March 5, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren prior to the game during spring training against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Braves really poor drafters?


If you read the general consensus from the national pundits after the draft, you may want to ask GM Frank Wren for his job.  A few of the snippets: “very low on upside with some very dubious picks”, “there isn’t huge upside here”, “really got no high-upside impact or high-floor talent”.  Not exactly what you want to read about your favorite team’s draft, but this seems to be what we’ve read and heard for a number of years about the Braves drafting, so if that’s true, the proof should be in the pudding, correct?

I reviewed the last 5 years of drafting for every club in the major leagues and ordered them under two counting statistics – total draftees who were drafted and played for their drafting team, and total major league bWAR of all players drafted.  Here’s the results:

 

The top 5 teams in drafted WAR and players that have played for their drafting team are in blue.  The bottom 5 in each are in red.  Start to think of those teams who are renowned for their systems – Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays – and you’ll be surprised to see each of their systems have a red mark.  The team that didn’t surprise me at all was the Cardinals, who are renowned for filling holes in their team with their draftees and picking high-floor college players that move fast.  They picked the guy I was really hoping to see as a Brave this year, Marco Gonzales of Gonzaga.

As you review the chart in reference to the Braves, you’ll quickly see that the Braves have produced top-5 WAR in the last five seasons, despite only having 5 draftees of theirs play for them.  They’ve used players like Paul Clemens and Brett Oberholtzer to acquire Michael Bourn to compete for a playoff spot, but they’re also one of only 5 teams (now 6 with Mike Zunino coming up for Seattle) who have had a 2012 pick debut this season.  While the Braves may not grab headlines for drafting the pretty names, their system produces year-in and year-out.

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