Top teams/players of the decade

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    AvatarBob Reed


    “BA ranks the Cards as having the sixth best drafts of the last decade. (I may have already put this on another thread when it was posted on 12/31, so sorry if this is a duplication.)”

    Thanks for the link, Brian. Sounds about right, a solid sixth place. And at least BA uses some sort of objective measuring tool to reach their conclusion, unlike when MLB Pipeline rated the top farm systems for the past decade — a list I know you alluded to several days back, Brian. Here’s a link to that article:

    Their ranking:
    1) Atlanta
    2) Houston
    3) Boston
    4) cubs
    5) Washington
    6) Arizona
    7) Cardinals
    8) Dodgers
    9) Marlins
    10) Royals

    With Jim Callis’ name attached to it, given his awful 15-20 year track record at two websites, I assumed that the ranking would have a pro-cub or anti-Cardinal slant to it, or both. (I’ll let the reader judge that for himself or herself, once this post is over.)
    Anyway, their methodology.

    We reviewed each player who graduated to the big leagues from 2010-19 and assigned them to the organization with which they logged the most plate appearances or innings in the Minors before losing their Rookie status. And rather than just tally Wins Above Replacement, we compensated for stars such as Ronald Acuña or Juan Soto who arrived toward the end of the 2010s by giving them credit for bright futures.

    That’s an even-handed premise, as long as the teams are each measured with the same yardstick. In any case, the Cards properly get no credit for the achievements of Randal Grichuk or David Freese or Giovanny Gallegos for example, as they spent most of their minor league time in other organizations. But the Birds do get credit for instance for Adam Ottavino, who’s found greener pastures away from the Arch. The Cubs get credit for Kyle Hendricks but not Anthony Rizzo. You get the gist.

    To see how well the nominal experts did with their rankings, I say we should have an objective side-by-side comparison between the two teams. Let’s see precisely how crappy and biased a job Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo did, relative to the Cards and cubs. Or perhaps I am being unfair. Let’s crunch numbers.


    We’ll look at Baseball-Reference WAR for both teams. We’ll do this for the decade as a whole, separately tabulating totals for hitters and pitchers to clarify each organization’s respective strengths and shortcomings. (I’ll bet some of you can already see where this is headed.)

    And then we’ll examine the WAR accrued just during the 2019 season by their younger pitchers & hitters, the 25-and-unders, to see which organization is likely to add the most value moving forward. Cubs get credit for 23-year-old Eloy Jimenez, the Cards for 24-year-old Jack Flaherty, and so on. (Semi-disclaimer: I may have missed a half win here or there when calculating WAR values, but I don’t think so. I’m pretty neurotic about that sort of thing.)

    First, position players.
    The Cardinal hitters can claim 124.2 WAR for the decade, led by Matt Carpenter with 26.7 and Kolten Wong with 15.6. Tommy Pham, Jon Jay, and Paul DeJong each exceeded 10 WAR during the decade as well.

    The cubs are a bit stronger in position players with 142.8 WAR from 2010-2019, topped by Kris Bryant (25.1) and D.J. LeMahieu (23.5). While the Cardinals had five position players with double-digit WAR, the cubs had six, supplementing their big two with Starlin Castro, Javy Baez, Welington Castillo, and Willson Contreras. (Why Willson wouldn’t give Welington one of his L’s, no one knows. Contraras didn’t need it, and they’re both catchers. There should be alphabetical solidarity.)

    So the cubs being ranked a few slots above the Cards makes sense at this point. But unfortunately for Chicago, pitching also matters. And just like in Boston, Theo Epstein and his minions are bottom of the barrel at pitcher development. (Brief unrelated aside. According to Fangraphs, the Cubs, as an entire organization, for the whole decade 2010-2019 produced less WAR from rookie pitchers than Giovanny Gallegos produced for the Cardinals in 2019 all by himself. Stop laughing, it’s very sad.)

    Pitching. The cubs had 48.9 WAR over the past decade, with 19.5 WAR from the aforementioned Kyle Hendricks. The Cards had 110.7, led by Lance Lynn with 22.2 wins above replacement. I’ll spare any cub fans the details in this matter.

    That’s 234.9 WAR for St. Louis and 191.7 for Chicago. More than four wins per year on average. So there is zero room for debate, in my opinion. The cubs were not close to the Cardinals over the past decade. But what about the future?

    I’ll examine that in another post much later tonight. Spoiler alert: cub fans may not want to return for that one.


    Paid - Annual

    Should any credit be given for Kyle Hendrick? He was acquired in the Dempster trade with the Rangers. Obviously a shrewd acquisition, but not a home grown prospect.


    Paid - Annual

    I would prefer to never give the Cubs credit for anything.


    Paid - Monthly

    The ranking is based on drafts. Did the Cubs draft Hendricks?

    AvatarBob Reed


    “Should any credit be given for Kyle Hendrick? He was acquired in the Dempster trade with the Rangers. Obviously a shrewd acquisition, but not a home grown prospect.”

    “The ranking is based on drafts. Did the Cubs draft Hendricks?”

    Sorry I didn’t sufficiently clarify before, guys. The rankings I was critiquing in my earlier post — wherein the cubs were 4th and the Cardinals 7th — was an MLB Pipeline ranking of the decade’s best farm systems. The draft rankings cited previously by Brian Walton, with the Birds rated 6th, were from Baseball America. Two related but distinct rankings, from different sources, and I’m just examining the former, not the latter.


    As for Kyle Hendricks, when ranking farm systems MLB Pipeline gave credit for anyone who spent the majority of his minor league career with that franchise. Since Hendricks was still in A-ball when Chicago traded for him, the cubs do get credit for his MLB achievements. But conversely, applying the same standard they do NOT get any credit for, say, Anthony Rizzo.

    Returning to the relative rankings of the Cards and cubs, we saw earlier that the Cards have generated considerably more MLB value than Chicago over the past decade, 235 WAR to 192 WAR for their Windy City rivals. But what about going forward? Which club’s farm system products look the strongest for the future?

    Well, here’s all of the positive position player WAR generated in 2019 by hitters who were aged 25 and under. Cubs first.

    Gleyber Torres 3.9 WAR
    Eloy Jimenez 1.4
    Ian Happ 1.2
    Victor Caratini 0.9

    Not too shabby. Notice, though, the bland total for Eloy Jimenez, despite his seemingly outstanding season, with 31 homers and a .267 average for the White Sox. The trouble with the 23-year-old Jimenez is that despite his youth he’s already a lumbering liability in the outfield and on the bases. Gleyber Torres, on the other hand, looks like a big star going forward. (And Brian Cashman looks shrewd as usual, for acquiring him for three months of Aroldis Chapman.)

    Anyway, that’s 7.4 WAR for the cubs. How about the young Cardinal bats in 2019?

    Paul DeJong 4.1 WAR
    Tommy Edman 3.8
    Harry Bader 2.0
    Carson Kelly 1.9

    So that’s 11.8 WAR for the Cards. There’s no Gleyber Torres here, but Paul DeJong has established himself as a 4-WAR borderline star, and the StL depth is quite clearly superior. But who has the better position player quartet for 2020 and beyond? For me, I’m leaning toward calling it a draw, since superstars are so rare and hard-hitting shortstop Torres is the closest thing to a likely superstar for either team. So the pitchers will have to break the tie.


    This brings us to the twirlers. Here’s the complete 2019 positive WAR list of 25-and-under pitchers from the cub farm system, omitting of course the guys like Dylan Cease who generated negative WAR.

    James Norwood 0.1

    Yes, that is indeed THE James Norwood, late of St. Louis University, contributing the sole positive WAR value to the enemies of St. Louis. I don’t think we need a calculator to figure Norwood brings the total to 7.5 WAR for Chicago. Now the Cardinals.

    Jack Flaherty 6.0
    Sandy Alcantara 2.9
    Zac Gallen 2.5
    Dakota Hudson 2.0
    Luke Weaver 1.7
    Ryan Helsley 0.6
    Jordan Hicks 0.6

    If you were wondering, that’s a cumulative 778 innings (3.22 ERA) or 768 2/3 innings more than the cub farm system generated in 2019 from its young arms. Check and mate.

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