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June 4, 2014

Pebble Hunting

The Baseball Bloodlines Project

by Sam Miller


A word you’re going to hear during this week's draft is “bloodlines.” Nick Gordon will get drafted early in the first round, and noted will be his bloodlines—son of Tom, brother of Dee. Cobi Johnson will get drafted in the supplemental round, and noted will be his bloodlines—son of Dane, who you’ve never heard of, but still, bloodlines. If last year is a good guide, around 100 of the 1,200 players drafted will have been sired by pro ballplayers. (Many others will be brothers or nephews of pro ballplayers.)

That’s one way of doing the math. I wondered about the other way of doing the math: If you start with a ballplayer and make him mate, what are the chances his offspring will be drafted? I’ll warn you right now that the front end of this research took much longer than I anticipated, the result being that I’ve got a couple things to say that you can read in about 15 seconds, and then the article will be over. You’re warned.

I went back to 1978. I pulled up all of the major leaguers who appeared that season. I wanted something close to a random sample of them, so I sorted by plate appearances and selected every fifth name. Then I tried to find their kids.

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Related Content:  Bloodlines

15 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

touchstoneQu

Instead of considering the likelihood of individual players producing professional players, what about considering families? That is, if a family produced more than one MLBer, is it more likely to produce more? Should we expect more Boones, Bells and Colemans? The third Griffey chose football, but maybe there's still a chance?

Jun 04, 2014 08:10 AM
rating: 2
 
DrDaley

+1

Jun 04, 2014 13:57 PM
rating: 0
 
touchstoneQu

Also, Baseball-Reference -- naturally! -- has a "Largest Baseball Families" page for reference....

Jun 04, 2014 08:16 AM
rating: 3
 
John Carter

An interesting start, but it doesn't seem to me to be a large enough sample size to draw any accurate occlusions. Even that the better Major Leaguers produce more Major League prodigies makes sense to me, but considering how much harder it must have been to find offspring of the lesser players, I'm still a tad skeptical.

I'm thinking Sam could have spun an even more interesting article about his process on this project.

Note to trigger happy minus voters: please, provide a reason why you don't like this comment.

Jun 04, 2014 08:30 AM
rating: 0
 
gjhardy

So what are the chances of an average nonprofessional athlete producing a kid who gets drafted? Isn't that the rate to which you should compare the number of bloodline picks?

Jun 04, 2014 09:07 AM
rating: 0
 
gjhardy

Should have said "average guy" or "average Joe" there.

Jun 04, 2014 09:08 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

Odds of an American-born boy getting drafted are somewhere around 1 in 1,700, or a little worse when you adjust the denominator for Canadians and guys who get drafted multiple times

Jun 04, 2014 09:13 AM
 
chunkstyle

I just HAVE to think that the real litmus tests for this idea will be Garrett Anthony Garciaparra (son of Nomar and soccer superstar Mia Hamm). Also, we should probably have high athletic expectations for the Agassi progeny (via Steffi Graf). Their oldest son is 12 and is apparently very interested in baseball....

Jun 04, 2014 09:25 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

Found a bunch of kids who weren't drafted but were distinguished in other sports -- Dave Winfield's kid currently playing college basketball, so and so's son played QB at Baylor, etc. Lou Brock's kid was drafted, didn't sign, but played NFL.

Jun 04, 2014 09:46 AM
 
chunkstyle

Winfield must have some powerhouse DNA. No surprise considering he was drafted in three sports.

...but how about kids whose parents were BOTH professional athletes? And please, I intend absolutely no snark in asking this....but I thought the notion I was adding here was that expectations might be more reasonably raised by BOTH parents contributing superstar gametes. The Agassi's and Garciaparra's were the only ones I knew of, but perhaps you know of others...?

Otherwise, we'll be left waiting a while. The Agassi kid is starting high school soon, but the Garciaparras still get a mustache when they drink milk.

Jun 04, 2014 11:35 AM
rating: 0
 
Pat Folz

Yao Ming's wife was also a basketball player (and fairly enormous for a woman, natch), and they have a daughter. She's only 4 so we'll see what her athletic future holds a decade from now, but we can probably already pencil her in for a lifetime of always being asked to get something from the top shelf...

Jun 05, 2014 00:27 AM
rating: 0
 
Agent007

Maybe as a follow-up you could look at MLB progeny on the rise (Hunter Harvey and Mike Yaz immediately come to mind -- both will play in the SAL All-Star game)...

Jun 04, 2014 09:54 AM
rating: 1
 
adam

Carl's grandson Mike Yastrzemski currently has a slashline of .306/.372/.546 for the Oriole's single A team.

Jun 04, 2014 10:47 AM
rating: 0
 
dianagram

Other resources for father/son baseball player combos:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_second-generation_Major_League_Baseball_players

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/family/fam2.shtml

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/family/fam2a.shtml

Jun 04, 2014 11:09 AM
rating: 3
 
quackman

Didn't Bobby Bonds Jr. also make it to the high minors? (Though I think we can pretty confidently say he was given more chances than had his name been Bobby Notbonds Jr.)

Jun 05, 2014 13:49 PM
rating: 0
 
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