Texas Rangers and the History of the Fourth Draft Pick

jmccormick
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With the 2015 MLB Draft set to begin tomorrow, it is still an unknown what the plans are for the Texas Rangers heading in to the draft. While some believe they will simply go with the best available, others say they are looking for a college pitcher who can rise through the system quickly, much like last year’s first round pick Chi Chi Gonzalez, and help the rotation sooner rather than later.

Unlike the NFL or NBA drafts, picks cannot be traded before the draft. This means that the Rangers will definitely be picking fourth overall in the draft tomorrow behind the Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros, and Colorado Rockies. The last time the Texas Rangers picked in the top five was in 2001 when they selected Mark Teixeira out of Georgia Tech.

With such a high pick in the draft, the Rangers will certainly be looking somebody who can have an impact soon or has a high future potential. To read up on the recent mock drafts featuring the Rangers, click here. The draft has a long history and with it comes many busts and successes from the fourth overall pick. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst selections.

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Of the 50 players drafted with the fourth pick since 1965, 40 have reached the majors and have played in at least two games. Two of those that haven’t reached the majors are the selections from 2013 and 2014, Kohl Stewart and Kyle Schwarber, and are both highly likely to reach the majors if they stay healthy. The most games played belongs to outfielder Dave Winfield who appeared in 2,973 games over 22 seasons for six different teams. Winfield was a career .283/.353/.475 hitter who appeared in 12 All-Star games and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer inducted in 2001 with 84.5% of the vote. The graph below shows the distribution of the career WAR for the last 50 players drafted fourth overall.

A look at how the fourth draft pick’s have fared over the last 50 years based on career WAR. While there are success stories, picking fourth is no guarantee of a superstart player.

Based on WAR, the New York Mets drafted the players with the least amount of career WAR for players that appeared in the majors. Terry Blocker had a -1.0 WAR in 110 games, although just 18 of these games were for the Mets. In that first year, Blocker hit .067/.125/.067 in 15 at-bats. Blocker appeared for the Atlanta Braves for a combined 92 games in 1988/89 and showed some improvement, hitting .214/.250/.279. The player with the lowest WAR was Eddie Williams, who managed a -1.1 WAR in 395 games. Williams managed to play 10 years in the majors for six different teams, mostly for the San Diego Padres. His best season was in 1989 for the Chicago White Sox and 1994 for the San Diego Padres in which he posted a 0.8 WAR in each of the seasons. His worst season was 1996 in which he posted a -1.2 WAR. He posted a negative WAR in seven of his 10 seasons.

On the other end of the spectrum, the player with the highest WAR was shortstop Barry Larkin. Many of you probably have heard of this guy, he played 19 season for the Cincinnati Reds and finished with a career .295/.371/.444 line with 2,340 hits and 379 stolen bases. Larkin finished his career with a 70.2 WAR in 2,180 games. Second on the list is a player that Rangers fans should be very familiar with, pitcher Kevin Brown. Brown pitched in 19 seasons, eight of which for the Texas Rangers and the rest split between five other teams. Brown had a 68.3 career WAR, having greater than 15 WAR for three different teams with the most for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Brown was granted free agency in 1994 after his time with the Rangers and signed with the Baltimore Orioles.

More recently, the fourth overall pick has been a little less successful for teams. Of the past 10 drafts, the fourth overall pick has averaged 4.36 career WAR up until this point although this number is a bit misleading for two different reasons. The first is that most of this WAR has been accumulated by Ryan Zimmerman, who accounts for 33.8 of 39.2 (86.22%) of the WAR. Another reason this number is misleading is that some of the players have not had enough time to accumulate career WAR like the 19 seasons each Larkin and Brown played. Players like Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman may eventually develop into star players and eventually increase their combined 0.6 WAR.

Looking further into the draft, the Rangers select 45th overall, a pick that includes players such as Jed Lowrie, Tom Gorzelanny, and Gerald Laird as the most successful of the picks. The 3rd round, 78th overall pick is a little more difficult to find superstars but players like Freddie Freeman and his 13.7 WAR makes it easy for teams to take each pick seriously.

Next: Rangers' Starting Rotation Buying Injured Pitchers Extra Time

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