Sox vs. Mocks

Every year when the MLB draft rolls around, I casually notice whether the White Sox choose the the projected players assigned to them in the various mock drafts.  Whenever they do otherwise, I assume they must be foolish to value their actual choice so highly, contrary to the consensus.  After all, look at how few decent players they’ve drafted lately.

Having nothing else to do in January, I decided to run a very quick test of my belief that the White Sox would do better if they fired their amateur scouting department and took the best projected player available to them at their draft slot.   For simplicity’s sake, I ran through the stored mock drafts at, and identified the highest ranked player still available to the Sox when they chose in the actual draft.  I then compared this hypothetical choice to their actual one.  I used data from 2007-2015, because those were available, and I figured anyone drafted after 2015 was still too young to evaluate.  (I’ve also included the 3 years that the Sox actually chose the highest ranked available player.)

To my surprise, the Sox actually did better than the mock draft projections:

Here’s who the mock drafts projected as the “best” available player the Sox could have chosen each year.  (They had no first round draft pick in 2011 because they signed Adam Dunn):

Mock Draft highest available
Year Name Career bWAR
2007 Josh Smoker -0.8
2008 Gordon Beckham 5.5
2009 Eric Arnett 0
2010 Chris Sale 45.3
2011 None 0
2012 Courtney Hawkins 0
2013 Alex Gonzalez 0
2014 Carlos Rodon 6.6
2015 Kolby Allard 0.6
TOTAL 57.2


Here’s who the Sox actually chose:

Name Career bWAR
2007 Aaron Poreda 0.2
2008 Gordon Beckham 5.5
2009 Jared Mitchell 0
2010 Chris Sale 45.3
2011 None 0
2012 Courtney Hawkins 0
2013 Tim Anderson 10.2
2014 Carlos Rodon 6.6
2015 Carson Fulmer -1.3
TOTAL 66.5

So the Sox actually outperformed the mock drafts, but not by much, and only because of Tim Anderson.  (Anderson projected at #19, but the White Sox selected him at #17.)  Three times, they went with the conventional wisdom (Beckham, Sale & Rodon).  The mock drafts recommended 4 replacement level players whom the Sox rejected, but only so they could take someone equally forgettable.  At no point did the mock draft recommend a dramatically better player than the one the Sox took.

So I’ve decided to let the scouting department keep their jobs.  I’d be curious to re-run this analysis with full draft results, rather than just the first round choices, and to see if any other organization regularly does better.  But I don’t have THAT much time to waste, even in January.


Of course I’m a masochist, and because you root for the White Sox you must be one too.  So for your nauseous pleasure, here’s my list of the best players, actually drafted in the first round, whom the Sox COULD have taken each year:

Name Career bWAR
2007 Josh Donaldson 44.8
2008 Justin Smoak 7.7
2009 Mike Trout 72.5
2010 Chris Sale 45.3
2011 None 0
2012 Marcus Stroman 14.6
2013 Aaron Judge 18.6
2014 Trea Turner 12.8
2015 Walker Buehler 5.5
TOTAL 221.8

Kinda makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?

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It’s good to see they can at least beat out the talking heads. It’d be real enlightening to see how well other teams do in this exercise for comparison. Though for right now I’m just imagining a team that drafted Josh Donaldson, Mike Trout and Chris Sale and weeping


Very interesting, thanks for putting this together. It will be interesting to see how Collins and Burger stack up against other first rounders in the next year or two. Also, it’s somewhat surprising that Justin Smoak and his career 7.7 WAR is the best thing to come from the Sox’ spot on down in the 2008 1st round.