When I first heard of the Franchise Player Draft at ESPN, I was intrigued by the idea. To be honest, I only heard about in passing on Tuesday and knew it was going to be released to the public on Wednesday with a chat to discuss the picks.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, basically they took 30 members somehow tied to baseball whether writers, reporters, talking heads, analysts, etc… and did a one round draft under the premise of “If you were starting a franchise from scratch, you would take…” and they eliminated financial concerns from the equation. Of course it is tough to think of players independent of their current financial and team control situations.
On the whole, it’s a pretty innocuous exercise that can be fun to discuss and think about on your own and wonder who you might take if you were given the chance to make a pick. At least it’s better than those fake press conferences they used to do years ago. Unfortunately, Doug Glanville had to ruin it. There are more than 30 great players in baseball for whom you could make a case as a franchise starter, so there were going to be snubs regardless, but Glanville made a joke of the whole thing.
Let me say up front that I quite like Glanville. I have his book in queue to read on my iPad later this summer, I like that he is a huge Strat-o-Matic fan (a recently adopted hobby of mine that has actually cut into my book reading in the last two months) and I respect his thoughts and opinions on the game. The Penn educated former outfielder is no dummy and he knows and loves this great game.
All of that said, his pick in this draft was stupid. It’s 100% indefensible and makes absolutely no sense no matter how you slice it. With the 30th pick in this draft he took Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos. Say what??? Glanville is the only person in the world who would start a major league franchise with Wilson Ramos. Wilson Ramos’ mom wouldn’t take him with her first pick. Ramos probably wouldn’t take himself if he was player/GM of a franchise.
Glanville’s rationale for the pick was that he wanted an up-the-middle presence to be the foundation of his team. See? I told you he was smart. That is smart thinking. If you’re building a team from the ground up, you want the best players you can get at catcher, shortstop, centerfield and second base. Of course, his execution of an otherwise smart plan was an egregious misfire. Ramos isn’t a complete shlub of player, he would eventually get drafted if this thing went several rounds, but there is no way he is the 30th guy off the board.
My first thought when I saw Glanville’s pick and justification was “I can think of 50 players of the top of my head, fulfilling his up-the-middle desires, that I would take ahead of Ramos. And I could no doubt reach 200 if I veered from the middle of the field strategy instead just going for the best player.” Alas, I went with my first thought and began punching up the 50 names. Here are my results:
I’m not trying to be smug or arrogant when I say coming up with that list wasn’t hard at all. I also want to be clear that I wouldn’t necessarily take all 50 of those players with the #30 overall pick in a draft like this just that I would take every single of them over Ramos. Ramos is a three time top-100 prospect with a reasonably bright future and the Twins would kill to have him back (they’d trade 3 Matt Cappses at this point), but there is simply ZERO justification for Glanville making that pick. It’s like when someone takes their 10th-13th round sleeper in round 4 of a fantasy draft. Sure, the player isn’t a completely worthless bum or anything, but there was no need to take him there as he’d have been available several rounds later even as a reach.
The clear #1 on that list of 50 for me is Andrew McCutchen. He meets the up-the-middle criteria, he’s young and he’s also a very good hitter with across-the-board production. Who would I have picked regardless of position had I been in that #30 spot? You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that. I’m going to post my top 30 picks for this kind of draft.