Why the MLB Draft is just too boring
Once America's pastime, the MLB is losing viewers, and a large part of that is the lack of interest in each year's draft.
For a while the MLB has been getting slower. It has been getting longer, duller, and in general just less appealing to the modern fan. Who is really going to watch a nine inning baseball game on TV, that is most likely to last well over three hours? It is a joke compared to the entertainment experience of other major sports.
So let's take a deeper look. Why is baseball failing to keep and gain audiences in comparison to the other pro leagues?
Just recently the MLB draft passed by. Here's the thing about the MLB draft though: Absolutely no one cares about it. The other three pro leagues have interesting drafts. They are exciting, and have star power. People know who the best players are because they watched them in college or wherever else. No one watches college baseball though.
Even if you did watch college baseball, you still have very little idea of who is good and who is not, just because of how baseball players' develop. Someone could be excellent in college, but not be able to hit a major league fastball. On the contrary, someone could finally reach their potential when they start playing pro ball. Truth is, the MLB loses ground on other leagues because of the draft. They completely lose fans attention when the season is not going.
The argument cannot be taken that it is not watched because it is too long (normally forty rounds), because the 2020 draft was a meager five rounds because of pay cuts, yet still drew next to no audience. It is definitely long, but no one watches the later rounds of other sports drafts either. The top two or three are the only one people really care about, and even then, it is mostly just the first round.
The top five picks of the 2020 draft were Spencer Torkelson to Detroit, Heston Kjerstad to Baltimore, Max Meyer to Miami, Asa Lacy to Kansas City, and Austin Martin to Toronto.
It's okay, we don't know who those guys are either. Most likely we will see them in the majors a few years from now though. But will we see the guys drafted a few spots below them? How many second rounders will we see? Of the 1,200 players drafted every year (except for 2020), only a little over 80 will register a career WAR (wins above replacement) over 0.1, a shocking low amount. Therefore if you watch the draft, most of the players you saw are never going to make an impact on an MLB team.
In 2017, the Society for American Baseball Research, found that less than 50% of first round draft picks play for at least three seasons in the pros.
The graph below is for the percentage of players that reach the majors per round, even if that is just for one game:
The bottom line is, because there are so many teams and players filing through the minor leagues in baseball, the draft becomes irrelevant. It might mean something for the future, but we aren't going to see what it produced for years. We aren't going to be able to see how our team actually did for a good five years after the draft takes place.
In addition, because we don't know any of the players (unless you are a college baseball fanatic), it is just less interesting. Who is going to tune in to watch someone that they have never even heard of?
The hard truth for the MLB is that there really isn't any way to make the draft more interesting without making enormous changes to the sport. Minor adjustments will not help, and major adjustments are just very unlikely. The MLB will continue to lose fans, and not gain new fans because of how simply, dull it is. That includes the draft.