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Monday, June 07, 2021

The Greatest Draft Pick Ever

Mike Schmidt did not see this coming. He picked Ohio University largely because of a drafting class he had taken as a senior at Fairview High School in Dayton. He liked the T-squares and triangles, the pencils and possibilities. It seemed like a dream career.

“It was a long shot, obviously, but they had a great school of architecture at Ohio,” Schmidt said last month. “That kind of struck me as something that was a lot of fun.”

If an architect’s life seemed fanciful, it was more likely than the path Schmidt took instead. Of the 74,774 selections made in the various iterations of the M.L.B. draft since it began in 1965, Schmidt has done more for the team that drafted him than any other.

A generation beyond Schmidt’s retirement in 1989 — a decision that came the same month as the confounding death of the dogged scout who signed him, Tony Lucadello — it remains true: No player has accumulated more wins above replacement for the team that picked him than Schmidt, the Philadelphia Phillies’ second-round choice, 30th overall, in 1971.

“To have Mike Schmidt start with the Phillies, stay with the Phillies, be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Phillie only,” said the longtime scout Gary Nickels, who learned the trade from Lucadello, “that’s the ultimate.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 07, 2021 at 08:56 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mike schmidt

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   1. Rally Posted: June 07, 2021 at 10:04 AM (#6022945)
The Phillies took him with the 6th pick of round 2. The Royals picked immediately before them and passed on Schmidt. But they did all right with the 3B they picked.
   2. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 07, 2021 at 10:24 AM (#6022948)
#1 I had no idea they were taken with consecutive picks. That has got to be the most WAR of any two consecutive picks in the draft. The next-most is probably Barry Bonds and Kurt Brown, the guy drafted immediately before Bonds who never played in the majors. (The guy drafted after Bonds, Mike Campbell, put up -1.4 WAR in 16 games.)

Randy Johnson and Will Clark were taken with consecutive picks, but Clark didn't sign and they still combine for fewer WAR than Bonds. Rickey Henderson and Jack Morris were separated by one pick, but they would also be less than Bonds.

So, yeah, it looks like nobody comes close to Brett/Schmidt.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 07, 2021 at 10:28 AM (#6022949)
The read is worth it just for the stuff about Lucadello. Sometimes I think Moneyball is over the top in parodying scouts, but Lucadello makes it sound like the portrayal was spot on.

He worked without a radar gun or stopwatch and believed in homespun theories — dubious but unimpeachable — that 87 percent of baseball was played below the waist and that no player with glasses should be signed.


Hard to argue with his success:

By 1980, the year Schmidt carried the Phillies to their first World Series title, Lucadello had signed more major leaguers than all of the team’s other scouts combined. In all, he signed 52 players who reached the majors, including another Hall of Famer, pitcher Fergie Jenkins, and eight other All-Stars: infielders Toby Harrah and Mickey Morandini, outfielders Larry Hisle and Alex Johnson, and pitchers Don Elston, Grant Jackson, Mike Marshall and Bob Rush.


Sad ending to his life though.
   4. Itchy Row Posted: June 07, 2021 at 10:30 AM (#6022950)
I'm out of free NYT articles, so it may have been mentioned in the article, but Brett would be the third best draft pick ever, after only Schmidt and Cal Ripken. Pujols would pass Brett if he signs with STL and somehow has a pretty good year (over 2 WAR), if a return to the drafting team counts.

   5. SoSH U at work Posted: June 07, 2021 at 10:31 AM (#6022951)
The Phillies took him with the 6th pick of round 2. The Royals picked immediately before them and passed on Schmidt. But they did all right with the 3B they picked.



Wouldn't Brett also be No. 2 using this particular methodology? The others I could think of (Pujols, Clemens, Whitaker) all came up short of Brett's 88.6 WAR with KC. Trout will likely take over the No. 2 spot within a few years, with a real potential to catch Schmidt.

Edit: Ah, forgot Cal.

   6. Itchy Row Posted: June 07, 2021 at 10:39 AM (#6022954)
The Giants did draft Bonds but didn't sign him. He eventually had a few more WAR with SF than Schmidt had with the Phillies. Another asterisk, I guess.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 07, 2021 at 10:40 AM (#6022956)
The chart they have has:*

1. Schmidt
2. Ripken
3. Brett
4. Pujols
5. Chipper
6. Clemens
7. Bench
8. Trout
9. Whitaker
10. Jeter
*-I think, it's kind of a hard chart to read.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: June 07, 2021 at 10:44 AM (#6022957)

The Giants did draft Bonds but didn't sign him. He eventually had a few more WAR with SF than Schmidt had with the Phillies. Another asterisk, I guess.


I don't think that even merits an asterisk.
   9. Itchy Row Posted: June 07, 2021 at 11:43 AM (#6022964)
I probably missed somebody, but it looks like the best amateur free agent signing of the draft era is Edgar Martinez, followed by Andruw Jones and Mariano Rivera.

The best careers by amateur free agents during the era are Dodger signees who spent most of their careers with other teams- Adrian Beltre and Pedro Martinez.
   10. spycake Posted: June 07, 2021 at 12:17 PM (#6022965)
I'm out of free NYT articles

Pasting the article URL at this site usually works: https://www.printfriendly.com
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 07, 2021 at 12:31 PM (#6022966)

I probably missed somebody, but it looks like the best amateur free agent signing of the draft era is Edgar Martinez, followed by Andruw Jones and Mariano Rivera.


Edgar Martinez 66.9
Andruw Jones 61.0
Mariano Rivera 56.3
Ivan Rodriguez 50.4
Felix Hernandez 50.3
Cesar Cedeno 49.6
Berne Williams 49.6
Robinson Cano 44.4
Jorge Posada 42.7
Yadier Molina 41.4

*-Ichiro 56.9
   12. GregD Posted: June 07, 2021 at 02:18 PM (#6022990)
Randy Johnson and Will Clark were taken with consecutive picks, but Clark didn't sign and they still combine for fewer WAR than Bonds. Rickey Henderson and Jack Morris were separated by one pick, but they would also be less than Bonds.


that is amazing
   13. Esmailyn Gonzalez Sr. Posted: June 07, 2021 at 03:37 PM (#6023006)
87 percent of baseball was played below the waist and that no player with glasses should be signed.

I think they're wearing their glasses on the wrong body part...
   14. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 07, 2021 at 04:13 PM (#6023014)
Yount and Winfield were picked 3rd & 4th in the 1st round in 1973. David Clyde was #1
   15. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: June 07, 2021 at 04:21 PM (#6023017)
Agreed with #12, so I did a bit of research. Barry Bonds has more WAR than...

Nolan Ryan + Pete Rose
Tony Gwynn + Wade Boggs
Ernie Banks + Roberto Clemente
Albert Pujols + Jackie Robinson
Joe Morgan + Harmon Killebrew
Ted Williams + Albert Belle
Rod Carew + Jeff Bagwell
Joe DiMaggio + Mike Mussina
Robin Yount + Ken Griffey
Johnny Bench + Chipper Jones
Derek Jeter + George Brett
Steve Carlton + Carl Hubbell
Mickey Mantle + Kirby Puckett
Honus Wagner + Chick Hafey
Stan Musial + Chris Carpenter

He was pretty good!
   16. Perry Posted: June 07, 2021 at 04:44 PM (#6023026)
The book about Lucadello, Prophet of the Sandlots, by Mark Winegardner, is absolutely worth reading.
   17. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 07, 2021 at 04:55 PM (#6023029)
The Phillies took him with the 6th pick of round 2. The Royals picked immediately before them and passed on Schmidt. But they did all right with the 3B they picked.


Scott Rolen was the fourth pick in round two. Nolan Arenado was the tenth pick in round two. Maybe great third basemen tend to be slightly - but not grossly - underrated in the draft.
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 07, 2021 at 05:08 PM (#6023032)
Not nearly on the same level, but I remember listening to an interview with Joe Randa where he said he was told he'd be drafted by his hometown Brewers in the 11th round. They passed and selected a very similar player in Jeff Cirillo, and Randa went two picks later. Cirillo had 1,598 hits and 112 HR in 1,617 games, Randa had 1,543 hits and 123 HR in 1,522 games.
   19. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 07, 2021 at 05:11 PM (#6023033)
Schmidt and Brett have considerably more WAR (195.5) than the entire 1st round in 1971 (154.5)
   20. Walt Davis Posted: June 07, 2021 at 10:21 PM (#6023117)
If Trout can continue his Willie Mays impersonation and Grichuk doesn't crater, they can pass Bonds. But at least one of them is gonna have to really catch fire to catch Brett/Schmidt.

Brett & Schmidt were the 29th and 30th picks. Grichuk & Trout were the 24th and 25th. The first time he was drafted, Bonds was the 39th. The baseball draft is a funny thing.

The #30 pick seems to do surprisingly well -- Schmidt, David Wells (53 WAR), Jerry Reuss, Travis Fryman, Brian Jordan all over 30 WAR, another 5 guys of 10-20 WAR. That's better than the #5 pick.
   21. Lowry Seasoning Salt Posted: June 08, 2021 at 02:37 AM (#6023137)
The read is worth it just for the stuff about Lucadello. Sometimes I think Moneyball is over the top in parodying scouts, but Lucadello makes it sound like the portrayal was spot on.


Reading the article before having seen this comment, what stuck out to me was how inefficient the MLB scouting system is (maybe was). This scout signed 52 players who reached the Majors—I have no idea where this would rank among scouts but I presume it's a good number for the field—and that took tens of thousands of hours. In something like a 47-year career, assuming just the standard 2,000-hour work year, that just doesn't sound like the scouting methodology is particularly adept.
   22. DCA Posted: June 08, 2021 at 09:50 AM (#6023158)
Schmidt and Brett have considerably more WAR (195.5) than the entire 1st round in 1971 (154.5)

The top half of the first round was terrible. Negative WAR in total, the only guy >0 is journeyman reliever Roy Thomas (3.6 WAR). The bottom half of the round was decent, though: three very good players - Frank Tanana, Rick Rhoden, Jim Rice - plus another 10 year starter in Craig Reynolds.
   23. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: June 08, 2021 at 05:54 PM (#6023229)
Edgar Martinez 66.9
Andruw Jones 61.0
Mariano Rivera 56.3
Ivan Rodriguez 50.4
Felix Hernandez 50.3
Cesar Cedeno 49.6
Berne Williams 49.6
Robinson Cano 44.4
Jorge Posada 42.7
Yadier Molina 41.4

*-Ichiro 56.9


This list strikes me as oddly Mariner- and Yankee-heavy.
   24. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 08, 2021 at 09:58 PM (#6023273)
I don't think I appreciated enough, as a kid who grew up in the 1980s, that when I was watching George Brett and Mike Schmidt in their prime playing each other in the World Series, each their league's MVP, that I was watching the two best third baseman I would see for (at least) the next 40 years. (I say that with all due respect to Boggs and Beltre.)

I looked at Brett's BB-Ref page just now and marvelled at it. Stuff like this:

From 1977 to 1981 he struck out 140 times...total...for the five years...in 2,780 plate appearances.

In 1980, he struck out a total of 22 times...and was intentionally walked 16 times.

I never thought of him as that fast, but in 1979 he hit 20 triples.
   25. baxter Posted: June 08, 2021 at 10:49 PM (#6023298)
When one discusses great picks, getting the most for the least makes me think of the best. I thought the greatest would be 62nd rounder Piazza
   26. AstrosOldTimer Posted: June 08, 2021 at 11:57 PM (#6023310)
#8 said: "I don't think that even merits an asterisk."

Barry Bonds had 108.6 career WAR after 15 seasons through age 35. Assuming he didn't start taking PEDs at his age-36 season (2001), he added another 51.4 WAR afterwards, including his 3 highest WAR seasons... after 35.

Or, to put it another way, the final 27.5% of Bond's PA came under the influence of PEDs, accounting for 31.5% of his career WAR. In other words, PEDs allowed an old Barry Bonds to earn WAR at a 15% faster rate than Bonds during his prime.

That's a pretty big ####### asterisk, if you ask me.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: June 09, 2021 at 12:06 AM (#6023314)
That's a pretty big ####### asterisk, if you ask me.


The point isn't that Barry was only great because of the juice, but that you can't count Barry Bonds as an all-time great draft pick by the Giants since he didn't sign with them when they drafted him. It just eliminates him altogether.

All-time great FA signing? Absolutely.
   28. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: June 09, 2021 at 01:18 AM (#6023318)
I never thought of him as that fast, but in 1979 he hit 20 triples

The Royals of that era consistently led the league in triples. I'm not sure Brett was that fast, but slashing line drives in all directions gave him a great headstart in that ballpark in at that time

My stupid machine is not allowing me to type parentheses, but pretend parentheses around artificial turf, and probably different fence dimensions
   29. Cooper Nielson Posted: June 09, 2021 at 01:37 AM (#6023321)
I never thought of him as that fast, but in 1979 he hit 20 triples

Jim Rice had 15 triples in back-to-back seasons, 1977 and 1978, leading the league once (in his MVP year where he led the league in almost everything). Outside of those two seasons, his high was just 8.

Maybe triples were really easy to get in the late-'70s American League?
   30. McCoy Posted: June 09, 2021 at 07:53 AM (#6023327)
The Phillies for awhile there were fantastic at spotting talent. I don't know what it was but they seemed to have been the best at figuring out baby boomers as they were coming of age. Probably them, KC, and LA were the best at it.
   31. Ron J Posted: June 09, 2021 at 08:28 AM (#6023328)
#30 I suspect you've read it, but Dollar Sign on the Muscle is a fascinating read with a lot of stuff on the Phillies back then.

It's a mix of the thoughtful (just experience at looking at body types and projecting how they'd fill out), best guesses as to things like work ethic and weird stuff like, "good faces"
   32. McCoy Posted: June 09, 2021 at 08:59 AM (#6023330)
And ######## about the new system MLB and teams were trying to implement.
   33. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 09, 2021 at 10:00 AM (#6023332)
I saw an interview recently with Theo Epstein (who is now a consultant with MLB on the project of improving the product on the field) who said MLB did some polling of baseball fans to ask what types of plays they found the most exciting. Home runs were up there, but the most popular types of plays were actually things involving speed and bang-bang plays: triples, stolen bases, and close plays at bases.

This is obviously true, right? Remember when Edgar Martinez hit the ball into the left field corner in 1995 that Griffey came around from 1st base to slide in and win the ALDS? I'm not even a Mariners fan, and it remains one of the most exciting 8 seconds of baseball action of my lifetime. That moment when you realize Griffey is going to go for it. The camera shows the left fielder digging it out (Did he get it cleanly?). Cut to Griffey, getting ready to round third (Did he cut the corner on that turn tight, because it's going to be close?). Back to the left fielder, who makes a pretty good throw to the cutoff man. And then - the camera goes to the plate, and Griffey slides in before the ball gets there.

I mean, that 8 seconds compares favorably with any last-second possession in an NBA game, or a 4th-down throw in the last two-minutes of an NFL game, or any thing in sports.

Sid Bream in 1991. Dave Roberts in 2004. Pretty much anything Rickey Henderson did. Willie Wilson would hit a ground ball to shortstop, and you'd hold your breath that the throw would beat him to first. Anytime there was a runner on first, and there was a single to Jesse Barfield or Ichiro in right field, you held your breath if your team's runner tried for 3rd.

There are simply too few plays like that, starting with triples, to stolen bases, to baserunners on first base, to singles that lead to runners trying to get to 3rd or home. So when I see Brett or Rice with all those triples in the late 1970s, it does bring me back to how much more exciting the typical game was, on a moment-to-moment basis, at that time.
   34. Rally Posted: June 09, 2021 at 10:03 AM (#6023333)
I’m sure Brett had good speed as a young player. He was also stealing 15-20 bases a year. His triples were helped by his home park. In 1979, 14 of the 20 were at home.
   35. Rally Posted: June 09, 2021 at 10:06 AM (#6023334)
And 97 of his 137 career triples were hit in KC.
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: June 09, 2021 at 10:14 AM (#6023336)


And 97 of his 137 career triples were hit in KC.



Though aesthetically awful, '80s turf was ultimately good for baseball.
   37. Moeball Posted: June 11, 2021 at 12:02 AM (#6023727)
Seeing that 2 HOF third basemen were drafted back to back in Schmidt and Brett made me think - I think it happened with shortstops, too, didn't it? Weren't Ozzie Smith and Alan Trammell drafted back to back?
   38. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 11, 2021 at 03:52 AM (#6023746)
Only in back to back years; Trammell was in 1976, and Ozzie was in 1977.

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