Blue Jays Finish On Top Of Roster Study

Plenty of 40-man roster studies have detailed the raw number of players developed by each of the 30 organizations, but we wanted to look at it from a different angle. Specifically, we sought to find out just how successful the developed players have been. To do so, we quantified success in terms of playing time–plate appearances for hitters and innings pitched for pitchers–because a player has to display a level of competence to keep his job. After all, it’s easy to replace incompetence with less-experienced, and thus cheaper, incompetence.

Players on 40-man rosters as of mid-March were considered, with each credited to his signing organization. But there’s a twist: Only players signed since 1995 were considered, to better illustrate the teams’ short-term player development acumen.

In order to combine the contributions of batters and pitchers, we credited a player with a “season” for each batting (502 PA) or ERA (162 IP) title he qualified for.

On the strength of players signed in the 1990s, the Blue Jays comfortably led the field with nearly 90 seasons produced since 1995. Among its leaders, Toronto retained the services of ace righthander Roy Halladay and center fielder Vernon Wells, but traded shortstops Michael Young (for Esteban Loaiza) and Cesar Izturis (for Luke Prokopec) along the way and lost outfielder Jay Gibbons to the Rule 5 Draft.

Behind its Three Aces–Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder–Oakland finished second in the ranking with 82 seasons produced, though the organization can also claim Jeremy Bonderman, Rich Harden and Joe Blanton as its own. The Athletics also churned out six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez, but should probably lose points for unleashing shortstop Angel Berroa on the world.

With nearly 78 seasons produced, the Rockies finished third. First baseman Todd Helton, center fielder Juan Pierre and righthander Jason Jennings are the most experienced Colorado products. Pierre and shortstop Juan Uribe, who is the fourth-most experienced, have won World Series titles with other organizations.

While the bottom two organizations may seem like they’ve been churning out prospects for a decade or more, both the Brewers, who finished last, and the Dodgers have righted their ships only in the past half-decade. Perhaps the biggest indictment of their 1990s drafts, though, is the fact that both organizations finished far behind the expansion Diamondbacks and Devil Rays, two clubs that didn’t even begin drafting until 1996.