With baseball’s winter meetings on tap for this week, teams will be looking to fill holes on their rosters through free agency and trades.But a look at the roster of the San Francisco Giants shows that may not always be the best path to a world championship.
On the surface, it looks like the Giants put together their 2010 roster, with an opening day payroll of $97.8 million, through equal parts free agency and drafting, with a dash of trades.
During the season, the Giants utilized 15 players that they drafted. Those players combined to contribute 22.8 Wins Above Replacement* (WAR). Meanwhile the 20 players that were acquired via free agency were worth 24.7 WAR.
Here is the full breakdown…
But where this gets interesting is if we break this down by pitchers and hitters. That’s where we see a very clear picture of how the Giants built a winning roster…
What we see is that free agency was much more important in the success of the hitters with players like Andres Torres (6.0 WAR) and Aubrey Huff (5.7 WAR). On the other hand, Buster Posey was the only drafted position player to contribute more than one win (3.9 WAR).
We see just the opposite pattern from the pitchers. The Giants strong pitching was built in large part through the draft with players like Tim Lincecum (5.1 WAR) and Matt Cain (4.0 WAR). Only one pitcher acquired through free agency was worth at least one win. Surprisingly, that was Barry Zito (2.1 WAR). But with an $18.5 million salary, he was still highly overpaid.
It is no secret that winning in baseball requires strong pitching. But as the Giants showed last season, teams may be better off spending their free agent dollars on hitters and developing their own pitchers.
* Data via Fangraphs.com
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