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August 19, 2007

Lies, Damned Lies

Slotto Bonanzas, Part Two

by Nate Silver

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What follows is a comprehensive roster of all players between 1998 and 2006 who were drafted with one of the first 100 selections and who also went for at least $500,000 over slot, considering both their signing bonus and any guaranteed MLB money. I've used the 2006 slot values for all seasons from 2000-2006, as MLB has generally been very successful at containing draft inflation during this period (in fact, the draft slots went down in 2007). The slots do appear to have been a little lower in 1999 and 1998, and so I've scaled those back by five percent and 10 percent respectively, rounding off to the nearest "big" number. I've also indicated those cases where the player's alternative careers in football or basketball could have influenced his signing bonus. Finally, I've posed a simple question: If the team had perfect knowledge of what that player was going to do, would they commit the same money again?

2006

Luke Hochevar (#1, Royals), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $4,000,000
Signing Bonus: $3,500,000 + $1,800,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Had a disappointing minor league season featuring 116 strikeouts, 40 walks, and a 0.95 GB/FB ratio in 127 IP.
Do It Again?: Maybe, but leaning no. It's too early to call Hochevar a bust, but he has already been surpassed by Andrew Miller, Clayton Kershaw, Tim Linecum, Max Scherzer, and Ian Kennedy, and that's just among pitchers selected in his draft class.

Andrew Miller (#6, Tigers), College LHP
Estimated Slot: $2,400,000
Signing Bonus: $3,550,000 + $1,850,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Used his big sinker to help tie down a spot in the Tiger rotation after blitzing through the minors. Based on his strikeout and walk rates, he's a #3 starter, but the stuff and strong groundball ratios give him some Brandon Webb-like upside.
Do It Again?: Yes. The $1.1 million the Tigers went above slot may already have paid for itself; think what it would have cost them to find a comparable, ready-now pitcher at the trade deadline. Miller's upside is just the gravy.

Max Scherzer (#11, Diamondbacks), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $1,900,000
Signing Bonus: $3,000,000 + $1,300,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done:: Finally signed a contract this May just before he turned into a pumpkin. He's posted 89 strikeouts against 34 walks in 70 IP between two minor league levels. Do It Again?: Leaning yes, but his walk rate since being promoted to Double-A is poor enough (5.4 BB/9) that for now he's a maybe.

Ian Kennedy (#21, Yankees), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $1,475,000
Signing Bonus: $2,250,000
What He's Done: Torn through three minor league levels, giving Yankee fans something else to obsess about once they get done figuring out how to pronounce "Joba."
Do It Again?: Yes, although Kennedy is not quite a sure thing.

2005

Justin Upton (#1, Diamondbacks), High School SS/CF
Estimated Slot: $4,000,000
Signing Bonus: $6,100,000
What He's Done: Turned a disappointing debut campaign on its head to become the best prospect in perhaps several seasons.
Do It Again?: Hell yes. You could argue that another zero tacked onto that bonus would be justified.

Alex Gordon (#2, Royals), College 3B
Estimated Slot: $3,250,000
Signing Bonus: $4,000,000
What He's Done: The consensus #1 prospect in baseball heading into the season, Gordon is making strides with .283/.317/.525 averages since the All-Star break after a disappointing first half.
Do It Again?: Objectively, we have to call this a maybe, but I'd lay about 3:1 that the answer will wind up being a decisive "yes." Gordon reminds me a bit of Aramis Ramirez, in that he's having some trouble finding just what approach he wants to work with at the plate; he drew walks in the first half but is trading them for power since the break. Like Ramirez, he should get it figured out, and A-Ram with plus defense is a perennial All-Star.

Mike Pelfrey (#9, Mets), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $2,100,000
Signing Bonus: $3,550,000 + $1,700,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done:Struggled mightily at the major league level with a 5.79 lifetime ERA in 70 IP. Minor league peripherals (50 K and 24 BB in 72 2/3 IP this year) do not imply an outstanding prospect.
Do It Again?: No. I'm not a fan of Pelfrey's approach; my impression is that he lacks the stuff to go right after hitters and the concentration to pitch-sequence his way to success. The statistics suggest a #4/#5 guy. Not a lost cause, but distinctly unlikely to be worth the extra money.

Cameron Maybin (#10, Tigers), High School OF
Estimated Slot: $2,000,000
Signing Bonus: $2,650,000
What He's Done: Solidified his reputation as one of the best prospects in baseball with a .319/.412/.528 (plus 25 SB) performance between some pitcher-friendly minor league environments.
Do It Again?: Yes. Among the players on this list, perhaps only Justin Upton, Grady Sizemore, and Joe Mauer have more upside.

2004

Philip Humber (#3, Mets), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $3,000,000
Signing Bonus: $3,000,000 + $1,200,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Posted very pedestrian statistics since reaching the upper levels of the minors.
Do It Again?: No. The standards for the #3 overall pick are high, particularly if he also secures a major league contract.

Jeff Niemann (#4, Devil Rays), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $2,750,000
Signing Bonus: $3,200,000 + $2,200,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Had a fairly circuitous career path because of injuries, posting good-but-not-great numbers when healthy.
Do It Again?. Maybe. Niemann earned a bit more money than Humber, but he's had better numbers and retains more of his upside.

Jered Weaver (#12, Angels), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $1,800,000
Signing Bonus: $4,000,000
What He's Done: Won 19 games in barely more than a season's worth of major league performance.
Do It Again?: Yes. To me, Weaver seems like he could be a poor man's Bret Saberhagen, alternating good seasons with disappointing and injured ones, but that's well worth the extra money.

Stephen Drew (#15, Diamondbacks), College SS
Estimated Slot: $1,650,000
Signing Bonus: $4,000,000 + $1,500,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Fallen on his face after finishing 2006 very strongly, leading to questions about whether his minor league track record was a product of hitter-friendly park effects.
Do It Again?: Maybe, and probably leaning toward no. I'd love to pose this question to Josh Byrnes. Drew is already 24, his defense is no better than average, and he was guaranteed major league money on top of his signing bonus. Clearly, this wouldn't be that much to pay for a comparable free agent talent, but when you factor in opportunity cost, Drew has some work left to do.

Grant Johnson (#66, Cubs), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $560,000
Signing Bonus: $1,260,000
What He's Done: Already gotten himself bumped to the bullpen, and he's not a particularly bright relief prospect at that, striking out less than a batter an inning as a 24-year-old in Daytona and Tennessee.
Do It Again?: No, and the Cubs are lucky that fellow Notre Dame alum Jeff Samardzija isn't eligible for this analysis.

Matt Tuiasosopo (#93, Marlins), High School SS
Estimated Slot: $415,000
Signing Bonus: $2,290,000
Football Influences (U. of Washington)
What He's Done: Gotten back on the prospect radar with a .271/.384/.409 performance at Double-A West Tennessee.
Do It Again?: No, although this is closer than you might think. Tuiasosopo has turned in a perfectly reasonable performance this year, and he's 21, which is a perfectly reasonable age for Double-A. Still, he looks like a 'tweener. He isn't really a shortstop, and he hasn't displayed much in the way of power. Wipe some strikeouts off his stat line and he'd have a chance as a Bill Mueller type, but he's had trouble making contact as well (99 K's in 112 G this year).

2003

Delmon Young (#1, Devil Rays), High School OF
Estimated Slot: $4,000,000
Signing Bonus: $3,700,000 + $2,100,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Thrown a bat at an umpire, reached the major leagues before he reached drinking age, and failed to hit for quite as much power as anticipated.
Do It Again?. Maybe. Expectations for Young may have been inflated, and .293/.321/.411 is a pretty reasonable performance for a 21-year-old major leaguer. But the bar is set high for the top overall pick.

Rickie Weeks (#2, Brewers), College 2B
Estimated Slot: $3,250,000
Signing Bonus: $3,600,000 + $1,200,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Made PECOTA very, very angry by regressing rather than having the breakout season it anticipated.
Do It Again?. We have to call this a no. This was a crossroads year for Weeks. While he should have a career for himself, he's going to enter next season as a 25-year-old who has yet to master the major league level. The odds that he becomes a star in line with what you'd expect from the #2 overall pick have gone way down.

Vince Sinisi (#46, Rangers), College 1B
Estimated Slot: $750,000
Signing Bonus: $2,070,000
What He's Done: Made his way to the Padres organization, where he looks like a Quad-A guy. A 25-year-old first baseman with a 831 OPS in the PCL isn't really a prospect.
Do It Again?: No.

Chuck Tiffany (#61, Dodgers), High School LHP
Estimated Slot: $590,000
Signing Bonus: $1,100,000
What He's Done: Has yet to return to competition after undergoing rotator cuff surgery in July 2006, being overtaken by approximately six zillion Devil Ray pitching prospects and team mascot Raymond in the process.
Do It Again?: No. Tiffany was on the right track before injuries hit, but the odds are now stacked against him.

2002

B.J. Upton (#2, Devil Rays), High School SS
Estimated Slot: $3,250,000
Signing Bonus: $4,600,000
What He's Done: Resuscitated the Gary Sheffield comparisons with a .320/.402/.539 batting line this year.
Do It Again?: Yes. If the Devil Rays had something to do over again where he's concerned, it would be the decision to waste Upton's time in Durham the past couple of seasons.

Adam Loewen (#4, Orioles), High School LHP
Estimated Slot: $2,750,000
Signing Bonus: $3,200,000 + $820,000 MLB Contract
What He's DoneAfter a hit-and-miss 2006, Loewen is sidelined following surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left elbow.
Do It Again?. Maybe; it's still too early to call this one.

Scott Kazmir (#15, Mets), High School LHP
Estimated Slot: $1,650,000
Signing Bonus: $2,150,000
What He's Done: His best Steve Carlton impression as the left-handed anchor of a weak pitching staff.
Do It Again?. Yes.

Bobby Brownlie (#21, Cubs), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $1,475,000
Signing Bonus: $2,500,000
What He's Done: Having turned 26 without a single big league inning under his belt, Brownlie began his season as a member of the Newark Bears. Cleveland has signed him and placed him in Double-A, but he isn't really a prospect. Do It Again?: No. How 'bout them Cubs?

Jeremy Guthrie (#22, Indians), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $1,425,000
Signing Bonus: $3,000,000 + $1,000,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done:By all appearances a bust heading into the season, Guthrie has become the latest example of Leo Mazzone's ability to work miracles now that he's having a very good run in Baltimore.
Do It Again?: It's hard to evaluate this signing, since Guthrie was waived by the team that originally drafted him. We'll take the easy way out and call this a maybe.

Jeff Francoeur (#23, Braves), High School OF
Estimated Slot: $1,400,000
Signing Bonus: $2,200,000
Football Influences (Clemson)
What He's Done: Alternately dazzled and frustrated in 351 career major league games, with more of the former of late.
Do It Again?: Yes. Growing pains aside, this is an outstanding return on investment for the extra $800K.

Mike Nixon (#91, Dodgers), High School C
Estimated Slot: $420,000
Signing Bonus: $950,000
Football Influences (UCLA)
What He Did: Didn't click at all as a baseball prospect and ended his professional career after the 2005 season. Last seen boasting to co-eds at Arizona State about being drafted by Tommy Lasorda, and trying to make their football team as a walk-on.
Do It Again?: No.

2001

Joe Mauer (#1, Twins), High School C
Estimated Slot: $4,000,000
Signing Bonus: $5,150,000
Football Influences (Florida State)
What He's Done: Become one of the dozen or so most valuable assets in baseball. Has the potential to rewrite the rules of the catcher position.
Do It Again?: Yes.

Mark Prior (#2, Cubs), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $3,250,000
Signing Bonus: $4,000,000 + $6,250,000 MLB Contract (elected to void last $2 million of deal in 2006 to go to arbitration)
What He's Done: I was tempted to use the past tense there.
Do It Again?: Mark Prior will be a free agent after this season, and is under no further contractual obligation to the Cubs. This is what he provided to the Northsiders:


Year    Earnings     SNLVAR
2001   $4,000,000*     --
2002     $250,000     3.5
2003     $650,000     7.6
2004   $1,600,000     3.6
2005   $2,000,000     4.1
2006   $3,650,000    -0.5
2007   $3,575,000     0.0
TOTAL $15,725,000    18.8
* Signing bonus

I was expecting this to come out a bit more favorably for Prior, but the Cubs have shelled out more than $7 million for literally less-than-zero performance the past two seasons. Overall, they've paid $836,000 per marginal win, which is not a terrific return for a #2 pick. With that said, Prior was essential in bringing the Cubs to the playoffs in 2003, and arguably helped to create a lot of buzz for the franchise. We have to call this a maybe. In fact, I strongly suspect that the Cubs would commit the same money again if they knew exactly what they were getting.

Dewon Brazelton (#3, Devil Rays), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $3,000,000
Signing Bonus: $4,200,000 + $600,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Been one of the least effective pitchers ever to compile substantial major league playing time. His lifetime VORP is -37.8.
Do It Again?: Certainly not.

Gavin Floyd (#4, Phillies), High School RHP
Estimated Slot: $2,750,000
Signing Bonus: $4,200,000
What He's Done: Speaking of ineffective, it's virtually unprecedented for a pitcher to right himself after posting a 7.24 ERA over his first 30 major league ballgames.
Do It Again?: No. Floyd has made some strides in Triple-A this year, but it's too little, too late.

Mark Teixeira (#5, Rangers), College 3B/1B
Estimated Slot: $2,500,000
Singing Bonus: $4,500,000 + $5,000,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Been an All-Star caliber major league first baseman for the past four seasons.
Do It Again?: Yes. Although Mauer is the favorite at this point, it will be interesting whether he or Teixeira winds up at the head of this draft class.

Michael Garciaparra (#36, Mariners), High School SS
Estimated Slot: $950,000
Signing Bonus: $2,000,000
What He's Done: Made no meaningful progress toward a major league career while serving as Exhibit A in the case against bloodlines.
Do It Again?: No. This draft pick was far from universally lauded at the time. The Mariners didn't have a first round pick that year, and tried to make a splash by paying first round money to a player who didn't really deserve it.

Roscoe Crosby (#53, Royals), High School OF
Estimated Slot: $660,000
Signing Bonus: $1,750,000
Football Influences (Clemson)
What He Did: There's a book to be written about Roscoe Crosby. Touted both as a potential #1 overall pick in the baseball draft and one of the better wide receiver recruits of his decade, Crosby was drafted by the Royals with the idea that he'd be allowed to play both sports. While working his way through an injury in extended spring training in 2002, he was involved in a severe car accident that killed several of his former high school teammates. Crosby was left physically unscathed but mentally devastated; he barely played football at Clemson and never made it into a professional baseball game at any level. After losing an arbitration case to the Royals that voided a portion of his signing bonus, Crosby signed as an undrafted free agent with the Indianapolis Colts. He's no longer on their roster, and has yet to catch an NFL pass. Do It Again?: No. It's almost unfathomable that the Royals would go a million over slot and also let Crosby play ACC football, but that's how good a prospect he was.

Mike Gosling (#66, Diamondbacks), College LHP
Estimated Slot: $560,000
Signing Bonus: $2,000,000
What He's Done: Alternated stints in Louisville and Cincinnati while he tries to establish command that was never really there: Gosling walked 104 hitters in 177 innings in his NCAA career at Stanford.
Do It Again?: Who but Kevin Goldstein would have known that Gosling was a way-above-slot guy? No.

2000

Joe Borchard (#12, White Sox), College OF
Estimated Slot: $1,800,000
Signing Bonus: $5,300,000
Football Influences (NFL)
What He's Done: Held the draft bonus signing record for several years until Justin Upton came along. Disappointed baseball teams on the south ends of first Chicago and then Florida.
Do It Again?: No. Borchard didn't bomb immediately, posting some promising statistics in the minor leagues, but he'll be lucky to get another meaningful major league opportunity after flailing with the Fish.

Beau Hale (#14, Orioles), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $1,700,000
Signing Bonus: $2,250,000
What He's Done: Hale is still in the Orioles' farm system after tearing his rotator cuff two years into his professional career, but there's been no upward trajectory in his performance.
Do It Again?: No.

Ben Diggins (#17, Dodgers), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $1,575,000
Signing Bonus: $2,200,000
What He Did: The last entry of Diggins' stat line at the Baseball Cube features him trying to resurrect himself as a position player in the Frontier League last season. He hit .209.
Do It Again?: No.

David Espinosa (#23, Reds), High School SS
Estimated Slot: $1,400,000
Signing Bonus: No Bonus; $2,950,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Served as a guinea pig for a Scott Boras strategy that never really took off, which was forsaking the slot bonus entirely for a guaranteed major league contract. Espinosa is now kicking around the Tigers system. He looked like a potential Free Talent All-Star last season, but is hitting just .191/.253/.293 this time around.
Do It Again?: No.

Jason Stokes (#41, Marlins), High School 1B
Estimated Slot: $825,000
Signing Bonus: $2,027,000
What He's Done: Occasionally drawn rave reviews for his power, but mainly frustrated his minor league managers between injuries and an inability to make contact.
Do It Again?: No, although he's in the Oakland system now, and there's some potential for a Jack Cust scenario.

Bobby Hill (#43, Cubs), College SS, via the Northern League
Estimated Slot: $787,500
Signing Bonus: $1,425,000
What He Did: Turned out not to be much better at baseball than his namesake.
Do It Again?: No.

Dane Sardinha (#46, Reds), High School C
Estimated Slot: $750,000
Signing Bouns: No Bonus; $1,900,000 MLB Contract
What He Did: Reached the majors unlike his partner in crime, Espinosa, but only stayed there long enough to get three at-bats.
Do It Again?: No.

Jason Young (#47, Rockies), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $730,000
Signing Bonus: $2,750,000
What He Did Ended his professional career after the 2005 season, joining the ranks of failed Stanford prospects.
Do It Again?: No.

Xavier Nady (#49, Padres), College 3B
Estimated Slot: $700,000
Signing Bonus: $1,100,000 + $1,750,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Established that he's good enough to be a starter for a second-division team.
Do It Again: Yes. Players like Nady don't get people excited, but a 40th percentile MLB regular is a very good return for the 49th pick, even with the extra money involved.

Grady Sizemore (#75, Expos), High School OF
Estimated Slot: $475,000
Signing Bonus: $2,000,000
Football Influences (U. of Washington)
What He's Done:Checked in as the Indians' pin-up boy and All-Star center fielder until at least 2011.
Do It Again?: Yes, five times over.

Chris Young (#89, Pirates), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $425,000
Signing Bonus: $1,650,000
Basketball Influences (NBA)
What He's Done: Emerged as a darkhorse Cy Young candidate and the best really tall pitcher since Randy Johnson. Do It Again?: Yes. It's not quite clear whether Young got a big signing bonus because he was a credible threat to play in the NBA, or a credible threat to find some other way to make a lot of money with his Princeton education. Clearly an inspired pick; less so the Pirates' decision to trade him for Matt Herges.

1999

Josh Beckett (#2, Marlins), High School RHP
Estimated Slot: $3,100,000
Signing Bonus: $3,625,000 + $3,375,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Helped lead the Marlins to a World Championship; on the verge of doing the same with the Red Sox.
Do It Again?: Yes. Giving guaranteed money to a high school pitcher was unprecedented, but Beckett has been worth the investment.

Eric Munson (#3, Tigers), College C
Estimated Slot: $2,850,000
Signing Bonus: $3,500,000 + $3,250,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done:Having entered the season as one of those "he's still playing?" guys, he's shown some signs of life as Houston's backup catcher.
Do It Again?: No. Even if Munson resurrects his career, much of it will come after his arbitration window has lapsed.

Ben Sheets (#10, Brewers), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $1,900,000
Signing Bonus: $2,450,000
What He's Done: Posted some of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios this side of Johan Santana.
Do It Again?. Yes.

Nick Stocks (#36, Cardinals), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $900,000
Signing Bonus: $1,410,000
What He Did: Never reached the majors, nor came particularly close to doing so, with a 4.64 lifetime ERA in the minor leagues.
Do It Again? No.

Carl Crawford (#52, Devil Rays), High School OF
Estimated Slot: $635,000
Singing Bonus: $1,245,000
Football Influences (Nebraska); Basketball Influences (UCLA)
What He's Done: Become the sort of multi-talented ballplayer that will have teams drafting multi-sport athletes for decades to come.
Do It Again?: Yes.

Neil Jenkins (#87, Tigers), High School 3B/OF
Estimated Slot: $400,000
Signing Bonus: $900,000
What He Did: Hit .245/.294/.418 over portions of six minor league seasons before hanging up his spikes in 2004.
Do It Again?: No.

1998

Pat Burrell (#1, Phillies), College 3B
Estimated Slot: $3,600,000
Signing Bonus: $3,150,000 + $4,850,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Developed a reputation for inconsistency that somewhat obscures his solid lifetime .290 EqA in the major leagues.
Do It Again?. Yes, but it's close. Burrell's performance has been slightly above average for what you can expect from a #1 overall pick, just enough so to cover the extra cash that the Phillies shelled out.

Corey Patterson (#3, Cubs), High School OF
Estimated Slot: $2,700,000
Signing Bonus: $3,700,000
What He's Done: Compiled a career WARP3 of 21.1 on the strength of his defense, while disappointing at the plate.
Do It Again?: Patterson gets booked as a maybe. He obtained the largest bonus of his draft class (before considering the MLB money that J.D. Drew and Pat Burrell received), essentially earning #1 pick money. While he hasn't lived up to that standard, he's on pace to exceed the 27.5 lifetime WARP that #3 picks in Rany's draft study generally accumulated.

J.D. Drew (#5, Cardinals), College OF, via the Northern League
Estimated Slot: $2,250,000
Signing Bonus: $3,000,000 + $4,000,000 MLB Contract
What He's Done: Made a lot of enemies, but many of them have been opposing pitchers.
Do It Again?: Yes. Drew received $7 million in guaranteed money between 1998 and 2001, which makes this one of the more expensive deals in draft history. Even so, it was a clear win for the Cardinals.

Choo Freeman (#36, Rockies), High School OF
Estimated Slot: $850,000
Signing Bonus: $1,400,000
Football Influences (Texas A&M)
What He's Done: A stale impression of Juan Pierre. Fittingly, he's now in the Dodger system.
Do It Again?: No.

Chad Hutchinson (#48, Cardinals), College RHP
Estimated Slot: $650,000
Signing Bonus: $2,300,000 + $1,100,000 MLB Contract
Football Influences (NFL)
What He's Done: Managed the impossible by being a worse pitcher than Sidney Ponson and a worse quarterback than Kyle Orton.
Do It Again?: No.

Matt Belisle (#52, Braves), High School RHP
Estimated Slot: $600,000
Signing Bonus: $1,750,000
What He's Done:The Braves draft so well that they usually have the luxury not to go above slot. Belisle was a rare exception. Now in Cincinnati, his peripherals indicate he's a #4 or #5 starter going forward.
Do It Again?: Maybe. Belisle seems like a bust at first glance, but getting a useful major league arm is well above par for the #52 slot in the draft.

Drew Henson (#97, Yankees), High School 3B
Estimated Slot: $360,000
Signing Bonus: $2,000,000
Football Influences (Michigan)
What He's Done: Has 18 career passing attempts in the NFL, which is double his number of MLB plate appearances.
Do It Again?: No.

Adding it Up

It might surprise you how many of the above-slot players have turned out to be busts. Although the failures of football guys like Henson and Borchard are fairly well known, you probably wouldn't stop to think about Vince Sinisi or Mike Nixon. Our final tally is as follows:


Do It Again?
Yes      18
Maybe    11
No       28

It would seem that the majority of players who sign for above slot are not worth the money. However, that isn't the whole story. In fact, it's a patently misleading story, because it mis-states the whole nature of the draft. With the exception of the top few overall picks, the draft is a boom or bust exercise; the vast majority of major league draft picks are failures. You could go a decade without getting a major leaguer from your third-round pick, but if the next year you got Grady Sizemore, you'd be coming out ahead. So, if you can get just a few more Sizemores by going above slot from time to time, your return on investment would be very adequate.

Nate Silver is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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2007-08-20 - Premium Article Lies, Damned Lies: Slotto Madness, Part 3
2007-08-19 - Premium Article Lies, Damned Lies: Slotto Bonanzas, Part Two
2007-08-17 - Premium Article Lies, Damned Lies: Slotto Bonanzas, Part One
2007-08-02 - Premium Article Lies, Damned Lies: Baseball's New Underclass
2007-07-27 - Premium Article Lies, Damned Lies: Fixing It
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