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Scientific Detroit Tigers 2016 Mock Draft

The days leading up the MLB Draft always provide an exciting melange of stats, rumors, and utter nonsense, and with the 2016 draft just hours away, it seemed a good time to add to that mix.

A little more than a year ago I took a look at the Tigers draft history to see if we could objectively measure the quality of the organization’s drafts during the Dombrowski era. It was a fun little exercise, but anyone can take a look at the past and judge. It takes a special kind of jerk to predict a future draft without any inside information, and I’d like to think I’m that jerk.

What follows is my attempt to predict the 2016 Tigers draft. It would be pretty simple if I were to just grab 38 names from a hat, but I’ve decided to make my certain failure in this endeavor even more frustrating by doing research and trying to science things up. I’ve taken a look at every Tigers draft since 2005, broken them down by school (high school, junior college, or college), position, state, and conference, and used that to determine the average Tigers draft.

Point of Origin

SourceTotal PicksAverageMock
College 306 28 23
High School 144 13 10
Junior College 55 5 5
Total 505 46 38

The Tigers have used their first pick in the draft on high-school players seven times in the last 11 years, but after that they typically take a very college-heavy approach. On average, they haven’t taken their second high-school player until the 13th round, and most of the high schoolers they draft are kids with very firm college commitments, players local to the Tigers, or players related to members of the organization. The Tigers don’t go the junior college route as much as they used to, and their first JuCo player typically comes off the board in round 12.

Positions

PositionTotal PicksAverageMock
RHP 187 17 15
LHP 71 6 4
C 53 5 4
1B 20 2 1
2B 24 2 4
SS 37 3 3
3B 24 2 1
OF 89 8 6

This table is pretty straightforward, and I imagine most teams break down their drafts in a similar fashion. There’s a roughly 50/50 split between pitchers and position players, about three right-handed pitchers for every southpaw, and more picks are used on up-the-middle talent than on corner players.

Most Common States

StateTotalAverageMock
California 51 5 4
Texas 48 4 3
Florida 46 4 5
Michigan 45 4 4
Kansas 32 3 4
Arizona 24 2 1
Oklahoma 21 2 0
Tennessee 20 2 1
Alabama 17 2 1
Georgia 17 2 2

There’s nothing too surprising here. California, Texas, and Florida are all talent-rich states, and Michigan is up there because teams often draft a lot of players from their home state. Kansas is not traditionally considered a hotbed of baseball talent, but David Chadd, the head of Tigers amateur scouting since 2005, hails from Wichita. Chadd has now moved on to an Assistant GM position, but he figures to still be heavily involved in the draft. He was the reason I chose 2005 as the start point for this exercise (The Tigers had taken a total of 19 players from Kansas in the 40 drafts before Chadd joined the organization.) The other somewhat surprising state here is Arizona which...I can’t explain. It’s warm there, I guess.

Most Common Conferences

ConferenceTotalAverageTop SchoolMock
SEC 66 6 Vanderbilt (12) 7
Big 12 27 2 Texas (7) 1
ACC 27 2 Florida State (5) 3
Big 10 23 2 Michigan State (10) 3
Missouri Valley 19 2 Wichita State (8) 2
MAC 17 2 Central Michigan (4) 1
NAIA 15 1 Lewis & Clark (3) 1
PAC 12 13 1 Arizona State (4) 1
Big West 13 1 Cal State Fullerton (4) 1
Conference USA 13 1 Old Dominion (3) 0
Summit 5   Oral Roberts (5) 0

This is another list that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who has followed the Tigers drafts over the past decade. They love SEC players, and Vanderbilt in particular. And the relatively big numbers from Wichita State and Oral Roberts again indicate some of Chadd’s influence.

We now have a pretty clear picture of what the average Tigers draft looks like. Now all that’s left is to make one of my own. And here it is:

Scientific* 2016 Mock Draft

RoundPickNamePOSOriginStateConference/School
1 9 Riley Pint RHP HS Kansas St. Thomas Aquinas
4 115 Connor Justus SS College Georgia ACC (Georgia Tech)
5 145 Shaun Anderson RHP College Florida SEC (Florida)
6 175 Henri Lartigue C College Mississippi SEC (Ole Miss)
7 205 Cam Vieaux LHP College Michigan Big 10 (MSU)
8 235 Joel Booker OF College Iowa Big 10 (Iowa)
9 265 Clate Schmidt RHP College S. Carolina ACC (Clemson)
10 295 Peter Bayer RHP College California Big West (Cal Poly)
11 325 Kyle Roberts LHP JuCo Michigan Henry Ford CC
12 355 Elliot Barzilli 3B College Texas Big 12 (TCU)
13 385 Jason Delay C College Tennessee SEC (Vanderbilt)
14 415 Jordan Zimmerman 2B College Michigan Big 10 (MSU)
15 445 Sam Tewes RHP College Kansas MVC (Wichita State)
16 475 Spencer Johnson OF College Missouri MVC (Missouri State)
17 505 Santiago Espinal SS JuCo Florida Miami-Dade JC
18 535 Brylie Ware 1B JuCo Kansas Neosho County CC
19 565 John Sansone 2B College Florida ACC (FSU)
20 595 Ryne Birk 2B College Texas SEC (Texas A&M)
21 625 Trey Morris RHP HS Texas Taylor
22 655 Bryson Bowman OF College N. Carolina Southern (W. Carolina)
23 685 Cody Nulph SS College Alabama SEC (Auburn)
24 715 Eric Filia OF College California Pac 12 (UCLA)
25 745 Parker Bugg RHP College Louisiana SEC (LSU)
26 775 David Gerber RHP College Nebraska Big East (Creighton)
27 805 Luke Bonfield OF College Arkansas SEC (Arkansas)
28 835 Angel Garced 2B College Florida NAIA (Southeastern)
29 865 Gary Cornish RHP College California WCC (San Diego)
30 895 Johnny Zubek C College Illinois MAC (N. Illinois)
31 925 Tyler Fallwell RHP JuCo Arizona Cochise JC
32 955 Garrett Stallings RHP HS Virginia Grassfield
33 985 Austin Shields RHP HS Ontario St. Mary Catholic
34 1015 Trey Benton RHP HS N. Carolina West Columbus
35 1045 Karl Kaufmann RHP HS Michigan Brother Rice
36 1075 Armani Smith OF HS California De La Salle
37 1105 Tyler Duvall C HS Ohio Lebanon
38 1135 Lucas Krull LHP HS Kansas Mill Valley
39 1165 Troy Bacon RHP JuCo Florida Santa Fe JC
40 1195 Graeme Stinson LHP HS Georgia Norcross

So there it is! A pointless exercise taken to the nth degree for reasons that are foreign to even me. But I think I’ve done a solid job here of crafting a representative Tigers draft. I fully expect to go 0-for-38 on this draft, so getting a single pick correct would be a pleasant surprise. Getting four or more picks correct would be one of the greatest victories in human history, and probably land me one of those cushy data journalism jobs you’re always hearing about. I hope I’ve fulfilled my promise of adding to the pile of nonsensical draft-related content. Now, go and enjoy the actual draft!

*Apologies to actual scientists


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