Major League Baseball and the Players Association are not close to drafting a new collective agreement under the pressure of a lockout, partly because both sides believe time will allow them to relax leverage and partly because there are so many areas where this requires significant consideration.
One of them is the draft, where the traditional order of rewarding the worst team with the best choice is one of the elements that make refueling so attractive to so many teams. The MLBPA – and the sport in general – would be better served with more teams trying harder, so the approach should perhaps not be that simple anymore.
The idea of a draft lottery seems to have some appeal to both sides, although there is a discrepancy in how many of the top spots should be random. Regardless of the number, you can take a look at the NBA and say that adding a lottery element doesn’t stop teams from losing their toughest.
So Jayson Stark considered an idea to revise the draft that would remove any rewards for accumulating losses altogether. It’s as simple an idea as the current structure, only vice versa. In this scenario, the team that votes first is the first off-season team to look in.
Here’s the idea for this plan, which we (for now) call the Tanks But No Tanks plan: Let’s not give the top picks in the amateur draft to the teams that lost 112, 104, and 101 games last season to have. Let’s give this pick to teams that narrowly miss the playoffs, not teams that lose hope by Mother’s Day. […]
So why do that? It’s easy.
You don’t get number 1 – the closest Harper / Cole / Strasburg, plus all of the accompanying draft pool money – by fueling up. There is only one way for you can Get this choice by giving it a try. How about a revolutionary concept.
Later in the piece, Stark identifies why it wasn’t swum on meaningful levels. The big disadvantage is that it is in a system where the worst team is the 20 system. It would likely solve the refueling in the short term, but there could be a situation where it cemented the have-nots in the basement unless teams are given a chance to swap / hoard draft picks. Judging by the impact of the draft alone, it is understandable why a lottery or a limit of top three or top five picks is easier to accept.
Given that the White Sox finished in the middle third of the draft after several failed competitions over the past decade, I wondered what reward they would have received for winning 78 games instead of settling for 68. And since there’s no other baseball news to discuss, we have time to work it out.
There’s little point in going back in history to before 2012, when slot values were just a suggestion. The White Sox tended to allocate minimal resources to amateur talent in the days leading up to the codified draft pools, and although they did the occasional campaign for a Gordon Beckham ($ 2.6 million) when they got the chance to finish him eighth they rarely spent disproportionately, regardless of whether it was relative to the assigned slot or the status of the round or the order of subsequent rounds.
For example, if the White Sox had the opportunity to design Buster Posey in 2008, I’m skeptical that they would have topped up the $ 6.2 million the Giants ultimately spent. They probably would have stuck to Baltimore’s approach more when the Orioles went for $ 3 million cheaper with Brian Matusz, even though they ended up getting what they paid for.
The hard slot values introduced in 2012 have pushed the teams’ expenses down to the level of the White Sox and theoretically made every player affordable, even if the White Sox would have allocated resources differently.
Hawkins is one of the larger draft busts in White Sox history. It’s not so much that he lagged behind the majors, but it’s questionable that he never earned a chance at Double-A. Hawkins struggled with pitch detection, but the White Sox mutilated his evolution by drowning him in Winston-Salem at the age of 19. Bad work all round.
The consolation is, getting a few seats wouldn’t have changed much for the teams who thought this line of slots was worth investing in. Sure, everyone made the majors, but Russell turned out to be the only difference maker and it turned out he wasn’t a person worth investing in.
All of the greater regrets show up after the White Sox’s original position. The Nationals settled Lucas Giolito’s demands of $ 2.925 million in 16th place, but the Dodgers landed Corey Seager 18th pick for less than Hawkins ($ 2.35 million), and Marcus Stroman moved from Duke University to the Blue Jays ranks 22nd for $ 1.8 million.
Sometimes limitations inspire creativity, and here’s a case where the White Sox were better off with meager means in the middle of the round, because after Kris Bryant finished second and Jon Gray finished third, the correlation between money and production dropped dramatically.
Even if you include Gray, Anderson is the third most productive player on the 2013 Draft. He’s posted 17 WAR so far, which is just behind Bryant (7/28) and Aaron Judge (4/26), who was taken by the Yankees on pick # 32. Cody Bellinger is the only other guy in the neighborhood who collected WAR after 7/16, the Dodgers picked him up in the fourth round for $ 700,000. It’s always good to be the Dodgers, but the White Sox did well here.
- Original selection: 11th
- Revised selection: 10
- Originally selected: Jake Burger, $ 3.7 million
- Could have chosen: Jo Adell
While Jake Burger lost three full seasons to two Achilles tendon fractures, related injuries and the pandemic, no one else really took advantage of the lead in the first lap. Trevor Rogers from Miami leads all first round picks with 3.2 WAR so far, followed by Tanner Houck from Boston with 2.9. Shane Baz could be fighting for first place next year, and prospects like Hunter Greene, Alex Faedo and Nick Pratto are all in good shape developmentally, but Burger has fought his way back to a position where he can hold his own.
Moving up one seat would have given the White Sox a chance to move in Adell, who went to the Angels instead. Adell was the hotter contestant, peaking top three viewing before the 2020 season, but failed to solve the MLB pitching on his first two attempts. Time is on his side as he turns only 23 next April, but for now, Burger can say he has done a little more with his playtime.
Even if the pandemic did not throw the entire 2020 design process into chaos, it would be relatively pointless to simply rewrite history for this year because of the topicality.
At least for most teams. Here I have some confidence in what could have happened because the Angels Detmers picked a pick before the White Sox and just try to imagine that the Sox passed a Louisville Cardinal on.
The White Sox’s 99-defeat season in 2013 wasn’t enough to get their first overall selection in 2014, but they got their first pick in Carlos Rodón, who has proven to be far smarter than the two prep arms that came before him were selected (Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek). Injuries prevented the White Sox from seeing a fully realized career, but a fifth place finish on the Cy Young poll is proof of the concept.
The Sox would have had the 18th election under Stark’s model, which with its assigned value of $ 2.1456 million would have been a bitter pill. That kind of money would have a Finnegan (17. Matt Chapman went to Oakland with the 25th pick, so all would not be lost. At 23.2 bWAR, he was the third most productive player in the first round, behind Trea Turner (24.7) and Aaron Nola (24.2).
The White Sox ended 2014 with the same record as the Cubs and Phillies. They won the tiebreaker in the Real Draft because they had the worst record of the three teams the year before, but in a system where there is an incentive to win they might have ended the procedure at the end this time, hence the three-way pick .
In the middle of the first round there was a lot of talent in prep, with Tyler Stephenson, Josh Naylor, Garrett Whitley of Niskayuna, Kolby Allard and Trent Grisham finishing 11-15. If you think the White Sox would have chosen a college arm over a well-known prep player, then they would have likely ended up with Kaprielian, who went to the Yankees in 16th place and was tied to the White Sox throughout the process. The hope would be that they would have fallen in love with Bühler while scouting Fulmer during Vanderbilt’s glorious 2014-15 run.
If the White Sox were willing to trade madrigal for Craig Kimbrel, then it’s hard to say the White Sox would be more likely to stick to a lower first-round pick. That said, if they’d picked 17th instead of fourth, they might have gotten a chance to draw Singer, where the Royals eventually got him (18th April).
Or maybe the Sox would have explored Larnach as intensely as Madrigal, since the twins picked the other Oregon State Beaver in 20th place. Kenny Williams would have had the opportunity, Stanford for Hoerner (Cubs, No. 22), or maybe everyone gets their favorite jersey thanks to Beer, who went to Houston in 28th place. Gorman, who went to the Cardinals in 19th place, looks like he was the best result at the time.
The White Sox’s highest draft pick in a long time left relatively little mystery as to who to vote for. That makes it a lot harder to question 15 points away, especially since there isn’t much power to separate players in the back half of the round. This section of the design was heavy on college arms and shortstops, so they might end up with someone like Texas A&M shortstop Braden Shewmake (21st, Braves) or UNC Wilmington infielder Greg Jones (22nd, Rays).
Thompson, who finished 19th for a small spot among the Cardinals, is the next college arm. But maybe the original 18th pick will eventually end up with the White Sox. Ordinarily I would rule out a prep ministry like priest who eventually went to the pirates, but since it’s a product of Cary-Grove High School in the northwest suburbs, the White Sox might not have been able to resist the local draw. Priest does what he can to keep the bill.
STAY WITH THE OLD
- Original selection: 10
- Revised selection: 10th or 11th
- Originally selected: Zack Collins
Maybe the White Sox flip spot at the Mariners, but the Mariners picked Kyle Lewis as an option after the White Sox, and due to the early return, I can imagine they’d like him some point sooner as well. Basically, there isn’t a universe where the White Sox doesn’t draw Collins, no matter how you flip it.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire)