At the beginning of the season, Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report once again ranked homegrown talent for every MLB team. Because it was his game, Reuter got to set the rules: To be deemed homegrown, a player must have been either drafted by the team in question or signed as an amateur free agent, with international free agents counting if they haven’t had “significant” professional experience.
By those rules, unfortunately none of the players the White Sox acquired in the big sell-off count, but Luis Robert Jr. and Oscar Colás do; while they had professional experience in Cuba (and Japan, in the case of Colás) Reuter didn’t deem that “significant,” as he generally did for any Japanese or Korean players from the major leagues of those countries (hello, Shohei Ohtani).
The White Sox ended up in the middle of the rankings at 17th, though in sheer numbers they were in the top third, with 19 players considered homegrown on the 40-man roster on Opening Day. (The Guardians and Astros had the most, at 24, and the Padres and A’s the fewest, at six.) The rankings were a mix of quantity and perceived quality.
That was before the season. Now? Just like the team’s performance, this category crashed.
In addition to listing all the players on a roster who met his definition, Reuter picked a Top 5 on each team. Now that the season’s done, we’re going to plug in how those players did, using bWAR as our measurement.
For the White Sox, the list was:
Tim Anderson -2.0 bWAR
Luis Robert Jr. 5.1
Andrew Vaughn 1.0
Oscar Coláa -1.5
Aaron Bummer -1.0
That adds up to a pathetic +1.6 bWAR from those top players considered to be developed by the White Sox (and, of course, the guy in charge of minor leagues who has now been promoted to oversee the Sox themselves) to compare against other teams.
To be fair, the Sox total could have been improved by tossing out Tim and Oscar and including Tyler Banks (0.8) and Jake Burger (1.4) instead, but those kinds of switches could be made on many other teams as well, and, frankly, wading through hundreds of names and checking their WAR is just way too much work. Besides, the rest of the 19 White Sox players would have dragged the total way down, because they either counted as 0.0 because they didn’t play in the majors, or were negative enough to drag the team total into negative territory.
SO HOW DID THE FINAL FOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS FARE?
It was one of the teams knocked out in the LCS that rated No. 1 on Reuter’s list, and for good reason. Not only did Houston tie for the most homegrown talent on their 40-man, it was also the best at the top, by far.
Kyle Tucker 5.4
Framber Valdez 3.1
José Altuve 2.8
Alex Bregman 4.9
Christian Javier 1.1
That’s 17.3 WAR on those five players alone (more than the entire White Sox team), and limiting the preseason list to five meant that Chas McCormick (who scored 3.6 bWAR this season) got left out, along with a bunch of others. You may have noticed this isn’t just a group of youngsters, but evidence of the success the Astros have had extending stars.
The Phillies, having been very active in free agency and trading, were 14th on the list, with only 12 players considered homegrown on their 40-man. Their top five came in way better than the White Sox, but nowhere near the Astros.
Aaron Nola 2.1
Alec Bohm 0.5
Bryan Stott 4.4
Ranger Suarez 2.4
Seranthony Dominguez 0.4
That adds up to 9.8 bWAR, far worse than the Astros, mainly because so many of their positions were taken up by free agents — but still crunching the White Sox.
AND THE WORLD SERIES TEAMS?
The Rangers and Diamondbacks were both rated well worse than the White Sox in the preseason evaluation of homegrown talent, Arizona at 20th and Texas way down at 26, but that’s why they play the games. And also why some teams spend money on free agents,
The Arizona Top 5 of their total of 15 all ended up in positive territory, with the presumptive Rookie of the Year leading the way.
Corbin Carroll 5.4
Jake McCarthy 0.4
Alex Thomas 1.1
Ryne Nelson 0.8
Drey Jameson 1.2
That’s 8.9 bWAR, even with Jameson having TJS in September, and with NLCS stalwart Geraldo Perdomo and his 2.2 bWAR an unexpected bonus.
As for the Rangers, they had 16 homegrown players on their 40-man, but all of their free agency purchases and trades didn’t leave much room for homegrown talent to play, so their Top 5 was a mixed bag.
José Leclerc 1.4
Josh Jung 2.4
Leody Taveras 2.7
Jonathan Hernández -0.3
Bubba Thompson -0.4
That only adds up to 5.8, but even such a small sum is more than triple the White Sox total, and it’s not like the Sox (unlike the Rangers) had a bunch of stars blocking the way to regular play.
THE BOTTOM LINE?
Shows who’s at the bottom. By far.
But then, we already knew that.