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Friday, May 24, 2013

Marchman: Why Even Have Baseball’s Draft?

Uhh…to give John Hart more face-time to mindlessly say “look” and “listen”?

Even more striking than the distribution, though, is the absolute level of talent. Three wins, a reasonable expectation for what this year’s Mets and Yankees first-rounders will do in their careers, is about the value a decent and unexceptional player like Daniel Murphy will have in a good year. It’s a really nice hot streak, a misplaced stroke in a ledger. It makes you appreciate just how rare high-end baseball talent is.

Most of the value of such draft picks comes from the fact that ballplayers who aren’t yet eligible for free agency are paid millions of dollars less than they’re actually worth, so that even a scrub can be a valuable asset. The rest comes from the small chance that the pick will deliver a player like McCutchen or Trammell. You could thus say that baseball’s draft combines the worst features of buying scratch-off lotto tickets and attending an accounting seminar while restricting the ability of young men to choose where they want to work into the bargain. It’s a great deal if you own a ballclub; for everyone else, not so much.

The final absurdity might be that if you wanted to spread the best talent around, getting rid of the draft would be a decent way to do it. The eight amateur free agents who were top MVP or Cy Young finishers last year originally signed with eight different teams. Only two, Adrian Beltre and Robinson Cano, signed with teams in rich markets. Allow players to work where they’d like and some will go for the glamor teams, but some will go for the ones where they have the best chance to play, or to the towns with the best weather, or the ones closest to home.

Open markets in talent work just fine in technology, law and soccer, and they’d work just as well for baseball if anyone would give them a chance.

Repoz Posted: May 24, 2013 at 09:06 PM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: draft

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   1. Bhaakon Posted: May 24, 2013 at 10:18 PM (#4451787)
It’s a great deal if you own a ballclub; for everyone else, not so much.


Except if you're a fan of a ball-club not named the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, etc.

They can either screw the prospects or the fans of smaller market teams, and the prospects aren't buying many season tickets.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: May 24, 2013 at 10:44 PM (#4451805)
Agree with post 1. Just because players later in the draft happen to do well, it doesn't mean that it's a random process. As a general rule, early picks do better than later picks, this is indicative that for the most part, scouting does a good job of identifying who will make it to the majors. If you don't have the draft, then payroll willingness will be the major determination on who gets the best players. It would continue the rich getting richer concept.

I personally love MLB's structure(yes it could be tweaked of course, but I like how it works for the most part.)
   3. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 24, 2013 at 11:20 PM (#4451833)
What would happen if players were all free-agents upon turning professional, and there was no cap on individual contracts or team spending on amateur signings, but players were given rankings by an independent panel of scouts, retired executives, and so forth, and each team was allowed to sign only so many players of each rank? The Yankees, Dodgers, and other huge spending teams would probably sign all the players who currently go in the top 10, but after that it would be a talent crapshoot, and it might reduce the cost of later first-round talent as compared to second and third-round talent, because there wouldn't be the artificial distinction of higher draft status to drive the demands--that is, it would be clearer even to the teams that the difference in likely outcome between the 30th overall pick and the 60th overall pick is negligible.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: May 25, 2013 at 12:23 AM (#4451859)
I can see an argument for having only the first round or maybe even the first half of the first round (non-playoff teams). But without the draft, Harper, Strasburg, the Uptons, etc. end up on the big market teams year after year after year. The draft is almost certainly the most successful tool for competitive balance.

I will grant it doesn't make competitive balance sense to have the draft for N America and the free-for-all for Latin America.

Now, of course the same logic applies to "why have all those cheap years at the front of their career", "why wait 6 years for them to become FA", etc.
   5. The District Attorney Posted: May 25, 2013 at 12:31 AM (#4451863)
without the draft, Harper, Strasburg, the Uptons, etc. end up on the big market teams year after year after year.
Sticking a big-market team with B.J. Upton would be a great way to enforce competitive balance. #pointlesssnark
   6. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 25, 2013 at 12:33 AM (#4451864)
The draft, in all its various configurations, is NOT about competive balance. It's all about depressing the cost of labor.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: May 25, 2013 at 12:43 AM (#4451868)
The draft, in all its various configurations, is NOT about competive balance. It's all about depressing the cost of labor.


Yes, but it also does a good job of promoting competitive balance.
   8. Squash Posted: May 25, 2013 at 02:13 AM (#4451881)
The draft, in all its various configurations, is NOT about competive balance. It's all about depressing the cost of labor.

Yes, but it also does a good job of promoting competitive balance.


It's really about both. Believe it or not small market owners do in fact want to win here and there just like the large market teams, and in an open bidding war clearly would be at a massive disadvantage.
   9. bobm Posted: May 25, 2013 at 02:36 AM (#4451883)
FTFA:

One sign of this randomness is the way expected returns flatten out through the draft. This year, the Mets, who were lousy last year, have the 11th overall pick, while the Yankees, who were very good, have the 26th. If the draft worked as it's supposed to, you'd expect that the Mets' pick would be substantially more valuable, based on historical data.

That isn't even close to being true, though. Players picked 11th overall between 1965 and 2005 (those picked since haven't necessarily had an opportunity to show what they can do in the majors) have been worth an average of 2.93 "wins" over the course of their careers, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Those picked 26th have been worth an average of 3.02.

The earlier picks were at least a bit more likely to make the majors—28 did so, as opposed to 20 of those picked later—but they weren't any more likely to be really useful. (Four of them were worth at least 15 wins in their careers, while three of the later picks did.) The best player taken in either spot, the great Detroit shortstop Alan Trammell, was a 26th overall pick, and he was worth more by himself than the three best 11th picks combined. That will change before long, given that Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, who was taken 11th, is just at the start of his prime, but still.


   10. bobm Posted: May 25, 2013 at 02:54 AM (#4451884)
Using averages rather distorts this comparison and, as noted, will soon anyway undermine the author's argument.

(Separately, draftees' careers are part the availability of raw talent and part organizational evaluation and development of raw talent. Looking at drafts by slot does not control for organization impact.)

http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?overall_pick=11&

11th Picks Overall in the MLB June Amateur Draft 
49 matching player(s). 31 played in the majors (63%). Total of 133.9 WAR, or 4.3 per major leaguer.

                                                                        
Year   Rnd DT FrRnd RdPck                                    Tm Pos  WAR
1968        1 FrRnd    11     Phillies    Greg Luzinski(minors)  1B 26.1
1984        1 FrRnd    11       Padres       Shane Mack(minors)  OF 21.6
2005        1 FrRnd    11      Pirates Andrew McCutchen(minors)  OF 21.0
1985        1 FrRnd    11    Athletics       Walt Weiss(minors)  SS 16.5
2006        1 FrRnd    11 Diamondbacks     Max Scherzer(minors) RHP 12.7
1991        1 FrRnd    11     Mariners      Shawn Estes(minors) LHP 11.1
2004        1 FrRnd    11      Pirates      Neil Walker(minors)   C  6.7
1974        1 FrRnd    11      Pirates       Rod Scurry(minors) LHP  5.8
1996        1 FrRnd    11     Phillies       Adam Eaton(minors) RHP  5.3
2002        1 FrRnd    11      Marlins   Jeremy Hermida(minors)  OF  2.7
1965        1 FrRnd    11       Angels      Jim Spencer(minors)  1B  2.7
1986        1 FrRnd    11       Padres    Thomas Howard(minors)  OF  2.4
1989        1 FrRnd    11      Indians    Calvin Murray(minors)  3B  2.1
1990        1 FrRnd    11        Expos    Shane Andrews(minors)  3B  2.0
1988        1 FrRnd    11     Phillies        Pat Combs(minors) LHP  1.8
1972        1 FrRnd    11       Braves    Preston Hanna(minors) RHP  1.8
1987        1 FrRnd    11    Athletics      Lee Tinsley(minors)  OF  1.7
1983        1 FrRnd    11      Indians       Dave Clark(minors)  OF  0.5
2008        1 FrRnd    11      Rangers     Justin Smoak(minors)  1B  0.4
1975        1 FrRnd    11    White Sox      Chris Knapp(minors) RHP  0.4
1969        1 FrRnd    11      Yankees   Charlie Spikes(minors)  3B  0.3
2003        1 FrRnd    11      Indians   Michael Aubrey(minors)  1B  0.2
2000        1 FrRnd    11      Brewers     Dave Krynzel(minors)  OF  0.2
1966        1 FrRnd    11       Braves     Al Santorini(minors) RHP  0.2
2007        1 FrRnd    11     Mariners Phillippe Aumont(minors) RHP  0.1
1992        1 FrRnd    11         Cubs    Derek Wallace(minors) RHP  0.1
1982        1 FrRnd    11       Giants   Steve Stanicek(minors)  1B -0.1
1973        1 FrRnd    11        Twins       Eddie Bane(minors) LHP -0.9
1980        1 FrRnd    11         Cubs      Don Schulze(minors) RHP -1.6
1971        1 FrRnd    11       Tigers      Tom Veryzer(minors)  SS -3.8
1967        1 FrRnd    11      Indians   Jack Heidemann(minors)  SS -6.1


http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?overall_pick=26&

26th Picks Overall in the MLB June Amateur Draft 
49 matching player(s). 22 played in the majors (44%). Total of 123.7 WAR, or 5.6 per major leaguer.

                                                                                  
Year   Rnd DT FrRnd RdPck                                              Tm Pos  WAR
1976        2 FrRnd     2                Tigers     Alan Trammell(minors)  SS 70.3
1977        1 FrRnd    26              Mariners    Dave Henderson(minors)  OF 27.5
1983        1 FrRnd    26               Brewers        Dan Plesac(minors) LHP 17.6
1991        1 FrRnd    26             Athletics       Brent Gates(minors)  SS  5.6
2001        1 FrRnd    26    Athletics via Mets *Jeremy Bonderman(minors) RHP  5.5
1993        1 FrRnd    26 Brewers via Blue Jays     *Kelly Wunsch(minors) LHP  3.2
1994        1 FrRnd    26             White Sox      Mark Johnson(minors)   C  2.0
1997        1 FrRnd    26   Orioles via Yankees *Darnell McDonald(minors)  OF  0.7
1973        2 FrRnd     2              Phillies         Todd Cruz(minors)  SS  0.4
2008        1 FrRnd    26          Diamondbacks  Daniel Schlereth(minors) LHP  0.0
2006        1 FrRnd    26    Dodgers via Angels     *Bryan Morris(minors) RHP  0.0
1967        2 FrRnd     6                Astros     Jay Schlueter(minors)  OF  0.0
1987        1 FrRnd    26               Red Sox     Reggie Harris(minors) RHP -0.1
1995        1 FrRnd    26                Braves   Chad Hutchinson(minors) RHP -0.5
1985        1 FrRnd    26                Tigers       Randy Nosek(minors) RHP -0.6
1965        2 FrRnd     6                  Cubs       Ken Rudolph(minors)   C -0.6
1992        1 FrRnd    26                 Twins      Dan Serafini(minors) LHP -0.7
1988        1 FrRnd    26                Tigers       Rico Brogna(minors)  1B -1.1
1974        2 FrRnd     2               Rangers         Jeff Byrd(minors) RHP -1.1
1969        2 FrRnd     2                Astros         Stan Papi(minors)  SS -1.1
1979        1 FrRnd    26 Athletics via Red Sox   *Mike Stenhouse(minors)  OF -1.4
2005        1 FrRnd    26   Red Sox via Dodgers     *Craig Hansen(minors) RHP -1.9

   11. drdr Posted: May 25, 2013 at 03:16 AM (#4451885)
Easier way would be this:
1. Every team has $5 000 000 budget.
2. Every position is worth $ 150 000 (so WS winner has $5 150 000, and Houston $9 500 000).
3. Signings start 1. July.
4. All players eligible for draft or international signing are eligible.
5. Bonuses of less than $100 000 are free.
6. FA compensation means transferring $1 000 000 from player's new to his previous team - slightly bad teams (those just outside worst ten) aren't hardest hit anymore.
7. Since PA wouldn't like hard cap, 75% tax on going over up to 5%, 150% tax on going over 5 - 10%, 200% tax + reduction of next year's budget by full amount over for everything over 10%. Tax goes up 50% for every 10% of budget over allowed.

Every player can sign with team he likes, bad teams have better chance to add impact talent and teams with good scouting can add as many sub-$100 000 players as they want.
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: May 25, 2013 at 04:02 AM (#4451890)
Easier way would be this:


Easier way would be

1. Keep the status quo.

Unlimited free agents, even with a salary cap leads to potential 'nudge, nudge, wink, wink' type of shenanigans.
   13. Rob_Wood Posted: May 25, 2013 at 08:04 AM (#4451918)
I realize that today the draft is "legal" since it was negotiated as part of the collective bargaining agreement. But what about the very first draft back in 1965? Why was that "legal"?

I don't know that much about baseball's legal issues -- was that draft also "agreed to" by the players in some way (I thought Marvin Miller negotiated baseball's very first collective bargaining agreement in the late 1960s)?
   14. BDC Posted: May 25, 2013 at 08:59 AM (#4451925)
The draft, in all its various configurations, is NOT about competive balance. It's all about depressing the cost of labor

It's always been about a little of both, because the clubs don't share monolithic interests. An interesting history of the draft notes that the 1964-65 draft initiative was meant to curb bonuses, but of course that meant that some teams were trying to curb bonuses paid by others. (The vote was unilateral by the clubs, to answer #13, and initially opposed by both New York clubs, the Dodgers, and the Cardinals, though eventually it seems that the Cardinals were the only diehard on the issue and were outvoted 19-1.)

If competitive balance was a mere byproduct of the limitation of bonuses, it still worked pretty well, at least until major-league free-agency complicated the process further. It seemed natural, when I was in high school, that Baltimore, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati should be dominant franchises; but that's quite an anomaly in baseball history as a whole.
   15. Swedish Chef Posted: May 25, 2013 at 09:19 AM (#4451932)
Why was that "legal"?

The Supreme Court gave baseball a get-out-of-jail card for anti-trust issues.
   16. Pirate Joe Posted: May 25, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4451958)
Open markets in talent work just fine in technology, law and soccer



With that comment I can only assume that he's a fan of a team like Manchester United or Chelsea, and not a fan of a team like Everton or Aston Villa.


   17. Walt Davis Posted: May 25, 2013 at 06:31 PM (#4452184)
The Supreme Court gave baseball a get-out-of-jail card for anti-trust issues.

No. The NFL started drafting in 1936. The NBA started in 1947. Baseball's anti-trust exemption had nothing to do with it.

Pretty much anything is legal until somebody files suit.
   18. Steve Treder Posted: May 25, 2013 at 07:16 PM (#4452203)
I thought Marvin Miller negotiated baseball's very first collective bargaining agreement in the late 1960s

You are correct, it was in 1968, and it was in fact the first CBA in any pro sport.
   19. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 25, 2013 at 07:29 PM (#4452212)
Easier way would be this:


Easier way would be

1. Keep the status quo.


Easier ay would be:

1) let the players sign with whichever team they want because this is America and we respect freedom. Well, some people do.

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