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

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Resuming where we left off, we're now going to compare the Twins' successes in the 6 methods of talent acquisition versus the rest of the American League.

Part 1: here
Part 2: here
Data: here


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. 1. The Twins didn't dip their toes in the Amateur FA water till 2000 when they acquired Luis Rivas - 1 year after the Sox acquired Carlos Lee, and 3 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, Victor Martinez, managed to fall to the competition. 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 Waiviers for 35 player-seasons since 1995, 3rd most in the AL. 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?

Updated 09-26-2013 at 06:29 PM by Willihammer

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  1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
    very informative!
  2. howieramone's Avatar
    All Ryan has to do is hit on the 3 draft classes where we finally had high picks. If you want a down and dirty look on how the rebuild is going just look at Buxton, Stewart, and our top pick in 2014. There is no magical formula to drafting.
  3. The Wise One's Avatar
    Interesting historical data. You must have a little bit of file management experience. It still must have been a lot of work.
    Limitations on what you actually produced. You picked a time frame of heavy PED use. That would inflate numbers. Take Melky Cabrerrra. Low WAR, goes to KC and SF. big numbers and busted. Off the drugs, negative war in Toronto.
    Boston has a high cumulative war. Is it better drafting or is it retaining good players? Yankees rate high. Jeter's 73 works very well to add to that total as does Rivera's 43
    For at least the first 15 years in drafting beyond talent there was a signability issue that would have an effect on drafting. Actually, much to their luck, that is how the Twins ended up with Mauer rather than Prior. (There is a what if thread, Mauer FSU quarterback)
    In drafting players I hate to say it is luck. Think Tim Hudson did better than most 6th round picks? If it was due to how Oakland identifies players then why did they draft Enochs in the first round that year?
    Actually, how did you get Boston's high number on position players? Ellsbury, Youkalis, and Pedroia were the only position players drafted by Boston that racked up big WAR numbers playing there.
  4. The Wise One's Avatar
    With the amateur draft changing, that should make for an interesting change in the numbers for success in draft with the smaller market teams. Rules continually change. There is no more sign and follow which may have helped teams with lower round picks. There will be less of the additional picks because your player didn't sign. With less supplemental picks, the second round becomes more valuable to the poor teams. All of this changes the dynamic. When the agents figure out loopholes, the owners will react and change the process again.

    Historical note, sometime in the 60's many years there was more spent by teams on amateur talent than payroll. Just noting how things change.
    Updated 09-27-2013 at 10:51 AM by The Wise One (entered twice)
  5. The Wise One's Avatar
    Under Ryan the Twins draft toolsy outfielders. Not all of them work out, Joe Benson being the latest example. They probably have provided the most WAR. They draft defensive oriented middle infielders. They do not provide as much WAR. The infielders traded for fir the same mold. Pitchers tend to be towards the steady variety, lower ceiling when they work out. Lower WAR also. When they have drafted higher ceiling pitchers it hasn't worked out.
    Still questioning your methodology as I mentioned you have 116 player years for Boston position players yet since 1996 they have only produced Ellsbury, Pedroia and Youkalis as star players. Pitching during that time was Buckholtz, Lester and Paplebon. Above in Oakland's success you are talking about Giambi who was drafted in 1992. There is still no pattern to Oakland's success. For every Suzuki there are many more Jeremy Brown's. In the days of compensation, Oakland ended up with more draft picks. If you looked at total WAR versus number of high draft picks a different picture would emerge.
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