History shows a strong farm often leads to MLB success

When some fans around Birdland see the Orioles doing well on top 100 prospects lists, the obvious follow-up question is whether getting such big numbers will lead to major league wins.

If history is an indicator, not only could it lead to wins, but it could lead to a World Series championship.

There are no guarantees in sports, of course, but there is a history of a team reaching the No. 1 farm system ranking in the Baseball America listing and going on to big things.

The first year that the publication rated farm systems was 1984, and the New York Mets - with Dwight Gooden, Lenny Dykstra and Ron Darling - were No. 1. Two years later the Mets were World Series champions.

We could go back to when Toronto was the No. 1 farm in 1987 and 1988. Then in 1992 and 1993, the Blue Jays won two straight World Series titles.

In 2014 the Orioles lost in the American League Championship Series to the Kansas City Royals, who would win the World Series a year later. But we could see that Kansas City might be a future winner when the Royals had the No. 1 farm in 2011, with notable players including Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez.

In 2015 the Cubs were No. 1. Their big league club won 97 games that year. The following year the Cubs won 103 games and the World Series. With current O’s manager Brandon Hyde serving as first base coach, the Cubs ended a 108-year drought in winning the title.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have had a strong farm for a long time, but the Dodgers were No. 1 in 2016 and won the World Series in 2020. They’ve won 100 or more games four times in the last six seasons.

In 2017 and 2018, Atlanta was No.1. They’ve been in the playoffs every year since 2018 and were the 2021 World Series winners.

In 2019, 2020 and 2021, the Tampa Bay Rays' minor league system was No. 1. They have yet to win the World Series, but have been in the postseason four consecutive seasons.

In those Baseball America organizational rankings, the Orioles were No. 12 in 2020, No. 7 in 2021 and reached the No. 1 ranking in the 2022 midseason, from that outlet as well as from MLBPipeline.com and ESPN.

And now, on the heels of those No. 1 rankings, the club gets eight players in top 100 prospect rankings from Baseball America, MLBPipeline and Baseball Prospectus, with Gunnar Henderson rated No. 1 by all three. Ten total players were ranked in at least one top 100. Joining Henderson have been Grayson Rodriguez, Jackson Holliday, Colton Cowser, DL Hall, Jordan Westburg, Connor Norby, Joey Ortiz, Coby Mayo and Heston Kjerstad.

That is quite a haul of prospects, with Henderson, Rodriguez and Holliday among the top nine on the Baseball Prospectus list, top 12 via MLBPipeline and top 15 in Baseball America.

MLBPipeline noted that the organizations with eight or more prospects on a preseason Top 100 in the previous five years -Rays (2021), Padres (2020), Braves (2020, 2019, 2018) - all made the postseason in 2022.

And in the last four seasons, teams that have been ranked among the top five farm systems include the Rays, Padres, White Sox, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Mariners, Braves and Orioles. All these clubs won at least 81 games last year, and six of them made the postseason.

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