On Thursday, KCTiger posted a story as part of his ongoing draft coverage in which he contemplated who the Royals would have drafted over the last decade, had they consistently selected the best player available (as determined by pre-draft Baseball America rankings) with each of their first two picks every year. In order to make that task more manageable, however, KCTiger determined the best player available by taking the highest ranked BA player within the five slots following the Royals' actual pick. I was mildly critical of that methodology in the comments. Of course, KCTiger was aware that actually starting from the top of each BA list to see who was available at each pick would be preferable, and he suggested that "if you want to write that article then I'll take credit for the idea and I'll front page it." So, giving KCTiger full credit for the idea, I'm taking him up on that suggestion, and looking at who the Royals would have drafted if they replaced their scouting department with a well-behaved monkey whose sole job was to pick the best remaining player from Baseball America's pre-draft rankings.
I looked at the drafts beginning with 2007 (since that's supposed to be the first draft in which Dayton Moore participated) and determined who was the highest ranked player from the BA list that was still available when each of the first two Royals picks came around in each draft. The results of this thought experiment are described below. I also expanded that experiment to take into consideration Scott McKinney's comment that it kind of looked like Dayton might have had better drafts if he'd simply gone with the BA picks instead. So, in what follows, I also consider that possibility. As it turns out, judging by WAR, the Royals would have been lots better off over the last eight drafts if they had hired the monkey. Actual numbers in support of that claim are included below.
Things didn't begin well for Dayton. With his first official draft pick as Kansas City's GM (the overall number 2 pick in 2007), he took Mike Moustakas despite the fact that Matt Wieters was still on the board. Wieters was number 2 on the BA list, and Moustakas was number 5. As some of you may be aware, Wieters has been worth a great deal more that Moose over their respective careers. Although Moose's glove has been quite valuabe, his inability to successfully hit baseballs with a bat has limited his contribution to 4.3 fWAR (4.0 rWAR) over his short career. Wieters, on the other hand, has generated value to the tune of 15.1 fWAR (13.7 rWAR) in his time with the Orioles. Then, with their second pick in 2007 (number 66 overall), the Royals selected Sam Runion, although RHP Matt Harvey (who was ranked as BA's 11th best player that year) was still available. After being drafted by the Angels in the third round, Harvey actually opted to go to Chapel Hill to pitch for North Carolina before winding up drafted by the Mets three years later with the 7th overall pick in 2010. I suppose there's no telling whether a monkey could have convinced Harvey to sign in 2007, but maybe a second-round bonus would have been enough to get the deal done. While Runion has yet to appear in a Major League baseball game, Harvey has produced 7.2 fWAR (6.9 rWAR) for the Mets.
In 2008, Dayton took Eric Hosmer with the 3rd overall pick, despite the fact that Brian Matusz, who BA liked more, was still on the board. And then, with the 36th pick in the draft, KC took Mike Montgomery instead of Tanner Scheppers. Hosmer, so far, has posted 1.7 fWAR (4.6 rWAR), and Montgomery is currently sporting a 3.36 ERA for the Durham Bulls. Matusz and Scheppers, on the other hand, have combined for 5.1 fWAR (3.6 rWAR) in the Majors.
2009 saw the Royals nab Future-All-Star Aaron Crow and Future-Rookie-of-the-Year Wil Myers instead of Kyle Gibson and Max Stassi (who BA liked better). 2009 stands out some, as it is the only year under consideration in which Dayton's results actually beat the monkey. Crow and Myers have combined for 4.1 fWAR (4.1 rWAR), whereas Gibson and Stassi have only been worth 1.0 fWAR (0.5 rWAR) to date.
At this point, however, I have to warn you that we are done talking about Royals who have actually played in the Majors.
In 2010, Dayton drafted Christian Colon and local-boy Jason Adam. The monkey would have taken Drew Pomeranz (who has been worth 1.8 fWAR and 2.6 rWAR) and A.J. Cole (who currently sports a 2.56 ERA pitching for the Nationals' AA affiliate).
In 2011, Dayton again opted for local talent, taking Bubba Starling with the 5th overall pick in the draft. As you may recall, the front end of the 2011 draft featured a quartet of young pitchers (Bundy, Cole, Hultzen and Bauer). As you are slightly less likely to recall, Baseball America's favorite draft eligible player that year was Rice third-sacker, Anthony Rendon, who has been worth 3.3 fWAR (2.8 rWAR) in his first 150 games for the Nationals. Then with pick number 65, the Royals took high school catcher, Cam Gallagher, who is currently hitting .210 in Wilmington. The monkey would have taken Daniel Norris who has a 6-0 record (1.22 ERA) in thirteen starts for the Blue Jays' high-A affiliate this season.
In 2012, Dayton and the monkey finally found a player to agree about. Dayton took Kyle Zimmer with the fifth overall pick, and--since BA had him ranked as the third best player in the draft---the monkey would have done the same thing. With the 66th overall pick, however, Dayton took LHP Sam Selman, whereas the monkey would have gone with Tanner Rahier, a high school shortstop who is currently struggling as a 20-year-old A-ball third baseman.
2013 saw Dayton take Hunter Dozier and Sean Manaea with his first two picks. The monkey would have selected Austin Meadows before also taking Manaea. And then last week, Dayton took Brandon Finnegan and Foster Griffin, although the monkey would have picked Brad Zimmer and--unless Finnegan was still available at 28--Sean Reid-Foley. Obviously, none of these guys have made it to the Show yet, so all I can say about any of them is that BA likes the monkey's picks better than Dayton's. Given everything discussed above, however, I'd put my money on the monkey.
Also, since you are reading Royals Review, I assume that you like numbers (and Pop Tarts) more than actually playing or watching baseball, so I have performed a simple mathematical operation in order to quantify just how much better the Monkey System is at drafting ballplayers than Dayton Moore's Process. Since becoming General Manager of the Kansas City Royals, Dayton Moore's early-round draft picks have generated:
10.1 fWAR (12.7 rWAR)
The monkey's picks have been worth:
33.5 fWAR (30.1 rWAR)
So, there ya go. If Dayton's goal over the last eight years has been to perform at roughly one third of the level of a small fuzzy primate selected solely for his willingness to blindly follow instructions... well then, congratulations.