A Look at Drafting and Developing

Mike Ehrmann

There's been some talk here debating how the Rays stack up against other teams when it comes to drafting and developing players. I decided to take a look. In order to cut the universe of players to a somewhat manageable number, I looked at drafts since the current FO took over 2006 and limited it to players that had thrown 50 innings or had 100 plate appearances that had accrued at least 1 fWAR. Additionally, I only counted players who accumulated their WAR with the team that drafted them.

The first thing that stood out to me was that the Phillies were the only team not to have drafted and developed a player to meet our criteria. The second thing was that the Rays were first in WAR of all teams. Here's how the teams stack up:


While the Rays lead in WAR, they are tied for 6th with 7 other teams that have produced 5 players. I wonder how much of this is related to the quality of the Rays teams, and their patient approach. Of the teams ahead of them only the Cardinals, Nationals, and Braves have made the playoffs in this time span. I'm not sure how to easily get a gauge on comparing patience, though.

Another common line of concern is the Rays ability to draft and develop position players. The Rays once again our tops in baseball in this regard. We have nearly 15 WAR lead on the second place Braves. The Rays have just 2 positional players that have provided this production, but there are only 12 teams that have more. Here's a graphical look:


One thing you may have noticed is some teams have dropped off. The Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Yankees join the Phillies as teams to fail in developing a qualified player.

Since the Rays get all their WAR from just Jennings and Longoria who were both drafted in 2006, I decided to take a look to see the breakdowns of how many drafts teams have hit on. Below is a chart showing each teams' qualifying position player count and WAR by draft year:


So there are 9 other teams that have only landed players in one of the drafts to join the 4 that have hit on zero. I have a hard time dinging them for that considering the quality of players they've developed and how they game service time (i.e. Jennings still having 4 years of control). By allowing them to get the most productive years they can afford to hit on less overall drafts or players because they get more overall value.

Obviously there are a few open questions because of the way I had to cull the data to get it manageable. The first is it ignores players that have been near replacement level or below. I think it's fair to exclude guys playing for a team that theoretically should be in the minors. The second deals with players dealt once they were pros. Carving out what was accrued by the drafted team and the new team would have been a bigger effort I wasn't willing to take. I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze. If you do, take a look at my source data (below) and download the necessary FG data. I'd love to see it.

This is pretty interesting stuff to poke around with, so take a look.

Source Data

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.