Thursday, March 25, 2010

Early Draft Picks for Past Winners

I regret to no end my decision to purge the Diamond Mind databases after each season. This unfortunate practice continued into ATB VIII or so, and as a result, I have little data on what happened in each of the early seasons.

Since then, however, I have saved not just the seasonal stat lines but every box score. For this post I wanted to investigate the first 3 to 4 draft picks of the last three World Series winners and see if there is any common theme.

Justin's Rockaway Sleep Deprived Insomniacs drafted last overall this year, picking 16th, 17th, 48th, and 49th.

For his first two selections he went defense coupled with stellar OBP/AVG type hitters - 1935 Arky Vaughan and 1910 Ty Cobb. In a disappointing campaign Vaughan batted .260 / .349 / .393 though he did drive in 95 RBI out of the 5th/6th slot in the lineup. Cobb was a stellar lead-of hitter scoring 130 thanks to a .407 OBP and 90 stolen bases.

The next two pics were incredibly, a closer, and a starter that ended up with an ERA approaching 6.00. Eric Gagne lived up to his always lofty expectations saving 41 games with a 2.50 ERA, but Harry Brecheen disappointed and was ultimately benched as a starter.

While not the main topic of the thread, this is an underwhelming opening 4 moves and it's surprising Justin managed to win 94 games, 3rd best in the league. How did he do it?

This was the first season 1800s players were introduced, and the Insomniacs were the first to nab King Kelly. Now a perennial 1st or 2nd rounder, the unknown quantity dropped to the 7th round and paid huge dividends - .337 / .421 / .387 out of the catcher position. Elsewhere, Justin had great seasons from Dan Brouthers (8th round), Monty Stratton (17th round), and Guy Hecker (20th round).

The following season, Brad's Lima de Equipo squad won it all thanks in large part to the first overall pick in the draft. Of course, as has been true in all but 1 season if my memory serves, he selected Babe Ruth. His 1920 season is famous and lived up to all expectations in ATB, putting up historically great numbers - .349 / .481 / .724, 61 HR, 136 R, 151 RBI.

He followed this up with a 40th overall selection of a slap hitting very good defensive center fielder, Billy Hamilton. Hamilton had absolutely no power (19 extra base hits total) but did have a .362 OBP, 99 SB, and scored 115 times.

To complete his outfield with three consecutive picks, Lima went to Hugh Duffy. An off and on ATB player, Duffy was on this season batting .316 / .358 / .443 with 33 2B, 91 R, and 96 RBI; he was also an Ex defender.

In the 4th Brad went to 1991 Cal Ripken, in perhaps a stretch pick, but he was better then average.

Most incredibly, true to the team name (Lima Plan in English) Brad didn't select a starting pitcher until the 11th round. There he chose Tim Lincecum who was horrid (6.07 ERA in only 17 starts) and followed up with Mark Prior in the 14th (5.18 ERA), Cliff Melton in the 22nd, and Dolf Luque in the 23rd.

Only an active owner could have pulled out a win with this squad, and in the Series Brad had to piece together starts from a reliever (Rob Murphy) and a wash-up with just 1 regular season start (Andy Pettitte).

The past two seasons we saw how drafting early hitters while picking up some late pitching depth was the key to each world series championship. In ATB XI last year, Brad emerged victorious again, this time with Bellevue Freakin Franchise drafting 16th of 24 teams.

Infielder Nap Lajoie was selected in the 1st round an performed well - Vg defense with a batting line of .312 / .351 / .472, 95 R, 88 RBI batting 2nd and 3rd. Next up was Oscar Charleston (Ex defense plus .323 / .365 / .456 with 15 HR, 97 R, 90 RBI), Hughie Jennings (Ex shortstop, .365 OBP, 85 SB) and DH Sam Thompson. Thompson too was well above average with 57 extra base hits and 105 Runs Created.

Again, Brad chose the Lima plan first drafting relievers (9th and 10th rounds) then starters very late - Toad Ramsey in the 11th, Cliff Melton in the 16th, Johnny Podres in the 18th, and Billy Pierce in the 21st.

I am hesitant to draw conclusions with just three years of data on hand, but it's difficult not to respect the evidence on hand. In three seasons, with owners drafting 1st, last, and almost smack in the middle, all three times they
  • drafted batting first
  • Ensured at least some of these batters were Vg or better defenders
  • either punted starters or got nothing out of their early round selections of starters anyway
It will be interesting to see if Brad continues with the Lima plan this year and if other owners follow suit and ignore starting pitchers outside of the big 2 - Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux. It seems to work.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for blowing my cover Lou :)

    I did want to point out that LdE made it to the ATB X World Series; however, was bested by the outstanding DC Chips. I am definitely curious as to the keys to their success.