• Mar
    01

    The Orioles and the Draft 1965-1974


    by Kerry Leibowitz

     

     

    Given reasonable expectations based on what we’ve learned about historical, MLB-wide draft success, what can we say about the performance of the Orioles franchise?  Are there any conclusions that can be drawn?

     

    I think it’s best to look at what the Orioles have done over the years in segments, just to distill the amount of information down to digestible chunks, and to better parse the opportunities the team has had at different points in its draft history.  I’m essentially going to use the same decade-by-decade boxes, partly for the sake of comparability with the earlier draft installments, but this is really a matter of convenience; the decade-long periods are essentially arbitrary in nature and when this masks results of note, I’ll point that out.

     

    So, to get things under way, here’s the summary table for the first decade of the Orioles’ draft history:

     

    BALTIMORE ORIOLES DRAFT SUCCESS, 1965-74

     

    Year

    N

    0

    1

    2

    3

    4

    1st Pick

    Non BL

    BL%

    Adj. Cont. %

    1965

    70

    66

    1

    3

    0

    0

    15

    94.3%

    5.7%

    0.0%

    1966

    49

    45

    3

    1

    0

    0

    16

    91.8%

    8.2%

    0.0%

    1967

    64

    60

    1

    0

    1*

    2

    19

    93.8%

    6.3%

    3.1%

    1968

    50

    42

    1

    4

    3**

    0

    10

    84.0%

    16.0%

    2.0%

    1969

    49

    44

    0

    2

    2*

    1*

    17

    89.8%

    10.2%

    2.0%

    1970

    57

    50

    2

    5

    0

    0

    24

    87.7%

    12.3%

    0.0%

    1971

    42

    39

    1

    2

    0

    0

    23

    92.9%

    7.1%

    0.0%

    1972

    44

    38

    2

    3

    1*

    0

    24

    86.4%

    13.6%

    0.0%

    1973

    28

    23

    0

    3

    1

    1

    15

    82.1%

    17.9%

    3.6%

    1974

    41

    38

    2

    0

    1

    0

    24

    92.7%

    7.3%

    2.4%

    Tot

    494

    445

    13

    23

    9

    4

    187

    90.1%

    9.9%

     

    Adj

           

    4

    3

    18.7

       

    1.4%

     

    *--indicates a classification including one player who was drafted by the Orioles but did not sign with the team

     

    **--indicates a classification including two players who were drafted by the Orioles but did not sign with the team

     

    The “1st Pick” column shows the slot of the first Orioles draft choice for that year.

     

    Note the “Adj” row at the bottom of the table.  Off and on through the team’s history, the club drafted players who went on to “contributing” (or better) big league careers but did not sign with the Orioles after being selected.  All of these players re-entered the draft and typically (but not always) substantially improved their drafting slots in later years.  A few of these players, as we’ll see, eventually were drafted by the Orioles a second time and did sign.  Regardless, selections who didn’t sign with the Orioles are not counted towards the team’s success rate.  For each table, I’ll indicate the names and draft years of such players. 

     

    In the case of the 1965-74 period, six players who went on to become contributing major league players were drafted at one point or another by the Orioles but didn’t sign with the team:

     

    • Doug Rau, drafted in 1967 with the 398th selection in the 20th round.  Ultimately signed with the Dodgers after being drafted with the 7th overall pick in 1970.

     

    • Bill Bonham, drafted in 1968 with the 695th selection in the 31st  round.  Ultimately signed with the Cubs as an undrafted free agent in 1970.

     

    • Bill Stein, drafted in 1968 with the 732nd selection in the 33rd round.  Ultimately signed with the Cardinals after being drafted in the 4th round in 1969.

     

    • Dick Ruthven, drafted in 1969 with the 473rd selection in the 20th round.  Ultimately signed with the Phillies after being drafted with the 1st overall pick in 1973.

     

    • Dave Winfield, drafted in 1969 with the 884th selection the 40th round.  Ultimately signed with the Padres after being drafted with the 4th overall pick in 1973.

     

    • Rick Honeycutt, drafted in 1972 with the 336th selection in the 14th round.  Ultimately signed with the Pirates after being drafted in the 17th round in 1976.

     

    As for the players the Orioles did sign, they managed to extract seven contributing level players over the course of 10 years, 1.4% of the original selections (less the six noted immediately above), with an average first draft slot of about 19.  The contributing players:

     

    1967:  Bobby Grich, selected in the first round with the 19th overall pick; Don Baylor, selected in the second round with the 39th overall pick

     

    1968:  Al Bumbry, selected in the 11th round with the 238th overall pick

     

    1969:  Don Hood, selected in the first round with the 17th overall pick

     

    1973:  Eddie Murray, selected in the third round with the 63rd overall pick; Mike Flanagan, selected in the seventh round with the 159th overall pick

     

    1974:  Rich Dauer, selected in the first round with the 24th overall pick

     

    While seven players reaching contributing status in 10 years may not seem all that great, remember the historical average, and also keep in mind where the Orioles were drafting.  The team’s success over this period led to generally poor draft slots.  Three of the ten first round selections (all of whom signed with the team) went on to become contributors (one—Grich, is an unquestioned star).  That’s right in line with the overall success rate of this draft slot during that era.   The success rate of later rounds wasn’t phenomenal, but with star selections like Baylor and Murray and long-time contributors like Flanagan and Bumbry, there’s little to complain about here overall.  It’s worth noting that there were two periods of two years each where the Orioles failed to get a single contributing player out of the draft (1965-66 and 1970-71), but this sort of fallow period is to be expected periodically, particularly given the slotting sequences we’re talking about.  The franchise continued to put contending teams on the field long after this period came to an end and the club’s draft performance did nothing to hinder that success.

     

    In short, the Orioles’ draft performance from this period was as good as—or better than— what should be expected, given their drafting position. 

     

    In the next installment, we’ll look at the period from 1975 through 1984.  Are the seeds of the mid-1980s collapse that led to a (mostly) down cycle that lasted into the early 1990s visible in the team’s drafting?


    Comments/Questions?
    Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board