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The chances of a drafted baseball player making the major leagues: A quantitative study



This is a quantitative study to determine a drafted player’s chances of making the major leagues based upon round drafted, when drafted (high school or college), and position (pitcher or position player). Historical data was collected from and The Baseball Cube on all players drafted through the 20th round from 1996-2011 and entered into a master spreadsheet; categorized by high school pitcher, high school position player, college pitcher, and college position player. The study's key findings: (1) Compared against the results of a previous study on the draft from 1965-95, a higher percentage of drafted players in all rounds signed from 1996-2011 than from 1965-95; (2) In each of rounds 1-5, more college players signed in proportion to high school players; (3) In the first five rounds, a greater percentage of college players in proportion to high school players played in the major leagues and played more than three years, with the greatest percentage difference in rounds 1 and 2; and (4) College pitchers were the most drafted players in rounds 1-5 combined, however, a higher percentage of college position players played in the major leagues and played more than three years.
... Players drafted in earlier rounds have a greater probability of both reaching and playing in the majors for more than 3 years. 38 The effect this has on longevity in baseball is difficult to surmise. The combination of older age at draft and debut in combination with being drafted in earlier rounds can lead to increased pressure on the both the pitcher and the team to advance the player, resulting in a greater workload. ...
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Purpose To evaluate and describe the differences in characteristics between the Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers with greater workload and career longevity in terms of innings pitched (IP) and performance-matched controls who have not experienced similar length careers. Methods Using publicly available data, we identified the top 100 MLB pitchers in terms of career IP. Controls were matched to the top 100 pitchers by draft year and round. Pitchers with fewer than 400 IP were excluded. Demographic information, performance statistics, and injury history were reviewed. Logistic regression analysis and Mann–Whitney U tests were used to compare data. Results Compared with controls, the top 100 pitchers in terms of IP were drafted at a younger age (19.35 vs 19.83, P < .001) and in later rounds (6.16 vs 2.45, P < .001). They made their MLB debut at a younger age (21.77 vs 23.12, P < .001). They also pitched fewer innings before debut (470.59 vs 632.07, P = .007), were older at their first (30.72 vs 27.50 years, P < .001) and second (32.42 vs 29.43 years, P < .001) designations to the injured list (IL), and had a significantly longer time from debut to first (3063.50 vs 1565.59 days, P < .001) and second (3712.10 vs 2202.03 days, P < .001) IL trips. The top 100 pitchers were 7.45 times less likely to have made a trip to the IL within 8 seasons from their debut and were 4.04 times more likely to be younger than 24 years at their major league debut. Conclusions Pitchers with the greatest number of IP in their MLB careers were significantly younger when drafted and when they made their major league debut, although this age difference is likely clinically insignificant. Pitchers who were drafted or debuted at a later age accumulate more pre-debut innings and this may contribute to fewer total IP in the MLB. Similarly, later trips to the injured list and longer duration from debut to first or second trip to the IL, but not total IL trips, are predictive of longer careers compared to age and draft class matched controls. Level of Evidence III, retrospective cohort study.
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