The Ultimate Indians Draft: Reviewing the GMs
Editor's Note: In light of the passing of Hank Peters today, the IBI is re-posting this piece from last February that shows how much of an impact Peters had on the Indians in the 90s. We will have a few pieces on that impact in the coming days.
The Ultimate Draft series is nearly done, but before I finished it up I wanted to take this data and see who was the general manager who did the best according to this series.
Since the draft began the Indians have had seven general managers. Stop and think about that. Over the last 50 years only seven guys have run the Indians; however, since the Browns have returned they have had six general managers over 15 years.
In this piece I will only look at six of the general managers since Chris Antonetti just has not been in charge long enough to have the data to judge him. So I will look at Gabe Paul, Phil Seghi, Joe Klein, Hank Peters, John Hart, and Mark Shapiro.
The draft is the life blood of a small market team. The Indians can’t sign stars in free agency, but they can draft them, so a team like the Indians has to excel in the draft. That said, the question is which general manager has done the best job? I took a few approaches to try and look at this data.
Gabe Paul: 5 players
Phil Seghi: 4 players
Joe Klein: 4 players
Hank Peters: 9 players
John Hart: 19 players
Mark Shapiro: 10 players
I put the general managers in order of when they ran the Indians. This was interesting data to look at but mostly useless. First off, it gives Hart as much credit for Rick Prieto who never made the majors as Peters got for Jim Thome, the best pick in franchise history. The other issue is it doesn’t look at how long these guys ran the Indians. Klein had the least players but he was the general manager for only two years, whereas Seghi had four players in a 12-year run. This method just is an interesting look and gives us an idea why the Indians were so bad for so long. They just didn’t have the best of luck drafting for the longest time.
So, what if instead of totals we just took the average then we take the players drafted divided by the drafts the general manager was involved in? The totals look like this:
Gabe Paul: .55 players per year
Phil Seghi: .33 players per year
Joe Klein: 2.0 players per year
Hank Peters: 2.25 players per year
John Hart: 1.9 players per year
Mark Shapiro: 1.11 players per year
While this shows a little more data, as we can see, it is still far from perfect. So it’s time for a completely new look. I mean Klein’s time in this mode is the second best but it is hard to put him that high based on two years. It does show a bit more than pure totals, as the lowest rated general manager is Seghi which is who I would say is last after going over the totals.
Gabe Paul: 2
Phil Seghi: 1
Joe Klein: 1
Hank Peters: 4
John Hart: 1
Mark Shapiro: 1
Here is another way to look at this: fans love stars. All Stars put fans in the seats and also drive teams. Championships are built around the stars as they are the engine. When you look at just the players in the Ultimate Draft it is pretty clear which general manager had the best run. Peters found four All Stars over the course of three drafts; he missed out in 1990 his only bad draft. The four All Stars were Thome, Paul Byrd, Brian Giles, and Manny Ramirez, and all except Byrd were not just All Stars, but MVP candidates.
Klein was able to find Albert Belle in round two. Shapiro’s one All Star is a player that was never signed by the Indians - Tim Lincecum. Hart’s was Richie Sexson who he quickly traded away. Seghi drafted Von Hayes, who was clearly his best pick during his run. As for Gabe Paul he drafted one Hall of Famer in Dennis Eckersley, and a very good player in Buddy Bell.
Gabe Paul: 145.9
Phil Seghi: 47
Joe Klein: 45.7
Hank Peters: 225.9
John Hart: 65.6
Mark Shapiro: 41.9
This is where we see the full picture as through WAR we can evaluate who got the best value from their picks. It is clear just how good Hank Peters was as the Indians general manager. Peters was in charge for only four years while the other five general managers listed combined for 41 years of drafts. Yet the total WAR listed for Peters picks is 225.9 over four years while the other general managers combined for a 346.1 WAR in 41 years.
What Hank Peters did as a general manager might never be appreciated by Indians fans. People look back fondly on the days of Hart and give him credit for putting together those great Indians teams of the 90s, yet in reality it wasn’t Hart it was Peters who had drafted or traded for every major star from the 90’s outside of Kenny Lofton andOmar Vizquel.
Peter’s run was short, but he did an amazing job. The 1989 draft alone had six representatives on the Ultimate Draft series, and it was very nearly seven. Peters is a man who deserves more praise and should be remembered as one of the greatest general managers in Indians history.
My Final Ranks
1. Hank Peters
2. Gabe Paul
3. Joe Klein
4. John Hart
5. Mark Shapiro
6. Phil Seghi
I put Paul second because of his consistency on early round picks and the length of his run. He put up solid totals, and did it longer than Klein. Klein might have made some bad decisions as a general manger like losing his first rounder in 1987 so he could sign a 37-year old Rick Dempsey, but he found All Stars with his top picks in both his drafts- Greg Swindell and Belle. In 86 his top five picks all made the majors as well.
Hart found a few gems, but was horrible in the early rounds. Shapiro’s run was not the most productive, especially early on, but he did find a few solid guys. Seghi I put last because he was there so long and failed miserably. His top first rounder was Kelly Gruber who never played for the Indians, his second best first rounder was Rick Cerone, a guy he drafted 7th overall and had the best WAR of any first rounder taken in 1975, but was mostly a backup type. I think you could argue Shapiro and Seghi being tied for last if you wanted as both really struggled with the draft during their runs.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at email@example.com
"I predict Billy Bean will soon be a casualty of the fad he created."
People have been predicting this since Billy Beane's first year as A's GM. Still waiting on him to be deemed a failure.
For the record, Sowers was the sixth overall pick in that draft, not 11th. If I recall correctly, he was taken one pick ahead of Cincinnati taking Homer Bailey (think that was the 2004 Draft? Not sure offhand.)
The 2001 draft was foolhardy, the riskiest picks you can make are high school pitchers with the long projection time and the risk of arm (or finger!) injury. JD Martin could well have been a star but for arm troubles but that proves the point.
Since 2001 we've struggled to draft impactful power bats, hopefully people like Frazier turn that around from too many Trevor Crowe types.
For Hart there were plenty of the picks that were selected because they agreed to the $ they were offered (Peoples and David Miller are two). He needed most of his budget for the MLB team.
I would also only rate guys as they contributed to the Tribe. I could care less how they did in other uniforms (i.e. Manny winning a batting title in Boston). To date the only Indians major award winner drafted by the Tribe is CC Sabathia (Cy Young) unless you consider Chris Chambliss (1970 draft).
in addition to the change in the CBA in regards to drafting players today as opposed to what was in the past….
I am not sure anyone outside of the front office really knows how much money was budgeted towards draft picks under Shapiro. I recall the year we traded Paul Byrd and reading how the money saved from the remainder of his contract would be used to signing draft picks. Also I read where the Indians would call potential draft picks to feel them out in order to see how much money would be needed to sign I have to believe that was due to the mess created by Guthrie and his agent . I have to believe that came into play when the decision was made to draft Sowers, a soft tossing lefty with the 11th overall pick in the draft. But if you go back and look at the 2005 draft of the 50 players selected we signed 19 as compared to 2010 where we signed 27 of the 50 selected a significant difference in signings.
One other note, Jason Kipnis did make the all star team last year and was drafted by Shapiro.
20+ years of bad drafting for Cleveland....not sure what's worse, that fact that we've been drafting poorly for that long..or that the Indians may still be the best drafting team in Cleveland sports! lol
2. Hart - most of his picks were later in the draft with a contender. Think draft position is enough to vault him up.
3. Paul - high draft picks - he did hit on some and scouting/armature ball aren't what it is today
5. Klein - I dropped Klein as wasting a high pick on Dempsey and drafting Calvin Murray was were flaws enough to drop him like a bullet in my scale.
6. Seghi - poor Phil.......bad teams, no budget but he did have high picks.