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  • Acquiring Talent the Twins Way: Terry Ryan vs. the AL (part 3 of 3)

    We're taking a look at how the Twins acquired their talent using the 6 methods of talent acquisition. In Part 1 we looked at Twins position players. In Part 2, we looked at the pitchers. Today, we'll compare the Twins' successes in the 6 methods of talent acquisition versus the rest of the American League.

    1. Amateur Draft
    We already know the Twins have acquired the most positional talent and the 2nd most pitching talent from the Amateur draft, as measured by WAR.
    But roster space is limited. How does the average Amateur Draftee stack up against the rest of the AL?

    The big outlier here is the Red Sox, whose draftees have been a half-win better than average. The rest of the AL is grouped fairly closely, with the Twins very much in the middle. Their positional draftees have been .02 WAR worse than average, while their pitchers have been .09 WAR better. Overall, they're slightly (.07 WAR) better than average at drafting amateur talent under Terry Ryan.

    2. Amateur Free Agency
    Overall, the average Amateur Drafted-pitcher is worth .78 WAR. The average Amateur Free Agent pitcher? .80 WAR. For position players - 1.25 WAR for the average Draftee, and 1.10 for the average Amateur FA. However the distribution of Amateur FA talent has been very uneven.

    The Twins are 2nd to last in average WAR, but its not really for a lack of trying. For example, the Twins and White Sox have both signed 16 Amateur FAs. The Twins have gotten just 11 WARs to the White Sox's 61.2. What gives?

    Couple of things. First, the Twins didn't dip their toes in the Amateur FA water till 2000 when they acquired Luis Rivas - one year after the Sox acquired Carlos Lee, and three years after they got Magglio Ordonez. Culprit no. 1 is late timing.

    Culprit 2, it appears, is the Twins' reluctance to hand out signing bonuses and multiyear contracts, combined possibly with poor scouting. After the Twins became active in Amateur Free Agency, talents like Alexei Ramirez, Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Felix Hernandez, Roberto Hernandez, Rafael Soriano, Omar Infante, and Victor Martinez managed to fall into the competition's hands. Some signed contracts with half-million or greater bonuses, others signed for much less. In general, the pricier contracts went to better players.

    3. Rule 5 Draft
    The results of the Rule 5 Draft are curious. They ought to be skewed by a self-selecting sample. Players who are able to stick on their team's 40 man roster for an entire year should be pretty good right? Wrong. Only 3 of the 67 players who "stuck" on the drafting team's rosters have posted cumulative WARs of 5 or more - a rate of 4.4%. A worse rate than the Amateur Draft (16%), Trades (15%), Amateur Free Agency (14%), and Free Agency (9.1%). Only Waiver pickups produce 5+ WARs at a worse rate (3.4%).

    4. Trades
    Total player-seasons from trades outnumber all other avanues of talent acquisition except the Draft (3094 to 3274). Unlike the Draft, however, there is not a lot of variance in the output from tradees:

    The Twins average exactly 1 WAR per season from players returned in trade. This puts them 0.07 WAR above average in the AL, boosted again by the acquisition of Johan Santana. In fact, only 3 trades have worked out better:
    • Pedro Martinez for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas in 1997 in a deal between the Expos and Red Sox;
    • ARod to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias; and
    • Miguel Cabrera (and Dontrelle Willis) from the Marlins to the Tigers in exchange for Dallas Trahern (minors), Burke Badenhop, Frankie De La Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and Mike Rabelo in 2007.

    5. Waivers
    The Twins have relied on waivers for 35 player-seasons since 1995, third most in the American League. They have not, however, gotten as much production from those players as other teams.

    The White Sox have only taken 10 waiver pickups since 1995, but gotten some decent production out of 4 of them - De Aza (4.5 WAR), Rios (6.1), Bobby Jenks (8.7) and Phil Humber (2.3). For the rest of the AL, waivers are the least reliable method for acquiring talent, and the Twins are no exception. Of the 20 waiver claims the Twins have made since 1995, 10 have produced negative WAR. At 7.5 WAR, Matt Guerrier is by far the best of the 20 waiver pickups since 1995.

    6. Free Agency
    The Twins have signed 104 Free Agents since 1995. On average, the FA player-season has been worth just .42 WAR, last among AL teams (excluding the Astros).

    As with Amateur Free Agency, the production from Free Agents has mirrored prices.

    The Yankees have proven that with enough money, you can build a roster from free agency. Since 1995, their FAs have produced at a clip of 1.1 WAR player season - identical to the Twins average Amateur Draftee - and it only cost them $981 million to get it.

    On the other hand, the Red Sox, Angels, Athletics, Rangers, and White Sox have gotten tremendous value through the Draft and Amateur Free Agency whereas the Twins have gotten average talent out of the Draft and almost no talent out of Amateur Free Agency.

    What are Red Sox scouts doing that the Twins' aren't? Does Terry Ryan know? Is he willing to change? Is he the guy to diversify and uncover new pockets of talent before others get to them, or will he keep on the boom and bust cycle with each crop of Amateur Draftees?
    This article was originally published in blog: Acquiring Talent the Twins Way: Terry Ryan vs. the AL (part 3 of 3) started by Willihammer
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      I don't think TR will change. Many of his supporters will justify that and use the Rays and A's as examples of winning without spending but the Twins are not them and talent costs money. If they're not committed to putting talent around Mauer why keep his huge salary on the payroll to continually lose 95+ games? The thought of lopping off another $25 million of payroll has to arouse Ryan at least a little bit. I thought Target field was supposed to make the Twins more competitive with the big market teams? They stink.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      At least we can take comfort in knowing that the meager WAR that free agents have given the Twins was acquired cheaply.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Did you run the numbers with all of MLB? The Twins are competing with the NL for this talent too, and that would avoid the issues with the limited MIL and HOU data in your sample.

      I still think you should move Santana out of the trades category -- that is probably skewing the numbers. It was trading down in the draft. I think 2003 was the only other recent draft that featured a similar swap and it was between two nobodys, so I don't think you have to worry about it affecting other clubs results.

      You can browse the results for yourself easily at Wikipedia:

      Rule 5 draft results - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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