To say the Chicago Cubs organization has not had the best of luck when it comes to its first-round picks might be an understatement.
For all the reasons fans, media, players and others could come up with in an attempt to figure out why the Cubs have struggled to put a consistently winning product on the field, the organization’s lack of success in the draft seems overlooked.
Take a look at the first round, over the draft’s history:
The collective WAR of 224.7 ranks 26th of 30 teams. That is a disheartening figure when taking into consideration that the four teams worse than the Cubs — Rockies, Marlins, Rays and Diamondbacks — all came into existence in the 1990s.
To be blunt, the Cubs’ haven’t found much value in the first round. And that is despite having 63 picks to get it right enough times to not be that low on the leaderboard.
Considering the emphasis that has been put on scouting, player development and the importance of a farm system that goes back to the days of Branch Rickey, it should not come as a shock that the Cardinals’ 78 first-round selections is the most in the draft era.
Their’ picks have been rather productive, too. Their collective 409.7 WAR is the fifth best.
The Diamondbacks and Marlins have been surprisingly efficient with their picks. Arizona has had 22 of 32 first-round picks make it to the majors, while the 20 of 30 Marlins have done so, too. It’s notable that both of those teams have a relatively small sample size to work with compared to teams like the Cubs who have been around since the draft’s inception.
However, it is also notable that the Rays have only had 11 of 31 (35 percent) players make it to The Show. That is the lowest percentage of teams. At 50 percent, Cleveland and Pittsburgh are tied for the lowest percentage among teams that have been in the draft since Day 1.
The Giants’ 51 first rounders-turned-major leaguers leads the pack, while the Cubs’ 37 is tied for 13th.
Fifty-eight percent of the Cubs’ first-round picks have made it to the majors.
That percentage, which ranks 16th of 30 teams, is 17 percentage points less than the Mariners, who have produced major league players with 33 of 44 first-round picks — or 75 percent.
Only time will tell if drafts led by Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod and Jaron Madison will help turn around the organization’s fortunes in the draft.
The watch could begin as soon as you finish reading this post as Kris Bryant, who already has posted a 1.7 WAR in his first 49 games, could crack the team’s top-15 most valuable draft picks with a 3-WAR season as a rookie.