Feb 24, 2013; Dunedin, FL, USA; A detail of a MLB logo on the batters circle during a spring training game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Guest Post: How Successful are Major League Teams in Making Smart First Round Draft Picks?

Here at Cubbies Crib we believe in diplomacy, which naturally means that we have guest posts from time to time. The online Cubs community is so vast and filled with so many observant baseball folk that we just have to share some pieces with you, our readers.

This post in particular is an interesting read and comes from a good man named Jason Ling who is an active member on twitter. With the draft fast approaching, this piece stood out above a lot of others. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did and dont be shy to contact me on twitter if you ever want to have your pieces featured as a guest post. -Denny

 

The Major League Baseball Draft is coming up soon in a couple of weeks and it got me wondering about a few things. There are so many players drafted and only so many make it to the big leagues. Teams spend so much time and money on the draft. How good have teams got at choosing players? My real question: How many successful careers come from team’s first round draft picks?

I will be looking at the first round draft picks from every team from 1980 to 2002. Then I will find the players who played 8 or more years in the league and had a batting average of .250 or more. The pitchers will need to have a sub 5.00 era. Those are the stats I will be using to decide if the player’s career was successful or not. Obviously whether a not a player’s career is successful is highly debatable and that is why I will be determining if they were successful by just these stats

Since I am a huge Cubs fan here is what I found out about the Cubs. From 1980 to 2002 the Chicago Cubs had 27 first round picks. 16 of those picks made an appearance in the majors. According to the brief stats I stated earlier, only 7 of the 27 players drafted had successful careers. The biggest names of that group were Joe Carter, Shawon Dunston, Rafael Palmeiro, and Kerry Wood. Joe Carter was with the Cubs for only 51 at bats in 1983. He spent the rest of his 16 year career with the Indians, Blue Jays, and brief stints with the Padres, Orioles, and Giants. He slugged 396 homeruns in his career. Four years later, in 1985, the Cubs selected Rafael Palmeiro with their first round pick. He spent 3 seasons with the Cubs from 1986-1988 then split time between the Rangers and Orioles for the remainder of his 20 year career. Palmeiro is arguably the best first round draft pick the Cubs ever made. He ended his career with 3,020 hits, 569 homeruns, and a .288 batting average. In total, the Cubs had 27 first round picks from 1980-2002 with 7 of those picks having successful careers. This comes out to a 25.9% success rate of the Cubs first round picks.

.After looking through each team’s first round picks I found that the Mariners had the highest success rate of all the teams with 60.9%. They had a total of 23 draft picks during the time period with 14 of those draft picks having successful careers. The Mariners drafted 2 of the best homerun hitters of all time in Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez. Ken Griffey Jr. had one of the most beautiful left handed swings of all time. Below is a chart of each team’s number of picks, successful careers, and percentage of successful careers.

Team Number of Picks Successful Careers Percent of Picks Successful
Mariners

23

14

61%

Braves

22

11

50%

Rockies

10

5

50%

Twins

24

12

50%

Phillies

22

10

46%

Cardinals

27

11

42%

Marlins

10

4

40%

Brewers

23

9

39%

Angels

24

9

38%

Padres

24

9

38%

Mets

27

10

37%

Dodgers

20

7

35%

Athletics

26

9

35%

Rangers

29

10

35%

Rays

6

2

33%

Royals

10

4

32%

Giants

26

7

27%

Indians

23

6

26%

Cubs

27

7

26%

Orioles

24

6

25%

Blue Jays

33

8

24%

Astros

30

7

23%

Yankees

13

3

23%

Pirates

23

5

22%

Red Sox

23

5

22%

Diamondbacks

5

1

20%

Reds

20

4

20%

White Sox

25

5

20%

Tigers

22

4

18%

Nationals/Expos

24

4

17%

The average success rate is 32.3% for all the teams. This means 1 pick out of every 3 years will have a successful career in the Majors. This is not completely accurate because of stray numbers. Teams like the Mariners had a 60% success rate whereas the Nationals success rate was only 17%. This is very basic research and there are lots of variables contributing to a player having a successful career. The front office of a team changing will have an impact on the success rate of a team and also injuries ruin player’s careers. If you take a look at the Cubs success rate to the league average you can see they are below average.

The draft is a big part of Major League Baseball. Smaller market teams use the draft to stock up on picks whereas large market teams like the Yankees don’t need to use the draft as much. This is easily seen by comparing the Astros to the Yankees. The Astros had a total of 30 picks whereas the Yankees had 13 picks over the 22 years. It will be interesting 20 years from now to see if all the technology and money that’s put into scouting will raise the success rates of the teams now.

All information about stats and drafts were found on Baseball Reference and ESPN.

Follow me on twitter @BadNewzCubs

-Jason Ling

 

Tags: Chicago Cubs

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