Re-imagining the 2005 Draft

After word came down that Ricky Romero will start on Opening Day for the Blue Jays, some debate arose in the comment section about the 2005 draft. Romero was famously selected immediately before Troy Tulowitzki, the all-world shortstop of the Colorado Rockies.

Prior to “bursting” on the scene in 2009, many considered Ricky Romero a bust. The quality of player chosen after him certainly hastened that distinction. Far from a bust, Romero is now the Opening Day starter and nominal ace of the Jays staff. Does that mean you’d still pick Romero over Tulo again? Unlikely. But, just for fun, let’s take another run at the 2005 draft.

The great people at Baseball Reference have a great tool, making it easy to rank the players drafted in the first round by their Wins Above Replacement. Using these criteria, Tulowitzki stands out as the best player in the draft. (hat tip to commenter Tom Jackson.)

On the other hand, Fangraphs WAR calculates defense quite differently. Using UZR, it is actually Ryan Zimmerman with the most WAR of this draft class by quite a bit (26.4 – 17.8). Not to mention a solid list of players drafted outside the first round. All things consider, here’s my attempt at redoing the first 20 picks of that draft.

  1. Troy Tulowitzki
  2. Ryan Zimmerman
  3. Ryan Braun
  4. Justin Upton
  5. Ricky Romero
  6. Clay Buchholz
  7. Andrew McCutchen
  8. Colby Rasmus
  9. Jay Bruce
  10. Yunel Escobar
  1. Mike Pelfrey
  2. Brett Gardner
  3. Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. Mart Garza
  5. Chris Volstad
  6. Luke Hochevar
  7. Kevin Slowey
  8. Austin Jackson
  9. Clayton Richards
  10. Cameron Maybin

Wow, that was much harder than I thought. In the end I opted for players like Romero who I feel have higher upsides than players who may have already reached their peak like Garza or Pelfrey. (Plus I’m a giant homer.) Anyone who knows anything about me knows putting Troy Tulowitzki as the first pick is a no-brainer due to my undying love of all things Tulo. Leadership! Mullets! He really is the whole package.

Have I undervalued defense like so many before me? Should Jay Bruce be higher and Braun lower? What about Brett Gardner, a third round pick who is excellent at two things (defense, drawing walks) but doesn’t have much power.

I’m interested in your thoughts, loyal Getting Blankards. What would you do with this very strong draft class?

Comments (17)

  1. Just looking at those names, that draft is ridiculous. Don’t forget that the guy who was supposed to be a major superstar (Alex Gordon) was also in that draft.

    • For sure. Gordon still goes in the first round, just not my top 20. Other interesting players from the late rounds: Chase Headley, Nolan Reimold, Taylor Teagarden, Peter Bourjos.

  2. I think I’d switch Garza and Pelfrey as Garza may do better in the NL Central than in the AL East.

  3. …And it’s only six years after the draft. What’s this list gonna look like four years from now?

    As for what I would do with this very strong draft, I think the only pitcher I’d put ahead of Romero would be Buchholz. Where would you put John Lannan Drew? Peripherals are horrible and he appears to have peaked, but he is only 26, and he seems to be a reasonable facsimile of Pelfrey. I might also bump Bruce and Escobar up to #7 and #8 respectively, and slide McCutchen and Rasmus down to #9 and #10 respectively. I might bump Garza up too, despite the fact that I hate his ridiculous spitting OCD thingy.

  4. Who do you guys see as the biggest risers in this list?

    I think we’ve still yet to see the best from Jackson and maybe Bucholz too. I also really like Reimold to put up some numbers if he’s ever given the chance.

  5. I actually think McCutchen is more valuable than Upton. How much of Upton’s stats are a product of playing in a hitter’s park?

  6. Ricky Romero gets named opening day starter (this is not news Tom). In honour of that, an article that talks about his struggles in 2006 and 2007 (he says; it was actually 2007 and 2008, but that’s neither here nor there) and the Sports Illustrated article on the 2005 draft that he used as motivation, which included (big surprise)…wait for it…a mention of JPR, in the article, saying that the Jays had made the wrong selection. Obviously Tulowitzki was, and still is, a better choice, but the margin has shrunk considerably in the last little while, as Romero has built up his stock.

  7. Does anyone think the presence of Russ Adams *shutters* was the reason that JPR decided to go after Romero over Tulo..

    Obviously know one wants to believe that, but JPR could have been influenced by Adams strong 2004 in AAA(.288/.351/.408)..

    It could just be ridiculous, but it could have some merit it to it.

  8. If that’s the case dc, then he wasn’t taking the best player available on the board. There may have been some signing bonus concerns that we don’t know about though.

  9. The big risers? I’d go with Bruce and McCutchen. In fact, my draft board would be Tulo-Zimm-Bruce-Upton-McCutchen-Romero-Braun-Rasmus-Buchholz

  10. I’ll see your homer and raise you a, “RICKY ROMERO IS THE BEST PITCHER IN THE LEAGUE!”

  11. Interesting to see Kevin Slowey’s name on that list. More interesting is going to his stats and looking at his really good WHIP. I’m all for that rumour being true.

  12. AA is frantically calling the Pirates GM to discuss a Romero/McCutchen deal.

    Other than this order mix-up, great article…always fun to go back to old drafts.

  13. How could you not even mention Tommy Hanson on that list? Outside of Canada he is generally considered a better pitcher than Romero (I disagree, though he definitely has a higher ceiling). Aside from that, he’s easily a better pitcher than Slowey, Richards, Hochevar, Volstad, and Pelfrey. You could make the argument that he’s better than Garza as well, though I would disagree due to Garza’s moderate success in the AL East trumping Hanson’s better numbers in the NL East

  14. I’d probably have Tim Lincecum and Pedro Alvarez in the top 20 (seeing as though you have Hochevar there, i assume unsigned players count).

    Also no mention of Brett Wallace?? shouldn’t be top 20, but at least worth a mention

  15. I only went through the first 10 rounds or so.

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