Archive for August, 2012

Quitting on Your Legacy

Friday, August 24th, 2012

I had originally intended to write a Random Thoughts post today. But since that would be at least the fourth one of the week and the second one of the day, my guess is you probably already random thought-ed out. (That’s what I get for taking the last slot of the week.)

Instead, I want to offer some brief thoughts and pose a couple questions to you surrounding the biggest new story of the day. After more than a decade of defending himself from blood doping allegations, Lance Armstrong has decided to withdraw from the fight. For a guy who routinely beat the Alps and a field of the world’s best cyclists all eager to take him down, it seems like a strange move.

His whole reputation is built around a “never give up” spirit. He’s revered for his athletic prowess, but he’s famous because of the adversity he has overcome. As a cancer survivor in a grueling sport, he’s an unlikely champion. That he was the greatest champion his sport had ever known made him a living legend.

Which makes his announcement yesterday that he’s rolling over and giving up all the more surprising.

Personally, I enjoyed the Armstrong story. I don’t normally watch cycling competitions, but over the years I would occasionally tune in to see the last few stages as he separated from the pack and sealed another Tour de France victory.

And while surviving cancer and his unparallelled success made him easy to root for, you have to also factor in his unique place in American sports. Most casual sports fans, or even Armstrong followers can’t name his biggest racing rivals. In a sport of unknowns, he became a household name.

I don’t remember ever owning or wearing a Livestrong bracelet, but that would put me in the minority. Armstrong didn’t represent a team, and he wasn’t subject to the kind of rivalry partisanship most other marquee athletes face. He represented all of America, and in turn, seemingly all of America rooted him on. He was a living, breathing Wheaties box–a symbol of personal triumph and an object of national pride. He dated singers and actresses, appeared in movies, and was the name and face of several high-profile marketing campaigns. He became the face of cancer charities everywhere, and he embodied the nationwide hope for a cure. In simple terms, he was as beloved an American athlete as we’ve seen in over a decade–maybe since Michael Jordan.

I can’t help but wonder how that will change in the days and weeks to come. Will there be a backlash, and what will it entail? Certainly he’ll always have his hardcore defenders. But his announcement last night had to be a heart-breaking shock to much of his considerable fan base.

Of course cynics will view the end of his self-defense as an admission of guilt. In fact, the USADA  has already made that leap and begun the process of stripping him of his awards.

But if you’re a guy whose got the Lance Armstrong bicycle in your garage, the Lance Armstrong spandex suit and helmet, the Lance Armstrong stationary bike, and a permanent tan-line from your Livestrong bracelet, what is today like for you?

It’s one thing to see a relative nobody like Bartolo Colon, or even standoffish superstars and confirmed villains like Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens get nailed for using PEDs. It’s another thing to see a beloved hero’s image tarnished–or even worse, to watch him stop fighting to protect it.

One other thing to consider: we’ve lowered the bar for how we expect athletes–especially superstar athletes–to behave. We can talk ourselves into forgiving pretty outrageous behavior as long as they keep performing on the field. Armstrong doesn’t have that luxury. In fact, his personal reputation wasn’t stellar even before his announcement last night. But whether he cheated or not, he’ll have to live with this disgrace for the rest of his life. He won’t be getting back on his bike and riding to further glory. He must know that he’s permanently crippled his popularity, right? Is that a position you’d put yourself in if you weren’t guilty in the first place?

Me neither.

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Rockies Series Preview

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Probable Pitchers

Courtesy of

Friday at 1:20pm CT – Drew Pomeranz vs. Jeff Samardzija

Pomeranz battled through four innings and 76 pitches without good command Sunday, his fifth straight start of four innings or more. He allowed just two runs (one earned) on three hits and four walks (one intentional) while striking out three. Samardzija is coming off a loss to the Reds in which he gave up four runs over five innings. He will be happy to be back at Wrigley, where he’s 4-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 10 starts. This has been a tough month: He’s 1-3 with a 4.07 ERA in August.

Saturday at 12:05pm CT – Alex White vs. Brooks Raley

White gave up one run on just three hits to the Mets on Monday, but a 29-pitch first inning led to his departure after just four innings and 83 pitches. White has lowered his season ERA by nearly a point since rejoining the Rockies on Aug. 2. LHP Brooks Raley was expected to be recalled to make his fourth start. In his last outing, he picked up his first MLB win, holding the Reds to four runs over 5 1/3 innings. He posted a quality start in his only outing at Wrigley Field, Aug. 12.

Sunday at 1:20pm CT – Jhoulys Chacin vs. Chris Volstad

Chacin gave up just one run against the Mets on Tuesday in his return from the DL, his first start since May 1. He demonstrated total control over his fastball — which he lacked earlier in the year — and gave up just four hits over six innings. Volstad’s winless streak now has reached 24 straight starts. The right-hander has a career 2-3 record and 5.64 ERA against the Rockies. This month, he’s posted his lowest ERA at 4.88, giving up 13 earned runs over 24 innings.

Our Take

Today we get our first look at the Rockies’ unusual starting rotation. Playing at Cubs-esque levels of ineffectiveness earlier in the season, Colorado made the switch to a four-man rotation, limited all their starters to 75 pitches, and paired them up with relievers. In effect, they go into every game knowing at least two pitchers will see significant time on the mound. And by flipping the order they throw in, you basically have two starters for every game.

It’s very similar to an idea Jedi has privately preached for a couple seasons now–if your starters can’t consistently get you late in the games, alter the system so that a short start is part of the plan. Specifically with guys like Volstad, you’d have a chance to get him off the mound before his scheduled implosion, and you could pair him up with someone in the bullpen who compliments his style–you know, if we had anyone like that in the bullpen.

So far the new rotation seems to be working for the Rockies. I’d like to say the Cubs could smoke their fellow bottom-dwellers, but they’ve shown some life recently that has me a little scared about this series. The Cubs are trying to string together a couple wins, but might actually serve as easy prey for the other side. I’m not at all confident about how this weekend will go.

Series Prediction: A sweep? Getting swept? Nothing’s off the table here, including a mid-game melee straight out of The Naked Gun.

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They’re Still S#&@ty

Friday, August 24th, 2012

A mere five weeks ago, I referenced the major motion picture Major League in my recap of game number 88, a game that saw the Cubs win their fourth straight and 12th out of 16. Boy, that seems like a long, long time ago. That was, almost literally, a completely different team than we are watching now.  So, with that, the Major League reference comes full circle. They’re still s#&@ty.

You all know that though. We’ve told ourselves it’s fine, we’ve sold ourselves on all of the talking points.

“We expected this!”

“Theo has a plan!”

“Rebuilding takes time!”

“We’re on the right track!”

I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. I truly believe all of the above statements. Optimism runs high. But guess what…IT STILL SUCKS! Watching your favorite teams lose 100 games (and trust me folks, 100 losses is a foregone conclusion) is not fun, no matter how long you’ve seen it coming. IT STILL SUCKS!

Today isn’t a day for dwelling on the negatives though. Nope, today was a red-letter day – one of three days remaining in the season that the Cubs were guaranteed not to lose. So, in honor of the off day we’ll push the bad thoughts aside. However, with few good thoughts to fill the void, we have only random thoughts to keep our otherwise idle minds racing:

  • What’s in Castro’s contract? We learned over the weekend that Starlin Castro and the Cubs had reached an agreement on a contract extension, worth a reported $60 million over seven years. According to’s Doug Padilla, the deal will be announced as soon as the contract is written. So…what’s taking so long? Player contracts are written all of the time. Professional sports team lawyers can write them in their sleep. Yet, this one has taken almost a week. I can only believe this is because there are some truly crazy things being included. What do we think the Castro requests are? Here are my first two guesses: 1) Castro will not sign the contract until Sammy Sosa’s boombox is restored to mint condition, 2) Starlin was jealous of the Miami Marlin’s aquarium and has demanded a salt water tank with “extremely pretty fish” installed in his locker.
  • I’m mostly tired of hearing about Stephen Strasburg’s inning limit. All I know is this: imagine if the Cubs had put an arbitrary limit on Mark Prior’s innings in 2003. We would have all been robbed of a decade of complaining about Dusty Baker being called a no good, dirty pitcher-killer. (I know, the circumstances are different…Prior wasn’t coming off Tommy John surgery in 2003. Play along folks.)
  • When I look at the names currently populating the Cubs’ bullpen, I can’t help but think of this scene from Major League:

Board Member 1: I’ve never heard of half of these guys and the ones I do know are way past their prime.
Charlie Donovan: Most of these guys never had a prime.
Rachel Phelps: The fact is we lost our two best players to free agency. We haven’t won a pennant in over thirty-five years, we haven’t placed higher than fourth in the last fifteen. Obviously it’s time for some changes.
Board Member 2: This guy here is dead!
Rachel Phelps: Cross him off, then!

  • There are two players on the current roster that are older than me. We’re either rebuilding or I’m old. I refuse to believe that both can be true.
  • In an ongoing effort to recruit more Iowa football fans, I offer you this nugget: the Hawkeyes currently have a running back named Andre Dawson.
  • Breaking news from tonight: Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his Tour de France titles and banned for life. Armstrong will not appeal, saying he’s tired of fighting. Here’s what I believe; Armstrong doped. I know he passed hundreds of drug tests, but he doped. Here’s what else I believe: so did every single other high caliber person in his sport. If it is the case that 50% of major league baseball players were using PEDs during the height of the steroid era, I would surmise that 135% of professional cyclists were doping during Armstrong’s run. I’m not making a judgement one way or the other, simply stating what I believe to be true.

Friday is game day again, which by my math means we have about a 3 in 10 chance of not being disappointed by our favorite baseball team. Enjoy your weekend!

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GirlieView (08/23/2012)

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Have you taken our reader survey yet? If not, please do, it’s important to hear from you so we can make this site be what YOU want it to be! Despite a suggestion posed this week, there’s no I in VFTB. I know, I know, there’s no U in VFTB either, but trust me, it really is all about YOU!

Click here to take our survey!

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks)
  • Top 10 of 2012 = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims. Let’s go!


  • Nothing much to see here.
  • My goal for this recap is to write it in the same amount of time as the Cubs have scored runs during their eight game losing streak.
  • In an unrelated note, I glanced at the recipe title and honestly thought it said church “panties”.
  • Mrs. Obvious has church panties…they aren’t among my favorites.
  • Blaming Lizzie is like blaming the ump because you lost the game – just saying…
  • That’s a whole bunch of unhatched chickens you’re counting there.
  • Jackson is very selective. He just has issues having the bat meet the ball.
  • I won’t spend much time with the doom and gloom, because despite having to recap another wrong side of a shutout I do believe the future of the organization is a bright one.
  • What is your SSN, ATM pin code, and Mother’s maiden name…
  • Bosco
  • I heard you recently dined with cap’n Obvious…is he as dreamy as I’ve heard
  • He is…he even bought my dinner. I made sure that all he got on the first date was a thank you and a handshake, though.
  • 7 days of penicillin is still a good idea.
  • You have to make subtle changes to your email address so the gravitar does not give away the fact that your are referring to yourself as dreamy.
  • A slap fight between laughingstocks. Hooray!
  • He’s a puffy shirt and a parrot away from appearing in the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
  • And a jersey away from appearing in a film as Jeff Sharxx.
  • He be aight.
  • Only 47 more to go
  • that’s only 0-1 for Jeremiah, while it’s a big goose egg on the season for Volstad…
  • and I doubt if Jeremiah is in danger of being jeered and sent back to the minors for his goose egg.
  • What is the minors equivalent for the sports blog world? Would I just be scrawling out angry, anti-Cardinals graffiti in bathroom stalls? ‘Cause I already spend a fair amount of time doing that.
  • You get sent to Randy’s camp to blog about the likes of Seymour and other aging professionals playing a very slow bastardized version of the greatest game of baseball.
  • “Player Profile: the pitching machine”, “Top 5 Raking Doctors (and Optometrists) at Camp”, “Game 3: Who Ordered Subway?”
  • View From The Iowa Cubs Bleachers (VFTICB) could use a guy like JJ.
  • That acronym looks like a disease.
  • he chewed his gum like a hooker in a bad 80′s movie.
  • I bet a cheese steak in February that they would finish under 60 wins, so I’m sticking with 59-103 (even though I’m no longer in Philly to collect my winnings).
  • Barry Bonds was unavailable for comment.
  • Rock Shoulders
  • it doesn’t look like Vogelbach will have broccoli listed as a plus-tool anytime soon.
  • the chimp in the caption looks eerily like Doc Raker when he is deep in thought.
  • I was wondering about that chimp.
  • You should be wondering about Raker..
  • That’s a bunch of hooey since I have never been deep in thought.
  • Can we lose the hyphen and use a guttural pronunciation?  Call him Hram – it’ll give us a discreet way of clearing our throats too.
  • Don’t we want to try to keep the new readers around, instead of criticizing the very first thing they say? You know, just a thought…
  • I’d start to worry none of you liked me if no one explained what an idiot I was in the first week.
  • TE: Look at who we’ve brought in as part of our team, Oneri. We’ve got Jed here. Dale’s doing a hell of a job. We brought Jason in when we got here. Tim just got a big promotion. Not a lot of Oneris on that list are there Jed. JH: No sir, not a lot of Oneris.
  • trade Austin Bibbens-Dirkx, let some other team deal with those ridiculous hyphenated names.
  • What would you say, you DO here?
  • I’m telling you, I’ve got people skills! What is wrong with you people?
  • Geez – Can’t a guy make a hypothetical comment about a  hypothetical write-up without getting the hypothetical crap beat out of him by the hypothetical Johnsons?
  • I think you may have just coined my next fantasy football team name: Hypothetical Johnsons.
  • Sounds like we won’t be trading for Jared Saltalamachia any time soon.
  • I fear that The Shark is not long for the team.  However, his first name is Jeff…  Wellington Castillo had better not buy a house.  Tell him to rent.
  • What was Prior doing for the Red Sox, was he a beer vendor?
  • So far not so good for “the Shark.” Didn’t somebody tell him it’s “Shark Week?”
  • He’s angling to switch his nickname to Bait.
  • Jeff Samardzija is just a guy who has nicknamed himself and happens to be the best starter in a really crappy rotation.
  • game two gave my small sidekick and I some interesting talking points to kick around in the baby bjorn
  • I’m sure even Koyie Hill had 22 good at bats somewhere along the line.
  • even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then
  • I just want an end to Vitters hitting 2nd.  It’s like we start the game with one out in the first.
  • Thanks to you and Mrs. Butts for the recon.  I hope you call her that by the way.
  • Even though the plan failed miserably, you’ve got to think Braun is at least a little jealous his imagination wasn’t as grandiose.
  • Testosterone in urine will not turn positive by passage of time.
  • Don’t fret. TBD has a solid arm with good late movement.


  • Can’t Volsta(n)d to Watch Anymore

Shout Outs

Congratulations to the following commenters who received their first 2012 Lizzie this week. Thanks for hanging out with us! We’re happy to have you here!

  • Sean_in_Blue
  • Stephanie Seymour


We have co-Most Valuable Lizzie’ers this time around! Congratulations to the brothers Johnson: Jedi and Jeremiah, tied for the co-win!

Top 10 of 2012

1. Jeremiah Johnson
2. Doc Raker
3. jswanson
4. Jedi Johnson
5. Seymour Butts
6. cap’n Obvious
7. Buddy
8. Joe Aiello
9. Chuck
10. Eddie von White

Lizzie’s Kitchen

In honor of Dustin’s un-collectable bet: Philly Cheese Steak Wraps

Chit Chat

Last GirlieView I asked your three favorite Cubs. Using stellar mathematical techniques that would make jswanson and Seymour proud, I’ve compiled the results as follows:

With an impressive 25% of the vote, Anthony Rizzo is VFTBs favorite current Cub! Here are the full standings:

1. Anthony Rizzo – 25%
2. Darwin Barney – 17%
2. Starlin Castro – 17%
4. Steve Clevenger – 8%
4. Travis Wood – 8%
6. Wellington Castillo – 4%
6. David DeJesus – 4%
6. Bryan LaHair – 4%
6. Jeff Samardzija – 4%
6. Alfonso Soriano – 4%
6. Josh Vitters – 4%

Nary a vote for anyone else on the team. That kind of tells you something. This week, let’s flip. Who are your three least-favorite Cubs on the current 25-man roster? Special thanks to everyone who takes part in my weekly chit chat!


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Success Rate of MLB Draft Picks by Slot

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

It’s no secret that MLB prospect success rates are rather low.  There’s been a couple great studies on prospect success rates like Scott McKinney’s study on the success of BA’s top prospects  and Matt Garrioch’s study on the draft’s success by round; however, I have not seen any studies on the success rates of draft picks by each individual slot.  This has peaked my interest recently as the Cubs are tanking the 2012 season for as high of a draft pick as possible.  Many of you already know I am working on a Ph.D. in History so something like this is right up my alley (too bad I chose a Civil Rights topic for my dissertation instead of a topic on baseball or I’d be done already).  I decided to do my own study tracking the success rate of every draft pick in the first round from 1990-2006.


I separated the 17 years into three separate brackets. 1990-1995, 1996-2000, and 2000-2006.  I chose to stop at the year 2006, because many of 2007’s prospects have their fates yet to be decided. The number 3 pick for instance, Josh Vitters, just hit the majors.  Is it fair to call him a bust when he’s had 25 plate appearances and is still only 22 years old? Granted the more recent years will still be a little shady as well, especially players drafted out of high school, but at this point successful players should be performing at the majors.

Establishing what would be deemed a “successful” draft pick was the most difficult part of this study.  I asked a few of the popular prospect experts how they would define success of an MLB draft pick, and the responses all came back similar; it depends on each individual case, the money involved, and where they were selected. There was no one way to define “success” that would cover every draft pick.  So instead I chose three separate approaches.

First, I went with  a similar methodology to Scott McKinney’s study on BA’s top 100 prospects.   I used FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as the tool for measurement.  I took  the average of WAR at the MLB level during the player’s controllable years excluding seasons under 100 plate appearances or 25 innings pitched if they occurred in the first 1 or 2 consecutive seasons of reaching the majors. McKinney wrote  that he “was attempting to account for the fact that many players get very little playing time in their first or second season, and I did not want to give them equal weight in the average WAR calculation.  At the same time, I didn’t want to omit all short or partial seasons over a player’s cost controlled years because they are often due to injury or poor performance.” I agreed with this premise and decided to keep this stipulation.  This is labeled as cWAR.

That means for a player to be deemed a “success,” they must post at least a 1.5 WAR average in the 6 years before they could hit free agency.  In addition, there would be a “superior” category in which the player would need a 2.5 WAR average over that same time period.

Second, I looked  at the peak of the player’s career.  I evaluated the players’ best 5-year stretch using higher minimum WAR requirements than the first approach and labeled it as pWAR.  Since I cherry picked the best 5 consecutive seasons of a player’s career, I increased the WAR to fit the basic definitions for a league average and superior player.  That means the minimum success WAR was raised to 2.0, while the minimum superior WAR was raised to a 3.0 average.  This would give “late-bloomers” a chance at being called a success, or some successes to be bumped up to superior players.

Lastly, I looked at the longevity of a career.  To play in the majors for an extended period of time shows a player had enough skill to stick around at the highest level.  I wanted a number high enough that the player received either a multiple year contract or multiple contracts after they hit free agency.  I decided to use 10 years as the amount to be deemed a success for draft picks.  There were 2 players in the next bracket who are both still active and sitting at 9 years, I decided these 2 players deserved the success as longevity; they are R.A. Dickey and Matt Thornton.  After 1999 there were no players who were successful via only the longevity clause which was expected as there’s just not enough time to develop through the minors and reach 10 seasons yet.  The same minimum requirements of 100 PAs or 25 innings pitched for the first year or two apply.  I also decided to add a similar stipulation to the tail end of careers to eliminate failed comeback attempts to avoid artificially inflating a player’s length of career.  Overall, a very small percentage of players were deemed a success via only longevity so I was very happy with how this approach turned out.


Without further ado, the results spreadsheet for your viewing pleasure

As you probably expected, the further the study went, the more fuzzy the picture became on some draft picks. These were guys, usually called up within the past few seasons, who sat on the fringe of success and could go either way depending on how the rest of their career goes.  There wasn’t a significant amount of players affected to alter the results but there will definitely be an influx of more successful players as time goes by in addition to the handful of the successful by longevity guys as well. This type is actually rather easy to predict.  Usually they are just on the border of being a good player.   The majority were actually converted starting pitchers who went to the bullpen and found some success there after failing as a starter.  Guys I would expect to see hit the 10 year mark include Phil Hughes, Chris Volstad, and Carlos Quentin among others.  The study predicted players that I perceive as borderline very well.  In all, I agreed with nearly every determination in the study.  The few that I disagreed with, tended to have injuries skew their statistics.

One question I wanted definitively answered was if tanking actually helped teams rebuild quicker.  I would answer that with a resounding yes after seeing how successful the higher draft picks were compared to the mid to low picks especially when separated into the brackets.

Teams that chose in the top half of the draft had at least a 36% to find a successful player moving forward.  Teams choosing in the top 5 had nearly a 50/50 chance.  While teams had a little better than a 1 in 5 chance to land a quality player in the 16-25 range, if you weren’t making the playoffs, you absolutely wanted to draft as high as possible.

As you can see the chance to find a superior player also drastically decreases the further you get in the draft.  It was even more important for rebuilding teams to stay in the bottom 10 in the standings to have the best chance at acquiring impact talent.  After the top 10, there is a significant drop off that levels off until the final bracket.

The second question I wanted to answer was if drafting had improved over the years as scouting and saber metrics had advanced.   This is a little more difficult to answer but based purely on my research I would lean towards no.  In the 90-95 bracket  teams found a successful player 34% of the time and a superior player 18% of the time; however, those numbers dropped in the 96-00 bracket to 27% and 16%.  In the final bracket, those numbers rebounded to 30% and 20%.  While the successful player percentage is still lower than the first bracket, if you take into account that many players drafted between 00-06 have not been in the majors long enough to get out of their controlled years and there were zero longevity successes in this bracket, you could predict an increase of 12 more successes.  That would increase the success percentage to 37% still within 3% of the 90-95’s success rate.  With modern medical advances, nutrition awareness, and less general wear and tear on players, I think there’s a case to be made that we are seeing more successful players because injuries are less career threatening than ever before and players were able to keep a higher production and hang around the majors longer.  You could also make the case that the 02′ and 05′ drafts are two of the best draft classes ever and those are skewing the numbers more positively.  Moreover, there were a few cases like Brian Bogusevic who haven’t been in the majors very long, put up a really good season, and that one year that carried him to a success result.  In any case, there’s no definitive evidence to conclude there was an improvement in scouting.

As for the Cubs, the organization wasn’t as bad as I expected.  Out of 17 draft picks in the first round, they came away with 5 good picks and 2 superior players for just shy of a 30% success rate.  The average success rate was 30.64%, and the Cubs were tied for 14th, right in the middle of the pack.  However, there were two problems.  Foremost, three of their picks’ careers were derailed by injury – Kerry Wood, Corey Patterson, and Mark Prior – and the team traded away Doug Glanville and Jon Garland for past their prime veterans.  Second, there were zero successful picks after 2001. As Scouting Director from 1996-2002, Jim Hendry chose 4 of the 5 successful picks for a 57% success rate. The guy that assumed the role after Hendry, John Stockstill, went 0-3 before he left to join the Orioles.  After Hendry turned to Tim Wilken, you can see a noticeable difference in talent through the draft with all four of his first picks already playing in the majors.  Speaking of Tim Wilken, there’s a good reason he’s so highly regarded around the major leagues.  While with Toronto and Tampa the two organizations went a combined 9-16 (56%).  I am very happy the new front office kept him on board and have expanded his roles with the team.


I enjoyed working on this quite a bit.  It was fun to take a stroll down memory lane, and it was also interesting to see what players I perceived as better or worse than they actually were.  I had to triple check Corey Patterson’s numbers after they said he was a success… and he wasn’t the only player/team I was surprised by.

I’m not done with this study.  I’m already expanding to the team stats and I will definitely revisit the study in a few years to update and expand it for more recent drafts.  I will probably go back earlier than 1990 as well to continue to investigate if the success rate of organizations has improved or diminished over the decades.

If you have any suggestions how to improve the study, found an error or want to share any surprises you found, please leave them in the comments.

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