Detroit Tigers: Rebuilds aren’t an exact science so tanking should be off table

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CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 09: Michael Fulmer #32 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the second inning at Progressive Field on July 9, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 09: Michael Fulmer #32 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the second inning at Progressive Field on July 9, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /
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SEATTLE, WA – JULY 21: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees hits a sacrifice fly off of starting pitcher Andrew Moore #48 of the Seattle Mariners that scored Clint Frazier #77 of the New York Yankees during the third inning of a game at Safeco Field on July 21, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA – JULY 21: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees hits a sacrifice fly off of starting pitcher Andrew Moore #48 of the Seattle Mariners that scored Clint Frazier #77 of the New York Yankees during the third inning of a game at Safeco Field on July 21, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /

The first round of the draft

Here’s the thing, teams don’t necessarily need a high draft pick in the first round to find impact or a star talent—they just need a first rounder, if that.

Often times, the star players are found outside of the first few picks

There have been plenty of successful former first-overall picks in recent memory, from Bryce Harper and Carlos Correa to Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg.

However, there have also been players who haven’t panned out. Tim Beckham, Luke Hochevar and Bryan Bullington all have or had career WAR numbers below 4.0.

Past drafts

The 2012 draft, which was headlined by Correa, featured seven first-rounders who currently own a WAR over 5.0.

Correa predictably leads the pack. However, he’s followed by Corey Seager (18th-overall pick), Addison Russell (11th), Marcus Stroman (22nd), Michael Wacha (19th) and Lance McCullers (5.8). Baltimore right-hander Kevin Gausman is the only other top-five pick on the list.

Moving back a year, the 2010 draft has had seven players with lifetime WARs currently sitting north of 10.

Four of the seven were taken with double-digit picks, including Sonny Gray (18th) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (40th).

2009 and 2013

The 2009 and 2013 drafts are perhaps the best examples of how impact players can be found outside of the first few picks.

The 2009 edition of the draft obviously saw Strasburg go first overall. However, it also saw Mike Trout selected 25th.

Other notable double-digit picks in the first round that year included A.J. Pollack (17th), Shelby Miller (19th) and Randal Grichuk (24th).

Meanwhile, of the top six first-rounders in the 2013 draft in terms of WAR, only two were top-10 picks.

Otherwise, the list includes the likes of Sean Manea (34th), Tim Anderson (17th), Corey Knebel (39th) and Michael Lorenzen (38th).

One player who will likely see his career WAR rise over the coming seasons is Aaron Judge. Judge is having a monster season for the Yankees in 2017, and was taken by New York with the 32nd pick back in 2013.

The Detroit Tigers’ own Michael Fulmer was the 44th-overall pick by the Mets in 2011.

Staying in the first round

Given the unpredictably and uncertainness of where impact players have been drafted in the first round over the years, the Tigers simply need to pick in the opening round to have a shot at landing promising talent.

Considering the organization is moving away from inflated contracts, it seems unlikely that the Detroit Tigers will be signing any free agents who would cost a draft pick any time soon.

Because of this, the team should have a chance to partially restock the farm system every year.

Late-round gems

In some instances, there are diamonds in the rough later in drafts.

Mookie Betts and Justin Turner, who are fifth and sixth in WAR among Major League position players, were respective fourth and seventh-round picks.

Corey Kluber and Chris Archer, the fourth and sixth ranked pitchers in WAR, were fourth and fifth round picks respectively.

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