There is little that is more dismaying than looking back at old draft lists, with the benefit of hindsight, and seeing which players your favorite team missed out on while settling for players who either failed to make much of an impact, or who never even reached the major leagues. Think Reggie Jackson and Steve Chilcott, Robin Yount and David Clyde, Dwight Gooden and Bryan Oelkers. Often, this is driven less by player talent, and more by positional need.
But even more fascinating is to look at some recent draft picks and some of their immediate counterparts, to see how teams fared picking players, one over another, who played the same position. In other words, straight-up scouting choices led to these decisions. Let's take a look at how those worked out in 2006.
- LHP Andrew Miller (Tigers) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers): This one is more complicated than it might seem at first. Clearly, Miller, drafted sixth overall, has not been nearly as effective as Kershaw, drafted seventh overall. Miller has a 5.50 ERA in 261 2/3 major league innings, and is currently having trouble throwing strikes in the minor leagues, with an astonishing 30 walks in 28 innings. Kershaw has a 3.28 ERA in 342 major league innings, and shows signs of being a good deal better than that moving forward. But Miller isn't with the Tigers; Detroit dealt him in the move that brought Miguel Cabrera to Detroit. Still, advantage has to go to Kershaw on this one, and the Dodgers as well.
- RHP Tim Lincecum (Giants) vs. Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks): Is this one about to turn? Obviously, as of this date, Lincecum, drafted tenth, has worked out as well as one could hope any draft pick could, while Scherzer, drafted eleventh, is still a work-in-progress who has already been traded once. But Lincecum has had uncharacteristic struggles with his control lately, even though his season ERA (3.14) and strikeout rate (10.4/9 innings) are not far off of his career marks. And Scherzer is coming off of a 14-strikeout performance, though four walks meant that he did so in just 5 2/3 innings. For now, though, a big edge to Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
- OF Tyler Colvin (Cubs) vs. Travis Snider (Blue Jays): Based on 2010 season line alone, this battle of the lefty-hitting outfielders would have to go to Colvin, drafted thirteenth, over Snider, drafted fourteenth. After all, Colvin has an OPS of .991 in 83 plate appearances this season, while Snider's stands at .806. But overall, it seems clear that the Blue Jays did better here. Snider came out of high school, while Colvin was a collegiate player. Yet Snider posted significantly better offensive numbers than Colvin as each player climbed their respective system ladders- a .916 to .785 edge in minor league OPS. Snider was holding down a regular job at age 22 before he hit the DL, while Colvin is struggling for a regular spot as his 25th birthday approaches. This one is debatable, but the smart money gives Toronto and Snider the edge.