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.