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Weekend Chart: Drafting for WAR

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Rich Schultz/Getty Images

It is a maxim that successful MLB franchises have to consistently produce homegrown talent. 2016 is the Blue Jays 40th season, and it will also also be their 40th draft as well. I thought it would be interesting to look at how successful they've been at finding production in the draft over the years, as measured by the Baseball-Reference WAR (bWAR) of signed draftees:

DW1

Some notes:

  • In total, signed draftees have totalled 1,007 WAR. Obviously, that will increase significantly from active players drafted recently, but the books are essentially closed on drafts up to 2005, with an average WAR per draft of 33.
  • The top 20 players combine for 742 WAR, or almost 75%. The top 39 combine for over 90%, with just 43 players reaching even 5 WAR.
  • 1989 is the best draft with 115 WAR, despite the Jays missing on their first three picks. John Olerud and Jeff Kent were gems in the 4th and 20th rounds respectively.
  • 2008 is the worst draft by WAR, with five players totalling -2.2 WAR. However, I'd argue 1980 was even worse, as no draftees even made it to the majors - despite the Jays having the 2nd overall pick and four in the top 100!
  • The Jays did not draft really well until 1986. There were a few spectacular finds - Jesse Barfield in 1977, Lloyd Moseby and Dave Stieb in 1978, Jimmy Key and David Wells in 1982 - but the Jays had a lot of top-5 picks for most of those years and consistently whiffed.
  • The reverse was true for the first part of the 1990s, as the Jays consistently hit on productive players with their first round pick despite usually drafting in the lower half: Steve Karsay (1990), Shawn Green (1991), Shannon Stewart (1992), Chris Carpenter (1993), Roy Halladay (1995), Vernon Wells (1997).
  • In the new millenium, the Jays have this far been quite unproductive - though this is basically just a commentary on the Riccardi years, and nothing we didn't already know. Ugh

Finally, here's a look at WAR produced by those signed draftees for the Blue Jays only (including a couple players like David Wells in second stints after being re-acquired):

DW2