Saturday, January 14 2023 @ 01:09 AM EST
Contributed by: John Northey
There has been some talk of comparisons of farm systems, drafting, etc. recently and the Jays weren't listed as being one of the better organizations. But does this hold up when one digs into data?
I took bWAR from Baseball Reference's draft pages by team by year for 2010 to 2022. 2010 had a total of 827.7 bWAR for every player drafted combined, 2011 938.6 then it went down from there to a low of -0.5 for 2021's draft (that obviously will change drastically as players develop). I figured this was the easiest way to see if the Jays are a top organization or a bottom feeder.
Note: BR does a summary but includes 'did not sign' players which is quite annoying. However, it is better than any other method and pulling those out would've taken a LOT longer to put together. I'd love to pull all the draft data but they don't have a method that I know of to just pull it and toss it into Excel where I could juggle it 1001 ways. I also checked FanGraphs but they don't have anything for draft summaries that I could find (please let me know if there is a good draft section there). The Baseball Cube has some more data but nothing like WAR to allow one to quickly compare drafts regardless of pitcher heavy or hitter heavy. Onto the data...
First the overall summary for all 30 teams sorted by total bWAR all players drafted (signed or not) with total players who reached the majors for each club.
|Team||bWAR||Players who Reached|
Note: in 2010 the Jays are credited with 29 WAR for drafting Kris Bryant who sadly didn't sign, and 29.6 in 2011 for drafting (but not signing) Aaron Nola. For comparison the Red Sox got 30.5 in 2012 for not signing but drafting Alex Bregman. Every team has a few in there, but the Jays had 2 big ones but most are minor guys worth under 5 WAR.
Gotta say, I was surprised to see the Jays as #1 here. When I went into this I was expecting middle of the pack to be honest. I was also surprised to see how poorly the Yankees do even with Aaron Judge (37 WAR) on their list - sub 100 WAR over the past 13 years yet they still have a great rep for some reason. The Angels being dead last was no shock to anyone I'm sure as that explains how they could spend a fortune, have 2 dead lock HOF'ers in their prime, and still be a sub 500 team.
The Astros doing so well was no surprise either. They had top picks for a few years in this window and used them well by drafting/signing Alex Bregman 30.5 and Carlos Correa 39.5 among others.
Of course, many here will say that is just showing how good AA was and not the current crew so lets cut down to 2016-now.
|Team||bWAR||Players who Reached|
Jays do drop ... all the way to 4th. The Cardinals move to their rightful #1 slot (they historically are known to be great at drafting and developing) with Cleveland and the Dodgers right there. One can quickly see why the Pirates, Nationals, Rockies and Rangers are having so many troubles right now given they all are 2.6 or worse in WAR produced so far from the drafts of 2016 to now. Hard to contend if your farm only gets you backup players at best. The Astros dropped a lot without high picks to help them anymore, but all of this will look very different in 5 more years I'm certain.
So to see how drafts go I did one more chart - each year how many players made the majors so far and how much WAR total has been produced by all drafted players from that year.
The 2010-2011 period is pretty close to done now, although a few players are still kicking and doing well but I suspect rankings from those years won't shift much at this point (a few guys over 50 WAR from then like Mookie Betts) More recent years clearly are going to change a LOT, 2017 to now I'd say is the 'completely in flux' time frame with sub 100 WAR each year and sub 200 total for those 6 drafts vs over 200 WAR for every draft before it. One thing that is clear to me is if you don't get 20-30 WAR out of a draft you did a poor job that year, and sub 10 is a horror show. Some of the Jays nightmares are 2005 and 2006 - both sub 10 WAR, 2006 at 1.9 (Travis Snider is the only reason it wasn't negative). Ugh. But the Angels have AVERAGED worse than 6 WAR per year since 2010 (best was a 27.0 in 2011, their next best was a 15.9 in 2015). For comparison Bo Bichette alone is at 12.9, and in 2013 the Jays flopped with their first 5 rounds but still got 32.8 WAR total thanks to later picks like Matt Boyd and Kendall Graveman and current Jays Jansen & Mayza. That 2013 draft shows how critical a good scouting team is - $500k+ each to 3 guys Rowdy Tellez, Jake Brentz, and Patrick Murphy (none at 2 WAR) while Graveman & Boyd totaled under $100k for bonus money.
Sadly International Free Agents aren't listed at Baseball Reference, but they are at The Baseball Cube which is where the Jays have really shined over the years (Tony Fernandez, Carlos Delgado, Kirk, Vlad, and many others) and hopefully continue to in the future. I'll have to try to make a summary of that sometime - but it'll be much harder as I'll have to combine multiple sites to get results. Sigh.
As to current depth/quality that is a LOT harder to measure as it is all guesswork based on scouts and evaluators estimates of future value. I remember in the 80's the Brewers were #1 in evaluations year in/year out for awhile but didn't win much (drafted Gary Sheffield, BJ Surhoff, and a few others but were out of the playoffs from 1983-2007 despite it), twice cracking 90 wins but in the pre-wild card era that wasn't enough. A strong farm and draft is critical but they are dang near impossible to accurately evaluate until 5+ years after they happen, which is too late as most of they people who made it work (or not) are long gone by then.
Bottom line? Jays based on objective measurements are a very good team at drafting/developing those draft picks. Best in the AL East it seems at the very least, and with a case to be best in the majors since 2010.