First Round Compensation (Part Four)

To catch up on the rest of the series, check out parts one, two, and three.

We finally arrive at the much anticipated team analysis. At the end of this post I’m providing a download of the data, so instead of rambling on about each of the teams, I’m going to focus on the top three instead. This means the Braves, Red Sox, and Angels.

The Braves’ supremacy caught me off guard. In the book Scout’s Honor, the Moneyball method – which includes doing this very kind of thing – is all but treated as a syndrome of lepers. The Braves were doing the draft pick shuffle before the Athletics ever did, though, and it shows in acquisitions throughout the decade-plus covered.

Their 12 picks average about 30% of their playing time with Atlanta. The most egregious situations involve Jose Hernandez (8%), Andy Ashby (6%), and Steve Karsay (10%). Lifers like Tom Glavine and Rafael Furcal improve the Braves’ overall standing, but how crafty does gaining picks from Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Mahay, and Danys Baez appear?

Boston may have topped Oakland as the team that most notoriously games the system. This isn’t too new of a development though. From Billy Wagner to Eric Gagne to Cliff Floyd – covered in Moneyball – the Red Sox go blow-for-blow with the Athletics’ collection that includes Damian Miller and Ray Durham. Oakland’s average is boosted by lifers like Jason Giambi, Barry Zito, and Miguel Tejada too.

The Angels’ placement actually did surprise me. They seem to do things “the right way” often as four of their 10 players were lifers until moving on. Mark Teixeira is their low tide mark and clearly the intent behind acquiring him had more to do with playoff dreams than draft picks.

Anyways, check out the complete data by clicking here.

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I think this whole argument is false. First, the premise, that draft pick compensation is meant to compensate for home grown players. That should be proven first, as you seem to rely on it to draw your conclusion that the system is broken.

I believe the purpose f draft pick compensation was to help depress free agent prices by increasing the cost associated with acquiring them. It’s nit about the reward, it’s about the cost.

Second, perhaps the contending teams get these picks more because they are willing to trade before the deadline in order to try to win it? They of course get the draft pick but the team who trades the payer has made the decision that they would rather take the offer presented them than the uncertainty of the draft pick.

This whole argument seems to be a waste of time unless you analyze how the rental teams acquired these players. If a team decides a trade is better than a draft pick, than that team has clearly benefitted.

What if rental trades became less likely if compensation were removed? Perhaps contenders are more willing to trade for a rental with prospects when the know part of the deal is a first round pick? Perhaps removing that benefit would chill the market?

I don’t know whether some of my points are even true, but if you’re gong to explore this topic, I think these questions need to be addressed.


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