Tempering Expectations on Draft Day
By Chuck Vanderbilt
For baseball fans that follow prospects closely, there are few days better than draft day. Tonight the 2012 MLB Draft will be televised on MLB Network at 7pm eastern. It’s easy for fans to get excited about the draft and speculate on the future of their favorite team. As a life long Astros fan, draft day has been marked on my calendar since the last regular season game of the 2011 season knowing that they would make the first selection in tonight’s draft. Being a fan of a team that lost 106 games in 2011, and is currently 7.5 games out of first in the NL Central, there will be few days during the 2012 season better than today.
Tonight’s draft allows fans of poorly performing teams, like myself, to take the focus off the current record or farm system rankings and instead allows us to look ahead at better days to come. However, drafting productive baseball players is far from a science. Despite the trending use of statistical formulas, algorithms, simulated projections, and heavy abacus usage, there are simply too many human elements that can’t be measured much less predicted.
Tonight Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and his team of scouts will have the pleasure of making the first selection in the 2012 MLB Draft, a previlage many general managers don’t want too often. While this could be considered a great situation to be in, it surely places Luhnow in a tight spot. With a depth chart that cries for immediate help, the Astros organization can not afford to be wrong with their draft selections, much less the first pick overall. Luhnow also has to weigh the decision to go with the popular philosophy of drafting the best talent available versus drafting a player that can quickly reach the Major Leagues. Either way, no one will really know if the decision that is made will be the right one for quite some time.
As the draft unfolds, fans must also keep in mind that first round picks are not locks to become solid Major League contributors. Plenty of prospects that were considered to be future stars fizzled out somewhere along the way. On the other hand, there have been plenty of players drafted in later rounds that have become perennial All-Stars. Whether your favorite team is in a state of rebuilding, or simply missing pieces to get over the hump, being right on draft day is necessary to have an organization that wins on a consistent basis.
With all that in mind, for tonight let’s sit back and watch as some of the game’s best college and prep prospects hear their name called and have their dreams realized. This will certainly be a night they won’t soon forget. For tomorrow, and each day after, check back with us here at The Futurists.
Follow Chuck on Twitter @ChuckVanderbilt