What does having the #1 farm system mean? Part 1

Over this winter, pretty much any and every publication that ranks minor league systems will have the Royals at #1.  I decided to take a look back and see what that has meant for teams.  We've heard that  over the last decade every team that has been ranked #1 has made the playoffs within 5 years.  That's nice but it doesn't really tell you how instrumental their farm system was in that process.  

What I've done is look at Baseball America's #1 farm system for the past 10 years.  I look at how much WAR their top 10 prospects contributed over the 7 years after they were named the #1 system.  In this first installment, you'll also see approximately how much salary those prospects were paid. 

I know this system isn't perfect.  Some of the players got traded and so didn't get that WAR for their original team.  Players who contribute outside of the Top 10 aren't figured.  But I hope this will be a rough sketch for floor, ceiling and median of what can be expected from a #1 farm system over the next several years.

Part 1 covers the first 5 years.  Part 2 will look at the next 5 years (and will also look at how the #2 and #3 ranked minor league systems have done).

 

 

 

2001 White Sox 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
1WAR Jon Rauch 0 -0.2 0 0.8 0.1 0.2 1.4
1salary 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.5
2WAR Joe Borchard 0 -0.2 -0.5 1.2 0.1 0.3 0.1
2salary 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.4
3WAR Joe Crede -0.4 1.3 2.3 1.1 2.0 4.2 0.1
3salary 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.4 2.7 4.9
4WAR Matt Ginter 0.3 0.3 -0.1 0.6 -0.1 0 0
4salary 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
5WAR Danny Wright -0.2 2.1 -0.2 -0.3 0 0 0
5salary 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.3
6WARLorenzo Barcelo 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0
6salary 0.2
7WAR Brian West 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7salary
8WAR Aaron Rowand 1.3 0.7 1.4 5.4 3.8 1.2 5.6
8salary 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.3 2.0 3.3 4.4
9WARJosh Fogg 0.5 0.1 0.7 1.8 0.3 2.0 1.4
9salary 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.3 2.2 0.5 3.6
10WARJason Stumm 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
10salary
Total WAR 1.8 4.1 3.6 10.5 6.2 7.9 8.6
Total salary 1.2 1.5 2.0 2.1 5.5 7.1 13.8

The first team we look at is one of the worst case scenarios of #1 systems.  Jon Rauch was the #4 overall prospect, Joe Borchard was #23 overall, Joe Crede #36, Matt Ginter #44 and Danny Wright #61.  Aaron Rowand ended up being the best player from this group and had some nice seasons.  Joe Crede had a couple of OK season and beyond them the best year was from Josh Fogg.  The best season from the prospects as a group was 2004 when they produced a collective 10.5 WAR.  If that is the best that KC's Top Ten produces there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.  The 2005 White Sox won the World Series but only got  6.2 WAR from their Top Ten.

 

2002 Cubs 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
1 WAR Mark Prior 2.8 7.6 2.7 3.0 -0.2 0 0
1$ 0.2 1.5 3.2 3.6 3.7 0 0
2WAR Juan Cruz -0.1 0.7 0.6 -0.2 1.6 0.7 0.6
2$ 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.6 0.6 1.4 1.9
3WAR Hee Seop Choi -0.3 0.9 1.1 1.5 0 0 0
3$ 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.4 0 0 0
4WAR Dave Kelton 0 -0.2 -0.1 0 0 0 0
4$ 0 0.3 0.3 0 0 0 0
5WAR Bobby Hill 0.4 0.0 0.1 0.2 0 0 0
5$ 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 0 0 0
6WAR Carlos Zambrano 1.1 4.9 4.7 4.5 3.9 2.8 2.9
6$ 0.2 0.3 0.5 3.8 6.5 12.4 16.0
7WAR Nic Jackson 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7$ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
8WARBen Christensen 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
8$ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
9WARScott Chiasson -0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0
9$ 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 0
10WARLuiz Montanez 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
10$ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.3
Total WAR 3.7 13.9 9.1 9.0 5.4 3.5 3.5
Total $ 1.2 4.0 5.0 8.7 10.8 13.8 18.2

 

The 2002 Cubs farm system featured Mark Prior (#2 overall), Juan Cruz (#6), Hee Seop Choi (40), Dave Kelton (45), Bobby Hill (48), Carlos Zambrano (80) and Nich Jackson (68).  Perhaps we envision a great farm system producing a wave that gradually grows for a few years and that by year 4 or so produces something overwhelming.  For the Cubs, year 2 was the hilight.  Of course, the Cubs infamously came that close to going to the World Series thanks to great season by Prior and Zambrano.  But, as you can see, it was downhill after that--due to the Prior injury and the bizarre stagnation of Choi.

 

2003 Indians 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
1WAR Brandon Phillips -0.9 -0.3 -0.2 1.6 5.2 3.0 3.0
1$ 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.4 2.9 ?
2WAR Victor Martinez 0.5

4.0

5.2 3.9 5.7 0.9 4.1
2$ 0.3 0.3 0.4 1.0 3.2 4.5 ?
3WAR Cliff Lee 0.7 1.5 4.0 2.4 0.2 7.2 6.6
3$ 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.4 3.0 4.0 ?
4WARJeremy Guthrie 0 0 -0.1 -0.1 2.6 2.6 1.3
4$ 0 0 0.3 0.3 0.4 0.8 ?
5WAR Travis Hafner 0.4 4.8 5.3 6.2 2.4 -0.8 1.2
5$ 0.3 0.3 0.4 2.7 4.1 8.1 ?
6WARRicardo Rodriguez 0.0 0.7 0.2 0 0 0 0
6$ 0.3 0.3 0.3 0 0 0 0
7WARGrady Sizemore 0 1.1 5.4 7.3 5.7 7.0 1.9
7$ 0 0.3 0.3 0.5 0.9 3.2 ?
8WARBilly Traber 1.3 0 0 0.1 0.1 -0.1 -0.2
8$ 0.3 0 0 0.3 0.5 0.3 0.3
9WARBrian Tallet 0.1 0 -0.2 0.1 1.0 0.7 1.7
9$ 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.6 ?
10WARJason Davis 1.2 1.2 0.4 1.3 -0.3 0.1 0
10$ 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3

0.5

0.7 ?
Total WAR 3.9 13.0 20.0 22.8 22.6 19.9 19.6
Total $ 2.4 2.4 2.9 6.1 11.3 25.1 ?

 

Wow. What a top 10.  The Indians had Brandon Phillips (#7 overall), Victor Martinez (#16), Cliff Lee (#30), Jeremy Guthrie (70), and Travis Hafner (#46).  This was, of course, after the Barolon Colon trade where the Indians got Phillips, Lee, and Sizemore.  By year 2, the Indians top 10 got almost 14 WAR but then they took it to another level.  What is interesting is the different players combining to post those impressive totals.  Hafner has some big years and then fades but then Philips (who Cleveland dumped) re-establishes himself.  Cliff Lee goes up and down.  Cleveland ends up winning 93 games and missing the playoffs in 2005 and then wins 96 games in 2007 and almost makes the Series.

2004 Brewers
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
1WAR Rickie Weeks
0
0.3
0.9
3.1
2.1
1.4
6.1
1$ 0
0.3
1.2
1.3
1.1
?
?
2WAR Prince Fielder
0
0.1
1.3
5.3
2.7
6.9
4.2
2$
0
0.3
0.3
0.4
0.7
?
?
3WAR JJ Hardy
0
1.7
0.8
4.4
4.9
1.4
2.4
3$
0
0.3
0.4
0.4
2.7
?
?
4WAR Manny Parra
0
0
0
0.5
2.3
0.6
0.4
4$
0
0
0
0.3
0.4
?
?
5WARBrad Nelson
0
0
0
0
0.1
-0.4
0
5$
0
0
0
0
0.3
?
0
6WAR Mike Jones
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
6$
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
7WAR Corey Hart
0.0
-0.1
0.4
4.3
1.1
0.7
3.4
7$
0
0.3
0.3
0.4
0.4
?
?
8WARBen Hendrickson
0.2
0
0.2
0
0
0
0
8$
0.3
0
0.3
0
0
0
0
9WARDave Krynzel
0.1
-0.2
0
0
0
0
0
9$
0.3
0.3
0
0
0
0
0
10WAR Lou Palmisano
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
10$
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Total WAR
0.3
1.8
3.6
17.6
13.2
10.6
16.5
Total $
0.6
1.5
2.5
2.8
5.6
?
?

The 2004 Brewers had Rickie Weeks (#5 overall), Prince Fielder (#10), JJ Hardy (#19), Manny Parra (#69), Brad Nelson (#48), and Mike Jones (#84).  The Brewers got their best production from their Top 10 (17.6 WAR) in 2007 but finished with 83 wins.  In 2008, they won the Wild Card getting 13.2 WAR from their Top 10 (Remember this Top 10 was before they drafted Ryan Braun). 

2005 Angels
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
1WAR Casey Kotchman
0.4
-0.5
3.3
1.8
1.0
-1.1
1$
0.3
0.3
0.4
1.5
?
?
2WAR Dallas McPherson
0.9
0.4
0
0.0
0
0
2$
0.3
0.4
0
0.4
?
?
3WAR Erick Aybar
0
-0.2
-0.8
1.7
3.5
0.8
3$
0
0.4
0.4
0.4
?
?
4WAR Jeff Mathis
0
-0.3
0.2
-0.1
0.1
-0.6
4$
0
0.3
0.4
0.4
?
?
5WAR Kendry Morales
0
0.3
0.1
-0.3
4.5
1.4
5$
0
?
?
?
?
?
6WAR Brandon Wood
0
0
-0.3
-0.5
-0.1
-1.8
6$
0
0
0.4
0.4
?
?
7WAR Ervin Santana
1.7
3.4
1.1
5.8
1.1
2.5
7$ 
0.3
0.4
0.4
0.4
?
?
8WAR Howie Kendrick
0
0.6
2.3
1.7
2.3
1.5
8$
0
0.3
0.4
0.4
?
?
9WAR Alberto Callaspo
0
-0.2
-0.8
1.2
2.3
1.3
9$
0
0.3
0.4
0.4
?
?
10WAR Steven Shell
0
0
0
0.2
0
0
10$
0
0
0
0.4
0
0
Total WAR
3.0
3.7
5.0
11.5
14.6
4.0
Total $
0.9
2.4
3.8
4.7
?
?

 

The 2005 Angels had Casey Kotchman (#6 overall), Dallas McPherson (#12), Eric  Aybar (#39), Jeff Mathis (#67), Kendry Morales (#76) and Brandon Wood (#83).  The Angels had lots of success in the years after their farm system was named #1 but the system didn't contribute much until 2008/9--but those were the biggest win totals for the team during this period--100 wins in 2008 and 97 in 2009.  I normally favor systems that have hitters at the top but, in this instance, the top 4 for the Angels were hitters and they didn't get much from those 4.

That's all for now.  My next installment will have a lot more teams to look at as we will look at the #1, #2 and #3 ranked teams for the last 5 years.

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