Phillies and the 2002 "Moneyball" Draft

As anyone who has read Billy Beane's* classic Moneyball knows, the 2002 MLB amateur draft comprised one of the dramatic centerpieces to the book -- the least diluted application of Beane and the new-look A's application of the then-revolutionary principles of player evaluation they had instituted.

*Yes, I know Michael Lewis is the book's author, but why kill an old, mediocre joke?

So how has the most famous draft class in baseball history fared so far? Let's have a look...

 

Year OvPck Tm Pos WAR
2002 25 Giants Matt Cain (minors) RHP 24.4
2002 6 Royals Zack Greinke (minors) RHP 24.3
2002 17 Phillies Cole Hamels (minors) LHP 22.3
2002 16 Athletics via Red Sox *Nick Swisher (minors) 1B 19.9
2002 7 Brewers Prince Fielder (minors) 1B 19.0
2002 22 Indians Jeremy Guthrie (minors) RHP 17.2
2002 15 Mets Scott Kazmir (minors) LHP 16.7
2002 2 Devil Rays B.J. Upton (minors) SS 16.2
2002 20 Twins Denard Span (minors) OF 10.9
2002 24 Athletics via Yankees *Joe Blanton (minors) RHP 10.6
2002 12 Angels Joe Saunders (minors) LHP 10.1
2002 13 Padres Khalil Greene (minors) SS 8.1
2002 9 Rockies Jeff Francis (minors) LHP 7.7
2002 23 Braves Jeff Francoeur (minors) OF 5.8
2002 19 Dodgers James Loney (minors) 1B 4.5
2002 11 Marlins Jeremy Hermida (minors) OF 3.1
2002 27 Diamondbacks Sergio Santos (minors) SS 3.0
2002 28 Mariners John Mayberry (minors) OF 1.5
2002 4 Orioles Adam Loewen (minors) LHP 0.9
2002 35 Athletics *Jeremy Brown (minors) C 0.0
2002 10 Rangers Drew Meyer (minors) SS -0.3
2002 1 Pirates Bryan Bullington (minors) RHP -0.4
2002 18 White Sox Royce Ring (minors) LHP -1.0
2002 8 Tigers Scott Moore (minors) SS -1.1
2002 14 Blue Jays Russ Adams (minors) SS -1.1
2002 34 Braves *Dan Meyer (minors) LHP -1.5
2002 39 Athletics *Mark Teahen (minors) 3B -1.6
2002 3 Reds Chris Gruler (minors) RHP
2002 5 Expos Clint Everts (minors) RHP
2002 21 Cubs Bobby Brownlie (minors) RHP
2002 26 Athletics John McCurdy (minors) SS
2002 29 Astros Derick Grigsby (minors) RHP
2002 30 Athletics via Cardinals *Ben Fritz (minors) RHP
2002 31 Dodgers *Greg Miller (minors) LHP
2002 32 Cubs *Luke Hagerty (minors) LHP
2002 33 Indians *Matthew Whitney (minors) 3B
2002 36 Cubs *Chadd Blasko (minors) RHP
2002 37 Athletics *Steve Obenchain (minors) RHP
2002 38 Cubs *Matt Clanton (minors) RHP
2002 40 Reds *Mark Schramek (minors) 3B
2002 41 Indians *Micah Schilling (minors) 2B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/15/2011.

 

In an interesting twist, the 2011 Phillies feature three of those first-round selections on their roster -- Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton (drafted by Beane's A's), and John Mayberry, Jr., who was selected by the Seattle Mariners out of high school, but did not sign, choosing instead to attend Stanford University. Life is hell.

The A's? None.

In any event, Cole Hamels, who was persona non grata in the Moneyball narrative, has been the third most productive member of that draft class, trailing only Matt Cain and Zack Greinke.  Blanton, the tenth most valuable, has contributed to several Oakland and Philadelphia playoff teams, and Mayberry has emerged as a productive role player (at least) on a Championship-contending club in Philadelphia.

As much as the "Moneyball Draft" of 2002 exemplified Billy Beane and the A's' strategy in the acquisition of amateur talent, it's also instructive as to the Phillies' means of talent acquisition over the past decade, perfectly exemplified in the three players currently on their roster -- Cole Hamels, the marquee first-round selection, scouted, drafted despite a spotty injury history, and developed by the Phillies' enviable minor league system; Joe Blanton, the trade deadline acquisition, for whom the Phillies dealt some of their wealth of minor league talent, including current A's starter Josh Outman; and John Mayberry, Jr., the longshot "dumpster dive" pickup who has paid outsized dividends.

Further, I don't exactly see the A's picks clustered at the top of the list. It's more of an even distribution. While Beane may have been onto something in terms of the value of hoarding top picks, his picks in the first round of the 2002 draft just emphasize the "crapshoot" nature of the amateur draft and development process.

Also sobering: The guys at the bottom of that table who never made it to the Majors.

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