Sunday, February 21, 2016

Season 18 draft retrospective

Top 5 picks:
Howie McLaughlin CF/2B/COF Florida Marlins:  Awards: 1X AS appearance.  Summary:  Defensively, McLaughlin was either a below average CF, passable 2B, or above average corner OF.  Offensively, he had a career slash line of .261/.325/.433 in 1706 games and was good for 10-20 HR and 30 doubles a season.  Overall, while he hasn't been the splashiest of #1 overall picks, he has had a productive career and still has a couple seasons left in him.

Larry Sewell  OF/1B Colorado Rockies:  Awards: 1X MVP, 1x ROY, 2x AS, 4X Silver Slugger (2 LF, 2 1B).  Summary:  First things first, Sewell was traded twice before making his ML debut and thus far has spent his entire career in Minnesota, so Colorado has not inflated his stats.  In 1552 career games, Sewell has a slash line of .325/.388/.475 to go along with 1981 hits, 164 HR, and 481 SB.  He has topped 200 hits four times in his career and fell one hit shy of making it five times in season 22 and outside of a 69 game debut season, he has never hit below .300.

Lee McCarthy P Toronto Blue Jays: Awards: none.  Summary:  For his career, McCarthy has gone 71-77 with 39 saves in 1382 innings while posting a 3.48 ERA.  It looks like a handful of injuries forced him to the pen in his later years, where he actually put up some of his best numbers.  Generally I want more innings per season out of a top five pick, but I think McCarthy has lived up to his draft slot, at least in the context of this draft.

Robin Buford P Houston Astros:  Awards: none.  Summary:  Buford compiled a 102-113 record with a 3.92 ERA in 1,924.2 innings.  At first glance, this doesn't seem great, but he spent most of his career in homer friendly Minute Maid and Wrigley.  He never pitched like an ace, but he was consistently above league average despite his unfriendly confines.

Benji Hume P Milwaukee Brewers: Did not sign.  It appears his demands were not met as no compensation pick was awarded.  This is more an unmitigated disaster than a typical flop.

First round winners:
Mariano Lima 2B/OF #6 overall pick Arizona Diamondbacks:  Awards: 2X All-star, 1X Silver Slugger (3B).  Summary: Zero points awarded here for winning an award at 3B as his defense wiped out most of his offensive value.  Like McLaughlin, Lima could either be a passable 2B (3-4 minus plays per 162), or a solid corner OF.  His offense has been a bit better with a slash line of .256/.316/.463 and 348 HR in 1884 games.

Lucas Ford 1B #9 overall pick Texas Rangers:  Awards: 3X All-Star, 2X Silver Slugger (DH, LF), 1X Gold Glove (1B). Summary:   In 1,557 games, Ford has put up a slash line of .285/.350/.494. to go along with 1,763 hits and 331 HR.  If he doesn't decline too sharply, Ford should be able to finish his career with 2K hits and 400 HR.  Sure, its easy to call a slugging 1B a win, but even in his worst seasons he has been a lock to hit at least 20 HR and post a better than league average OPS.  Now on the wrong side of 30, Ford has been still been able to anchor a line-up in the not so friendly confines of Comerica and should have a few more seasons left at this level.

Sherry Grey P #22 overall Oakland Athletics:   Grey is in his 11th season in the bigs splitting time between the rotation and the pen.  His inclusion in the win section is based largely on two stellar seasons as a starter: with Florida in season 32 he went 18-9 with a 2.54 ERA in 209 innings and last season with Boston he put together a 16-7 record in 204.2 innings. Currently in the final season of his contract, if he can finish the year strong and follow up with a few more solid seasons as a starter he could make a case for himself as the best pitcher out of this draft.  It should also be noted that though he was drafted by Oakland, Grey was traded before making his ML debut and his overall numbers are not a product of a pitcher friendly environment.  Overall, he has a 95-58 record with a 3.78 ERA over 1,356 big league innings.

Milton Coffey SS #27 overall Seattle Mariners:  Awards 2X All-Star.  Summary:  Despite being drafted by Seattle, Coffey has spent his entire big league career calling hitter friendly Fenway Park his home.  Thus far he has put up a slash line of .254/.313/.423 in 5,083 AB posting 202 HR.  Coffey has made his living by combining 20 HR a season power with solid defense at a key position.  Admittedly, he has been a bit error prone, but his 141 + plays have helped offset that.

Ron Ratliff P #28 overall Washington Nationals:  Awards: 1X Gold Glove 1X All-Star.  Summary:  Of all the pitchers from this draft, Ratliff has had the most dominant stretch.  Seasons 25-28 with San Francisco combined to produce a 47-30 record with a 2.67 ERA over 763 innings.

Sam Lynn P #31 overall Baltimore Orioles:  Awards:  4X All-Star.  1X Fireman of the Year.  Summary:  While I find closers to be overrated overall, 295 saves and a 3.42 career ERA are nothing to sneeze at.  Lynn is off to a stellar start this season as well, converting on his first eight save opportunities and allowing just one run in 11 innings.

Comp round winners:
Banana Larkin P #48 overall pick Los Angeles Dodgers:  Larkin has posted a 3.68 ERA with a .714 OPS against in 786,2 innings.  Impressively, despite spending most of his career in friendly Dodger stadium, his best seasons have actually come while pitching in the decidedly hostile environment of Wrigley field.

Rabbit Martin P #56 overall pick Houston Astros:  Awards: 2X All-Stars.  Summary:  Martin was one of those RP value picks that paid off.  Stamina has been the one piece lacking in his game; he has yet to reach 80 IP in a season.  That said, Martin has been fairly consistent in his career posting a 3.69 ERA and a .684 OPS against in 519.1 career innings.`

Nathan Huff 3B/OF #57 overall pick Arizona Diamondbacks:  Defensively, Huff was a good corner outfielder and a slightly below par 3B, but he was able to offset that with his bat.  Through ten seasons he has amassed 208 HR with an OPS of .784.  Unfortunately for Huff, however, his best season was his rookie season when he put up a .957 OPS in 133 games and looked to be well on his way to a career filled with accolades.

Round 2-25 winners:
Diego James DH 2nd round #89 overall Washington Nationals:  For a man without a defensive position, James has stuck around for a surprisingly long time; he is now entering his 13th season.  For a DH his career marks of 363 HR and a .768 OPS are, admittedly, underwhelming.  He did have a stretch of six seasons in Boston however where he hit 30+ HR a year and had a couple of genuinely good seasons in this period.  He followed his stint in Boston by signing on with Seattle where he spent three seasons as a DH hitting well below league averages.  Now with the Dodgers, James has purchased a fielder's glove and is hoping to resurrect his career.

J.R. Voigt P 11th round #372 overall pick Boston Red Sox:  Voigt is one of those mythical beings known as a Diamond in the Rough that actually turned in a solid big league career.  Making him especially rare is that he has succeeded despite awful control.  In 316 innings, Voigt has posted a walk rate of just under 6 BB/9 yet he has managed an ERA of 3.82 and an OPS against of .694.  Enjoy him while you can; Voigt is in the final year of a 2 year pact with the Dodgers and who knows when the next rendition of Wild Thing will grace our mounds.

First round flops:
Bosco McCoy P #8 overall pick Baltimore Orioles:  In parts of six seasons, McCoy accumulated 593 innings posting a 26-40 record with a .786 OPS against and a 4.68 ERA. He had a couple of solid seasons early in his career in Detroit, but  his overall body of work was below average and that just won't cut it with a top 10 pick.

Lonny Lewis LF #10 overall pick Minnesota Twins:  Career slash line: .000/.000/.000 in one AB.  Retired.

Dan Greenberg RP #16 overall pick Cleveland Indians:  Over 268.2  career innings, Greenberg has produced a 5.19 ERA and an OPS against of .818.  Greenberg was the epitome of back of the pen filler, which is not what you are looking for this early.

Teddy Flier #17 overall pick Cincinnati Reds:  Initial demands not met; unsigned with no comp pick awarded.

Fred Howard 3B  #18 overall pick Kansas City Royals:  Over parts of two seasons Howard accumulated 459 AB with a slash line of .257/.304/.373 while playing adequate defense at the hot corner.

Homer Holland P #24 overall pick Arizona Diamondbacks:  Over six seasons, Hollands BEST output was a 4.21 ERA with a .765 OPS against in 83.1 innings.

Cliff Woods P #25 overall Minnesota Twins: Never made the majors.

George Gutierrez P #26: Anaheim Angels:  Gutierrez was a touch better than Holland, but a 5.35 ERA over eight seasons  still ugly.  His season 28 performance was one for the ages, posting an ERA of 8.70 with an OPS against of 989 in 89 innings.  I can only imagine he was allowed to pitch completely gassed as there is no other excuse for opposing hitters to all look like MVP candidates.

Intriguing picks:
Kimera Oliver SP #11 overall pick Nashville Sounds.   Awards: 1X All-star.  Summary:  In 2,582.1 career innings, Oliver has amassed a 161-111 record with  a 3.64 ERA and .701 OPS against; all said and done, this is what you want to see from your top pick.   Park factors are definitely working in his favor here with stints in Oakland, San Diego, and Shea Stadium which begs the question, what do Oliver's stats look like if he played in say Wrigley Field and Olympic Stadium?

Lee Fossum SS 4th round #148 overall pick Boston Red Sox:  Fossum is notable for being the first player I have come across to have a career spanning at least ten seasons and not once topping .500 OPS.  His defensive was above average, but even if he played 162 games a year I don't think it would have been quite Gold Glove worthy which makes his long career all the more amazing.

Best Draft:  Arizona Diamondbacks:  Yes, they did have a big first round miss with Holland, but they are the only team that walked away with two above average regular contributors in Lima and Huff.  At the end of the day though, this was a weak class and the Diamondbacks are merely the best of a bad lot.

Honorable Mention:  Washington Nationals: This is largely due to getting Ratliff at the tail end of the first round.; when he was at his best he outpitched everyone else from this draft.

Discussion points:
1) Lack of accolades for top 4 picks:  The top 4 picks combined for 46 ML seasons at the time of this writing, yet have a combined three All-star appearances, one MVP, one ROY and four Silver Sluggers.  If you take Sewell out of the equation that leaves just one All-star game over 35 seasons for the remaining three.  All of these picks were above average ML players, but (Sewell aside), did they reach your expectations for a top five pick?

2)   Going back to the points made on Kimera Oliver, parks in this world as a group tend to favor pitchers over hitters. Cumulatively, they favor hitters slightly for singles and moderately for triples while favoring pitchers moderately for doubles and HR to both fields.  I would argue that doubles and HR are more important to an offense than singles and triples (due to relative low impact of a single and relative scarcity of triples).  How do we use this to assess  the true impact a player had.  Oliver was certainly helped by pitching in some stadiums that were pitcher friendly across the board, but how much did that lower his career ERA?

3)  Performance wise, this was a very underwhelming draft class.  Several players appear to have another 3-5 seasons of productivity; are there any players who can do enough in the twilight of their careers to boost them onto the winners lists?

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