Baseball Prospectus is looking for a Public Data Services Director. Read the description here.

In 1999, 30 major-league teams drafted 30 players in the 13th round of the first-year player draft. Those 30 players have, to date, produced 91.2 WARP

The next year, in 2000, major-league teams drafted 30 players in the first round of the first-year player draft. Those players have, to date, produced 93.1 WARP

There is, obviously, a twist. These are the future major leaguers who were drafted in that 13th round: 

Justin Leone: 0.4 WARP
Frank Brooks: -0.1
Alfredo Amezaga: -0.1
Jason Jones: 0.0
Albert Pujols: 91.0

Other than the one pick, the 13th round went as 13 rounds go. But oh, boy, that one pick. Meanwhile, the next year's first-round picks who made the big leagues: 

Adrian Gonzalez: 29.0
Adam Johnson: -0.6
Lou Montanez: -1.4
Justin Wayne: -0.7
Rocco Baldelli: 9.1
Dave Krynzel: -0.2
Joe Borchard: -1.6
Chase Utley: 36.3
Billy Traber: 0.6
Ben Diggins: -0.4
Sean Burnett: 2.2
Chris Bootcheck: 0.4
Boof Bonser: 3.1
Phil Dumatrait: -0.4
Adam Wainwright: 18.6
Scott Thorman: -1.4

So it's a trick, but it's also true, to say that the 13th round in 1999 has produced as much in the majors as the next year's first round. But will it last? Or can Pujols actually surpass the 2000 first round before he retires? Certainly not impossible. There are only five active players from the 2000 first round, unless you want to be generous and include Bonser and Thorman. Of the five, only three–Gonzalez, Utley, Wainwright–are likely to contribute significant WARP going forward. Pujols has one advantage over the three of them: he is signed for a decade and will, therefore, presumably get to keep playing for the better part of 10 years. He has had a slow start this year, which sensible people might argue suggests a steep decline curve for him, but that's probably jumping to conclusions. Meanwhile, Utley's return date is a complete unknown. Wainwright, despite decent strikeout and walk rates, is struggling in his return from a year off. And Adrian Gonzalez has started just about as slowly as Pujols. All are in decline phases of their own, their respective declines starting at much lower points than Pujols'. 

Still, it's hard to bet on Pujols outperforming three stars' cumulative 30s. Here's PECOTA's take on each player, through 2021: 

Albert Pujols: 32.4 WARP

Chase Utley: 12.6
Adrian Gonzalez: 23.0
Adam Wainwright: 17.1
Total: 52.7 WARP

Pujols could certainly do it, but he needs at least one thing to happen: Utley's career ending now, or Gonzalez hitting an Eddie Mathews-level decline, or Wainwright never recovering a replacement-level elbow. Well, two things: One of those, plus his own continued excellence into his late 30s or beyond. It probably won't happen, but it could happen. 

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
A similar exercise comparing Piazza to the next year's 1st round might also be interesting.
Piazza is 56.1 (per B-R), but the first round had Andy Benes (#1, 28.5), Robin Ventura (#10, 52.3), Tino Martinez (#14, 25.1), Charles Nagy (#17, 22.5), Alex Fernandez (#24, 26.5), and Brian Jordan (supplemental 1, #30, 30.8). Pretty solid first round of a draft, and it also shows how good Robin Ventura was (or, well, how good his defense was).
Thanks for providing those numbers and analysis.

Yeah, Ventura's like Fred McGriff. Real real good, but not quite great.