With the Amateur Draft just around the corner, Rany returns to summarize his findings from his year-long draft study.
Now that we're done, it's safe to bring them out again. Starting from scratch, here is a summary of everything we've covered in the first 10 parts of this series. Consider this your pocket guide to the draft, especially if you happen to be on a conference call next Tuesday afternoon. Feel free to print out, laminate, and place in an attractive wood frame with gold trim.
Rany returns with a look at the value of high-school hitters drafted between 1984 and 1999.
Using the technique described in the last part of this draft series, here's a breakdown of draft pick value for college and high school players, separated into pitchers and regulars, from 1984 through 1999:
Nate Silver weighs in with an in-depth book review of Bill Shanks' "Scout's Honor" and its look at the Atlanta Braves' organizational philosophy.
I don't need to tell you what came next. Whether it was the Reverse Curse of Bart Simpson or something else, the Braves have been the most successful franchise in baseball ever since. For my money, in fact, the Braves' performance during the past 15 seasons has been the second-most remarkable sustained run of success in baseball history, behind only the two-pronged Yankee dynasty of 1920-1964. I'm a big fan of everything that the Braves have done, and of the way that they do business.
Having established that there is no longer any difference between high schoolers and collegians in the draft, the question now is, "why not?"
Reader after reader responded with their own theory as to what could cause teams to do a significantly better job of drafting high-school talent, even as they drafted more high-school players. And each response looked frighteningly liked the last: it's the signing bonuses, stupid.
In the first of a series, Rany examines 15 years' worth of draft data to establish some basic rules.
Sexy, it's not. Neither is it all that telegenic, although it certainly could be if MLB ditched the conference call for an amphitheatre with good lighting and tried to make a production out of it. There's no denying its importance, though. There is no source of talent that comes close to matching what's available in what is officially called the Rule 4 Draft. Moreover, there is almost no way to build a successful ballclub without some measure of success in the draft. (The Yankees are trying to prove that last sentence incorrect. They are not succeeding.)
Nate Silver plays cartographer in this edition of Lies, Damned Lies, in search of untapped sources of amateur talent in the U.S.
Major league teams, which collectively are responsible for drafting nearly 1500 players every year--a far bigger burden than their counterparts in other sports face--are keenly aware of the differences. It simply isn't possible, or at least not economically feasible, to develop an accurate scouting report for every amateur prospect in the country. While the top national prospects will be scouted by everyone, teams go regional as the draft moves into its later rounds, focusing on players from their home territories (as the Braves do) or on players from regions in which the level of competition if perceived to be the highest--California, Florida, and the Southwest.
Bill "Chief" Gayton has spent 18 years in the scouting profession, working for the White Sox, Athletics, Yankees, Rockies, and Padres, and enters his third full season as the Director of Scouting in San Diego. BP correspondent Craig Elsten recently sat down with Gayton at the Peoria Sports Complex, while watching many of the Padres' top minor leaguers play on a back field in a Double-A game against Texas. Elsten asked Gayton about the effects of technology on scouting, the challenge of evaluating high school talent, and balancing performance analysis and scouting principles.
Baseball Prospectus: What do you enjoy the most about your job on a day-to-day basis?
Bill Gayton: You know, you get a lot of satisfaction in different ways. Sometimes, it's just a matter of making everything come together. The easiest thing we do is go and evaluate talent; the difficult part of the job is (logistics). Making the schedule work, making the airline reservations, the hotels, the rental car...just getting from point A to point B. Even though, with modern technology, the ability to communicate is so much greater, it's frustrating when we can't make some of our plans come together. But in terms of coming out to the ballpark--hey, it's 75 degrees out here, the sun's out, and we get to watch a baseball game, maybe several different baseball games. That's what's fun.