Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises

Would your favorite baseball team make the playoffs if player X had not been traded? Imagine your team’s roster from any particular year. Remove all of the players that your team acquired through trades and free agency. Would you be able to field a competitive team? All right, let us re-populate the roster with every player that the organization originally drafted and signed. Yes, we will include undrafted free agents and foreign players who signed with their first Major League team, as well. How does the team stack up now? Is the club better or worse than the squad that you imagined at first?

In Hardball Retrospective, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present)  on their original teams. Using a variety of advanced statistics and methods, I generated revised standings for each season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition.  Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the real-time or “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

The following article is an excerpt from “Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises”. The book is available in Kindle format on Amazon.com – other eBook formats coming soon. Additional information and a discussion forum are available at TuataraSoftware.com.

Several new terms are referenced below:

OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

OWARavg – Wins Above Replacement divided by Player-Seasons (based on Draft Round)

OWSavg – Win Shares divided by Player-Seasons (based on Draft Round)

Note: the tables and charts accompanying this chapter in the book have been omitted from this post.

Player Development

I have examined the scouting and development of Major League baseball players from several perspectives, focusing on the Amateur Draft in order to provide a consistent method for player acquisition. Fundamentally, this places all teams on equal ground in terms of selecting from the same group of available players each year. All players eligible for the Draft are not equal with respect to monetary demands and all teams are not equal in terms of resources. Furthermore, teams may chose to pass on drafting a high school graduate who has already committed to a college. Using a half-century’s worth of results from the Amateur Draft, I divided the players into four groups based on the round in which they were selected. I added the number of player-seasons for each range in order to determine the groupings (Round 1, 2-4, 5-10 and 11-89), omitting all players who were drafted but did not sign in a particular season.

The Player Development chart compares the Amateur Draft results for each team by dividing the total OWAR and OWS into total Player-Seasons for each grouping. The Graduation Rate chart represents the number of Player-Seasons per draft, essentially relating how many ballplayers drafted by each team have “graduated” to the big leagues and how many seasons they have played.

The Angels record the second-highest graduation rate (31 player-seasons per Draft) while procuring the fifth-best OWSavg for rounds 5-10 in the Amateur Draft. Jim Edmonds (67 Career WAR, 319 Career WS) tops the list of mid-round recruits for the Halos, which also features Garret Anderson, Bruce Bochte, Wally Joyner, John Lackey, Carney Lansford, Mark McLemore, Gary Pettis, Tim Salmon, Jarrod Washburn and Devon White. Mike Trout is angling for the premier position in the Angels’ blue-chip bunch, which is presently occupied by Tom Brunansky, Darin Erstad, Chuck Finley, Troy Glaus, Andy Messersmith, Frank Tanana and Jered Weaver. Seventeenth-round draftees Dante Bichette and Mike Napoli are the lone late-rounders of note as Los Angeles tallied the third-worst OWARavg in rounds 11-89.

Arizona’s draft choices from rounds 2-4 rank last among the 30 ballclubs in OWARavg and OWSavg. On the other hand, the Diamondbacks’ brass has chosen wisely in rounds 5-10 (5th in OWARavg). The D-Backs’ first-round selections are headlined by Max Scherzer and Justin Upton while the returns from mid-round picks include Brad Penny, Dan Uggla (11th Round) and Brandon Webb.

Atlanta’s late-round selections top the leader boards in OWSavg and place third in OWARavg, including the quintet of Dusty Baker (26th Round), Brett Butler (23rd Round, 305 Career WS), Jermaine Dye, Glenn Hubbard and Kevin Millwood. Chipper Jones (69 Career WAR, 420 Career WS), Jeff Blauser, Dale Murphy and Adam Wainwright are among the notable first-round choices for the Braves. Ron Gant, Tom Glavine (82 Career WAR, 312 Career WS), David Justice, Ryan Klesko, Brian McCann, Mickey Rivers and Jason Schmidt complete Atlanta’s upper-to-mid round draft picks.

Baltimore’s draft record can be described as inconsistent. The blue-chip prospects score a ninth-place finish in OWARavg while the middle-to-late rounders settle near the bottom of the pack. Bobby Grich (327 Career WS) and Mike Mussina (82 Career WAR) headline a flock of first-round selections featuring Ben McDonald, Brian Roberts and Jayson Werth. In rounds 2-4 the Orioles system yields several treasures, Don Baylor, Doug DeCinces, Eddie Murray (58 Career WAR, 427 Career WS) and Cal Ripken, Jr. (66 Career WAR, 423 Career WS). Notable O’s middle-to-late round picks include Mike Boddicker, Al Bumbry, Mike Flanagan and Steve Finley.

Boston wins the award for overall scouting and development specific to players selected in the Amateur Draft. The organization ranks fifth among first-round selections and outshines the competition in rounds 2-10, placing second in rounds 2-4 while nailing down the top spot for rounds 5-10. Roger Clemens leads all Sox draftees with 143 Career WAR and 437 Career WS). Boston blue-chippers Ellis Burks, Rick Burleson, Carlton Fisk (60 Career WAR, 364 Career WS), Nomar Garciaparra, Bruce Hurst, Jim Rice, Aaron Sele, Bob Stanley and Mo Vaughn are prominent, and mid-round prospects, including Jeff Bagwell, Wade Boggs, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn, Amos Otis, Curt Schilling and John Tudor flourished under the direction of the Sox’ coaching staff.

The Cubs’ first-round draftees own the third-lowest marks in OWARavg and OWSavg while the organization rates seventh-worst overall in OWSavg. Chicago’s foremost selections are a mixed bag consisting of Joe Carter, Jon Garland, Burt Hooton, Rafael Palmeiro (63 Career WAR, 401 Career WS) and Kerry Wood. The Cubbies claim the eighth-best OWARavg in rounds 2-4 on the shoulders of Greg Maddux (111 Career WAR, 404 Career WS) assisted by fellow hurlers Larry Gura, Ken Holtzman, Joe Niekro, Rick Reuschel and Lee Smith. Among the notable mid-to-late round products of the Cubs’ farm system are Oscar Gamble, Mark Grace (24th Round), Kyle Lohse (29th Round), Jamie Moyer, Bill North and Steve Trachsel.

The White Sox rank worst overall among “Turn of the Century” franchises in OWARavg and OWSavg, placing next-to-last in rounds 2-4. Chicago’s first-rounders grade slightly below average. Frank E. Thomas (70 Career WAR, 405 Career WS) stands out among the Sox selections, which encompass fellow number-one picks Harold Baines, Alex Fernandez, Jack McDowell and Robin Ventura. A short list of mid-to-late draftees for the Pale Hose includes Mark Buehrle, Mike Cameron, Doug Drabek, Ray Durham and Rich Gossage.

Cincinnati excels in the scouting and development of mid-round draft picks, scoring fifth (Rounds 2-4) and fourth (Rounds 5-10) in OWSavg. Featuring Johnny Bench (62 Career WAR, 365 Career WS), this gifted collection encompasses Eric Davis, Adam Dunn, Charlie Leibrandt, Hal McRae, Paul O’Neill, Reggie Sanders, Danny Tartabull and Joey Votto. Barry Larkin (67 Career WAR, 344 Career WS) outdistances the first-round recruits while Ken Griffey (29th Round) and Trevor Hoffman close out the endgame selections.

Despite the presence of Manny Ramirez amid the team’s premier picks, Cleveland notches the fifth-worst record in OWARavg for first-rounders. Chris Chambliss, Charles Nagy, C.C. Sabathia and Greg Swindell round out the Tribes’ blue-chippers. The club follows an unexceptional path through the middle rounds of the Amateur Draft, noting exemptions for Albert Belle, Dennis Eckersley and Von Hayes. The Indians’ redemption occurs with the late-round draft picks as the franchise secured first place in OWARavg and a runner-up finish in OWSavg for rounds 11-89. Superb endgame selections consist of Buddy Bell, Brian S. Giles, Richie Sexson, and Jim Thome (391 Career WS).

The Rockies’ blue-chip prospects place fourth in OWARavg, but struggle to develop late-round draftees, finishing second-to-last in OWARavg for players drafted in rounds 11-89. Todd Helton compiled 60 Career WAR and 315 Career WS, while fellow first-rounder Troy Tulowitzki continues to steadily climb the ranks. Matt Holliday leads the active mid-rounders with 219 Career WAR through 2013. Colorado ranks third-worst in Graduation Rate (23 player-seasons per Draft).

Detroit boasts the worst OWSavg and scores next-to-last in OWARavg among first-round draft picks while the franchise places 26th in overall OWARavg. Only five of the Tigers’ top prospects amassed 20+ Career WAR – Travis Fryman, Kirk Gibson, Howard Johnson, Lance Parrish and current Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander. Other distinguished members of Detroit’s farm system include Curtis Granderson, Chris Hoiles, Jack Morris, John Smoltz (22nd Round, 72 Career WAR), Jason D. Thompson, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker (66 Career WAR, 346 Career WS).

The Marlins first-round draft choices rank eighth in OWARavg, but generally the team’s scouting and development results are dreadful as the club ranks dead last overall in OWARavg, OWSavg and Graduation Rate (18 player-seasons per Draft). Prominent first-round selections for Miami include Josh Beckett, Jose D. Fernandez, Adrian Gonzalez, Charles Johnson and Mark Kotsay. Giancarlo Stanton (2nd Round) stands tall among the remaining Marlins’ draftees in conjunction with Steve Cishek, Josh Johnson, Josh Willingham (17th Round) and Randy Winn.

Houston accrues the sixth-worst OWARavg rate among first-round selections and claims the fourth-lowest Graduation Rate (23 player-seasons per Draft). Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio (426 Career WS) co-star in the Astros’ first-round rankings with Floyd Bannister, John Mayberry and Billy Wagner holding down supporting roles. Mid-round recruits consist of Ken Caminiti, Bill D. Doran, Luis E. Gonzalez, Shane Reynolds and Ben Zobrist. The ‘Stros achieve the fifth-best OWARavg in rounds 11-89 based on the development and consistent production from Ken Forsch, Darryl Kile, Kenny Lofton, Roy Oswalt (23rd Round) and Johnny Ray.

Kansas City’s first-round draft picks have collectively flopped as its second-worst OWSavg attests. Exceptions to the substandard results include Kevin Appier, Johnny Damon (302 Career WS), Alex Gordon, Zack Greinke and Willie Wilson. On the positive side, the Royals lead the Majors in OWSavg and place fourth in OWARavg for Amateur Draft rounds 2-4. George Brett (435 Career WS) highlights a star-studded cast consisting of Carlos Beltran (322 Career WS), David Cone, Cecil Fielder, Mark Gubicza, Ruppert Jones, Dennis Leonard and Jon Lieber. The organization’s prized mid-to-late rounders are Jeff Conine (58th Round), Mark Ellis, Tom Gordon, Bret Saberhagen (19th Round), Kevin Seitzer and Mike Sweeney.

The Dodgers offset pedestrian results in the early rounds with tremendous scores in rounds 5-10 (2nd in OWSavg) and 11-89 (4th in OWARavg). Drafted in the 62nd Round, Mike Piazza (324 Career WS) is a wonderful representative of late-round success. In addition the Los Angeles’ endgame claims consist of Orel Hershiser (17th Round), Ted Lilly (23rd Round), Russell Martin (17th Round) and Dave Stewart (16th Round). Famous first-rounders for the Dodgers include Steve Garvey, Clayton Kershaw, Paul Konerko, Rick Rhoden, Mike Scioscia, Rick Sutcliffe and Bob Welch. Ron Cey tops a throng of mid-rounders which encompass Doyle Alexander, Bill Buckner, Joe Ferguson, Sid Fernandez, John Franco, Charlie Hough, Eric Karros, Matt Kemp, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Steve Sax, Shane Victorino, Steve Yeager and Eric Young.

Milwaukee’s first round draft picks yield the top OWARavg and OWSavg among all Major League teams. Paul Molitor, Gary Sheffield and Robin Yount produced 60+ WAR and 400+ Win Shares in their careers. Other notable Brewers first-rounders include Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Darrell Porter, Ben Sheets, B.J. Surhoff, Gorman Thomas and Greg Vaughn. However the organization is deficient in the scouting and development of middle-to-late round talent. Second-rounder Chris Bosio and eleventh-rounder Jeff Cirillo pace the Brew Crew’s Round 2+ group with 22 Career WAR while Mark Loretta accrued 178 Career WS.

Minnesota’s draft picks in rounds 2-4 place third in OWARavg and OWSavg and the organization scores fifth overall in OWSavg. Headlined by Bert Blyleven (85 Career WAR, 341 Career WS) and Graig Nettles (317 Career WS), the round 2-4 group also counts Scott Erickson, Justin Morneau, Denny Neagle, A.J. Pierzynski and Frank Viola among its members. The Twins’ blue-chip prospects, a group which encompasses Jay Bell, Michael Cuddyer, Gary Gaetti, Torii Hunter, Chuck Knoblauch, Joe Mauer and Kirby Puckett, attained the ninth-best OWSavg. Rick Dempsey, Kent Hrbek (17th Round) and Brad Radke are among the notable mid-to-late round selections.

The Mets rank third-worst in OWARavg for players selected in rounds 5-10 of the Amateur Draft. New York’s scouting and development perform poorly overall, rating 25th in OWARavg and 23rd in OWSavg. The Metropolitans first-rounders, a collection including Hubie Brooks, Jeromy Burnitz, Dwight Gooden, Gregg Jefferies, Jon Matlack, Ken Singleton, Darryl Strawberry and David Wright, are somewhat better than the League in OWSavg. Twelth-round selection Nolan Ryan (63 Career WAR, 339 Career WS) highlights the remaining Mets draftees along with A.J. Burnett, Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson.

The Yankees’ blue-chip prospects place sixth in OWSavg while players chosen in rounds 2-4 rank fifth-worst. Derek Jeter (407 Career WS) heads the first-round crew which includes Tim Belcher, Willie McGee and Thurman Munson. Ron Guidry and Al Leiter are the only Pinstripers of note that were drafted in the next three rounds. More than a few of the Bronx Bombers’ mid-to-late round selections fashioned prolific careers including Brad Ausmus (48th Round), Greg Gagne, Mike Lowell (20th Round), Don Mattingly (19th Round), Fred McGriff, Andy Pettitte (22nd Round), Jorge Posada (24th Round) and J.T. Snow.

The Athletics earn a second-place overall finish in OWARavg for the Amateur Draft and secure a third-place ribbon in OWSavg. Oakland executed particularly well in rounds 2-4 (4th in OWARavg) and 5-10 (3rd in OWSavg). Reggie Jackson (74 Career WAR, 441 Career WS) headlines the Oakland first-rounders club, which also features Eric Chavez, Phil Garner, George Hendrick, Chet Lemon, Mark McGwire, Rick Monday, Mike Morgan, Nick Swisher and Barry Zito. Fourth-round selection Rickey Henderson (115 Career WAR, 543 Career WS) tops the A’s mid-to-late round draftees. Other noteworthy products of the Oakland farm system include Sal Bando, Vida Blue, Jose Canseco, Darrell Evans, Jason Giambi, Tim Hudson, Dwayne Murphy, Terry Steinbach, Kevin Tapani, Gene Tenace (20th Round) and Mickey Tettleton.

Philadelphia rates highly in the scouting and development of players chosen in Amateur Draft rounds 2-4 with a sixth-place finish in OWARavg. On the other hand the team stumbles through the twilight rounds, ranking 25th out of 30 teams in OWARavg and OWSavg. The Phillies’ first-rounders score in the bottom-third of the League, a class consisting of Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Greg Luzinski, Lonnie Smith and Chase Utley. Mike Schmidt (103 Career WAR, 463 Career WS) headlines the recruits from rounds 2-4 joined by fellow members Larry Hisle, Scott Rolen, Jimmy Rollins and Randy Wolf. Mid-to-late round gems include Bob Boone, Darren Daulton (25th Round), Ryan Howard and Ryne Sandberg (20th Round).

The Pirates number-one draft picks score exceptionally well in OWARavg (2nd) and OWSavg (3rd) compared to the League average, due in large part to the contributions of Barry Bonds (156 Career WAR, 694 Career WS). Moises Alou, Richie Hebner, Jason Kendall and present-day center fielder Andrew McCutchen pay significant dividends for the Bucs. A number of Pittsburgh’s mid-to-late round selections achieved stardom including Bronson Arroyo, Jose A. Bautista, Jay Buhner, John Candelaria, Gene Garber, Dave Parker (14th Round, 324 Career WS), Willie Randolph (55 Career WAR, 305 Career WS), Tim Wakefield and Richie Zisk.

The Padres’ woeful performance in the Amateur Draft is underscored by the second-worst OWARavg and fourth-worst OWSavg overall. San Diego’s premier picks rank last in OWARavg in spite of the presence of Andy Benes, Johnny Grubb, Derrek Lee, Kevin McReynolds and Dave Winfield (412 Career WS). Featuring Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn (386 Career WS) and Ozzie Smith (325 Career WS) along with John Kruk, the Friar’s selections in rounds 2-4 provide a positive variance in the franchise record. Jake Peavy (15th Round) is the lone Padre drafted in the fifth round or later to register at least 20 Career WAR.

The Mariners excel in the drafting and development of first and mid-round selections. M’s blue-chippers include Ken Griffey Jr. (402 Career WS), Dave Henderson, Tino Martinez, Mike Moore, Alex Rodriguez (94 Career WAR, 479 Career WS) and Jason Varitek. On the other hand, Seattle’s late-round prospects place third-worst in OWSavg. An exception to the rule, Raul Ibanez (36th Round) tallied 209 Career WS. Bret Boone, Alvin Davis, Mike Hampton, Mark Langston and Derek Lowe highlight Seattle’s mid-round picks.

The Giants furnish an atrocious record in the Amateur Draft, posting below-average results in all OWARavg and OWSavg categories along with the fourth-worst overall ranking. San Francisco’s first-round selections place 27th out of 30 clubs. Buster Posey is steadily ascending the leader boards among the Giants’ premier choices which include Matt Cain, Will Clark (320 Career WS), Royce Clayton, Dave Kingman, Tim Lincecum, Gary Matthews, Chris Speier, Robby Thompson and Matt D. Williams. The franchise cultivated a group of mid-to-late round picks comprised of Jim Barr, John Burkett, Jack Clark, Chili Davis, George Foster, Garry Maddox, Bill Mueller and Joe Nathan.

St. Louis sparkles in the scouting and development of late-rounders as the club’s second-place finish in OWARavg for rounds 11-89 surely attests. Thirteenth-round selection Albert Pujols (92 Career WAR, 405 Career WS) leads the flock of Cardinals’ success stories along with John Denny (29th Round), Jeff Fassero (22nd Round), Keith Hernandez (42nd Round) and Placido Polanco (19th Round). The organization achieves moderate results in the first round including J.D. Drew, Brian Jordan, Terry Kennedy, Ted Simmons, Garry Templeton and Andy Van Slyke. Noteworthy Cardinals’ mid-rounders consist of Coco Crisp, Dan Haren, Lance Johnson, Ray Lankford, Yadier Molina, Jerry Mumphrey, Terry Pendleton, Jerry Reuss and Todd Zeile.

The Tampa Bay organization ranks second in OWSavg and third in OWARavg in terms of first-round Amateur Draft selections. The Rays count Josh Hamilton, Evan Longoria, David Price and B.J. Upton among the franchise’s finest ballplayers. The farm system also bore middle-to-late rounders such as Carl Crawford, Aubrey Huff and James Shields (16th Round). Tampa Bay’s Graduation Rate is an abysmal 20 player-seasons per Draft, the second-worst record in the League.

Texas yields the highest graduation rate (32 player-seasons per Draft) yet the club registers an unremarkable 24th place result for overall OWARavg. The Rangers’ late-round jewels, comprising Rich Aurilia (24th Round), Travis Hafner, Mike Hargrove (25th Round), Ian Kinsler and Kenny Rogers (39th Round), manage a fourth-place showing in OWSavg. The organization’s prized first-rounders include Kevin J. Brown, Jeff Burroughs, Rick Helling, Carlos Pena, Roy Smalley III, Jim Sundberg and Mark Teixeira. The club logs dismal outcomes in rounds 2-4 (third-worst in the Majors) and among the Rangers selected in rounds 2-10, only Ryan Dempster, Aaron Harang, Bill Madlock and Darren Oliver register at least 20 Career WAR.

Toronto’s upper and middle-level draft choices prospered, particularly the ballplayers chosen in rounds 5-10 (2nd in OWARavg). Roy Halladay (64 Career WAR) heads the list of first-rounders developed in the Blue Jays’ farm system together with Chris J. Carpenter, Shawn Green, Aaron Hill, Lloyd Moseby, Shannon Stewart, Todd Stottlemyre and Vernon Wells. Middle-to-late round selections Jeff Kent (20th Round), John Olerud, Dave Stieb and David Wells all post 50+ Career WAR. Other noteworthy Jays draftees include Jesse Barfield, Pat Hentgen, Orlando Hudson, Jimmy Key, Woddy Williams and Michael Young.

Washington posts the highest OWARavg in the Major Leagues for rounds 2-4 and finishes third in OWSavg for rounds 11-89. Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg should augment the Nationals’ first-round scores which presently mirror League average rates. The Nats top selections include Delino DeShields, Cliff Floyd, Bill Gullickson, Tony Phillips, Steve Rogers, Tim Wallach, Rondell White and Ryan Zimmerman. Among the mid-to-late round choices, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Randy D. Johnson (101 Career WAR) and Tim Raines amassed 300+ Career Win Shares. The thriving farm system also produced Jason Bay (Round 22), Marquis Grissom, Mark Grudzielanek, Cliff P. Lee, Brandon Phillips, Scott Sanderson, Javier Vazquez and Jose Vidro.

Derek Bain is a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games. He has written a number of articles for Fangraphs and Seamheads, and enjoys spending quality time with his family.

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