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The 2010s saw waves of young stars arrive at a nearly unprecedented rate in Major League Baseball, and talent-rich drafts were a big part of that.
The 2010 and 2011 drafts are widely considered two of the best drafts in recent memory. The 2016 draft is trending that way, as well.
Some teams did a better job than others at identifying and acquiring that talent during the decade.
Here is how all 30 teams performed through the draft last decade, ranked by combined Baseball-Reference WAR from all players they drafted and signed between 2010-2019.
It must be noted that many players taken in the latter half of the decade are still either in the minor leagues or just starting their major league careers, so when a full accounting of the decade’s drafts is done years from now, the final rankings may look very different.
Again, only draftees who signed with their respective team are counted toward that team’s WAR total.
Even before they started tanking, the Astros showed a proclivity for making astute draft selections. The snagged Springer, Mike Foltynewicz, Vince Velasquez and Delino DeShields Jr. in the first two drafts of the decade, then collected Correa, Bregman, Lance McCullers Jr. and Kyle Tucker, among others, with the high picks they amassed as a result of their intentional losing. They also found considerable talent in later rounds of the draft, headlined by 2014 16th-rounder Ramon Laureano. All that was enough to overcome zero direct contributions from back-to-back No. 1 picks Mark Appel and Brady Aiken, although the Astros were still able to spin those failures into positives. They traded Appel to the Phillies as part of the package for Ken Giles and selected Bregman with the compensation pick they received for failing to sign Aiken.
2. White Sox
The White Sox aced the draft in the early part of the decade, selecting Sale, Semien, Anderson, Carlos Rodon, Chris Devenski, Addison Reed and Chris Bassitt, among many other future big leaguers, between 2010 and 2014. Their recent drafts have been less fruitful, although back-to-back top-five picks Nick Madrigal and Andrew Vaughn give the White Sox a chance to finish the decade on a high note.
The Marlins are one of only two teams, along with the Cardinals, to have every one of its draft classes from 2010 to 2015 produce at least 2 career WAR. Yelich, Fernandez, Realmuto, Andrew Heaney, Chris Paddack, Brian Anderson, Colin Moran, Trevor Williams, Mark Canha—the list goes on and on of everyday-caliber players the Marlins drafted in the 2010s. Four straight top-15 picks to close out the decade—lefthanders Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers and outfielders Connor Scott and J.J. Bleday—will try to keep the tradition going and make the Marlins draft classes of the 2010s look even stronger in time.
4. Blue Jays
The Blue Jays’ draft successes come almost exclusively from the start of the decade, when they drafted Syndergaard, Stroman, Pillar, Aaron Sanchez, Joe Musgrove, Matthew Boyd, Anthony DeSclafani, Daniel Norris and Sam Dyson between 2010 and 2013. It’s been slimmer pickings since, but the 2016 class that brought them Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio holds immense promise, as do 2017 first-rounder Nate Pearson and 2018 first-rounder Jordan Groshans.
The Mets were one of the most well-rounded organizations of the decade when it came to drafting. They found both impact pitchers (deGrom, Matt Harvey, Michael Fulmer) and position players (Alonso, Conforto, Jeff McNeil), had success in both early rounds (Conforto, Harvey, Alonso) and later rounds (deGrom, McNeil) and found talent in both the first and second halves of the decade. Jarred Kelenic, Anthony Kay, Justin Dunn and Simeon Woods Richardson, who have all since been traded, have a chance to make the Mets drafts of the 2010s look even stronger in a few years.
No other organization was as consistent at finding talent in the draft as the Cardinals last decade. Each of their draft classes from 2010 to 2016 produced at least 5 career WAR, the only organization to hold that distinction. The Cardinals are responsible for drafting seven current everyday regulars (Wong, Stephen Piscotty, Carson Kelly, Oscar Mercado, Luke Voit, Paul DeJong, Tommy Edman), six starting pitchers (Flaherty, Wacha, Marco Gonzales, Luke Weaver, Dakota Hudson, Zac Gallen), two relievers with closer experience (Kyle Barraclough, Jordan Hicks) and have more on the way, led by current Top 100 Prospects Dylan Carlson and Nolan Gorman.
The A’s picked outside the top 10 every year from 2011 to 2015, yet still managed to nab Gray, Olson, Chapman, Addison Russell, Max Muncy, Blake Treinen and Daniel Robertson in the draft during that time. They then used the No. 6 overall pick in 2016 on electric lefthander A.J. Puk, who reached the majors in three years despite having Tommy John surgery. Even with an uninspiring group of picks in the latter part of the decade, the A’s managed to mix major league success (five postseason appearances) and draft success as well as any organization outside of the Astros or Cardinals during the 2010s.
The Orioles drafted a wealth of talent from 2010 to 2014, which, through either direct contributions or trades, helped them win more games than any other American League team from 2012 to 2016. Machado, Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Trey Mancini and John Means all went on to make impacts in Baltimore, while Hader, Zach Davies, Christian Walker and Mike Yastrzemski headline the list of Orioles draftees who found success elsewhere. The Orioles drafts of the 2010s have a chance to look even stronger in a few years—their final three first-round picks of the decade (D.L. Hall, Grayson Rodriguez, Adley Rutschman) all rank among the top 50 prospects in baseball.
9. Red Sox
The Red Sox’s ranking is heavily buoyed by their legendary 2011 draft class, which is responsible for 70.2 of their 80.9 draft WAR from the decade so far. That said, there are many chances ahead to add to it. Michael Chavis, Michael Kopech and Jalen Beeks make for a potentially strong 2014 draft class, while the 2016 class featuring Bobby Dalbec, Shaun Anderson and Jay Groome holds promise, as well.
Picking near the top of the draft early in the decade certainly helped boost the Nationals’ resume, but they deserve credit for hitting on their first-rounders. They selected Harper, Rendon and Lucas Giolito with their first round picks from 2010 to 2012, respectively, all of whom became all-stars. Their 2016 draft class, featuring Jesus Luzardo, Carter Kieboom and Sheldon Neuse, has a chance to be special and enhance the Nationals’ standing even more.
The Braves whiffed on most of their first-round picks early in the decade, but they made up for it with astute picks after the first round like Simmons, Wood, Evan Gattis, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury and Tommy La Stella. Their picks from the second half of the decade are just starting to rise and have shown immense promise, led by 2015 picks Soroka and Austin Riley, 2016 selections Ian Anderson and Bryse Wilson and 2017 draftees Kyle Wright and Drew Waters.
The Indians’ banner 2011 draft class, led by Lindor and Allen, accounts for 40.1 of their 74.4 total draft WAR for the decade, but they are hardly a one-hit wonder. The Indians drafted at least one future everyday player or major trade piece every year from 2010 to 2014, and their 2016 draft class has a chance to be special with current big league starters Bieber, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac as well as Top 100 Prospect Nolan Jones.
The Rockies made back-to-back postseasons for the first time in franchise history in 2017-18, an outcome born of their excellent drafts at the start the decade. After finishing up the 2000s by drafting Nolan Arenado in 2009, the Rockies drafted Corey Dickerson in 2010, Trevor Story in 2011, David Dahl in 2012, Jon Gray in 2013 and Kyle Freeland in 2014, not to mention Tyler Anderson, Ryan McMahon, Mike Tauchman, Tom Murphy and Scott Oberg in that time as well. Brendan Rodgers, Peter Lambert and Sam Hilliard of the 2015 class are primed to continue the Rockies strong draft tradition, while Garrett Hampson and Colton Welker help give their 2016 class promise.
When the Dodgers won their first division title of the decade in 2013, they did so as one of the oldest teams in baseball. They restocked the cupboard by finding an impact player in nearly every draft this decade, starting with Joc Pederson in 2010, Seager in 2012, Bellinger in 2013, and Buehler in 2015. Their 2016 draft has the early look of a potential all-time great class, with five big leaguers already including starting catcher Will Smith and reigning BA Minor League Player of the Year Gavin Lux.
The Mariners started the decade strong, drafting and signing Paxton, Diaz, Taylor, Taijuan Walker, Brad Miller and Mike Zunino among 16 future major leaguers from 2010 to 2012. They hit a lull in the middle of the decade, but the emergence of 2016 first-rounder Kyle Lewis late last year and the minor league successes of 2017 first-rounder Evan White and 2018 first-rounder Logan Gilbert give the Mariners drafts a chance to finish the decade on a high note.
The Pirates had four winning seasons in the 2010s, their most winning seasons in a decade since the 1980s. That was due in no small part to their draft success. Cole, Taillon and Tyler Glasnow headline a group of draft hits on the mound, while Bell and Austin Meadows lead a strong position player crop that has successes across the entire decade. The Pirates have struggled at times to get the best from their players while they have them—or properly assess their talent in trades—but talent acquisition through the draft has not been a problem.
The D-backs haven’t had a huge draft hit since the start of the decade, but they’ve consistently found at least one solid major leaguer each year. They’ve been especially strong at finding players outside of the first round, grabbing Eaton (19th round) in 2010, Lamb (sixth) in 2012 and Brad Keller (eighth) in 2013, among others. Their monster 2019 draft class gives the franchise an excellent chance to rise in the final accounting of the decade’s drafts.
Bryant and Baez give the Cubs two signature draft picks of the decade, while Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber, Daniel Vogelbach and Ian Happ have settled into at least semi-regular roles. The problem is there is not much beyond them, and the Cubs’ pitching successes are limited to Zack Godley and Dylan Cease. Their 2018 draft class, led by Nico Hoerner and Brennen Davis, has a strong chance to give the club’s draft record a boost.
The Rays drafted exceedingly poor outside of a few big hits (Snell, Kiermaier), but they remained competitive on the strength of the previous decade’s drafts and savvy trades. Their most recent draft classes could represent a significant improvement, however. Brendan McKay, Brandon Lowe and Nate Lowe were all drafted in the second half of the decade and have already reached the majors, while Matthew Liberatore headlines a particularly promising 2018 draft class.
The Padres drafted well at the start of the decade, selecting 11 future big leaguers in 2011 in addition to picking Renfroe, Turner, Fried, Zach Eflin and Jedd Gyorko between 2010 and 2014. They also found three big league starters in 2016 in Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer and Cal Quantrill. With many of the aforementioned players still in the primes of their careers and solid early returns from their 2017, 2018 and 2019 draft classes, the Padres drafts of the 2010s stand to look considerably stronger with the passage of time.
The Tigers drafted a number of solid contributors but few stars during the decade, although that has a chance to change with their most recent draft classes. 2016 first-rounder Matt Manning and 2018 No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize boast front-of-the-rotation potential, while 2019 first-rounder Riley Greene was considered arguably the best prep hitter in his class.
The lack of first-round picks in 2012 and 2013 hurt the Angels’ overall draft record for the decade, but their beleaguered farm systems, in hindsight, weren’t quite as bad as they were considered to be at the time. Their 2017 draft, headlined by Jo Adell and Griffin Canning, has a chance to be one of the better draft classes of the last few years.
The Twins 2012 draft class, featuring Buxton, Berrios and Taylor Rogers, accounts for 24.3 of their 40 total draft WAR for the decade. It’s been slim pickings since then, with three top-10 picks from 2013 to 2015 all falling flat, but their run of Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis and Trevor Larnach as first rounders from 2016 to 2018 gives the franchise’s draft record a chance to receive a boost in the coming years.
The top of the draft has not been kind to the Rangers, who got very little from their top picks from 2010 to 2015 and have received worrying early returns from their top picks from 2016 to 2018. Overall the Rangers had 19 first or supplemental first-round picks during the decade. Only Joey Gallo produced more than 1 career WAR among the major leaguers, and none of the minor leaguers rank among the Top 100 Prospects.
The Giants won three World Series titles last decade on the strength of their drafts from the 2000s. They were not able to replicate that draft success in the 2010s, primarily because they were often picking toward the back of the draft, a worthy tradeoff for three World Series rings. The Giants rediscovered some of their draft magic in the latter half of the decade, selecting Bryan Reynolds in 2016 and current Top 100 Prospects Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
The Phillies found Nola and Hoskins during an exceptional 2014 draft. Other than that, it was a rough decade with few draft successes. Their 2017 class, featuring Adam Haseley and current No. 1 prospect Spencer Howard, has a chance to make things look a little better.
The Royals used top-five selections on Christian Colon, Bubba Starling and Kyle Zimmer to start the decade, then, after drafting Manaea and Dozier in 2013, got little to nothing from their top picks from 2014 to 2017. The Royals’ hopes for a brighter draft record are pinned on their 2018 class, led by current Top 100 Prospects Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar and Brady Singer.
Judge alone represents nearly two-third of the Yankees draft WAR for the entire decade, although the franchise made up for its lack of draft hits with excellent international signings and big trades. The Yankees best hope for improving their draft record for the decade lies in their 2017 class, led by current No. 2 prospect Clarke Schmidt.
The Brewers rival the Rangers for the most failed first-round picks of the decade, but they’re at least on a potential upswing. Keston Hiura, the team’s first-round pick in 2017, is one of baseball’s brightest young offensive stars and 2018 first-rounder Brice Turang broke into the Top 100 Prospects last year.
Two players—Grandal and Lorenzen—represent 22.1 of the 25.4 WAR produced by Reds draftees throughout the entire decade. The Reds have a chance to redeem themselves with their drafts in the latter half of the decade, however, after drafting Senzel and current Top 100 Prospects Taylor Trammell, Hunter Greene, Jeter Downs, Jonathan India, Josiah Gray and Nick Lodolo between 2016 and 2019.