The Tradition Continues

robert johnsonContributor IJanuary 23, 2009

The odds of getting a Royal Flush in poker are 649,739 to 1. The Las Vegas odds of the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series are 150 to 1.

Why do I feel that I somehow have a better chance of getting a payoff at the poker tables?

Make no mistake, the brain trust of the Kansas City Royals love to gamble as much as any poker player at The Golden Nugget. They have consistently approached rebuilding their farm system with the mentality of a riverboat gambler, and the payout for the Royals has been about as predictable as trying to draw to an inside straight.

General Manager Drayton Moore’s new motto is "New. Blue. Tradition." However, he is following the same high stakes route that his predecessors took; drafting high school players in the top half of the first round. This analysis looks only at the first half of the first round, since that is where ‘The Boys In Blue’ have drafted every season this millenium.

Between 2000 and 2005 (let’s give the recent draftees a chance to make it to the big leagues before including them) 65.6 percent of the players drafted in the first half of the first round made the major leagues.

Almost two-thirds of the 31 players who failed to make the grade were drafted out of high school (20 out of the 31 flops, if you’re doing the math).

Seventeen of the 37 high schoolers who were taken that early did progress all the way to the parent club but that is a rate of only 46 percent, a far cry from the 79 percent success rate of players drafted out of college.

Some Royals picks played prominently in that count. Mike Stodolka, Colt Griffin, and Christopher Lubanski were three high school players Kansas City picked among the top 10 picks that never made it to the bigs.

The Royals only chose only one college player among their first round picks in that time frame: Alex Gordon.

Luke Hochever, drafted from the University Of Tennessee as the number one pick in the 2006 Draft, is the only other college player drafted in the first round by Kansas City and he has already made it to the bigs.

Drayton Moore has continued the ‘Old. Blue. Tradition.’ of taking high school players in the past two drafts.

The odds are that Mike Moustakas, the second overall pick in 2007 from Chatsworth High School in Chatsworth, California and Eric Hosmer, third overall pick in 2008 from American Heritage High School in Plantation, Florida won’t ever make it to Kauffman Stadium unless they pay for their own ducats.

If you’re a gambler and you go for the big pot every time, you’re going to go home a loser.

The Royals’ strategy is not a smart play either, especially considering the odds and past history. It is also a major reason they haven’t drafted outside of the first half of the first round since 1995.

The tradition continues.