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1993 Colorado Rockies expansion redraft

24 years after the Rockies first season, we redraft the first team to check what would have been different.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Like Marty said in his introductory post, here at Beyond the Box Score we got excited with the NHL’s expansion draft and embarked on our own enterprise: revisit the 1993 expansion draft to figure out what could’ve been done differently.

Marty acted as commissioner while Jim and I took over the roles of the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies’ Front Offices, respectively. The conditions we set where the following:

  • We can only draft from the pool of players which were available at the time of the draft.
  • We can’t overspend the actual 1993 payroll of either team
  • We must keep as close as possible to the original Front Office’s strategy.

Having taken the role of the Rockies draft team, my strategy was fairly simple: draft cheap, young players that could drive the club into contention within the next 3 to 5 years. My salary cap for this exercise was a bit over $10 million. Real simple if you ask me.

My first order of business was to check the spreadsheet of available players, their age and how much bWAR they produced in 1993, between 1995 and 1997, and from 1993 until they retired. I would then check how much each player would go against my payroll cap as I wanted to avoid excessive spending as much as possible. Finally, the real kicker was checking their age.

Since I wanted a team that could contend down the line, I was looking to have the average age for the entire team be around 25 years old - meaning that my contention years would be between ages 28 through 30.

With all that in mind, I built a draft board consisting of the top 25 players who were young, cheap, and produced enough bWAR to be considered good players. These were my results:

Rockies 1993 Expansion Redraft results

Round Player Position Age 1993 Salary Career bWAR
Round Player Position Age 1993 Salary Career bWAR
1 Javy Lopez C 22 $109,000 29.6
2 Andy Ashby P 25 $150,000 23
3 Jeff Conine RF 26 $125,000 19.4
4 Shane Reynolds P 24 $112,000 18.9
5 Eric Young 2B 25 $120,000 18.5
6 Carl Everett CF 21 $109,000 20.4
7 Steve Reed P 27 $115,000 18
8 Matt Stairs LF 24 $110,000 14.5
9 Dean Palmer 3B 24 $275,000 14.5
10 Jeff Shaw P 26 $140,000 14
11 David Weathers P 23 $130,000 11.1
12 J.T. Snow 1B 24 $110,000 11
13 Jeff Reboulet SS 28 $128,000 10.3
14 Kent Mercker P 24 $721,250 9.8
15 Pat Rapp P 25 $118,000 9.5
TOTAL 24.5 $2,572,250 242.5
Colorado Rockies redraft results Data provided by Lahman database and baseball-reference.com

First things first, I believe I did a much better job than the original Rockies draft. Sure, these players were not immediate contenders - Ashby was so abysmal that he was traded to the Padres half-way through the season - but they could become real contenders further down the road.

With my draft board set, my biggest fear was Jim stealing people off of it. Fortunately, my first four picks were not on his radar. Javy Lopez was the youngest player of the draft, was really cheap, and produced the fifth most career bWAR among the available players. A successful pick that gave me a franchise player on the rise.

Andy Ashby, in my retrospective opinion, was one of the best pitchers available and I didn’t hesitate in taking him 11 picks earlier than he was originally drafted. But the story, as you know, didn’t go as planned. One can only imagine what could have been had the Rockies known of the effects of the thin air in Coors and been more patient with him.

It wasn’t until the fourth round when my draft board took a hit. My idea was to redraft Vinny Castillo who was a cheap option in line with my strategy. Jim however sniped him, forcing me to reconsider who I would take to man the hot corner. I ended up drafting Dean Palmer instead who, while young, was at the moment my most expensive pick - something I tried to avoid like the plague.

Not much can be said of my subsequent draft picks. The spreadsheet of available players that we used missed out on Hoffman and Everett, something Jim noticed. He ended up drafting Hoffman while I took Everett, compensating what would otherwise have been a really crappy outfield - except for Conine who I took with my third pick.

My next big misstep was drafting Kent Mercker. My original intention was to bring back Armando Reynoso but again Jim beat me to him, drafting him two rounds earlier than I foresaw him going. With a pitching staff that was above average career-wise, I needed to take the best available pitcher, which weren’t many. My analysis pointed to Kent Mercker but there was a kicker: he would cost 40 percent of what I had already spent and would bring me within a quarter of my payroll cap. I still regret the pick but I made it nonetheless.

Finally, I rounded everything out with Pat Rapp, a mediocre pitcher by his time but one who would have felt just at home in the 2017 run environment.

Overall, I felt I made a good draft selection when compared to the original picks. Jim constantly stated that I won the draft by the 7th round, though I think it was closer than he gives himself credit. He did manage to outspend me by a hefty margin but my dollars per WAR value was much better ($10,000/WAR vs $43,600/WAR).

I also managed to keep within my targeted age range: the team having an average age of 24.5 years. Should this team stick together over the next couple of years and with some well thought out additions, I think the Rockies could have been a serious threat by the end of the 90s and could have had a pennant and World Series flag raised in center field. Yet history was not on their side, only retrospective what-ifs are; aren’t they always?

Martin Alonso writes for Beyond the Box Score and BP Bronx and is contantly geeking out over baseball and Star Wars. You can find him on Twitter at @martnar.