In Wednesday’s post, we looked at the speed at which drafted St. Louis Cardinals players reached the major leagues. The point of comparison was Thursday’s starter Michael Wacha, who is making his St. Louis debut just 11 months after having been drafted.
In my opinion, even more important than how fast the players got there is what they eventually accomplished as big leaguers. As a measure covering both hitters and pitchers, I selected career WAR, wins over replacement.
In the table below, the less-than-three-years-between-draft-and-MLB-debut Cardinals are ranked in career WAR order.
|Player||MLB debut||Draft||Round||Draft to MLB||Notes||WAR|
|Albert Pujols||4/2/2001||1999||13th||1 year, 10 months||92.4|
|Ted Simmons||9/21/1968||1967||1st||1 year, 3 months||50.2|
|J.D. Drew||9/8/1998||1998||1st||3 months||44.8|
|Jerry Reuss||9/27/1969||1967||2nd||2 years, 3 months||35.5|
|Dan Haren||6/30/2003||2001||2nd||2 years||32.4|
|Terry Pendleton||7/18/1984||1982||7th||2 years, 1 month||28.2|
|Garry Templeton||8/9/1976||1974||1st||2 years, 2 months||27.7|
|Terry Kennedy||1978-09-04 (2)||1977||1st||1 year, 3 months||21.6|
|Adam Kennedy||8/21/1999||1997||1st||2 years, 2 months||20.9|
|Matt Morris||4/4/1997||1995||1st||1 year, 10 months||20.5|
|Joe Magrane||4/25/1987||1985||1st||1 year, 10 months||12.2|
|Luis Alicea||4/23/1988||1986||1st||1 year, 10 months||11.8|
|Al Hrabosky||6/16/1970||1969-1||1st||1 year, 5 months||Jan draft||10.6|
|Danny Cox||8/6/1983||1981||13th||2 years, 2 months||9.5|
|Rick Ankiel||8/23/1999||1997||2nd||2 years, 2 months||8.9|
|Braden Looper||3/31/1998||1996||1st||1 year, 9 months||8.8|
|Jim Dwyer||1973-06-10 (2)||1971||11th||2 years||6.4|
|Donovan Osborne||4/9/1992||1990||1st||1 year, 10 months||5.7|
|Eric Rasmussen||7/21/1975||1973||32nd||2 years, 1 month||5.1|
|Chris Perez||5/16/2008||2006||1supp||1 year, 11 months||4.7|
|Greg Mathews||6/3/1986||1984||10th||2 years||3.4|
|Allen Watson||7/8/1993||1991||1st||2 years, 1 month||2.9|
|Matt Carpenter||6/4/2011||2009||13th||2 years||2.8|
|Cris Carpenter||5/14/1988||1987||1st||11 months||2.5|
|Alan Benes||9/19/1995||1993||1st||2 years, 3 months||1.4|
|Seth Maness||5/3/2013||2011||11th||1 year, 11 months||0.3|
|Jeff Keener||6/8/1982||1981||7th||1 year||0.1|
|Anthony Reyes||8/9/2005||2003||15th||2 years, 2 months||0.1|
|Michael Wacha||5/30/2013||2012||1st||11 months||0|
|Rudy Arroyo||6/1/1971||1970-1s||4th||1 year, 5 months||Jan secondary||-0.2|
|Mike Tyson||9/5/1972||1970-1||3rd||2 years, 8 months||Jan draft||-0.2|
|Clayton Mortensen||6/29/2009||2007||1supp||2 years||-0.3|
|Jess Todd||6/5/2009||2007||2nd||2 years||-0.4|
|Ed Crosby||7/12/1970||1969-1||2nd||1 year, 6 months||Jan draft||-0.6|
|Don Durham||7/16/1972||1970||7th||2 years, 1 month||-0.8|
|Dan O’Brien||1978-09-04 (2)||1976-1s||3rd||2 years, 8 months||Jan secondary||-0.9|
|Steve Peters||8/11/1987||1985||5th||2 years, 2 months||-1.2|
Not surprisingly, Albert Pujols is on top. Only eight of the 37 players reaching the majors quickly finished with a negative career WAR.
Closest to the average of 12.6 career WAR is current MLB Network analyst Joe Magrane at 12.2. The left-handed pitcher ascended to St. Louis at one year and 10 months after having been drafted in June 1987. Following an NCAA career at the University of Arizona, Magrane was taken 18th overall (Wacha was 19th overall in 2012; both are listed at 6-feet-6). Magrane went on to pitch in the majors for eight seasons for the Cardinals, Angels and White Sox.
Magrane forged a career 57-67 record with a 3.81 ERA in 190 games, including 166 starts. The Des Moines native came in third in the 1987 National League Rookie of the Year vote and fourth in the 1989 NL Cy Young Award balloting, but Magrane’s main claim to fame may be the NL ERA title in 1988, when he logged a spectacular 2.18. Despite that stellar mark over 24 starts, the anemic offense gave him just five wins that season.
I don’t remember the level of expectations when Magrane made his Cardinals debut on April 25, 1987, but with him being a top prospect, they were probably pretty high. In his first outing, at age 22, Magrane delivered. He went six innings and beat the Mets at Shea Stadium by a 3-2 score. Current FOX Sports Midwest broadcaster Ricky Horton pitched the final two innings for the save.
In his rookie season, Magrane went on to make 27 appearances, including 26 starts. His record was 9-7 with a 3.54 ERA as he threw 170 1/3 innings. His WAR was 1.2. In what would be his only career post-season action, Magrane struggled in the 1987 playoffs, logging an 8.74 ERA in three starts. He took the loss in Game one of the World Series against the Twins and a no decision in the deciding Game seven. (I attended both contests, held at the noisy Metrodome in Minneapolis, from which my ears are still ringing today.)
Would you be satisfied with Magrane-type of production from Wacha? Or do you expect Wacha to become an above-average player compared to the other fast-rising Cardinals? Vote in the polls below.
(Continued thanks to researcher Tom Orf, who pulled the base data shown above.)
Would you be satisfied with a Magrane-type of rookie season from Wacha?
- Yes (53%, 66 Votes)
- No (47%, 58 Votes)
Total Voters: 124
Would you be satisfied with a Magrane-type of career from Wacha?
- No (98%, 103 Votes)
- Yes (2%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 105