The Best Organizations When it Comes To Developing Starting Pitching

In a recent article that I wrote, I mentioned the fact that the Royals aren’t the best team in the MLB when it comes to developing starting pitchers. It made me wonder though where the Royals would actually rank when it came to number of starting pitchers developed and total fWAR accumulated by those pitchers. In a bit of a small sample size, I decided to put that curiosity to the test for the 2017 season.

Basically what I did for this test was to see which organizations drafted and/or developed the most starting pitchers on Opening Day rosters in 2017, and which organizations drafted and/or developed the most fWAR during the 2017 season. The criteria for this test was not scientific. Guys like Jake Arrieta didn’t find success with the team that originally drafted him, so I had to make a choice. Team that drafted him? Or the team that turned him into a CY Young winner? You may not agree with where I decided to put every single pitcher, but it should at least be clear why I chose each team for each player. Most of these guys were pretty easy to place.

Here is the list of the number of starting pitchers that each team produced that were either A), on an Opening Day roster, B), on the DL and would’ve been on the Opening Day roster otherwise, or C), weren’t on the Opening Day roster for tragic reasons outside of the organization’s control (Ventura, Fernandez…RIP):

  • Texas Rangers – 10
  • Oakland A’s – 10
  • Chicago White Sox – 8
  • New York Mets – 8
  • New York Yankees – 7
  • Tampa Bay Rays – 7
  • Los Angeles Angels – 7
  • St. Louis Cardinals – 7
  • Colorado Rockies – 7
  • Toronto Blue Jays – 6
  • Houston Astros – 6
  • Washington Nationals – 6
  • Chicago Cubs – 6
  • Arizona Diamondbacks – 6
  • Milwaukee Brewers – 5
  • Miami Marlins – 5
  • Philadelphia Phillies – 5
  • Kansas City Royals – 5
  • Baltimore Orioles – 5
  • Cleveland Indians – 5
  • San Francisco Giants – 4
  • San Diego Padres – 4
  • Cincinatti Reds – 4
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – 4
  • Seattle Mariners – 4
  • Boston Red Sox – 3
  • Atlanta Braves – 3
  • Detroit Tigers – 3
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – 2
  • Minnesota Twins – 2

Here’s a link to a Google Sheet with all of their names:

Some of you mathmagicians out there may be wondering: “How can there be 164 guys on this list if there’s only 150 SP jobs available every year?” Remember, two of those 164 have passed on and some were on the DL as well.

As you can see, only 14 more teams had drafted/developed more SP that were on Opening Day rosters in 2017 than the Royals. This puts KC right in the middle of the pack in terms of bulk. Which is pretty good. Now let’s analyze the value of these pitchers compared to the league.

For this next list, we’ll examine the total fWAR of starting pitchers drafted/developed by each time. In order to make this list, the SP had to either, A) make a team’s Opening Day roster, or B) account for at least 1 WAR after coming into the rotation during the season. It’s not a perfect system, but if you do the math yourself you’ll see that I’m not missing much. Because guys like Jose Berrios came in and made big impacts on the rotation mid-way through the season, there will be 171 SP’s accounted into these fWAR totals. Without further ado, the leaders in drafted/developed fWAR totals in 2017:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks – 20.7
  • Washington Nationals – 16.4
  • Chicago Cubs – 16
  • Colorado Rockies – 15.6
  • Chicago White Sox – 15.5
  • Philadelphia Phillies – 14.2
  • New York Yankees – 13.8
  • St. Louis Cardinals – 13.5
  • Tampa Bay Rays – 11.5
  • Texas Rangers – 11.4
  • Kansas City Royals – 10.9
  • New York Mets – 10.3
  • Seattle Mariners – 10
  • Los Angeles Angels – 9.6
  • Atlanta Braves – 9.3
  • San Diego Padres – 9.3
  • Toronto Blue Jays – 9.2
  • Baltimore Orioles – 9.1
  • Houston Astros – 8.5
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – 7.3
  • Milwaukee Brewers – 6.7
  • Cleveland Indians – 6.4
  • Detroit Tigers – 6.1
  • San Francisco Giants – 5.5
  • Oakland A’s – 5.5
  • Minnesota Twins – 4.9
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – 4.6
  • Cincinatti Reds – 3.8
  • Boston Red Sox – 3.3
  • Miami Marlins – 2.4

As you can see, there’s only 10 teams who drafted/developed more fWAR by SP’s in 2017 than the Kansas City Royals. Granted, 5.1 of those fWAR came from Zack Greinke who hasn’t been in the organization since 2010, but he was still drafted and developed by Kansas City nonetheless.

The DBacks kinda blew me away here. I never would’ve expected them to be number 1, albeit sometimes I forget that Scherzer started his career in Arizona. That being said, the Diamondbacks accounted for 6 SP’s that acquired 20.7 fWAR in 2017, good for an average of 3.45 per SP, the best of any organization.

The Royals ranked 15th when it came to number of SP’s developed and 11th in terms of fWAR developed for the 2017 season. Jake Junis only accumulated 0.9 fWAR in 2017, so he wasn’t eligible for the list. Although, feel free to add him in if you want, he certainly deserves to be considered. Yordano Ventura was worth around 2.1 fWAR on average between 2014 and 2016, so if he would’ve performed to his average in 2017, the Royals would’ve jumped to 9th on that list. Yordano Ventura’s value to this organization can never be overstated. RIP young man.

My previous statement that the Royals have been “bad” at developing starting pitching appears to be unwarranted and unfair. While KC isn’t the best organization in terms of developing SP’s, “bad” was not a fair assessment of the Royals ability to develop starting pitching.

Stay tuned for a few more articles that deal with drafting and developing starting pitching. I’m working on a bit of a project that I think a lot of you will be interested in when it comes to the value of young starting pitchers. Also, Drew will have your “2018 Official Royals Farm Report” on our starting pitchers on Wednesday. Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “The Best Organizations When it Comes To Developing Starting Pitching

    • Uhh, two legitimate starting pitchers developed since Moore took over (jury is out on Junis) is a pretty damning indictment of the Royals’ pitching development. The analysis needs to be a lot more comprehensive than this to get a good picture of what they’ve done comparatively.


  1. Well, yeah. It’s gonna take me a little longer than a weekend to put together that last ~10 years. I’ll have that research out when I’m done with it.


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