Taking the next step in our quest to accurately evaluate drafting from the opening decade of the 21st century, I used the ranking system Brian unveiled and assigned values for every first-round pick arranged by team. The goal is to assess which teams got the most out of their first-rounders over a 10-year period.
To refresh your memory on Brian’s ranking system, it is as follows:
0 Star – Failed to reach the majors
1 Star – Reached the majors but did not reach 500 PA for hitters or 50 games or 150 IP for pitchers
2 Stars – Amassed between 500 and 1499 PA for hitters or 50-149 games or 150-449 IP for pitchers
3 Stars – Topped 1500 PA for hitters or 150 games or 450 IP for pitchers
4 Stars – Amassed 10-19.9 bWAR
5 Stars – Amassed at least 20 bWAR
Accumulating the star values for each franchise over the course of a decade of drafting and dividing by their number of selections yields the below ranking list. Numbers in italics denote multiple draft picks in a given year.
|Team||2000||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||Total stars||Total picks||Avg stars/pick|
Using this ranking method, the Arizona Diamondbacks should be declared the biggest drafting achiever of the 2000s.
The Diamondbacks had each of their first nine first-round picks not only make the majors but also reach the next threshold of major league service. That streak ended with the selection of Bobby Borchering in the 16th slot of the 2009 draft. Arizona rebounded nicely with the very next pick that year, however, nabbing A.J. Pollock at No. 17. Concluding with Pollock, the Diamondbacks had five of their 11 first-rounders in the decade contribute double-digit bWAR.
Arizona’s chances at draft success were buoyed by having the top pick in 2005, when it selected Justin Upton. However, the organization only had one other top-10 pick in the decade, and seven of their 11 choices came in the second half of the first round. Their best selection in terms of bWAR was Max Scherzer, who went 11th overall in 2006. To date, Scherzer has accumulated 45.5 bWAR and is coming off back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards.
Ranking closely behind the Diamondbacks is the Giants, who are the only other franchise to post at least a 3-star average. San Francisco did better in terms of top-end talent, selecting four players that have generated a 5-star rating to Arizona’s two. What hurt the Giants’ average were its second and third first-round choices from the 2007 draft not making the majors. It was far from a regrettable first round that year however for San Francisco, which nabbed Madison Bumgarner with the 10th pick.
Beginning with Tim Lincecum in 2006, the Giants had a three-year run in which their initial draft choice churned out at least 20 bWAR. San Francisco’s best pick of the decade in terms of bWAR was Buster Posey, who has produced a value of 37.5 since going fifth overall in 2008.
Tampa Bay checks in at third on the list, but it probably should have been higher considering the team’s annual draft position. The (Devil) Rays selected no later than eighth overall in each of the decade’s first nine drafts. In that span, they had three No. 1 overall picks – choosing Delmon Young in 2003, David Price in 2007 and Tim Beckham in 2008. Their best first-rounder in terms of bWAR was Evan Longoria, who has produced 50 bWAR since going third overall in 2006.
Thanks in large part to the guy who went four picks after Longoria in 2006, the Dodgers landed at No. 4 on the draft ranking list. Still in his prime, Clayton Kershaw owns 59.4 career bWAR and has finished in the top five in NL Cy Young Award balloting each of the last seven years. The three-time Cy Young Award winner was the only Dodger first-round pick to produce at least 20 bWAR in the 2000s, but the organization did have two others with double-digit bWAR in that period.
Each of the top four teams in average stars per pick rating had a player from the 2006 draft surpass 20 bWAR. That streak ended with the Mets, who ranked fifth despite not missing out on the first round of the 2006 draft entirely. In fact, New York also did not have first-round picks in 2007 or 2009 either.
The Mets had only eight players selected within the top 30 of the 2000s drafts. The first seven of those choices reached the two-star plateau before Reese Havens ended the string as the organization’s second first-rounder in 2008. New York’s high ranking on this list largely was inflated by players achieving playing time plateaus on the star scale. Scott Kazmir (22.8) was the only Met first-rounder from the decade to surpass 5.0 bWAR, and half of their first-round picks managed less than 1 bWAR.
If we extended to the supplemental first round, the Mets would have cashed in with David Wright at No. 38 in 2001. However, the Mets’ position on this list points out a potential need to more accurately reward quality over quantity in terms of major league appearances. Even so, we are making good progress in determining draft report cards from earlier decades.