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The Value of Losing

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#1 cmb0252

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 03:35 PM

The Twins went 63-99 in 2011 and ended up with the 2nd overall pick. In 2012 they went 66-96 and ended up with the 4th overall pick. Currently the Twins are 34-38 and if the regular season ended today they would have the 11th overall pick. Improvement right? Not so fast.

In 2012 the top tier of the draft was considered 6-8 deep (depending on the expert). With the number 2 overall pick the Twins were guaranteed to get a player in that tier. The Astros skipped on Buxton (considered the top player in the draft) and took Carlos Correa to save money to spend else where. Buxton is considered a top 5 prospect with some experts ranking him #1.

In the recent 2013 draft the top tier of the draft was considered 3 deep. With the number 4 overall pick the Twins were not guaranteed a top tier player and ended up not getting one. While Stewart is a hell of a consultation prize how much value did the Twins miss out on because of winning two extra games?

With the third overall pick the Rockies took Jonathan Gray who was considered the top talent in the draft according to some experts. A big college RHP who can hit 100 on radar guns and should get to the bigs pretty fast. Grays time line lines up well with our current minor league talent. Also, while Stewart signed at slot Gray signed for 826k under slot which can go a long ways with the new draft rules.

There is a long way to go tell the 2014 draft but the draft is shaping up to be one of the strongest class. Some experts expect the top tier to be 7-9 deep, which would put the Twins outside of that window two years in a row. Last year the Twins held onto their trade able assets at the deadline because they didn't get an offer they wanted. Free agency is young but if that happens again this year it might cement their draft position.

Losing is losing and finishing under .500 is under .500. My question for you is; Is winning a few extra games worth it in the long run for the franchise?

#2 ashburyjohn

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 03:47 PM

Baseball is a business, but it's also a sport. Intentionally tanking, whether at the individual player level or at the front office level, seems contrary to being sporting. It bothers me to consider it, even though the incentive is clearly there.

#3 IdahoPilgrim

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 03:47 PM

Losing is losing and finishing under .500 is under .500. My question for you is; Is winning a few extra games worth it in the long run for the franchise?


For me, yes. You try to win every game - whether you are challenging for the title or whether you are trying to finish 10 games under .500 instead of 11. I know some will say I am being short-sighted and will hammer me for not taking the long view, but's that's the way I feel.

Reason #1: You never want to build a ethos where losing is acceptable or tolerated. I remember talking to a minor league club owner a number of years ago, and he was relating something he was told by the Cardinals - they always want to build a winning mentality into their players, whether it is at the majors or in Single-A. I agree with that.

Reason #2: When people buy tickets to a game, they are paying for the players to put their best effort out there on the field; they are paying for the team to try to win. If the team is not trying to win, for whatever reason, you've broken faith with the people for whom the game exists in the first place. No amount of promised future glory justifies that, in my opinion.

So while I understand the reason for the question, my answer is yes - winning is always worth it.

#4 Riverbrian

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 03:52 PM

The Twins went 63-99 in 2011 and ended up with the 2nd overall pick. In 2012 they went 66-96 and ended up with the 4th overall pick. Currently the Twins are 34-38 and if the regular season ended today they would have the 11th overall pick. Improvement right? Not so fast.

In 2012 the top tier of the draft was considered 6-8 deep (depending on the expert). With the number 2 overall pick the Twins were guaranteed to get a player in that tier. The Astros skipped on Buxton (considered the top player in the draft) and took Carlos Correa to save money to spend else where. Buxton is considered a top 5 prospect with some experts ranking him #1.

In the recent 2013 draft the top tier of the draft was considered 3 deep. With the number 4 overall pick the Twins were not guaranteed a top tier player and ended up not getting one. While Stewart is a hell of a consultation prize how much value did the Twins miss out on because of winning two extra games?

With the third overall pick the Rockies took Jonathan Gray who was considered the top talent in the draft according to some experts. A big college RHP who can hit 100 on radar guns and should get to the bigs pretty fast. Grays time line lines up well with our current minor league talent. Also, while Stewart signed at slot Gray signed for 826k under slot which can go a long ways with the new draft rules.

There is a long way to go tell the 2014 draft but the draft is shaping up to be one of the strongest class. Some experts expect the top tier to be 7-9 deep, which would put the Twins outside of that window two years in a row. Last year the Twins held onto their trade able assets at the deadline because they didn't get an offer they wanted. Free agency is young but if that happens again this year it might cement their draft position.

Losing is losing and finishing under .500 is under .500. My question for you is; Is winning a few extra games worth it in the long run for the franchise?


It's an interesting question... Draft position is important however I'd have to say winning games is more important... and I'd add a big "Kind Of" attached to that definite statement I just made.

One extra win every 10 games is a 16 game differential and when you look at the margins between first and last... 16 games is a huge dent and within every teams reach.

Yes the extra wins matter because even the worst team on paper is closer than most think and the teams toward the bottom need to learn to become winners and they should go for it every day.

And... Just because the draft experts label a draft 3 or 8 deep... It doesn't mean they are right. Kohl Stewart may end up not panning out or he may be better than Appel or Gray. That stuff happens every year in the draft.
A Skeleton walks into a bar and says... "Give me a beer... And a mop".

#5 drjim

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 04:19 PM

If the draft guaranteed talent would be dispersed in a linear manner perhaps there would be some benefit to losing. But this obviously not the case.

Win games and scout well.

#6 Monkeypaws

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 04:20 PM

It has sure taken a while for that strategy to pay off for Pittsburgh or Kansas City.

There is also the culture of winning to consider.

#7 cmb0252

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 04:32 PM

It has sure taken a while for that strategy to pay off for Pittsburgh or Kansas City.

There is also the culture of winning to consider.


It didn't take the Rays or Nationals very long. Every team in baseball has gone through a rebuilding phase. Yes, even the stankyees. When talking about rebuilding around here pointing to the Royals/Pirates has become very popular. Just like how I pointed at the Rays and Nationals. In reality one has nothing to do with each other. Each team rebuilds differently.

#8 Oxtung

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 04:50 PM

It didn't take the Rays or Nationals very long. Every team in baseball has gone through a rebuilding phase. Yes, even the stankyees. When talking about rebuilding around here pointing to the Royals/Pirates has become very popular. Just like how I pointed at the Rays and Nationals. In reality one has nothing to do with each other. Each team rebuilds differently.


It sure did take the Rays and the Nationals a long time. The Rays had 10 straight years of 90+ losses before finally getting above .500 in 2008. The Nationals first 8 seasons in Washington saw 7 seasons below .500 and the eighth was at exactly .500. That included back to back 100+ loss seasons.

Prospects are volatile commodities. It isn't the first wave that turns a franchise around. It takes many seasons of losing to accumulate enough good prospects that enough pan out to make a difference.

#9 B Richard

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 04:55 PM

Some thoughts.

Was the 2012 draft really considered 6-8 deep? I had the impression that Buxton was clearly the highest upside and that Appel was the elite arm. At that point, other guys were considered great but not like those two.

The Nats got exceptionally lucky, IMO, to happen to be rebuilding when Harper and Strasburg fell into their laps in the draft. Their success has been undoubtedly aided by it.

Never tank. Maybe it's the way I was raised, but even the thought of throwing away games, even if it meant better draft picks (whose success and development are NEVER guaranteed) absolutely disgusts me. Losing is never acceptable. Ever. You put your best foot forward and try to win with what you have.

If this were the NBA or NFL, where draft picks are surer bets and can make an immediate impact, you might have a better case for dropping a few extra games in years like this. In baseball though it's really unfathomable.


edit: I find it highly unlikely that the Twins finish this season as only the 11th worst team in the league. I see them in the 6-8 range, at best.

Edited by B Richard, 25 June 2013 - 04:59 PM.


#10 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 05:08 PM

Tank it intentionally? No.

But... this was one of the reasons why I wasn't in too much of a hurry to see Arcia and Gibson promoted, though I do think Gibson in particular earned it. While he was doing well, letting Arcia play in AAA to get more PT to guys like Parmelee and Plouffe will likely end up with a few more losses, but is also more beneficial to the team long term... and not just in draft position as they learn if they have something in these other guys. I think it would have been better to bring Oswaldo up after trade deadline.

#11 Monkeypaws

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 05:12 PM

Sometimes it is just dumb luck too - look back at any pretty much any draft and there will be busts. Or injuries. Or inexplicable circumstances.

Teams find treasures in the supplemental or 2nd rounds or later as well.

Exceptions abound, but i think you play to win, and you put out your best team to do so.

Drafting in baseball is a less exact science than in other sports IMO. Just ask Brien Taylor.

#12 cmb0252

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 05:50 PM

It sure did take the Rays and the Nationals a long time. The Rays had 10 straight years of 90+ losses before finally getting above .500 in 2008. The Nationals first 8 seasons in Washington saw 7 seasons below .500 and the eighth was at exactly .500. That included back to back 100+ loss seasons.

Prospects are volatile commodities. It isn't the first wave that turns a franchise around. It takes many seasons of losing to accumulate enough good prospects that enough pan out to make a difference.


Once again, every team in all sports have gone through slumps. I was just saying the Royals/Pirates are a very over exaggerated comparison to the Twins.

While prospects are volatile but aren't 90% big leaguers too?

#13 kab21

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 06:28 PM

I'm a prospect and a draft guy but I strongly dislike this idea. If somebody wants to make the argument that you don't sign a bunch of mediocre veterans that will block prospects then that's okay even if it costs you a couple of wins. If someone suggests trading veterans to add minor league talent then that's okay. If someone suggests playing a prospect over a veteran then that's fine. If someone wants the Twins to lose simply to improve draft position then I disagree. I know that you are going to spin this but losing for the sake of losing reinforces a bad precedent.

#14 Okie

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 06:35 PM

Well, I guess I'll come in and add my view: I completely agree that losing more is better, and any time my teams don't have a shot at the playoffs, I cheer against them all year for better draft position. Call me a bad fan or whatever, but that's just what I believe is in the best interest of the team.

#15 amjgt

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 07:06 PM

Also worth noting is the top 10 picks being protected from FA compensation (and deferred to the 2nd round)

#16 CwK

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 09:10 PM

Cmb, I'm not going to condone tanking because losing sucks. But, if the Twins take a big slide in the standings in the second half, it will be easier to swallow come draft season of next year.

Having said that, this will be the last year there's an opportunity to be top 8 in the draft. Intriguing and valid question.

#17 Oxtung

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 12:37 AM

Once again, every team in all sports have gone through slumps. I was just saying the Royals/Pirates are a very over exaggerated comparison to the Twins.

While prospects are volatile but aren't 90% big leaguers too?


You were making the point that not all teams are as inept as the Royals and Pirates by saying the Rays and Nationals rebuilt their franchises more quickly. While that is true, the Rays and Nats still took a long time to do it. When a teams strategy is rebuild through prospects only that takes a long time. There are no short cuts.

I don't know how volatile big leaguers are since I've never seen a study. It would be interesting to look at bust rate vs. years played in a graph form. I imagine it would be a parabola with a foci at ~5-6 years. A lot players get cups of coffee and as players get old they certainly bow out but those years in between I wonder if most players successfully remain in the league.

#18 fairweather

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 01:02 AM

Totally understand your point but you cannot jeopardize the integrity of the sport. Furthermore, baseball of all sports is the one in which draft position means the least. Grey may well indeed reach the majors hastily and he may well throw 100 MPH but those same things could be said about Joba Chamberlain just a few years back. Baseball careers more than any other team sports are a marathon. Lasting every possible mile you can is well worth your time. Developing baseball 1st round draft picks is like blooming potential prize winning orchids there's potential to be great but the small intricacies that separate the great from the really good often emerge unexpected and ruin plans long in the works.

#19 AM.

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:33 AM

Developing baseball 1st round draft picks is like blooming potential prize winning orchids there's potential to be great but the small intricacies that separate the great from the really good often emerge unexpected and ruin plans long in the works.


Nice analogy, well put.

#20 Vervehound

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 06:30 AM

there's another solution outside of tanking. 1) sell off all of your mediocre veteran talent and get something in return for them. 2) play prospects and anyone with long term upside. 3) if you win, you're setting yourself up for the long term, if you lose you get at bats and innings to guys you have questions about while also improving draft position.

4) the twins are too stubborn an organization to likely consider 1). the fact that they don't know if they're buyers or sellers as of a week ago is utterly laughable. this team is smoke and mirrors at this point and the concept of selling high doesn't seem in their fabric.