Thursday, June 05, 2008

Killing Time: MLB Draft-A Look Back at 2001

I know, I know, this is a football blog. But, there's not a whole lot happening in the NFL right now, so I'm going to write about what's interesting to me (which, I promise, will be football again soon), and right now, that's the MLB Draft. Now, I don't know enough about the prospects available this year to have any idea who the Twins should be looking to select with the two first round picks they have. I'm not going to break it down like I did for the NFL Draft (though, if you're looking for mock drafts, you can find one here, here, or here and if you want a organizational breakdown, Seth has a great one at his site). Rather, I thought I'd take a look at the choice the Twins made in 2001, when they took a high school kid from Minnesota #1 overall instead of a stud college pitcher from USC, a choice, which, at the time, I was angry about.

Now, I still think that Mark Prior's career would have turned out differently had he been drafted by the Twins. He had no history of injuries prior to getting hurt in 2004, the season after he averaged, at the young age of 23, 113 pitches a start, and over 120 pitches a start in September and the Postseason. The Twins wouldn't have treated him like that. That being said, if you look at what they've done, not what they could have done, the Twins made the right choice. Using Win Shares to evaluate their careers, Joe Mauer comes out the clear leader, as he has 90 to Prior's 70. He's also playing this year, something Prior is not.

What Mauer is not, however, is the Win Share leader for players drafted in 2001. That title goes to Mark Teixeira, who was picked 5th overall, and who has 120 Win Shares. Mauer's also been passed by David Wright, who has 111 Win Shares and was picked 38th overall. Just because Teixeira has been the best on the field, however, does not mean he would have been the best choice for the Twins with the #1 pick, because the cost of the player has to be factored in.

The honor of best value likely goes to David Wright, although Mauer is a close second. Wright's been paid $7.906 million over the course of his career, including his signing bonus and he recently signed a contract that will keep him in New York through 2013 that's worth an additional $67.5 million. Mauer's been paid $16.175 million (although, to be fair, Wright's signing bonus of $960,000 would have been a lot closer to the $5.15 million signing bonus Mauer received had he been drafted #1 instead of #38) and his contract will keep him in Minnesota through 2010, at a cost of $23 million over the next two years. Those salary totals are only a few million more than the $12.5 million Teixeira is making this year, in a one year contract. Teixeira has made $39.4 million in his career, and unlike Wright and Mauer, he's going to be a free agent next year and will be receiving a huge contract, likely from the Yankees, who need a first baseman.

So while Mauer wasn't the best value of any player chosen in the 2001 Draft, he was the second best value, behind only Wright, and the third best player overall. Considering how much of a crap shoot the MLB Draft is, it's hard to complain about the Twins' decision back in 2001.

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