The 11 Worst Picks Of The Draft, Plus The 9 Best Free Agent Pickups

Kind of a good news/bad news situation with Yu Darvish right now. The bad news is, he's a pretty awful pitcher these days. The good news is he hasn't pitched anything since May.

For Pat, Darvish seemed like a good idea at the time. The Osaka native (big city in Japan*, not the place by Jo-Ann Fabrics that Mil had all those birthday parties at) seemed like a good bet to nudge his numbers in a positive direction after spending most of his career in the rough-and-tumble American League and shifting to a world filled with patsy bums who'd still wear wool uniforms if they could, the National League Central (save for the Brewers, my former AL big boys). The $21 Pat spent on Darvish at the auction seemed perfectly reasonable. Turns out the guy just doesn't have what it takes. He lacks the have-to, the clutch gene, the cajones to perform in front of 40,000 roaring fans who know the words to all the songs but not the score or the inning. In the span of six weeks, Darvish turned Pat from a confident and excited owner to Frank Costanza raving in public.

Maybe a little insensitive of me but we'll keep it moving. Darvish has been bad and Pat has reason to be upset. But has he been the worst? Who else has been bad? How much did owners waste on players who turned out to be bums? Well, I ran the numbers (sophisticated) and the results may surprise you.

The Worst Draft Picks

 Byron Buxton holds several dubious distinctions among this group.

Byron Buxton holds several dubious distinctions among this group.

1) Byron Buxton, Min OF (AB)
$12 draft price (K), -3.62 PRV, $1,200/PRpt (adj)

You really can't get much worse than Byron Buxton this year. Before a toe injury and a bout with migraines sidelined him in late May, Buxton's OPS (.383) was almost as low as Mookie Betts' batting average is right now. (Betts is just 14 months older than Buxton, for reference.) When Buxton got healthy in July, the Twins sent him down to the minors, where he improved on his big league numbers and is now hitting a healthy .205 in 23 games. Three hundred games into his big league career and Buxton has basically had one stretch of two good months. Safe to say he will not be kept for a second consecutive year.

2) Jeff Samardzija, SF SP (Maloof)
$7 draft price, -3.30 PRV, $21.21/PRpt (adj)

Three seasons removed from a sub-3.00 ERA and an All-Star appearance, Samardzija can't seem to avoid significant injuries. He turns 34 in January, and his best days are probably behind him.

3) Corey Seager, LAD SS (Nolan)
$22 draft price, -2.43 PRV, $18.33/PRpt (adj)

Seager was off to a fine start before an elbow injury wrought Tommy John surgery in late April. He also had surgery on his hip last week. Very tough break for Nolan.

4) Josh Donaldson, Tor 3B (Tim)
$29 draft price, -1.66 PRV, $14.72/PRpt (adj)

Trading Josh Donaldson in mid-March was one of the few good transactions I made this year. The former MVP (making $23 million this season!) has suffered from dead arm syndrome, a back injury, and I believe something with his hamstring. He's played just 36 games and hasn't hit the field since May 29.

5) Jay Bruce, NYM OF (Mil)
$8 draft price, -2.79 PRV, $9.52/PRpt (adj)

Jay Bruce hit 36 homers last year during what was probably the best season of his career at age 30. In 62 games in 2018, he has 3 home runs. Hm.

6) Yu Darvish, ChC SP (Pat)
$21 draft price, -1.35 PRV, $9.21/PRpt (adj)

Not the worst-performing medium-dollar player on this list, but the only pitcher — and the only pitcher expected to anchor a staff. 

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7) Kris Bryant, ChC 3B (AB)
$41 draft price, 2.51 PRV, $6.68/PRpt (adj)

A little bit of a lost season for Bryant, by his standards anyway. It's the first time he's had to deal with significant injuries. Just 11 home runs and 46 runs scored in 76 games leaves much to be desired, and because of Bryant's steep price, you could argue he is probably the most damaging bust on this list.

8) Miguel Sano, Min 3B (Ols)
$16 draft price, -1.23 PRV, $6.67/PRpt (adj)

Sano battled a hamstring injury early on, then was demoted to single-A in June. He's got just 8 home runs on the season. Not exactly what Ols paid for.

9) Domingo Santana, Mil OF (Ols)
$10 draft price, -2.12 PRV, $6.62/PRpt (adj)

The Brewers offseason signings did no favors for Santana after a 30-homer breakout in 2017. He's got three dingers this year.

10) Miguel Cabrera, Det 1B (Mil)
$16 draft price, -1.16 PRV, $6.48/PRpt (adj)

Poor guy was doing okay before rupturing his biceps on a swing in June. Getting pretty old.

11) Carlos Correa, Hou SS (Mitch)
$38 draft price, 2.24 PRV, $6.26/PRpt (adj)

Correa missed all of July with a back strain. Otherwise he's been fine. But a "fine" $38 player can sink your season.

The Best Free Agent Pickups

Number one on this list: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.! Guy hit .402 with 14 homers in 61 games in double-A, then get injured, was promoted to triple-A and is hitting .441 with four straight homers in 11 games in triple-A! Wow!!

Not but seriously folks, it's Blake Snell and it's not really close. Here are the ten undrafted players with the highest PR values so far:

  1. 6'3" Nick Miller, MLB SS - ∞ PR value
  2. Blake Snell, TB SP - 9.73 PR value (AB)
  3. Patrick Corbin, Ari SP - 8.46 PR (Seyf)
  4. Miles Mikolas, StL SP - 7.77 PR (Nolan)
  5. Josh Hader, Mil RP - 7.16 PR (Nolan) 
  6. Michael Brantley, Cle OF - 6.73 PR (AB)
  7. Jesus Aguilar, Mil 1B - 6.33 PR (Nolan)
  8. Sean Manaea, Oak SP - 6.25 PR (Nolan)
  9. Mike Foltynewicz, Atl SP - 6.20 PR (Kyle)
  10. Ross Stripling, LAD RP, SP - 6.11 PR (Ols)

* Hey how about Japan huh? It's smaller than Montana but has 12 cities with a proper population of more than a million people. That's more than the United States! Lot of cities out there. In the world.

Tim