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Acquiring talent the Twins Way: position players (part 1 of 3)

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Last Friday Terry Ryan spoke to Paul Allen about Free Agency:

If we're going to do anything here and succeed in the near and long long-term Paul, it's probably no going to be via free agency. It's going to be drafting and international acquisitions and trades and so forth. Very rarely do you end up succeeding because of free agency.
Free Agency is only one of the 6 most common methods of acquiring talent. The others are the Amateur Draft, Amateur Free Agency, Rule 5 Draft, Trades, and Waivers. Using Baseball-references Player registry data, I will examine the Twins' successes at acquiring positional talent via these 6 methods during the period 1995-2013 - the Terry Ryan era. (data here)

  1. The Amateur Draft

Since 1995, the Twins have 194 player-seasons from players acquired via the Draft, most of any AL team. They have paid these players a combined $389,248,998, 2nd only to the Yankees. These players have put up an average of 1.26 WAR, good for 6th in the AL.

2. Amateur Free Agency

16 player-seasons have been worth an average of just .26 WAR. Bobby Kielty, Luis Rodriguez, and Luis Rivas own most of those seasons. Josmil Pinto and Oswaldo Arcia own 1 a piece.

3. Rule 5 Draft

Brian Buscher and Jason Pridie are the two Rule 5 position players to stick on the 40 man roster during Ryan's and Smith's tenures. Combined, they provided 0.3 WAR over 5 player-seasons at a cost of just under 2 million. The most active Rule 5 team during this time was the Baltimore Orioles, who kept Jay Gibbons on as DH/outfielder for the 2001-2007 seasons.

4. Trades
The Twins have given 70 player-seasons to players acquired by trade since 1995. Jason Bartlett, Lew Ford, and Christian Guzman accumulated 9.1, 8.4, and 7.4 WARs over 15 player seasons. On the other end, Ron Coomer, David Ortiz, and Alexi Casilla accumulated between 2 and 4 WARs over 6+ seasons each. Overall, the average player-season was worth .54 WAR, last among AL teams (excluding Houston and Milwaukee.)

5. Waivers
The Twins have played 7 Waiver claims in positions 2-9 since 1995. They are (WAR in Parenthesis): Augie Ojeda (1.2), Casey Blake (-0.2), Clete Thomas (0.2), Corky Miller (-0.2), Darin Mastroianni (0.3), Erik Komatsu (-0.2), and Pedro Florimon (3.8). The average waiver claim-season has been worth 0.42 WAR, boosted largely by Florimon's 2013 season which has so far been worth 2.2 WAR.

6. Free Agency
Since 1995, the Twins have 84 Free Agent position player-seasons. WAR likes Paul Molitor (5.2), Josh Willingham (3.9) and Jamey Carroll the most (3.5). On the other end are Rondell White (-1.5), Butch Huskey (-1.0), and Kevin Maas (-0.8). Overall, the Twins average a 0.38 WAR season from Free Agent position players. This is the worst average in the AL (excluding Houston and Milwaukee). Interestingly, they also pay their Free Agents the least of any AL team.

So, in order of average WAR, the Twins' most successful means of positional talent acquisition under Terry Ryan (and 4 seasons of Bill Smith):

1. Amateur Draft (1.26 WAR)
2. Trades (0.54)
3. Waivers (0.42)
4. Free Agency (0.37)
5. Amateur Free Agency (0.26)
6. Rule 5 Draft (0.06)

*Note about the Salary figures - rather than look up days spent on the active roster for all the minimum wagers, I assumed they were paid a full season's worth. Therefore salary figures are a little inflated, specially for waivers, rule 5, and amateur draft guys.

Updated 09-26-2013 at 03:51 PM by Willihammer

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  1. big dog's Avatar
    This was really interesting. Thank you for doing it.
  2. Jim H's Avatar
    Sorry I didn't realize you weren't doing pitchers.
    Updated 09-24-2013 at 07:14 PM by Jim H
  3. spycake's Avatar
    Great post, hope this gets promoted for more discussion. I was about to pull similar data myself -- although I probably would have expanded it beyond the AL, and mainly just used cumulative WAR totals (and maybe percent of a team's total WAR). But the $/WAR stuff is interesting too.

    It confirms what I was suspecting in another thread recently: that not only have the Twins largely ignored free agency, they've also done quite little internationally. They are WAY too dependent on the draft (and perhaps not that great at drafting, as evidenced by weak prospect lists pre-Buxton).
  4. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
    When paying Free Agents the Twins have paid the least as an average salary.
    They have not, however, paid even close to the least when looking at $/WAR.

    Going cheap isn't always the cheapest way to go.
  5. alskntwnsfn's Avatar
    I think it also points out just how poor the front office has been at signing free agents, something you don't need a terrific table like this to tell you. The other clubs who spent relatively close to the same was OAK, Toronto, KC, and Tampa Bay.

    I might buy the explanation that for much of this time the Twins were trapped in stadium resembling a plastic grocery bag, so they weren't going to get a deal on FA's. Course Oakland's Coliseum is no palace either, but hey, it's CA. But that said, the A's and the Rays got nearly twice as much WAR out of their free agents as the Twins, while spending a similar amount.

    It's black and white, TR and BS have been dreadful in terms of spending the owner's money wisely. Why on earth wouldn't ownership make TR head of scouting (or some such title) and install a new GM to handle FA analysis/signing? Instead they bring him back and installed one of "his guys" as GM after he retired? So weird.
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