NL Central Draft History

Drafts are a huge part of rebuilding a club.  When a team “goes for it” they also look outside the organization for big time free agents to get the last piece of the puzzle for a championship team.  Signing free agents sometimes cost you a draft pick.  Tommy examines in an earlier article the Indians offseason and why they should sign Kyle Lohse even if it costs them a draft pick.  I decided to take a look at the entire draft history of the NL Central from 1965-2009.  Thanks to Baseball Reference I was able to add up the number of players to make the Majors and divide them by the total number of draft picks.  After that I took the players that made the majors and divided those players by the number of them who has played for the team that drafted them.  For the draft success rate the numbers shake out like this:

Cardinals: 14.24% (290/2036)

Reds:  12.98% (243/1872)

Cubs:  12.89% (249/1931)

Brewers:  12.23% (211/1725)

Pirates:  12.19% (247/2026)

            No surprise that the Cardinals lead the pack but what did surprise me was how close the numbers were.  Before I looked for reason I decided to see out of all the draft picks for each team that made it to the big clubs I looked at which of them played for the team that drafted them.  Those numbers come out like this:


Cubs:  62.65% (156/249)

Cardinals:  62.07% (180/290)

Brewers:  61.61% (130/211)

Reds:  58.85% (143/243)

Pirates:  56.68% (140/247)

When I started this I wanted to find out if these were the reasons for success and although they help there is so much more to it.  Drafting players that make the majors is nice but if you look at the numbers above that does not mean success.  This is where scouting and player development really kicks in where you can bring up and develop impact talent for many years, which leads to future success.  Everything after the draft is about development of the players and how they continue to develop throughout the system.  What I have come up with is when front offices head into a draft they have their guys who they believe will be something special in the first three rounds or so but after that if they can find a diamond in the rough then that is just icing on the cake.  Players like Pujols, Bonds, and Harper ect.. only come along once every 10 years or so but there is no guarantee that a cant miss prospect will be a superstar or even make the majors.  Even with the best scouting prospects are unpredictable and us Cubs fans know that first hand.



For your Cubs viewing pleasure I took the time to check out how the GM’s for the Cubs throughout the years and how there drafts look:


Cubs GM success rate:

John Holland (57-75):     45/352 (13%)

Salty Saltwell (76):    6/30 (20%)

Bob Kennedy  (77-80):   23/140 (16%)

Herman Franks (81):   3/30 (10%)

Dallas Greene (82-87):     38/194 (20%)

Jim Frey (88-91):      16/191 (8%)

Larry Himes (92-94):     18/207 (9%)

Ed Lynch (95-00):     40/334  (12%)

Andy Macphail (01-02):    20/106 (19%)

Jim Hendry (03-09):     40/347  (12%)

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7 Responses to NL Central Draft History

  1. Hi Kenny,

    Your dad asked me to check out your website. I think that it is great. It is very insightful.
    Please keep me updated.


  2. King Jeff says:

    Nice, you guys have put up a lot of interesting stuff the last few days. I’m going to have to catch up after the tourney this weekend. Keep up the good work guys.

    It’s kind of surprising to see Hendry so low on the spectrum. Does his number move up when guys he drafted make the majors, for example Javy Baez? Does his 12% represent that he still has about half the system under his belt that could still come up?

    • Yeah, I ended the research at the 2009 draft because that is the last draft the cubs had that produced a Major leaguer for example Brett Jackson. I will have to do an update when guys from 2010 and beyond start to reach the MLB. Thanks for the read-K

    • Tommy says:

      I’d imagine that Hendry’s numbers will improve quite a bit. There’s probably 15-20 guys from the Hendry era who are likely to get at least a cup of coffee, and those guys will greatly improve his numbers.

  3. Cookie52 says:

    Not surprised to see Dallas Green at the top. Cubs brought him in from Philly and his straight forward demeanor ruffled a lot of feathers at the time. However, this guy knew talent. With a couple of trades (Gary Matthews and Sandberg) he turned the franchise around. Plus he had the stones to trade Joe Carter and Mel Hall (I wasn’t much older than Kenny and Tommy at the time and I hated the trade-we love our prospects in Chicago) for Rick Sutcliffe. The Cubs really had the best team that year and should have won it all.

    • Agreed, cant fall in love with guys. If the right deal is presented you have to pull the trigger even if that means a fan uproar. I am sure it was hard for Theo to trade Nomar but he did and they went on to win it all.

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