Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Giants Love 'Em When They're Up, Love 'Em When They're Down

I was asked to provide some prospect comments for a website, and that got me thinking about the Giants shift in philosophy after John Barr joined the team.

And for this post (and this year), I'm trying to write up shorter posts (we'll see :^).

ogc thoughts

After the Giants hired John Barr, to help improve our success rate (or late thereof), the Giants has perceptibly changed their draft philosophy.  Before, they were almost always drafting off the beaten path, selecting players who were not showing up on other's radars until later in the draft.  A study I did of draft picks over a number of years found that most of the Giants draft picks were all selected a least a round, if not multiple rounds, before consensus thought (as represented by Baseball America's Top 500 list, usually released in the weeks leading up to the draft).

After Barr, they still do this, but now mixes in a good selection of players who fell in the draft for one reason or another.  Crawford, Susac, and Osich are good examples of this, from the past, as they were all considered first rounders at some point, but lack of expected performance (Crawford) and/or injuries (Susac/hamate, Osich/arm issues) pushed them back in the draft.

Examining the Giants Recent Draft Habits

So I dug into a few of my old Baseball America Prospect Handbooks (been wanting too since I learned that Crawford was a Top 10 ranked prospect pre-season), and looked up their pre-season Top 100 College and Top 100 High School prospects for the draft that year.  Here are the names and spots from the last four drafts with their ranking in that year's handbook (most are college, HS when noted) and drafted that year (unless noted otherwise), their ranking in Baseball America's Top 500 pre-draft ranking, and their Giants draft round and pick overall (bolding those picked at least a round after overall rank or after 10 round):

2012 (reminder, first rank is limited to college or HS, second is overall)
  • Stephen Johnson (#26 in BA Top 100 College pre-season; #63 pre-draft overall; Giants pick Round 6, #208 overall pick)
  • Martin Agosta (#34; #106; Round 2, #84)
  • Ian Gardeck (#52; not in Top 500; Round 16, #508)
  • Matt Duffy (#92; not in Top 500; Round 18, #568)

2013
  • Brian Ragira (#25; #142; Round 4, #132)
  • Dan Slania (#26; #153; Round 5, #162)
  • Chase Johnson (#32; #183; Round 3, #101)
  • Tyler Horan (#47; #293; Round 8, #252)
  • Nick Vander Tuig (#43; #145; Round 6, #192)
  • Ryder Jones (#37 HS; #197; Round 2, #64)
2014
  • Tyler Beede (#4; #15; Round 1, #14)
  • Dylan Davis (#21; #93; Round 3, #87)
  • Andrew Suarez (#23; #75;  Round 2 of 2015 draft)
  • Sam Coonrod (#35; #136; Round 5, #148)
  • Aramis Garcia (#44; #74; Round 2, #52)
  • Hunter Cole (#78; #241; Round 26, #778)
  • Mac Marshall (#16 HS; #57;  Round  of 2015 draft)
2015
  • Phil Bickford (#14; #27; Round 1, #18)
  • Mac Marshall (#23; #86; Round 4, #126)
  • Andrew Suarez (#25; #73; Round 2, #61)
  • C.J. Hinojosa (#27; #311; Round 11, #336)
  • Steven Duggar (#33; #167; Round 6, #186)
  • Chris Shaw (#35; #45; Round 1s, #31)
  • David Graybill (#88; #447; Round 9, #276)
  • Jalen Miller (#31 HS; #35; Round 3, #95)
  • Lucius Fox (#63 HS; NA; IFA signing)
Analysis

I believe I captured all the draftees, but if anyone notices anyone missing, I'll modify and update this section.

Over the last four drafts, the Giants have steadily increased the number of Top 100 College and High School pre-season prospects to their farm system.  
  • 2012:  They only had 4 in 2012, picking one player roughly around their Top 500 ranking, and snagging three Top 100 pre-season rankers (Johnson, Gardeck, Duffy) in later picks.  With 30 teams, the average is roughly 3 Top 100 players per team for college and HS.  Giants, being a team that focuses on college players more, got more than their share of college, less for HS.
  • 2013:  They bumped it up to 6 the next draft, all college, but this time five of six were selected about or much before what their Top 500 ranking would suggest, with one drafted about two rounds after where his rank was (Vander Tuig).  Basically double their share of college
  • 2014:  With a slight drop, they had 5 in 2014 (though ultimately 7 because two of them were drafted in 2015), they had 5 college picks again (ultimately 6 college, 1 HS).   They drafted four about where expected based on pre-draft rank, and one (Cole) much later than would be expected based on his rank.  
  • 2015:  Big jump this season, grabbing 9 players from the top pre-season rankings, 7 college and 2 HS (though one HS was via IFA).  Five were drafted around or before ranking, three were drafted significantly after (though two got overslot offers to make up for some of that drop, Marshall and Miller), and one was signed via IFA (and got the second largest bonus in Giants history, just behind Buster Posey).  
Over four drafts, the Giants have doubled the number of players from the two pre-season Top 100 ranks by BA for college and HS, from 4 to 8 (plus an IFA signing in 2015).  On average, a team would get 3-4 (more likely 3) players out of each Top 100 rankings or a total of roughly 7 between the 200 players.  The Giants exceeded their share in 2015 overall, while exceeding their share of college players in the past three seasons.

So while the Giants might not look like they are grabbing much value when viewed from the lens of the Top 500 pre-draft ranking, by looking at the pre-season Top 100 rankings for college and HS, we can see that the Giants have been picking up a lot of pre-draft value with players who fell a lot during their last amateur season.  Out of 23 draft picks, 20 of them fell at least 30 ranking slots from where they were in pre-season.  And many of these players are now on the Giants Top prospect ranking, or better, on the MLB roster:
  • Ian Gardeck
  • Matt Duffy
  • Chase Johnson
  • Tyler Beede
  • Sam Coonrod
  • Aramis Garcia
  • Hunter Cole
  • Phil Bickford
  • Mac Marshall
  • Andrew Suarez
  • Steve Duggar
  • Chris Shaw
  • Jalen Miller
  • Lucius Fox Jr.
There were also some of the classic Sabean drafting before consensus as well:
  • Chase Johnson
  • Tyler Horan
  • Ryder Jones
  • David Graybill
The Giants lately has been appearing to follow the general rule espoused by Baseball Forecaster regarding prospects:  if they have shown the skill before, they own it and then it becomes a matter of figuring out how to get that player to repeat that skill consistently going forward.   All of the above players were ranked pre-season on a Top 100 list, many in the Top 50, and only four of them were actually drafted in the first 50 picks (I'm counting Fox in the Top 50 given his bonus), ten of them in the first 100 picks, out of 23.  

When a team is winning as much as the Giants, and consistently battling for the pennant late in the season, it is very hard to get a good draft pick (in the Top 10 overall).  This means the team has to maximize their draft chances by any means possible.  By selecting prospects who had shown superlative skills before but had fallen for some reason, they have been improving their talent pool, as shown by how many of these players are on the team's Top prospect list even though they were drafted after the first round.  

11 comments:

  1. When you write great posts like this one, quite succinct if one considers the large amount of finely presented and analyzed information here, you can expect howls of lament from your readers if in fact you shorten your posts. Here you've nailed down a vague supposition that has been aired but never examined, which is a great pleasure to those of us who like facts and evidence when we talk baseball, and distrust hunches, dogma, and gassing around. (I'd put "great pleasure" in boldface if I knew how to do that on my iPad.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess I worded it wrong. I don't write up small bits of info like this - I've known about Crawford's top ten for a while, plus have been openly praising Barr for a while - and end up including into one of my Long posts at some point if I see a connection. I held nothing back, as I noted, we'll see about the length.

      Delete
  2. Giants scouts don't seem to interested in statistics.That's why they have done such a good job of building a winner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's not demonstratively true. The Giants have an advanced analytics department providing assistance and over the years Giants managers and coaches have noted more advanced stats in describing players. Sabean too. They were one of the first teams to beta test FieldFX, talking about how they were looking forward to using insights from that tech. I would say that they kept the best of scouting and infused it with analytics, which is the right way to do it, not throwing out the old, as there was value there as well.

      Delete
  3. I think the giants use statistics but also use scout analysis separate from statistics and combine the two. Even going way back to Robbie Thompson and looking at Panik, Mueller, Tomlinson and Duffy, these guys are good athletes but not necessarily great, but they have baseball skills. Mueller won a batting title, and he never had great bat speed, but he was able to use his baseball skills to overcome his lack of quick twitch muscles. He also was a fine fielder. Duffy is a baseball player, a throw back, as was Robbie Thompson, and is Panik. Tomlinson falls somewhere in that mold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My understanding is that the scouting department that found Robby got decimated after Magowan bought the team. And judging by the lack of success pre and post John Barr joining us, They either did not have the right people in place before Or they were not being listened to because of the penny pinching ways that dominated ownership until Magowan was retired. For I have heard that we could have had cC Sabathia except that Magowan would not OK the bonus for him.

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  4. OGC - great work. Enjoyed reading it and reading what you put down for the bloggers chat.

    ReplyDelete
  5. OGC, Looking forward to reading your insightful articles again this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you steveB, appreciate the support. Especially from all the way in Japan!

      Delete
  6. OGC - This is a very interesting data sort. I remember looking at Ryder Jones trying to figure out how it was so left field in perception from consensus guys... The official version was "it was snowy in the Carolinas and scouts didn't go see him". What I found as well though (in addition to that high initial ranking, which definitely stands out) is that most scouts and therefore the ranking orgs that talk and chit-chat dismissed him as a Stanford commit who wasn't going to sign. So if he isn't going to sign, why bother ranking, that attitude. This doesn't happen with the most hyped bonus babies obviously, but there are tiers. So some guys stay up the rankings even with big commits, but Ryder got dismissed quickly in the draft ranking season.

    The other thing I think people sometimes forget is that scouts are on these guys a ton from the beginning. The Giants must have so much film on Tyler Beede, just tons and tons. They look at them in HS, they look at the big tourneys for the bonus babies, they look at them again in college. The purpose of the professional scout as opposed to the big opinion/ranking guys is they see them again and again to have a baseline of consistency. Then that info is sent up the ladder.

    The other thing that was interesting for me personally is there are guys on the list who I identified while in college as sleepers who looked good: Duffy and Cole in particular, and wrote profiles of them way before they were drafted.

    I also noticed Agosta and Vander Tuig dropping, I knew of them pre draft and thought those were excellent value plays.

    So thanks for this data crunch. Another thoughtful interesting piece by you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing additional info regarding Ryder. That makes a lot of sense for guys who are not on the top tier of interest to be dropped in terms of ranking due to lack of interest on the part of scouts. Less engaged observation, due to the thought that it would be wasted on a guy going to school and not turn pro, would lead to a drop in rank. Makes me think of how we got Blackburn.

      Yes, I agree that people do sometimes forget that scouts have been following these guys for a long time. Probably from middle school for the ones who are already starting to show something (that Atlanta scout was already cultivating Heyward because he happened to be on the same team as the scout's son).

      You're welcome, I try, appreciate the compliment and support.

      Delete

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