Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Historical Draft Review #1 - 1976

Baseball Reference Page
Total WARP: 292.0
General Manager: Jim Campbell
Scouting Director: Bill LaJoie
Best Pick: Alan Trammell, 2nd Round, 104.3 WARP
Peak Season: 1983, 31.4 WARP

First Ten Picks plus notables:
1-2) Pat Underwood, P, Kokomo, IN, 5.5 WARP
2-2) Alan Trammell, SS, San Diego, CA, 104.3 WARP
3-2) Scott Johnson, C, LaVerne, CA, 0 WARP
4-2) Dan Petry, P, Placentia, CA, 42.0 WARP
5-2) Jack Morris, P, Brigham Young U., 52.6 WARP
6-2) Laurence Douglass, SS, Salem, NH, 0 WARP
7-2) Ozzie Smith, SS, Cal Poly, Unsigned
8-2) Glenn Gulliver, SS, Eastern Michigan U., 0 WARP
9-2) Charles Farmer, C, Brooksville, FL, 0 WARP
10-2) Michael Burns, P, Alma College, 0.1 WARP
15-2) Roger Weaver, P, SUNY-Oneonta, 1.5 WARP
32-2) Kip Young, P, Bowling Green State U., 3.9 WARP
1-1) (Jan.) Steve Kemp, OF, U. of Southern California, 82.1 WARP

Wow. You could make the case that this is the best collection of talent ever drafted in a single season by any team. I will now attempt to show how much this draft helped the Tigers:
  • Assuming that a league average player provides 5.0 WARP per season, this draft's total of 292.0 equates to roughly 60 equivalent league average seasons.
  • No other draft provided 20+ WARP in one season. This draft did it every year from 1979 through 1986, for a total of eight times. It also eclipsed the 30 mark twice, in 1983 and 1984.
  • There is no doubt that 1984 does not happen if this draft did not go as well as it did. In fact, much of the success the Tigers had in the 1980's would not have happened.

For the second year in a row, Detroit had a high pick in the first round, and for the second year in a row, that player flopped, as Pat Underwood simply didn't produce in the big leagues. Have no fear, as a young shortstop from San Diego was taken in the second round and proceeded to become the greatest shortstop in team history. Like his double play partner, Trammell has been abused by the BBWAA in the Hall of Fame voting, but that is to be expected, as several guys who do the voting are incapable of thought. The underrated Dan Petry and overrated Jack Morris were back to back. I was surprised to see that Petry went earlier in the draft, but both had fine careers for the Tigers. I should point out that Jack Morris was a free agent after the 1986 season, so any production from him after that time was left out.

Now we get to the seventh round pick, the answer (for at least the next five years until John Smoltz's induction or if the BBWAA gets their head out of their collective rectums regarding Trammell) to the trivia question: who is the only Hall of Famer drafted by the Tigers? The answer of course is Ozzie Smith. I get the feeling the Tigers not being able to sign him would have been much more bemoaned had Alan Trammell not had the career he did. It's still interesting to think how much Tigers history would have changed if he was signed. Would Trammell have been blocked? Would one of the two shortstops be traded? Would Trammell move to third?

Steve Kemp's total of 82.1 WARP is a bit dubious. First, he was taken in the January portion of the draft, which really wasn't part of the June draft. Also, it was the timely trade of Kemp to the Chicago White Sox for Chet Lemon that led to a majority of that total. Kemp was a fine player in his time with the Tigers, and Chet Lemon did hold down the center field position for most of the 1980's. It was still a fine use of the first pick of the January draft, as there was no other player taken in that first round draft who held down a Major League job.

This was just an amazing draft. If anybody knows of any other drafts by other teams that could compete with this one, we can compare them if needed. Regardless, if anybody gets too excited and declares this week's draft the best ever, kindly remind them of the talent accumulated in 1976.


Eric said...

Check out the Dodgers draft from 1968. Among the players drafted include Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Bill Buckner, Tom Paciorek, Geoff Zahn, Bobby Valentine, Joe Ferguson and Doyle Alexander.

Deran said...

Fantastic post. Thanks for doing this. I love looking back at old drafts like this.