthy. I’d say Mauer and Hamilton would qualify as special HS position players, but Gonzalez and Wells certainly would not. Gonzalez was a signability pick in a terrible first round and Wells was considered an overdraft at the time. How does Beckham compare with them as amateurs?

Here are the C pitchers.

Table
Year Rd Pick Team Name Pos School State
1998 1 2 Oak Mark Mulder LHP C MI
2001 1 2 Chi-NL Mark Prior RHP C CA
1997 1 1 Det Matt Anderson RHP C TX
1999 1 7 KC Kyle Snyder RHP C NC
2000 1 2 Minn Adam Johnson RHP C CA


This is a real boom or bust group with two significant successes and three busts. Both successes are currently dealing with serious injuries and are continuing the trend of elite amateur pitchers not being able to succeed into post-FA service time.

Here are the C position players.

Table
Year Rd Pick Team Name Pos School State
2001 1 5 Tex Mark Teixeira 3B C GA
1997 1 2 Phl J.D. Drew OF C FL
1998 1 1 Phl Pat Burrell 1B C FL
1999 1 3 Det Eric Munson C C CA
2000 1 12 Chi-AL Joe Borchard OF C CA


Despite the idea that college players – elite college players in particular – are “safe” selections this is another boom and bust group. I think there’s a sense that Drew (I’m counting his first draft with the Phillies despite the fact that he did not sign) and Burrell have been disappoints against expectations, but from a draft slot perspective they’ve both been major successes.

And finally here are the HS pitchers.

Table
Year Rd Pick Team Name Pos School State
1999 1 2 Fla Josh Beckett RHP HS TX
2001 1 4 Phl Gavin Floyd RHP HS MD
1998 1 13 Mil J.M. Gold RHP HS NJ
1997 1 6 NYM Geoff Goetz LHP HS FL
2000 1 4 KC Mike Stodolka LHP HS CA


Beckett is the major success and so far the first top HS pitcher since 1987 who was able to sustain success into free agency service time. Floyd was been surprisingly good this season, but that’s based on some sketchy peripherals. The other three never made the majors.

In this interval the relative rankings of the best player in each sub-group would be something like: HS position > C position > C pitcher >> HS pitcher.

HS position players retain their edge, but C position players jump past the C pitchers and close the gap with their HS counterparts. HS pitchers lag way behind.

#3 philly sox fan


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Posted 04 June 2008 - 07:27 PM

Finally, we’ll move to the 2002-2007 interval. These rankings are, of course, going to be very subjective and mostly based on as yet unrealized potential.

Here are the HS position players trying to make a clean sweep of the three intervals.

Table
Year Rd Pick Team Name Pos School State
2005 1 1 AZ Justin Upton SS HS VA
2002 1 2 TB B.J. Upton SS HS VA
2003 1 1 TB Delmon Young RF HS CA
2007 1 2 KC Michael C Moustakas SS HS CA
2006 1 9 Bal William Rowell 3B HS NJ
2004 1 1 SD Matthew Bush SS-RHP HS CA


The Upton brothers look to be significant successes, but as we’ve read repeatedly Beckham is not in their league as an amateur. Young has struggled in the majors. Moustakas and Rowell both have shown some warts in the low minors, but are years from a critical judgment on their careers. Bush is a colossal bust, but was a signability player. The next drafted HS position player was Chris Nelson whose prospect status has dimmed quite a bit. As of now this appears to be the weakest group, but if two out of Young, Moustakas and Rowell have very good careers, which is certainly still a good possibility, then it will be on par with the previous groups.

Here are the C position players.

Table
Year Rd Pick Team Name Pos School State
2006 1 3 TB Evan Longoria 3B C CA
2005 1 2 KC Alex Gordon 3B C NE
2007 1 5 Bal Matthew R Wieters C C GA
2004 1 15 AZ Stephen Drew SS C FL
2003 1 2 Mil Rickie Weeks 2B C LA
2002 1 10 Tex Drew Meyer SS C SC


Meyer is the only out and out bust. Longoria, Gordon, Drew and Weeks have all had more inconsistent and difficult transitions to the majors than you might expect from an elite C position player. We’ll have to see how these players sort themselves out over the next 5-8 years.

Here are the C pitchers.

Table
Year Rd Pick Team Name Pos School State
2004 1 2 Det Justin Verlander RHP C VA
2007 1 1 TB David T Price LHP C TN
2006 1 1 KC Luke Hochevar RHP C TN
2005 1 6 Tor Ricardo Romero LHP C CA
2002 1 1 Pitt Bryan Bullington RHP C IN
2003 1 3 Det Kyle Sleeth RHP C NC


Again, these pitchers are more “boom or bust” than “safe”. Bullington and Sleeth suffered career altering injuries. Sleeth recently retired from the game. Romero still has a chance at a career, but his prospects have dimmed substantially. Verlander and Price have the talent to be long-term frontline starters. Hochever is seen as more of a #2/3 starter and as such will have to depend on good health and consistency to really pay off.

And the HS pitchers.

Table
Year Rd Pick Team Name Pos School State
2006 1 7 LA Clayton Kershaw LHP HS TX
2007 1 9 AZ Jarrod B Parker RHP HS IN
2007 1 27 Det Frederick A Porcello RHP HS NJ
2003 1 9 Tex John Danks LHP HS TX
2005 1 16 Fla Christopher Volstad RHP HS FL
2004 1 5 Mil Mark Rogers RHP HS ME
2002 1 3 Cinn Christopher Gruler RHP HS CA


Note – I included both Parker (the first HS pitcher picked) and Porcello the consensus top talent from the 2007 draft. Those two along with Kershaw have definite ace potential. Danks has had a solid year and Volstad is at least a good prospect. Health and the ability to translate that potential to MLB results will determine how successful this group actually is. I don’t think it’s any surprise that this group of HS pitchers looks the best. It would be great if it works out that way and is a sign of massive improvements in drafting and developing these top HS arms, but at this point it’s probably more likely it’s just that damn siren song tempting, tempting teams to a very rocky shore.

It’s impossible to rank these groups. The downside risk of both pitcher groups is already evident though with four out of the thirteen essentially finished due to injury. Just on that basis there is significant separation between position players and pitchers of any kind.

Overall, I think there is a very strong advantage for the top HS position player (even if not a “once in a generation” talent) over the top players in the other groups from 1987-2001. Is that demographic history meaningful enough to break a tie in favor of Beckham at the top of the 2008 draft? I think it probably is or at the very least demands that the team that would chose Posey or Alvarez or whomever in front of Beckham has very compelling reasons to do so.

I’d guess that Beckham will go first overall. If the Rays choose Posey though, then that sets up an interesting dilemma for the next group of teams, Pittsburgh in particular. Because the Pirates foolishly took a C pitcher (and a reliever at that) over the best C position player last year, they’ve been very strongly tied to Alvarez this year. If you buy that Beckham is a better pick, then the Pirates could end up “fixing” last year’s problem a year too late while the very valuable top HS position player is still on the board.