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Tweet of the Day: the draft is kind of a crap shoot

Jun 5, 2012, 9:40 AM EDT

C.J. Nitkowski is kinda hard on himself here — the dude did last ten years in the bigs — but sometimes that’s goes with self-awareness. He tweeted this on Sunday:

In other “the draft is a crapshoot, so let’s all calm down” news, Rob Neyer makes a great point today: the vast majority of guys taken in this thing will flame out and we’ll never hear of them. Even the high-rounders. So why don’t we stop comparing everyone who is picked to established All-Stars.

It’s the footballification of the draft, I suppose. You put the thing on TV and you have to say something. And if you put it on TV you want to draw in as many people as you can, so you have to say something provocative or broad or widely relatable, even if it isn’t particularly reasonable.

  1. jimbo1949 - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    I must admit I treat the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL drafts equally: I don’t watch any of them. I may read about them later, but watch them on TV? C’mon man.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:05 AM

      NFL draft used to be fun to watch when it was sat/sun and the first round was 15 minutes a pick. You actually could sit there and listen to Kiper and others talk for a good 8-10 min about the prospects of each pick. And while it lasted FOREVER, you seemed to get a good deal of information that you wouldn’t get in any other place.

      Now there’s a ton of stuff online, with prospect reports and videos. McShay joined Kiper and offered double the information. Time was knocked down even further, so it seems like some players get skipped entirely. And Gruden is a blowhard.

      Haven’t watched the NHL draft, and the NBA draft is a farce. MLB guys are too far away for most fans to care about.

  2. thefalcon123 - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Eric Munson, Corey Myers, BJ Garbe, Josh Girdley, Kyle Snyder, Bobby Bradley.
    Who are they are and what do they have in common? They were all among the first 10 players chosen in the 1999 draft. Only 2 of them ever broke into the big leagues, where they combined for a career -2.0 WAR.

    • pitperc - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      Sure, but the four you didn’t mention are Josh Hamilton, Josh Beckett, Barry Zito, and Ben Sheets – all of which were all-stars at one point and have had pretty productive (and lucrative) careers.

      • thefalcon123 - Jun 6, 2012 at 12:55 PM

        Hence: Crapshoot.

  3. megary - Jun 5, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    Has anyone ever done a study to determine exactly how big a crap shoot the MLB draft actually is? I mean as compared to other sports?

    Seems there are flame outs – very high profile flame outs – in all drafts.

    Not saying that baseball’s draft isn’t a lot of luck and good fortune, but is it that much moreso than those other sports?

    • natstowngreg - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      Of course, some prospects fail in every sport, but there are major differences that affect the failure rate in each league’s draft.

      Expectations for making the major league roster. In MLB, they are small. Rare is the player like Dave Winfield, who was drafted and went to an MLB 25-man roster immediately. The NHL is most like MLB; a few top picks make NHL rosters in their first seasons. Players taken high in the NFL and NBA drafts are, in general, expected to make the big league roster and contribute on the field immediately.

      Previous experience of draftees. MLB draftees range from high schoolers to college seniors, as do NHL draftees. NBA draftees have at least one year of college basketball experience (except for those who played in Eurpoean leagues). NFL draftees have (with rare exception) played 3-4 years of college football; thus, they tend to have the most experience playing their sport.

      Avaliability of developmental opportunities. Each MLB team has 6-7 farm teams, and draftees are expected to move up the ranks of their team’s farm system. Each NHL team has a couple of farm teams, but many draftees aren’t even signed for a couple of years after the draft, playing instead in college or amateur (junior) leagues. The NBA has a Developmental League, but that’s for marginal talents. The NFL has small Practice Squads, but no other developmental opportunities outside the big league roster.

      So NFL players are expected to be more finished products when drafted, capable of playing at the highest level. The NBA drafts a mixture of experience levels, but expects many of its least experienced draftees to play at the big league level immediately. MLB and the NHL also draft a mixture of experience levels, but rarely expect them to play at the big league level immediately.

      It would be most interesting if someone tried to quantify these differences, as you suggest.

  4. contraryguy - Jun 5, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    Man, I’m a Reds fan and didn’t recall that it was they who drafted Nitkowski back in 94. It must’ve been obvious enough that he wouldn’t make it though; an ominous 6.66 ERA and 1.80 WHIP for the year in 1995, which he started in Cinci and finished with Detroit.

    To call it a crap shoot probably overstates the odds… more like roulette.

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