This Doesn't Happen. Don't Think This Is Normal

Thursday, August 18 2011 @ 10:53 PM EDT

Contributed by: Matthew E

With all the attention focused on the draft recently, it occurred to me recently to go back to Michael Lewis's famous baseball book, Moneyball, and look at the chapters on that year's draft (2002). Lewis dissects the draft, highlighting the players Oakland was interested in and the others who figured in to their picks. You could put together a pretty interesting all-star team from the players mentioned by name in that part of the book, and here they are:

C Jeremy Brown (Oak) ("If you put him in corduroys, he'd start a fire.")
C John Baker (Oak) (Fla)
1B Prince Fielder (Mil) ("Prince Fielder just saved our paint.")
2B Mark Kiger (Oak) ("Too small to play pro ball--or so they said.")
SS Khalil Greene (SD) ("Kevin Towers, the GM of the San Diego Padres, would take Greene.")
3B Mark Teahen (Oak) (Tor) ("I hate to process on the campfire, but I haven't heard Teahen's name once all year.")
OF Nick Swisher (Oak) (NYY) ("Oh, he's noticeable. From the moment he gets off the bus he doesn't shut up.")
OF Denard Span (Min) ("Span frolicked us. His agent just asked for $2.6 million and frolicking Colorado can't get a deal done.")
OF B.J. Upton (TB) ("Tampa Bay takes a high school shortstop named Melvin Upton.")
Bench Russ Adams (Tor) ("J.P. is going to take Adams, and once Adams is gone, we're frolicked.")
Bench/Bullpen Adam Loewen (Bal) (Tor) ("Baltimore follows suit with a high school pitcher named Adam Loewen.")

P Joe Blanton (Oak) (Phi) ("You were going to get Blanton," he says. "But you ain't getting him now.")
P Jeff Francis (Col) (KC) ("Frolicking Colorado's taking Francis.")
P Zack Greinke (KC) (Mil) ("No. We're not all right. Greinke, Gruler, and Everts aren't going to be there.")
P Jeremy Guthrie (Cle) (Bal) ("Whichever team drafted Jeremy Guthrie was going to cough up a package worth $20 million--or Guthrie would return to Stanford for his senior year.")
P Scott Kazmir (NYM) (LAA) ("Well, that's a frolicking light at the end of the frolicking tunnel.")
RP Roger Ring (CWS) (NYY) (""You frolicking got to be kidding me!" hollers Billy, overjoyed.")
RP Bill Murphy (Oak) (Tor)
RP Bryan Bullington (Pit) (KC) ("Redraft number 0090.")

(I had to substitute some words for other words in some of those quotes.)

I hadn't realized that so many of these guys played for Toronto. Never mind Russ Adams, but also Teahen, Loewen, Bullington... I had forgotten that Bill Murphy even existed. Brant Colamarino belonged to them for a while.

Now, there were some future major-league players drafted that year who never got mentioned in Lewis's book, and who therefore aren't on this team. Guys like Cole Hamels, Joe Saunders, Jeff Francoeur, James Loney, Matt Cain, Jeremy Hermida, and Sergio Santos. I don't have the complete draft listings in front of me, but I wonder if the guys Lewis didn't mention could beat the ones he did mention.

Still, this isn't a baseball list. It's a literary list. Players from the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros are remembered today by many mostly because they appeared, because they were mentioned, in Bouton's Ball Four. Jeremy Brown and Mark Kiger and Bill Murphy didn't have great major-league careers, but as long as people still read about baseball, they'll be remembered as part of the Moneyball draft.