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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

ESPN: Szymborski: 100 Best Draft Picks Ever (INSIDER)

After getting the WARs for every drafted player going back to 1965, the question becomes how to evaluate the value of that draft slot. You can’t just take the average because even after nearly half a century, we still have a fairly small sample size for each draft pick. The average No. 109 pick, for instance, has provided twice the value in history as the No. 18 pick, but there’s nobody in baseball that would rather pick 109th than 18th. Thanks to Mike Piazza, the pick No. 1,390 would look rather tempting by this method. It’s not.

So I took all the draft slot data and nine-year WAR and wrote a nonlinear model to get an idea what the real expectations for each draft position going forward are based on the data we have at hand and the uncertainty of our limited data set. In the end, the model validates the value teams place in hanging onto their first-round picks. Once you get to the fifth or sixth round, you’re at the point at which there’s very little opportunity cost to a draft pick. Teams are actually aware of this value drop off as that’s where you start to see the gambles on risky upside picks and high school players that teams believe are almost certain to not sign and go on to college. See Jeff Samardzija for a classic example of a pure upside project.

But enough with the math before someone gives me a wedgie and takes my lunch money. Here are the top 10 draft picks in baseball history, ranked by nine-year WAR over expectations for that draft pick.

Dan Szymborski Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:03 PM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: draft, history, paywall complaining, sabermetrics, szymborski, zips

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 07:15 PM (#4454096)
Tease.
   2. RickG Posted: May 28, 2013 at 08:24 PM (#4454149)
Dan, what does ZiPS project Kershaw at over the next few years? I ask because he and Frank Thomas were both drafted 7th overall, and Thomas' 50.2 nine-year WAR aren't enough to get him on the list, so the baseline must be quite high. But Kershaw comes in pretty darned high (51st).
   3. Jose Canusee Posted: May 28, 2013 at 08:52 PM (#4454171)
Post top names please?
   4. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:21 PM (#4454187)
Thomas is one of the two known errors on the list - he should be up there. I thought I had weeded out all the doubled names, but Ryan Braun and Frank Thomas fell through (I forgot that other Frank Thomas's career lasted that long). Thomas should actually be in there at #19. I've sent a note to the editor.
   5. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:38 PM (#4454199)
And now it be fixed.
   6. RickG Posted: May 29, 2013 at 06:56 AM (#4454374)
Thanks! Enjoyed the read.
   7. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: May 29, 2013 at 08:02 AM (#4454381)
Why post articles that most people can't access?
   8. villageidiom Posted: May 29, 2013 at 08:06 AM (#4454383)
Why post articles that most people can't access?
Because some people can. And those who can and those who can't should be able to sort themselves out just fine.
   9. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: May 29, 2013 at 08:55 AM (#4454401)
Pujols has to be 1, right?
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 08:59 AM (#4454404)
Matt Bush did not make the list.
   11. bobm Posted: May 29, 2013 at 09:23 AM (#4454412)
[9] Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1st season to 6th season, (requiring year_min>=1965), sorted by greatest WAR Position Players

                                                                              
Rk             Player WAR/pos From From   To   Age   G   PA   OPS      Pos  Tm
1       Albert Pujols    45.9 2001 2001 2006 21-26 933 4062 1.047 *37/59D6 STL
2          Wade Boggs    43.2 1982 1982 1987 24-29 872 3910  .923   *5/3D7 BOS
3         Barry Bonds    41.1 1986 1986 1991 21-26 870 3643  .852    *78/9 PIT
4         Ken Griffey    37.0 1989 1989 1994 19-24 845 3606  .920   *8/D39 SEA
5        Mike Schmidt    36.2 1972 1972 1977 22-27 779 3215  .889   *5/643 PHI
6        Jeff Bagwell    35.3 1991 1991 1996 23-28 846 3693  .931     *3/9 HOU
7       Ichiro Suzuki    35.2 2001 2001 2006 27-32 957 4444  .814    *9/8D SEA
8          Cal Ripken    34.5 1981 1981 1986 20-25 830 3562  .834    *6/5D BAL
9        Frank Thomas    34.0 1990 1990 1995 22-27 789 3492 1.044      *3D CHW
10   Rickey Henderson    33.9 1979 1979 1984 20-25 791 3488  .808   *7/8D9 OAK
11        Chase Utley    33.9 2003 2003 2008 24-29 735 3126  .901    *4/3D PHI
   12. JJ1986 Posted: May 29, 2013 at 09:28 AM (#4454415)
[9] Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1st season to 6th season, (requiring year_min>=1965), sorted by greatest WAR Position Players


That's going to miss a bunch of guys who got cups of coffee before their rookie season. Piazza, for example, had 37.3 WAR while under team control.
   13. bobm Posted: May 29, 2013 at 09:36 AM (#4454422)
Spanning Multiple Seasons or entire Careers, From 1st season to 6th season, (requiring year_min>=1965), sorted by greatest WAR
for Pitchers

                                                                     
Rk            Player  WAR From   To   Age   W  L     IP  ERA ERA+  Tm
1         Tom Seaver 41.1 1967 1972 22-27 116 66 1641.1 2.43  143 NYM
2      Bert Blyleven 37.4 1970 1975 19-24  95 85 1611.1 2.78  133 MIN
3      Roger Clemens 35.7 1984 1989 21-26  95 45 1284.2 3.06  139 BOS
4       Brandon Webb 33.6 2003 2008 24-29  87 62 1315.2 3.24  143 ARI
5         Dave Stieb 33.4 1979 1984 21-26  81 67 1389.0 3.30  129 TOR
6    Bret Saberhagen 32.3 1984 1989 20-25  92 61 1329.0 3.23  128 KCR
7      Teddy Higuera 31.8 1985 1990 27-32  89 54 1255.0 3.34  125 MIL
8       Frank Tanana 31.3 1973 1978 19-24  84 61 1321.0 2.86  124 CAL
9         Tim Hudson 31.0 1999 2004 23-28  92 39 1240.2 3.30  136 OAK
10     Dwight Gooden 30.7 1984 1989 19-24 100 39 1291.0 2.64  132 NYM
   14. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4454423)
Sox with a strong showing - 3 of the top 5 with Boggs, Clemens, and Bagwell. Pedroia, Garciaparra, Lester, Lynn, and Valentin make the list too. And half credit for Teixeira I guess. Quite the impressive infield.

Side note to Dan - it would be great to include the organization that drafted the player for all the top 100.
   15. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: May 29, 2013 at 09:39 AM (#4454424)
That's going to miss a bunch of guys who got cups of coffee before their rookie season. Piazza, for example, had 37.3 WAR while under team control.

Yeah, that's why I went with 9 so that we at least covered through FA, took into consideration some cups of coffee and gave some value to the opportunity to get a below-market contract beyond.

What would have made the results even tighter would be if there was a database available of year-by-year service time for all players.
   16. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: May 29, 2013 at 09:40 AM (#4454426)
Side note to Dan - it would be great to include the organization that drafted the player for all the top 100.

That would've been a good idea.

I'm working on a team-based follow up right now. There was enough data for two (or more) articles on the subject.
   17. bobm Posted: May 29, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4454486)
[12] Top batters by WAR who did not qualify for rookie status in year 1:

                                              
Rk              Player WAR/pos From   To   Age
1         Mike Schmidt    42.4 1972 1978 22-28
2       Alex Rodriguez    37.9 1994 2000 18-24
3           Cal Ripken    37.7 1981 1987 20-26
4         Andruw Jones    37.4 1996 2002 19-25
5          Mike Piazza    37.3 1992 1998 23-29
6          Bobby Grich    36.1 1970 1976 21-27
7         George Brett    36.0 1973 1979 20-26
8         Kenny Lofton    35.8 1991 1997 24-30
9         Johnny Bench    35.5 1967 1973 19-25
10   Nomar Garciaparra    35.1 1996 2002 22-28
11         Todd Helton    35.0 1997 2003 23-29
12        Andre Dawson    33.8 1976 1982 21-27
   18. bobm Posted: May 29, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4454533)
[12] Top pitchers by WAR who did not qualify for rookie status in year 1:

                                             
Rk                Player  WAR From   To   Age
1         Fergie Jenkins 39.8 1965 1971 22-28
2           Kevin Appier 34.1 1989 1995 21-27
3         Orel Hershiser 32.9 1983 1989 24-30
4           Frank Tanana 32.5 1973 1979 19-25
5         Pedro Martinez 30.6 1992 1998 20-26
6       Justin Verlander 28.3 2005 2011 22-28
7              Matt Cain 28.0 2005 2011 20-26
8    Fernando Valenzuela 27.9 1980 1986 19-25
9        Carlos Zambrano 27.1 2001 2007 20-26
10            Ron Guidry 27.0 1975 1981 24-30
   19. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4454536)
I'm working on a team-based follow up right now. There was enough data for two (or more) articles on the subject.


Cool, looking forward to them.

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