Draft strategies need refinement

Originally Published: January 14, 2005
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
Spurred by "The Great Debate," I've studied, once again, the relative worth of draft picks spent on high school pitchers vs. college pitchers (this seems to come up every time a scout gets locked into a room with a sabermetrician).

I decided to examine the first round of 10 drafts for each class of pitcher: 1989 through 1998 for high school pitchers, 1992 through 2001 for college pitchers. Why stagger the ranges of years? Because I wanted to compare roughly the same ages, and college pitchers are typically three years older, when drafted, than high school pitchers. Next, I entered each pitcher's major league wins, innings, earned runs, and career Win Shares (a measure of quality that adjusts for the differences in leagues and ballparks, and gives a bit of extra credit for saves).

Again, this is just the first round, but I stopped there because 1) that's where so much of the money is spent, and 2) going much deeper would have meant a few more days of data entry.