2002 'Moneyball' draft revisited

2002 'Moneyball' draft revisited

MLB draft day -- today -- stretches 50 rounds. Unless you're truly obsessive, the players selected won't be household names.

Baseball drafts take years to ripen, and by the time they do, only the keenest-memoried fan can justly jeer their general manager. Or issue plaudits.

The exception, to those of you that have read Michael Lewis' "Moneyball," would be the 2002 draft of the Oakland A's.

These selections were well-developed central characters in Lewis' book. We remember them for the arguments protagonist/GM Billy Beane made in defending his choices, now famously based on hard and real statistical analysis and college performance versus gut feel or sensed potential.

As Beane quipped, "We're not selling jeans here."

How did that "Moneyball Draft" turn out for Beane?

Four years later, let's re-examine their seven first-round choices:

Pick #16-- OF Nick Swisher, The Ohio State University
He saw his first regular Major League action in 2004. Last season, he produced 7.0 Moneyball Runs for the A's. This year, he's already produced 25.30, better than any other player selected in the 2002 first round, including Tampa Bay P Scott Kazmir and Atlanta OF Jeff Francoeur. Swisher, 25, is the most underpaid player in the Majors according to PROTRADE.

Pick #24-- P Joe Blanton, University of Kentucky
In 2005, he earned 16.68 Moneyball Runs while going 12-12 in 33 starts with a 3.53 ERA. According to PROTRADE, he was one of the Top 15 pitchers in baseball over the last four months of last season. This year, he's been average (5-5). Not without his moments, he shut out Kansas City in his last start, scattering five hits over nine innings.

Pick #26 -- SS John McCurdy, University of Maryland
He's playing behind Oakland's top SS prospect, '05 first-round pick Cliff Pennington (Texas A & M), in Class A Stockton.

Pick #30 -- P Ben Fritz, Fresno State University
He had Tommy John surgery in mid-2004 but is back pitching in Double-A Midland. He's 1-3 with a team-leading 3.03 ERA this season.

Pick #35 -- C Jeremy Brown, University of Alabama
Brown's been shuttling back-and-forth between Oakland and Triple-A Sacramento this season. He was up May 9-14 and then again from June 2-6. In the Minors, the vying heir apparent to starter Jason Kendall is hitting .290 with six homers and 15 RBIs in 28 games.

Pick #37 -- P Stephen Obenchain, University of Evansville
He's rehabbing from a biceps injury dating back to June 2005, hoping to return to Double-A Midland later this season. He was 4-3 with a 5.92 ERA there last year.

Pick #39 -- 3B Mark Teahen, St. Mary's College
He was traded to Kansas City in 2004 in the deal that sent OF Carlos Beltran to Houston and P Octavio Dotel to Oakland. He cost the Royals more than 40 runs in 2005, ranking as one of the five worst players in the Majors. This year, he's improved, only losing seven runs through one-third of the '06 season.

All told, that's a pretty solid round one. But the secret to Beane's success isn't all in his formula.

Jacksonville, Fla. high school standout Jonathan Papelbon was tapped by Beane's A's in the 40th round of the '02 draft, but he opted for Mississippi State.

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