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How postseason teams were constructed

Posted by birdwatcher , 30 September 2019 · 560 views

MLB.com has seasonally done a piece in which they examine each playoff team's likely 25-man roster and examine how each player was acquired. While there are many more similarities than differences, among the teams, you'll find a few striking outliers here and there. I'm not sure it's a terribly instructive exercise myself, but let's see what others pick up on that I might have missed.

https://www.mlb.com/...peline-coverage

My observations:

Of the 250 players on the 10 25-man rosters, only 9 players in total were acquired vis the waiver wire, Rule 5 directly, or as an undrafted free agent. All the rest were drafted via Rule 4, signed via the IFA, signed as free agents, or acquired via trades.

Of the 9 outliers, the Twins roster 3 of them, including the only non-drafted FA (Dobson). A 78 win team with gaping holes has to be resourceful, but I suspect that old habits die slowly, and we're seeing the continued exploitation of the organization's strength in scouting at play here.

We're also seeing signs of the old regime. No other team has fewer roster spots (5) taken up by players acquired via trade. The Rays, in contrast, have 18 (!) players who arrived via trade, and most teams have double figures in that column. Players who came via free agency? That's fairly uniform, although Washington stands out here.

The article categorizes both Rule 4 and IFA signings as 'homegrown talent". This is where the largest differences can be found.

The one that struck me: the Twins have 6 IFA players, and those players have generated 14.4 WAR out of the team's 45.6 WAR total. No other club came close, really, to those raw numbers. And a number of teams are under-represented here. For example, Milwaukee has one IFA player who "contributed -0.2 WAR.Oakland has no IFA player. Six of the 10 postseason teams have two or fewer original IFA players on their rosters, and that includes Houston, who through trades and FA have added other critical foreign players. NYY, which has spent a sick amount in IFA, has 3 players who contributed a rather meager 5.4 WAR. Washington has 3 as well, but they are studs who contributed 9.3 WAR.

Ah, but that gets us to the Rule 4 draft and its importance. If you were asked, off the top of your head, to list the 4 clubs who have the highest number of Rule 4 players generating the most WAR on these rosters, who would you list? Yep you got three of four right. LAD has 10, generating 26 WAR. Bellinger, Seager, Kershaw, Buehler, St. Louis, of course, with 9 and 25.6 WAR. It's their thing. Bregman, Correa, and Springer, so yes, Houston makes the list with 6 players generating 19.5 WAR. But there are the Twins, a distant 4th (without Buxton) at 7 Rule 4 guys delivering 12.7 WAR.

Let's look closer at Houston and marvel at two things. First is that they resourcefully and imaginativey utilized every avenue to acquire talent. Second, and more importantly, they didn't just execute well in all categories, they hit the motherlode time and again! Bregman and Springer in the draft, Altuve in IFA, Verlander and Yordany in trades, Brantley id FA... just wow. Which is why their 75 WAR dwarfs the next group at about 50 WAR. Unreal.

Again, I'm not sure I'd conclude a whole lot from the exercise, other than to reinforce a couple of hunches. The first being that it's smart to be strongly 'homegrown" (Rule 4 and IFA) but then to actively trade as trade value allows this to be advantageous. The second being that teams that hit the motherlode with their decisions- Rule 4, IFA, trades in particular- are gonna eventually make this postseason list, even with a small number of more strategic FA moves.




Thanks, birdwatcher, I found this to be very interesting.

 

Our Twins Latino players are in many ways the core of the team, wouldn't you agree? Some drafted (such as Rosario), some IFA (too many to mention, but let's say Berrios, Sano, Arraez), some FA (notably this year Cruz, Gonzalez, Pineda, Perez ...). I may have gotten my categories mixed up a bit. 

 

Having all those bench personnel who speak Spanish was important to our success, I think.

    • birdwatcher likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Sep 30 2019 09:13 PM
I almost think guys like Dobnak (undrafted free agents) should get their own category. The only problem is they are pretty rare, Trevor Hoffman being maybe the best one of those. And of course our own Dan Gladden.

Not sure how or what MLB projected our roster to be. I’d bet Falvey and Levine don’t even know yet. :)
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Oct 01 2019 12:27 PM
Correction. I checked Hoffman’s page, and it looks like he was drafted in the Rule 4 draft, and not only that, in an expansion draft in the 1990s too. Not sure what player I was thinking of.
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birdwatcher
Oct 01 2019 01:52 PM

 

Correction. I checked Hoffman’s page, and it looks like he was drafted in the Rule 4 draft, and not only that, in an expansion draft in the 1990s too. Not sure what player I was thinking of.

 

 

I'm really wondering now about the rarity of the following among these ten playoff teams:

 

1. 250 players, and only one non-drafted FA among them (Dobnak)

 

2. Only 1 player acquired by their team as a Rule 5 guy

 

3. Only 7 players picked up after being released by another team (Cron being one)

 

4. Latino players represent almost a quarter of all MLB players, but it appears that relatively few of the Latino players on most of these playoff teams were originally signed by that team, the Twins being a clear exception. A lot of the foreign-born players were acquired in trades or in FA after the original team signed and developed them.

 

So I'm wondering if there are patterns to detect among better teams here.

 

Perhaps correlated: 38 different pitchers who were formerly with the Twins threw at least one pitch in MLB this year. That's a lot of former Twins who some team thought might be good enough. Some were good enough for their current team, but maybe not good enough to be on the Twins these days. Guys like Kinley, Kintzler, Morin, Parker, Abad, Boshers. A very small handful of those "rejects" are on postseason teams: Nick Anderson, Fernando Rodney, and Anthony Swarzak and Liam Hendriks from a decade ago. But for the most part, guys DFA'd by the Twins are or were fleetingly on poorer teams like the Mets (O'Rourke and Mazza) and Toronto (Boshers and Slegers).

 

Is the reason we see so few waiver guys on these postseason teams strictly a function of those teams having no need to fish in these waters, or do some of them have a more strategic and conscious policy of avoiding waiver wire acquisitions? And do some teams have a strategy of acquiring foreign-born players mainly after they are proven talents?

 

 

Not surprised that this demonstrates

 

1. The Twins don't make trades; and

2. The Twins don't sign big free agents. (we're slightly below average amongst the playoff teams but without Cruz coming through we're way below average)

 

Am surprised at the Dodgers ability to draft well though. Wow. Does Ryu count as a free agent signing? 

 

 

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birdwatcher
Oct 03 2019 01:19 PM

 

Not surprised that this demonstrates

 

1. The Twins don't make trades; and

2. The Twins don't sign big free agents. (we're slightly below average amongst the playoff teams but without Cruz coming through we're way below average)

 

Am surprised at the Dodgers ability to draft well though. Wow. Does Ryu count as a free agent signing? 

 

 

Under Ryan, the Twins were averse to both the risk of bad spending decisions and bad trade decisions. I don't believe that's still the case under this FO. This roster reflects a clear strategic initiative to make necessary FA acquisitions. Trade results aren't very evident, although Odorizzi is obvious. May was a trade acquisition too.

 

I think we'll see trades in the future, maybe even a higher than average level of activity. We're seeing signs already. Smeltzer contributed, as did Littell. Alcala got called up, Raley and Chambers are in the AFL, Cave is on the roster, and Duran, Celestino, Maciel, and Vallimont are among the organization's better prospects.

 

In tepid defense of the past regime, it's hard to trade for talent when you don't have talent to trade. Now that the team has a MLB roster that ranks among the best AND a prospect pipeline of similar quality, trades can be made from areas of surplus to improve the talent quality in others. As recently as a year ago, this FO was still focused on doing things to shore up areas of real deficiency. Now they have quantity, and it's about improving talent rather than filling gaping holes.

 

Hope they can somehow have the same smarts, ambition, and luck that has enabled Houston to become great.

 

The Dodgers have been impressive too. Ryu is counted as an IFA acquisition I think.