MLB Draft 2008 revisited: Giants built foundation for three World Series titles

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Charlie Blackmon, Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer (Getty Images)

So the 2018 MLB Draft is in the books, and you want to know how your favorite team did.

You’ve probably read a couple of articles grading the draft, and you’ve read scouting reports on the guys your team took in the first couple of rounds. Maybe you’re really excited. Maybe you wonder what that particular front office was thinking during those three draft days. 

MLB DRAFT 2018: Picks, top prospects from Rounds 1-10

But right now, it’s all speculation. You probably know this. You need a spot of patience.

“You’ve got to wait three years,” former Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd told Sporting News last week, “and then begin to look back.”

Here at Team SN MLB, we decided to go back a full decade and look at the results of the 2008 draft, with the idea of providing an idea of how one specific draft played out, in terms of talent produced for each franchise. Editor Tom Gatto did the team-by-team breakdowns from Baseball-Reference, and I owe him lunch or something. 

Let’s start with the first round. In 2008, including supplemental picks for the loss of a top-tier free agent, 46 players were selected. Two picks — Aaron Crow (No. 9, Nationals) and Gerrit Cole (No. 28, Yankees) — opted not to sign. 

Of those 44 players who signed, 37 made the major leagues (84.1 percent). Some of those players, though, were up for little more than a cup of coffee in the bigs. Only six of those first-rounders — Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer, Brett Lawrie, Lance Lynn, Logan Forsythe and Jason Castro — have compiled a career rWAR in double-digits. Posey, at 40.1, more than doubles any of those other five players. 

Of the 29 second-round picks who signed, 17 made the majors. That’s a drop down to 58.7 percent, and 11 of those 17 currently own a career rWAR of less than 2.0. Only two players — Charlie Blackmon (No. 72 overall, Rockies) and Tyler Chatwood (No. 74 overall) — have a double-digit rWAR. 

Of the 33 third-round picks who signed, 18 made the majors (54.6 percent). As with the second round, the vast majority of those 18 players — 13 of them — compiled a career rWAR of 2.0 or lower. Craig Kimbrel, the No. 96 overall pick by the Braves, has had by far the best career of any of those third-rounders. 

Let’s get to the team-by-team breakdown (thanks again, Mr. Gatto!)

Here are the number of draft picks who signed with their team in 2008 and eventually made the majors … 

14. Padres
10. Cubs, Phillies
9. Cardinals, Red Sox
8. Dodgers, Giants, Orioles, Rangers, Yankees
7. Blue Jays, Indians, Marlins
6. Angels, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Mets, Nationals, Pirates, Royals
5. Braves, Reds, Tigers, White Sox
4. A’s, Twins
3. Astros, Mariners, Rockies
2. Rays

The Rays — remember, they dropped the “Devil” from the name in November 2007 — would go on to the 2008 World Series, thanks largely to outstanding draft picks such as Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton, James Shields and Andy Sonnanstine, but they didn’t do themselves any longevity favors in 2008. As you see, only two of their 50 draft picks (27 signed, 23 didn’t) reached the majors, and one of those two was Tim Beckham, the No. 1 overall pick. We’ll start with the ugly. 

The Rockies, Astros and Mariners only had three players reach the majors, but the Rockies landed Charlie Blackmon, the type of talent who alone nearly makes a draft successful. Jason Castro (11.3 rWAR) was the best of the Astros’ three, and Josh Fields (1.6 rWAR) has had the best career of Seattle’s picks, though he was traded to the Red Sox and then picked by the Astros in the Rule 5 draft before making his big-league debut. 

The Padres have had, by far, the most players from the 2008 draft make the majors, and that doesn’t include Jason Kipnis, who was their fourth-round selection but didn’t sign and was taken by Cleveland in the second round of the 2009 draft. Of the 14 Padres picks who did sign and eventually make the majors, only Forsythe (12.5 rWAR), Brad Brach (6.8 rWAR) and Nick Vincent (4.5 rWAR) have a career rWAR even above 1.0. Brach was a 42nd-round pick and Vincent was an 18th-rounder.  

It’s funny how things play out. The Cubs drafted pretty well (10 signees made the bigs), but the best eventual major-leaguers didn’t have success in Chicago — Josh Harrison was traded to Pittsburgh, Sonny Gray didn’t sign and Andrew Cashner was shipped to San Diego. The Cashner deal, of course, was a huge moment in Chicago’s push to the 2016 World Series title; the Cubs received Anthony Rizzo in return. 

The Cardinals had nine picks make the majors, but their second-best big leaguer, Kevin Siegrist, was a 41st-rounder, a late-round gem. The Red Sox had nine signees make The Show, too, but nobody has a career rWAR above 1.1; the best player they picked was high-schooler Travis Shaw, in the 32nd round, but he opted to play college ball at Kent State. Boston picked him again in 2011, this time in the ninth round, and he finally inked a pro contract. 

The best draft of 2008 has to belong to San Francisco. 

Only two players in that 2008 draft have reached a career rWAR of at least 20, and both still play for the Giants. We already mentioned Buster Posey — he’s in the middle of a nine-year, $167 million contract — but shortstop Brandon Crawford was a stellar pick, too, in the fourth round out of UCLA. Crawford has a career rWAR of 23.0, and he’s in the midst of a six-year, $75 million deal. 

The foundation for three World Series championships was strengthened with the 2008 draft. Posey was the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year, and his play behind the plate helped lead the Giants to a rather stunning title that season. Crawford joined Posey as a full-time starter in 2012, and both were indispensable members of the 2012 and 2014 World Series-winning teams in San Francisco.  

That, folks, is how you judge the success of a baseball draft.