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  • Grading In A Void

    Of the last decade's drafts, I think it’s safe to say that the two first round picks for which the Twins took the most immediate heat were 2001 and 2007. It might be worth noting just how ridiculous that looks right now. In 2001, the Twins took Joe Mauer as the #1 pick and were lambasted for being too damn cheap and possibly blinded by a local kid. In 2007, the fiscal-based criticism was similar when they drafted Ben Revere "above slot" and it was compounded by a perception that the Twins were way too happy with their annoying little Piranhas and devoid of power.

    But if you take a look at first round picks the Twins have made, Mauer and Revere currently rank among some of the best, even given Revere’s limited role so far.

    The problem with writing about the draft the day after is that you’re writing in a void. After all, we have very little idea what these players will become. And when confronted with a void, the human mind creates a reality. So we start with rankings culled by a few media members and bloggers who are sensitive to what other media member and bloggers perceive. Then we extend realities from the ones we perceive while following the club, especially when they are supported by rankings.

    So which realities do you want to embrace?

    You could go with the “Twins Love Toolsy Outfielders” paradigm, which explains why the Twins nabbed high school prep star Byron Buxton. If you're disappointed by Aaron Hicks, then that's a bad thing. If you admire Denard Span or Torii Hunter, then that's a good thing. But, of course, neither Span nor Hunter nor Hicks have any impact on the development of Buxton.

    Or you could go with the “Twins Are Too Cheap” which explains why they didn’t select Scott Boras client Mark Appel with the #2 pick and leaves you feeling a little bitter. It explains why the next two picks - Puerto Rican high school pitcher Jose Orlando Berrios and college relief pitcher Luke Bard - were chosen slightly above where they had been ranked by Baseball America and other ranking systems. By doing so, the Twins might save money since these players don’t have that high bonus expectations others might have had. Or it could be that the Twins didn't agree with Baseball America's rankings.

    There will be others realities someone will want to extend. I'm quite sure someone will absolutely find a “Pitch To Contact” trend, though I think it’s going to take some imagination. More obvious is the “Twins Are Oblivious” since they didn’t come out of the first day with a college starting pitcher. Or a “Twins Are Medical Quacks” since third pick, Bard, is down with non-arm injury.

    I’m looking forward to reading them. But the longer I do this, the more I conclude that none of them are legitimate.

    Here’s what happened yesterday: the Twins nabbed some black boxes. Or maybe a better analogy would be some junk bond portfolios. Some are very promising, highly graded, with a possible high payout. Some are less so.

    Twenty-nine other traders did the same thing. They did so based on experience and insider information that we have little access to. Our perceptions on what drove them or didn’t drive them are probably wrong. More than likely, they looked at these opaque boxes, shook them a bit, and picked the ones they like best.

    Now we get to wait to see what’s in them.
    This article was originally published in blog: Grading In A Void started by John Bonnes
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      ... and in 7 years, we'll be able to adequately judge what happened today. Great article, John. Great job of laying out what we don't know.

      I don't see anything cheap about their picks. I do think that we could see some negotiating strategies based on the new set up. The onlyt hink I would disagree with would be that Berrios and Bard "don't have that high bonus expectations others might have had." I would argue that they, and their representatives, will believe that they are worth, at least, the spot's slot numbers.
    1. TwinsGuy55422's Avatar
      TwinsGuy55422 -
      As you pointed out, I think it is human nature to want to label and categorize things into neat little rankings, especially if you're a type A personality which a lot of stats people are. It's difficult to accept the unknown and that answers may not come for a while. I've tried to let go of grading things prematurely and just enjoy the process of watching the players develop.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      Drafting is not just about picking the right guy, it's about picking the right guy in the right place. Bard may surprise, but the Twins almost certainly could have taken him later and had a much better chance at a quality player with their third pick. While that is a simple concept, I honestly don't believe Terry Ryan understands the absolute basics of game theory.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Here are some IFs:
      If Bard signs for under slot and
      If they draft HS arms tomorrow and
      If they sign for over slot
      Then we can say that Ryan was smart for picking Bard
      If Bard does not sign for underslot and
      If they only pick other college type guys that also sign for slot
      Then we can scratch our heads and hope Twins Scouts see something in Bard others do not.
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      Here are some IFs:
      If Bard signs for under slot and
      If they draft HS arms tomorrow and
      If they sign for over slot
      Then we can say that Ryan was smart for picking Bard
      If Bard does not sign for underslot and
      If they only pick other college type guys that also sign for slot
      Then we can scratch our heads and hope Twins Scouts see something in Bard others do not.
      I'm betting on the last three lines being more correct.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinstalker View Post
      Drafting is not just about picking the right guy, it's about picking the right guy in the right place. Bard may surprise, but the Twins almost certainly could have taken him later and had a much better chance at a quality player with their third pick. While that is a simple concept, I honestly don't believe Terry Ryan understands the absolute basics of game theory.
      Why would you think that the other 29 GMs are all in sync with the rankings of Baseball America, etc? I suppose one could surmise that Baseball America gleans their info from BA, but why would they share the picks they really like?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Slightly? So your whole post is, no need to really discuss the draft? One or both of those guys would be there in round 2. Revere was a good pick because their other picks suck? I'm not sure I understand this blog post, unless the point is, we should just trust the scouts because they have jobs. How'd that work out in Pittsburgh lately? Or for the the Detroit Lions when Millen was the GM?
    1. TCBurgerGuy's Avatar
      TCBurgerGuy -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Slightly? So your whole post is, no need to really discuss the draft? One or both of those guys would be there in round 2. Revere was a good pick because their other picks suck? I'm not sure I understand this blog post, unless the point is, we should just trust the scouts because they have jobs. How'd that work out in Pittsburgh lately? Or for the the Detroit Lions when Millen was the GM?
      So what should they have done instead?

      I think that the point of the article was that there are a plethora of variables that go into draft picks that lay people like you and I have no comprehension of, and we are going to have to wait patiently to see if these particular picks pan out, regardless of where we think that they should have been picked.

      Oh, and we don't have the Pirate scouts, or Matt Millen so your comparison of them to the Twins is irrelevant.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Not really. The logical argument being made is that we should trust the scouts because they have the job. I showed that isn't true, so the logic does not hold. I do not know what they should have done, but if we are going to discuss the draft, shouldn't we use the information we have to do that? Not sure what people want out of a discussion on the draft if they do not want to discuss positives and negatives.
    1. deanlambrecht's Avatar
      deanlambrecht -
      No, the logical argument being made is that there are far more unknowns than there are knowns, that draft picks more often than not don't work out, and that the people commenting at this site (and every other baseball blog in America) have less information than do the people making the draft picks. That's not "trust the scouts," it's "we're not in a very good position to know anything whatsoever so we'll see what happens perhaps not before 7 years is up."
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I think the original premise of the article was correct...we can discuss all we want...we will know the results of this draft in 2017. There will be busts, there will be injuries, somebody picked later than round 10 will be a superstar. Do we know who any of these will be?? NO!!!

      When I was a college kid many years ago, the NY Mets had a chance at a 5 tools OF with the first overall pick of the draft. They didnt take him. They went with a catcher instead to fill a need--there was also an argument about being cheap. Did the NY Mets make the right choice?? NO!!! Their catcher--Steve Chillcott got hurt and did nothing. The 5 tools OF turned out to be Reggie Jackson. The Mets fans were split on the choice...we just have to wait and see.

      I hope Buxton turns out to be Kirby or Torii or at least better than Revere. But we need to wait. Would I have picked him?? NO!! I would have gone with Appel--we need good pitching...but lets wait and see.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I do not know what they should have done, but if we are going to discuss the draft, shouldn't we use the information we have to do that? Not sure what people want out of a discussion on the draft if they do not want to discuss positives and negatives.
      That's the point of the story. Given next to no information, and given the need to discuss this, we take what little info we have, add to it broadher perceptions about the organization, and create a reality behind the scenes.

      For the record, I have no problem with doing this. In fact, I like to do this. I just think that after we do this we need to acknowledge the mine-sized grain of salt it should come with. We're basing our view of reality on almost nothing. It's far more likely to tell us something about ourselves than about the team.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I find it highly entertaining that so many fans just assume Baseball America and other similar sites know more about every draftable ballplayer than the teams do. Seriously... why should teams even employ scouts? Just draft based on BA's rankings, right? Oh... and of course factor in bloggers' rankings, too.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Then perhaps we need to see a new thread detailing the 06-08 drafts seeing that the theory is that we have had enough time to evaluate those players. Just a guess but pretty sure the tone for that thread would be as negative if not more so than the current mood of this forum.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      I find it highly entertaining that so many fans just assume Baseball America and other similar sites know more about every draftable ballplayer than the teams do. Seriously... why should teams even employ scouts? Just draft based on BA's rankings, right? Oh... and of course factor in bloggers' rankings, too.
      Amen to that.

      It always amazes me the press the socalled draft experts like Mel Kiper JR get--but nobody looks back to see 5 years later to see how bad Mel's choices were.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I'm (I won't talk for others) not assuming BA or ESPN know more than the Twins' scouts. I'm assuming they know more than I do, or anyone else on this site does. Since the Twins are not willing to share their analysis and decision making with us (rightly so), the only data I have is the data from BA and ESPN (and similar sites). So I base my thoughts on the draft on that information. I suppose I could change my personality, and just go "well, we won't know for 7 years, so I won't even think about it", but that's not likely to happen. At this point, I'm really done talking about whether or not we should analyze the draft or not, it's not going to change anyone's mind one way or the other. If there are threads talking about how well we think the Twins did, I'll comment on those, continuing to do so based on what little knowledge we are able to scrape up on the interwebs and tv and radio. It's really no different, imo, than talking about whether or not we think Hicks will ever be good or not, or whether or not the trade for Scott Diamond was a good idea at the time it was made.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      IN defense of "so called draft experts", they do usually do an article or three assessing how well they did 2-4 years ago. Absolutely those articles are on web sites, every single year. Kiper does it, others do it. It simply isn't fair to accuse them of not talking about their past mistakes, because they do.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      That's the point of the story. Given next to no information, and given the need to discuss this, we take what little info we have, add to it broadher perceptions about the organization, and create a reality behind the scenes.

      For the record, I have no problem with doing this. In fact, I like to do this. I just think that after we do this we need to acknowledge the mine-sized grain of salt it should come with. We're basing our view of reality on almost nothing. It's far more likely to tell us something about ourselves than about the team.
      Ahhh...A kindred spirit.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      ...the only data I have is the data from BA and ESPN (and similar sites). So I base my thoughts on the draft on that information...
      Mike, there's data...and there's opinions. Information can be either, but there is an important distinction to be made.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Then perhaps we need to see a new thread detailing the 06-08 drafts seeing that the theory is that we have had enough time to evaluate those players. Just a guess but pretty sure the tone for that thread would be as negative if not more so than the current mood of this forum.
      Good idea. I hope someone does just that. I suspect you're right that comments would be just as negative.

      I also suspect what you'd find is that about 70-80% of the 2006 prospects (let's say top 20 rounds or so) have either washed out or are still buried in the organization somewhere and a handful are just now hitting the Big Leagues. If you go back a year to 2005, there should be a similar number, but maybe they have a year or two of service time under their belts. The 2007-2008 drafts probably have very few Major Leaguers yet, but a few guys getting close. That kind of time lag is what you should expect and I suspect that's pretty comparable to what you'd find if you looked at the same years for most other teams that were experiencing enough success on the field that they were drafting near the end of each round like the Twins were those years.

      Some people just can't seem to get their minds around the fact that this is not the NFL or NBA draft, where the top draft picks ALL immediately make the big team. Most of these drafted players will never get a sniff of a MLB clubhouse. That's why they draft so many rounds. It's purely a numbers game. And the draft is only ONE way to acquire young players, with international signings being arguably much more important.
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