Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Number One Draft Picks and Team Wins

I wanted to explore the Number One draft picks and how they panned out for 6 teams in the Major Leagues over the last 25 years. I considered a player panning out to be a starter or part of the bullpen for multiple years with at least average output. The teams I chose were Phillies, Braves, Red Sox, Pirates, Padres, and the Nationals/Expos. I did also look at the Yankees and their picks were BRUTAL. It just shows that they flat out buy players and championships. They only had 3 players they drafted in the first round since 1980 pan out. I wanted to take three upper echelon teams and then take three of the lower performers over the past 25 years and see if there was any correlation between having their number one pick work out and how good the teams were over those 25 years (1980-2005). Here is what I found…

The Braves had 8 out of  their 23                34.7%
The Red Sox had 6 out of 19                       31.6%
The Phillies had 7 out of their 23                 30.4%
The Nationals/Expos had 10 out of 36          27.8%
The Padres had 5 out of  their 21                 23.8%
The Pirates had 5 out of their 24                  20.8%

So then I took the above teams record for 25 years (1984-2009 to allow 5 years for the draftees to pan out) and here are the win totals:
Atlanta                                                                      2208 Wins
Boston                                                                      2193 Wins
Phillies                                                                      2036 Wins
Nationals/Expos                                                        1990 Wins
SanDiego                                                                  1984 Wins
Pittsburgh                                                                  1923 Wins

There is a definite and strong correlation between a team's number one pick panning out and how many wins that team has in the given time frame.


  1. Did you take into account if a player was traded to another team and they did well for that other team? I wonder if a lot of those Yankees picks ended up being traded and did well on other teams. Although they could just have a horrible scouting department.

  2. Out of all 6 teams I looked at, only four of the players who were drafted by the team did not play most of their time with that team. The Yankees traded their number one picks 12 times in that 25 year period. Their strategy was to trade away picks and average players to get that one stud player (because they can afford them). Derek Jeter was the only Yankee during 1980-2005 that actually played for the Yankees. Their other two picks that panned out were Carl Everett and Eric Milton, who both never played a game for the Yankees. Maybe they focus their money on signing big players and less on scouting, because they rely on other teams to produce the talent and then they buy it away.