The 2017 MLB Draft is getting closer and closer, and like a true dork, I’m getting more and more excited. It would be a lot cooler if the Giants were in first place, or if they had the first-overall pick, or if they were in first place and had the first-overall pick, but I’m still excited about them picking 19th.
They could have given the pick up to spend $82 million on Dexter Fowler, who’s hitting .212/.308/.431, remember.
So we’re here, and the Giants pick 19th. What has that meant in the past?
19th picks in Giants history
The Giants have had four #19 picks in history. That’s good! Means we’ll have some history to talk about.
- Rob Dressler, 1972
- Terry Lee, 1974
- Eric Christopherson, 1990
- Tony Torcato, 1998
Or ... not. Dressler’s final season was an understated innings-eating success, which makes me think injuries got him. Lee and Christopherson never made the majors, and while Torcato somehow got at-bats in four different seasons with the Giants, he never made much of an impact.
The bigger story with the last two #19 picks for the Giants was who was drafted #20. When the Giants drafted Christopherson, the next pick was Mike Mussina, who was pitching a few miles away in Stanford. When the Giants drafted Torcato, the next pick was CC Sabathia, who was pitching a few miles away in Vallejo.
Which leads me to a couple of hard and fast draft rules. First, always draft a local kid with the #19 pick, just in case. And if there’s a tie, break it with proximity (i.e., Vallejo > Woodland). Second, if you have the compensatory pick for losing Mike Stanton, reliever, and there is a large prospect named Mike Stanton projected to go around that spot in the draft, that you should draft Mike Stanton to replace Mike Stanton.
Those are the only two rules.
19th picks in MLB Draft history
Turns out that I wrote about this in 2015, before the Giants gave up their pick to sign Jeff Samardzija, and the WAR rankings have already shifted.
- Roger Clemens, 140 WAR
- Bobby Grich, 71 WAR
- Alex Rios, 28 WAR
- Mike Scioscia, 26 WAR
- Shannon Stewart, 25 WAR
- James Loney, 12 WAR
- Shelby Miller, 9 WAR
- Brian Bohanon, 9 WAR
- Ron Robinson, 8 WAR
- Michael Wacha, 6 WAR
Fun fact: The Giants were keen on Wacha with their #20 pick in 2012, but they had to go with Chris Stratton when the Cardinals swooped in. Would Stratton have given up the Travis Ishikawa homer, then? Oh, these alternate realities are strange detours.
Note that I was in the tank for Marcus Stroman.
I would have preferred Marcus Stroman,
Nothing came after that comma, which is odd. Don’t investigate.
Anyway, back to the original point, which is that there have been two Hall of Fame-caliber players taken at 19, even if no actual Hall of Famers, with some useful players behind them. The fact that it’s possible to get a polished college pitcher like Wacha is encouraging.
Picks from 19 to the end of the first round, 2002-2011
Ah, here’s some actual data. Because while it’s nice and symmetrical to explore the #19 picks, it’s kind of meaningless. Really, it’s more important to look at all the picks from 19 through the end of the first round, because that’s the proper comparison for the pool of players the Giants will sift through. How many of these players have turned into useful major leaguers in a 10-year stretch?
I’ll just focus on the dozen picks from 19 to 30 because I have to cut it off somewhere, and that seems like a sensible place to do it. How many of those 12 picks became regular contributors?
2002 - 6
2003 - 4
2004 - 3
2005 - 4
2006 - 3
2007 - 2
2008 - 3
2009 - 4
2010 - 2
2011 - 5
Somewhere between 25 and 33 percent of the time, then. There will be boom years and bust years, but the Giants have roughly the same chance of getting a useful player as Buster Posey has of getting a single. I’m okay with that.
Realistically, though, some of the players not included in those numbers helped their teams out an awful lot. Because while Casey Kelly didn’t help the Red Sox win on the field, he helped the Red Sox get Adrian Gonzalez. He also helped the Padres acquire Anthony Rizzo, which made it funny for them to lose him. So there’s value there.
Also, the Giants probably could have traded Gary Brown for Carlos Beltran, so the permutations are endless. Cough.
That’s what the Giants are up against. They have a decent chance of getting a contributor with the 19th pick, but the odds are still against it. Remember that when you’re getting greedy with thoughts about the next Roger Clemens.
Temper those thoughts with thoughts about the next Bobby Grich. Start small and work your way up, is what I’m saying.