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...
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.