Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2001 KC Royals Farm System Part 3

So I think we can conclude that the Royals farm system from 2001 wasn't exactly as productive as we may have hoped. Without comparing the numbers to other systems it is tough to say exactly what contibutions we should have expected, but I think a total career WAR of 6.2 for the Royals 2001 top 30 falls short of expectations.

Here is a look at how the players ranked in terms of WAR. Their 2001 ranking is including after in parenthesis.

1. Jeremy Affeldt 6.7 (16)

2. Angel Berroa 3.2 (6)

3. Mike MacDougal 2.1 (3)

4. Brian Sanches 2.0 (13)

5. Jimmy Gobble 1.9 (4)

t6. Scott Mullen 0.6 (19)

t6. Corey Thurman 0.6 (15)

8. Mike Tonis 0.0 (14)

9. Orber Moreno -0.1 (17)

10. Tony Cogan -0.2 (24)

t11. Paul Phillips -0.4 (23)

t11. Alexis Gomez -0.4 (9)

t11. Byron Gettis -0.4 (29)

t14. Kyle Snyder -0.7 (10)

t14. Ryan Bukvich -0.7 (12)

t16. Chris George -1.0 (1)

t16.Jeff Austin -1.0 (5)

18. Ken Harvey -1.2 (7)

19. Wes Obermueller -2.0 (27)

20. Dee Brown -2.8 (2)

Not too shocking to learn that Dee Brown brings up the bottom of this list. The fact is that top prospects are granted the most opportunities despite poor Major League performance. For this reason Brown was able to build up more negative WAR than many of his counterparts. This doesn't necessarily mean he was a worse player.

I was a little surprised to learn that 20 out of the 30 prospects in the 2001 snapshot of the organization reached the Major League level. A big part of this is that the Royals were about to begin the roughest stretch of their history losing 100 games or more in three out of four seasons. Because of this stretch many players in the organization were granted an opportunity that a strong organization would not have afforded them.

While the Royals had a 67% success rate at converting their top 30 prospects into Major Leaguers, arguably only one became a consistent Major Leaguer: Jeremy Affeldt. Berroa also played several years at the Major League level but other than his rookie season he didn't post a single campaign with a positive WAR value.

Here is a breakdown of WAR by position:

Obviously the position that contributed the most were the left handed pitchers. This was greatly enhanced by Jeremy Affeldt's success, but of all the positions that had more than one players in the rankings left handed pitching was the most succesful at reaching the Major Leagues. Five of the eight southpaws on the list reached the highest level.

Here is a list of the prospects that never reached the Majors:

8. Mike Stodolka LHP

11. Shawn Sonnier RHP

18. Junior Guerrero RHP

20. Mike Curry OF

21. Robbie Morrison RHP

22. Jeremy Dodson OF

26. Jason Kaanoi RHP

27. Scott Walter C

28. Ryan Baerlocher RHP

30. Jonathan Guzman OF

As you can see there probably wasn't a bigger disappointment in the system than Mike Stodolka. But there were also points when Shawn Sonnier ad Junior Guerrero were discussed as future closer posibilities. Mike Curry showed a good blend of speed and on base skills. Jeremy Dodson dominated in his professional debut. Walter was a third round pick. Baerlocher had great minor league success and Guzman was labeled as a potential five tool talent.

The position that performed the worst and seems to have been the most overrated in the 2001 rankings was outfield. There were six prospects listed in the rankings. Of the three that reached the Majors none produced a positive WAR in their career or in a single season. The three other outfield prospects ranked didn't even reach the Major League level.

What we can take from this quick study is that the Royals 2001 system produced its fair share of Major Leaguers. But this was a result of vast opportunity on the Major League team and not a result of a player being above replacement level.

As a small market team it is critical for the Royals to not only produce Major Leaguers, but for them to top tier talent. The 2001 Royals system failed to produce one top tier guy and as a result of this the organization took a huge dive that saw 100 loss seasons in 2002, 2004, and 2005. When the pipeline ran dry the results got ugly.

The talent that the Royals had at the Major League level wasn't enough to contend and the talent that was considered top tier either left via trade, free agency, or disabled list. This group was supposed to provide the team with a brand new young rotation. Instead not one pitcher in the group would become a consisten big league starter.

This group of talent was supposed to provide the Royals with a fixtures at the shortstop and right field positions. Instead the shortstop collapsed after a Rookie of the Year and the rightfielder never sniffed Major League success.

What this group did provide was a few relievers that were serviceable for a few seasons. The Royals were left to fill an entire roster with below replacement level prospects or scrap heap guys. The system that former GM Allard Baird inherited had zero future regulars and no future rotation options. Baird managed a magical run in 2003, but never had the funds necessary to commit to the farm system the way it needed to be done.

Amazingly with no players that developed into solid regulars, and only one guy that had what could be called a quality Major League career. The Royals system was ranked 14th in 2001. They ranked ahead of the Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, and the Cleveland Indians, yet for the next decade more often than not the Royals would rank behind all these teams in the standings that do matter. The standings that actually track wins and losses.

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