Where is the Astros farm system in terms of rebuilding? That seems like a fairly straightforward question, but it turns out that there are so many factors involved that, in my analysis, one thing led to another and to another and to another. I’m still not sure that I know the answer to the question, but I think I now have a better understanding of the system as a whole. Read on to be frustrated and encouraged, often simultaneously.
2011 was not only a bad year for the Astros major league club, it was also a bad year for the Astros minor league teams as a whole. How bad? Out of 30 farm systems, this is how we ranked as a whole in six areas:
Win Percentage – 30 out of 30
ERA – 30 out of 30
WHIP – 30 out of 30
BA – 18 out of 30
OBP – 19 out of 30
SLG – 23 out of 30
It's nice to see that we're not dead last in the hitting categories, but the rankings are not exactly encouraging. When I saw those numbers, I questioned whether or not we were actually getting any better. I sensed that we were, but if so, what could explain this. Here is part of what I found.
Knowing that it takes several years for players to work their way through the system and knowing that the Astros drafts were almost universally panned from 2002 through 2007, I went back to look at the attrition rate at three years and at five years out, what prominent players, if any, came from that class and who remains in the Astros system from that class.
53% out of system in three years
70% out of system in five years
Still in system - None
Notable players – Mitch Talbot
68% out of system in three years
88% out of system in five years
Still in system – None
Notable players – Jason Hirsh, Josh Anderson
52% out of system in three years
82% out of system in five years
Still in system – Brad James (free agent) & J.R. Towles (free agent)
Notable players – Hunter Pence, Ben Zobrist, Troy Patton, Drew Sutton, J.R. Towles
63% out of system in three years
78% out of system in five years
Still in system – Brian Bogusevic, Brandon Barnes, Koby Clemens (free agent)
Notable players – Brian Bogusevic, Tommy Manzella
64% out of system in three years
86% out of system in five years
Still in system – Sergio Perez, Jimmy VanOstrand, Bud Norris, Chris Johnson
Notable players – Bud Norris, Chris Johnson
79% out of system in three years
91% out of system in five years
Still in system – Collin DeLome, Kyle Greenwalt, Colton Pitkin
Notable players – None
Let’s carry this forward and look at Bobby Heck’s first two drafts
44% out of system in three years
Still in system – 18 players (3 in majors)
Notable players (to date) – Jason Castro, Jordan Lyles, J.B. Shuck
50% out of system in three years
Still in system – 18 players (1 in majors)
Notable players (to date) – J.D. Martinez, Dallas Keuchel
I think it is safe to argue that the farm system bottomed out in 2007 and that we are still feeling the repercussions from those earlier bad drafts in terms of depth in the system. Because of that, I will be using 2007 as the starting point in the next portions of my analysis.
I will leave you with one last stat in this part of my analysis – average win percentage of Astros farm system teams, as a whole.
From 2002 to 2006 - .525 Average Win Percentage
From 2007 to 2011 - .427 Average Win Percentage
In Part 2, we will look at the historical make-up of the farm teams and how that may reflect the strength of the draft classes and other circumstances.