After the popularity of my piece, "How hard is it to make it to the NHL," and seeing as we're in the midst of the ever-exciting October baseball -- I thought I would delve into the numbers around baseball -- and the likelihood of making to 'the show.'
It is a little trickier to pull numbers for baseball than hockey as, at least in Ontario, insurance by-laws and hockey-governing bodies force accountability and paper trails around players. Baseball tends to see much more levels of play, from 'fun-leagues' to highly competitive, due to fewer barriers for entry.
The only clear(ish) number I could find were from the NCAA in the US for high school baseball players. So you will have to keep in mind that when I am breaking down the odds of being drafted into the MLB, this is the odds of a high school baseball player in the US being drafted. There are bound to be tens of thousand of kids who don't make it as far as High School baseball, not to mention the players coming in from the Dominican, Canada, Puerto Rico and everywhere else.
There is also a huge difference between baseball and hockey as the draft for the MLB is much more diluted than the draft for the NHL. The NHL has about 215 picks in its 7 rounds, while the MLB draft lasts for 40 rounds with the addition of compensatory picks, totaling over 1200 picks. So while the NHL drafts about 215 players each year, and has just less than 700 active players in the league at any given time -- the MLB drafts over 1200 every year and only has about 750 players in the league at any given time.
So with saying all of that... what are the numbers? (Again, keep in mind the aforementioned caveat; US high school players numbers only.)
According to the NCAA, about 1 in every 200 high school seniors who play baseball will eventually be drafted into the MLB. Taking this one step further -- Bleacher Report reported back in 2012 the odds of actually playing in the MLB once you have been drafted. And the odds decrease significantly the further into the rounds you are drafted, and with 40 rounds, they get pretty small. First round draft picks, the best of the best only play in the MLB 66% of the time. This drops to 49% of the time in the second round, and goes all the way down to 7% for players drafted after the 21st round. So only 7% of these players, who were drafted into the MLB, will actually play in the MLB.
So again -- there are a lot of variables with baseball that really can't be accounted for. But I will summarize it here -- it's really freaking hard to make it in the MLB. Stay in school kids, stay in school.