In the time before covid, in one especially long and terminally boring faculty meeting, I started musing about all the good players the Angels once had and have let go. I started to wonder what the team would be like if the front office never tried to do anything fancier than draft players and develop them. Here are the rules: Keep all the players you draft. If they’re good, match their free agent offers and keep them around. Don’t trade to get anyone and never sign a free agent. From what I can tell, had the Angels done this the pitching would have been much better, the hitting would have been notably better, and the payroll would have been considerably lower.
Here’s the pitching staff with year drafted, name, and 2019 stats. The rotation is Chatwood, Hendricks, Clevinger, Corbin, and Canning. Not quite sure what to do about Skaggs and Richards, but this group had a 3.70 ERA over 902 innings; the actual club was 5.12 and ranked 12th in the AL.
|2008||Tyler Chatwood||5-3 3.76|
|2009||Kyle Hendricks||11-10 3.46|
|2009||Patrick Corbin||14-7 3.25|
|2010||Cam Bedrosian||3-3 3.23|
|2011||Mike Clevinger||13-4 2.71|
|2012||Austin Adams||2-2 3.79|
|2012||Mike Morin||1-3 4.62|
|2012||Yency Almonte||0-1 5.56|
|2013||Keynan Middleton||0-0 1.17|
|2014||Justin Anderson||3-0 5.55|
|2017||Griffin Canning||5-6 4.58|
For grins I’m adding 2019 OPS+ and Career OPS+. 2019 OPS+ average for these guys was 108 (109 for career, so these were pretty typical years). The actual team was 94.
|Position||Yr drafted||Name||2019 OPS+||Career OPS+|
And, of course, the punch line is that these 20 guys would have a payroll of $103m, using their actual 2019 salaries (which thus assumes that they could have been re-signed at their 2019 salary by the Angels, although they did that with Trout so Posey is the only real question mark). The actual Angel payroll was $177m.
By not signing free agents they would have missed out on Simmons and Ohtani, but they also wouldn’t have been saddled with this list of players all of whom had negative Wins-Abover-Average: Pujlos ($28m, -1.7 WAA), Upton ($18m, -1.9), Cozart ($12.6m, -1.6), Harvey ($11m, ugh), LuCroy ($3.5m, -1.7), Justin Bour ($2.5m, -1.2), and Trevor Cahill ($9m, -1.2). That’s about $85m in salary that’s making you worse than if you just used a AAA guy.
OK, I know I’m only looking at the top 20 guys and there would be another 10-15 who shuffled in and out at various points (I’ve got 900 innings on this page and the actual Angels threw 1,440, so those additional 500 innings would have to come from somewhere). But those guys would also lower the average salary, and if you add to the mix mid-range free agents to plug holes that could be dumped if they don’t pan out, those AB/IP are pretty easily filled. But, no matter how you slice it, the 2019 team of drafted Angels would be much better than the 2019 team of actual Angels. Once we are all off of zoom for half our lives the next boring faculty meeting will bring an even more detailed analysis….