Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Ghosts of First Rounds Past

It is tough, sometimes, to come up with different angles on player collections and how to post new cards from those players. So, let me engage in some counterfactuals here for a moment. 

In 1999, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Ben Sheets in the first round with the 10th pick overall. In 2003, the Brewers selected Rickie Weeks in the first round with the 2nd pick overall in the draft.

So, for each card of theirs that I picked up at my local card show, I am going to raise a player whom the Brewers could have selected with that pick. Just for kicks.

Let's start with Rickie Weeks. Throughout his Milwaukee career, Weeks posted a total of 12.3 WAR. Not great, not terrible.

The best player so far by WAR with 25.3 in Weeks's first round is Nick Markakis, selected 7th overall.

The second best player by WAR in the first round is Adam Jones with 23.9 WAR.  Jones was selected as a shortstop by Seattle before being moved to the outfield and then being traded to the Orioles for Erik Bedard.

Next: Aaron Hill, out of LSU. He was selected 13th overall, and he has totaled 23.8 WAR.

After Hill comes our first pitcher in the draft: John Danks (21.6 WAR), whom the Rangers selected with the 9th pick overall before trading him to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy.

The final guy in the first round who has turned out better than Weeks by WAR is Chad Billingsley (17.1 WAR). With how Billingsley's career has stalled, Weeks has an outside chance to catch him.

One guy who might catch Weeks is 8th overall pick Paul Maholm (12.1 WAR). Maholm's problem is that he has been struggling in the past few years. In his favor is that he is a left hander who might squeeze more value out by being a LOOGY.

Two second round picks also have proven to be better major leaguers statistically: Oakland Athletics pick Andre Ethier is the first. By WAR with 19.8, Ethier should have been the fifth pick overall.

Following Ethier from the second round is RHP Scott Baker (15.9 WAR), whom the Twins picked up with the 58th pick overall.

One third round pick has provided more wins above replacement than Weeks as well: his now-former teammate Shaun Marcum, who was the 80th pick overall.  

Later picks from the 2003 draft who turned out very well? Michael Bourn (4th round, 22.6 WAR), Jonathan Papelbon (4th round, 22.6 WAR), Matt Kemp (6th round, 21.3 WAR), and Brendan Ryan (7th round, 15.2 WAR). As it turns out, the best player in the 2003 draft by WAR with 40.1 Wins Above Replacement was taken in the 17th round by the Texas Rangers: Ian Kinsler.

With respect to Ben Sheets, he totaled 23.4 WAR in his years in the major leagues. That's pretty decent. In fact, only 5 players from his round have a higher total, and three of them -- Josh Hamilton (27.7 WAR, 1st pick overall), Josh Beckett (35.9 WAR, 2nd pick overall), and Barry Zito (33.0 WAR, 9th pick overall). But, there are a lot of players who have had better careers than Sheets.

Rather than go for fellow first rounders, I'll start with the best player in the 1999 draft: selected with the 402nd pick overall and in the 13th round is a player who has racked up 97.0 WAR and counting: Albert Pujols.

Next on the list and way behind Pujols is the 52nd pick in the draft from the top of the second round with 40.2 WAR: Carl Crawford.

Next after Crawford is the first pitcher -- the Padres' 15th round draft pick, Jake Peavy, with 38.9 WAR.

Rounding out the top 4 players better than Sheets in the 1999 draft was Royals' 9th Round pick, Mark Ellis.

Also better than Sheets are a host of players (the 1999 draft was far more stacked than the 2003 draft), including Brian Roberts (30.3 WAR), Alex Rios (28.4), John Lackey (28.5), Brandon Phillips (25.6), Justin Morneau (26.8), Shane Victorino (30.7), Coco Crisp (29.7), and Marlon Byrd (23.8).  Of that group, only Rios and Roberts were "first round" picks, and Roberts was a sandwich pick at number 50 overall out of the University of South Carolina as compensation for the Orioles losing Rafael Palmeiro.

For whatever reason, I find going through old drafts fascinating. These cards were all reasonably cheap, and they gave me an excuse to revisit 1999 and 2003.

1 comment:

  1. I really thought Weeks was going to be a superstar. He had so much hype.

    Sometimes I like to torture myself and look at the early 2000's drafts for the Pirates. By the time I'm done reading I want to punch the wall.