The ins and outs of Opening Day rosters

The Blue Jays top the majors in having originally signed the most players who were on Opening Day rosters to begin this season.

Originally Published: April 18, 2005
By Alan Schwarz | Special to ESPN.com

One question often posed regarding Opening Day rosters is how many players have been developed by different farm systems. Who produced the best players? Who has developed the most home runs, steals and pitcher's wins? Also, which draft rounds and colleges produced the most players? And how good were they?

Here's a detailed analysis of the 833 active and disabled-list players on this year's Opening Day rosters:

Organizations
Many organizations rate their drafts and minor league systems by the number of players who wind up reaching the big leagues. For those who prefer that simple approach, here's a breakdown of how many of the 833 players (plus some notable names) each organization originally signed:

Team No. Notable signees
1. Blue Jays 42 Carlos Delgado, Roy Halladay, Michael Young
2. Dodgers 39 Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, Adrian Beltre
3. Expos 37 Randy Johnson, Vlad Guerrero, Brad Wilkerson
4. Mariners 36 Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek
(tie) Braves 36 Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones
6. Athletics 34 Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Tim Hudson
7. Astros 33 Bobby Abreu, Johan Santana, Craig Biggio
(tie) Indians 33 Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Bartolo Colon
9. Yankees 32 Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Mike Lowell
10. Red Sox 31 Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, Curt Schilling
(tie) Rangers 31 Ivan Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Scott Podsednik
12. Twins 30 Brad Radke, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer
(tie) Giants 30 Keith Foulke, Joe Nathan, Russ Ortiz
14. Rockies 28 Todd Helton, Juan Pierre, Chone Figgins
(tie) Angels 28 Jim Edmonds, Garret Anderson, Troy Percival
(tie) Mets 28 Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher
(tie) Pirates 28 Barry Bonds, Aramis Ramirez, Jason Kendall
18. Cubs 26 Greg Maddux, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark Prior
(tie) Reds 26 Adam Dunn, Trevor Hoffman, B.J. Ryan
(tie) D-Backs 26 Erubiel Durazo, Lyle Overbay, Brad Penny
21. White Sox 24 Frank Thomas, Mark Buehrle, Carlos Lee
(tie) Phillies 24 Scott Rolen, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell
23. Orioles 23 Mike Mussina, Steve Finley, Armando Benitez
24. Royals 22 Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, Tom Gordon
25. Marlins 20 Edgar Renteria, Mark Kotsay, Livan Hernandez
(tie) Cardinals 20 Albert Pujols, J.D. Drew, Brian Jordan
(tie) Tigers 20 John Smoltz, Jeff Weaver, Francisco Cordero
(tie) Padres 20 Oliver Perez, Matt Clement, Khalil Greene
29. Brewers 15 Gary Sheffield, Mark Loretta, Ben Sheets
30. Devil Rays 12 Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, Aubrey Huff

I couldn't resist listing Wilson, Isringhausen and Pulsipher together for the Mets – after all the Generation K hype, can you believe that this is the first time that all three of them have been healthy to kick off a big league season?

As for the overall chart, we have to remember that developing a bunch of scrubs is nowhere near as valuable as several stars. So which teams' players have performed best? Here's where integrated databases come in handy.

These are the top and bottom five organizations in various categories, including Bill James' Win Shares, which attempts to boil down the overall contribution of each type of player (speedy second-base gloveman, middle reliever, etc.) into one number. Only the 26 non-'90s expansion clubs are included because the last four clubs haven't been around long enough to truly compete:

Top 5
Win Shares Home Runs Steals Wins ERA
1. Expos (2,743) Rangers (2,255) Astros (1,581) Dodgers (1,019) Dodgers (3.80)
2. Dodgers (2,727) Expos (2,199) Expos (1,539) Red Sox (1,013) Expos (3.81)
3. Mariners (2,440) Mariners (2,170) Dodgers (1,425) Cubs (976) Cubs (3.81)
4. Rangers (2,357) Braves (1,734) Mariners (1,233) Blue Jays (826) Reds (3.82)
5. Blue Jays (2,338) Blue Jays (1,698) Pirates (1,172) Braves (795) Red Sox (3.86)

Bottom 5
Win Shares Home Runs Steals Wins ERA
22. Phillies (1,156) Cardinals (796) Padres (377) Reds (310) Royals (4.32)
23. Giants (1,127) Tigers (725) Giants (340) White Sox (282) Phillies (4.38)
24. Orioles (1,107) Cubs (721) Athletics (330) Phillies (252) Pirates (4.42)
25. Tigers (1,070) Orioles (491) Cubs (226) Mets (222) Marlins (4.44)
26. Padres (1,024) Giants (441) Indians (199) Brewers (142) Twins (4.45)

The Brewers have developed a pathetic total of 142 wins, even with Ben Sheets. Then again, that happens when you demonstrate almost no ability to keep your minor league pitching prospects healthy. (Note the Mets just above them.) The Phillies placed in the bottom five in wins and ERA, though the likes of Brett Myers and Gavin Floyd should begin to help them.

Sammy Sosa
Sosa

Randy Johnson
Johnson

The Expos and Rangers do extremely well, too, in large part because of players signed a long time ago: Montreal's Randy Johnson and Larry Walker, Texas' Juan Gonzalez and Sammy Sosa, etc. This skews how we evaluate the performance of recent organizations. (Do we really want to credit the current Rangers for signing Sosa in 1985, about 17 regimes ago?)

So let's do the same analysis with the 579 big leaguers (70 percent of the original 833) who signed in the past dozen years. Here's how they looked (with the Marlins and Rockies now eligible):

Top 5
Win Shares Home Runs Steals Wins ERA
1. Athletics (965) Twins (823) Twins (538) Dodgers (373) Cardinals (3.75)
2. Twins (908) Athletics (749) Mariners (506) Indians (358) Diamondbacks (3.84)
3. Angels (803) Mariners (713) Expos (379) Athletics (329) Brewers (3.85)
4. Mariners (784) Expos (632) Rockies (338) Astros (323) Astros (3.89)
5. Indians (752) Braves (550) Cardinals (337) Cubs (310) Giants (3.94)

Bottom 5
Win Shares Home Runs Steals Wins ERA
24. Padres (387) Giants (229) White Sox (105) Expos (133) Tigers (4.60)
25. Brewers (386) Pirates (206) Dodgers (102) Cardinals (127) Royals (4.68)
26. Pirates (333) Orioles (167) Pirates (76) Royals (111) Orioles (4.71)
27. Orioles (315) Cubs (164) Giants (55) Twins (106) Rangers (4.83)
28. Tigers (287) Tigers (120) Indians (52) Brewers (57) Rockies (4.85)

Some notes:

• Hats off to the Twins, who have developed no Hall of Fame-type superstars but a ton of well-rounded players, guys like Torii Hunter and Brad Radke. (With plenty more gas in the tank with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.) Also, note the Angels' placing third in Win Shares, proving that their oft-criticized minor league system has been far more bountiful than usually believed.

• The A's lead with 32 total players, followed by the Blue Jays (27) and Diamondbacks (26). Speaking of Arizona, it's amazing how much more talent that club has developed than the Devil Rays, who started minor league operations at the same time about nine years ago. Tampa Bay did make some poor signings of Greg Vaughn, etc., but that's no excuse for a regime that preaches player development to keep lagging so far behind their expansion competition. (Run, Carl, run!)

Brian Giles
Giles

The Draft
Not surprisingly, looking at all 833 players again, more were drafted in the first round (163) than any other, followed by the second (60) and third (42). One weird twist was the 17th round's having 14 (including stars Brian Giles and B.J. Ryan), more than twice as many players as the higher 14th round (six, with the best by far being Jay Gibbons). But that's the baseball draft for you.

Other draft tidbits:

• Which draft has the most players in the big leagues this year? 1998, with 68, followed by 1996 (56) and 1997 (54). The earliest draftee was Astros reliever John Franco (1981, fifth round to the Dodgers). The only 2004 draftee on an Opening Day roster was A's reliever Huston Street, drafted last June in the supplemental first round.

• The lowest-drafted player? Other than the 28 eligible guys who weren't drafted at all, Mike Piazza was infamously selected in the 62nd round by the Dodgers in 1988.

• Which is the highest round not to have any player? The 40th.

Countries
Major League Baseball releases an annual report to demonstrate how international the game has become; this year's showed that 29.2 percent of players were born outside the United States. Eleven percent were born in the Dominican Republic, 5.5 percent in Venezuela and 4.1 percent in Puerto Rico.

But we can go deeper. I assign players to the countries from which they signed – some Dominicans play at U.S. colleges, for example – so I've worked with those numbers. Here are statistics for countries beyond the United States, which easily leads in all categories:

No. Players Win Shares Home Runs Wins
1. Dom. Rep. (86) Dom. Rep. (4,279) Puerto Rico (3,339) Dom. Rep. (1,183)
2. Venezuela (46) Puerto Rico (2,898) Dom. Rep. (3,082) Venezuela (450)
3. Puerto Rico (29) Venezuela (2,144) Venezuela (1,360) Mexico (253)
4. Mexico (15) Canada (750) Canada (717) Japan (244)
5. Japan (12) Mexico (531) Mexico (363) Cuba (197)

Although Puerto Rico has just 3.5 percent of the players, the country accounts for 10 percent of the home runs – about three times what you'd expect. (That happens when you have Juan Gonzalez, Carlos Delgado, Bernie Williams and Carlos Beltran on the payroll.) Then again, it's easy to see how far that country has slipped in terms of producing talent. Since Beltran signed 10 years ago, the only notable major leaguers the island has produced are J.C. Romero and Alexis Rios.

Colleges
Of the 833 players, 343 signed out of college, 96 out of junior college and 201 out of high school. (A total of 193 were international signees exempt from the draft.) As for specific colleges, perennial powerhouse Southern California led with 12 players, followed by Cal State Fullerton with nine. (For ESPN's database of which schools produced which players, click here.) The top 10 colleges in various statistics:

No. Players Win Shares Home Runs Wins
1. Southern Cal (12) Southern Cal (1,068) Arizona St. (818) Southern Cal (349)
2. Cal St. Fullerton (9) Arizona St. (896) Southern Cal (766) Texas (329)
3. UCLA (8) Arizona (658) Mississippi St. (551) Stanford (212)
4. Miami (8) Georgia Tech (603) Auburn (492) Georgia Tech (207)
5. Long Beach St. (7) Auburn (574) UCLA (472) St. Joseph's (192)
6. Tennessee (6) South Alabama (490) Miami (453) Arizona (189)
7. Florida St. (6) Miami (478) Hartford (446) Yavapai JC (184)
8. Wichita St. (6) Long Beach St. (477) Illinois Central JC (423) San Jacinto JC (158)
9. Auburn (6) Seton Hall (474) Georgia Tech (422) Washington St. (153)
10. Eight schools (5) Texas (398) Miami-Dade CC (378) Oklahoma (151)

Some college notes:

Jamie Moyer
Moyer

• It's pretty easy to see where one player puts his school on the list all by himself – for example, Jamie Moyer (192 wins for St. Joseph's) and Jeff Bagwell (446 homers for Hartford).

• Arizona places No. 3 in Win Shares with just four players, all impact guys drafted in 1988 or 1989: Kenny Lofton, Trevor Hoffman, J.T. Snow and Scott Erickson. South Alabama placed No. 6 with only three: Luis Gonzalez, Juan Pierre and Jon Lieber.

• Texas once was a pitching factory, with Burt Hooton, Greg Swindell and many others, but 328 of the Longhorns' 329 wins belong only to the ageless Roger Clemens. (The other single win belongs to Brad Halsey, while Huston Street had not gotten a win before this year's Opening Day.) Southern California has a much more well-rounded pitching roster, with Randy Johnson, Barry Zito and Mark Prior.

Alan Schwarz is the senior writer at Baseball America and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. His book, "The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics," is published by St. Martin's Press and can be ordered on Alan's Web site.

Alan Schwarz is the senior writer for Baseball America. His book, "The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics," can be ordered on his website, www.alanschwarz.com.