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Here are the 10 best farm systems of the decade

@JimCallisMLB
December 25, 2019

Determining the best franchises of the decade, which Will Leitch did last week, is a fairly straightforward exercise. Blend World Series championships, pennants, postseason berths and regular-season victories, and the Giants come out on top, the Red Sox place second, and so on. The best farm systems of the decade

Determining the best franchises of the decade, which Will Leitch did last week, is a fairly straightforward exercise. Blend World Series championships, pennants, postseason berths and regular-season victories, and the Giants come out on top, the Red Sox place second, and so on.

The best farm systems of the decade don't reveal themselves in such obvious fashion. We reviewed each player who graduated to the big leagues from 2010-19 and assigned them to the organization with which they logged the most plate appearances or innings in the Minors before losing their Rookie status. And rather than just tally Wins Above Replacement, we compensated for stars such as Ronald Acuña or Juan Soto who arrived toward the end of the 2010s by giving them credit for bright futures.

The results reinforced the notion that a productive farm system correlates with big league success. Our No. 1 team, the Braves, may not have won a World Series title in the last decade but they did reach the postseason five times. The next four teams on our list (Astros, Red Sox, Cubs, Nationals) all claimed championships, as did two other members of our Top 10 (Cardinals, Royals), while the Dodgers have won seven straight division titles.

1. Braves
At the beginning of the decade, Atlanta spawned Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel. At the end, the Braves unveiled Acuña, Ozzie Albies and Mike Soroka, who appear destined to star throughout the 2020s. They also developed several longtime starting pitchers in Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Alex Wood and more intriguing youngsters such as Dansby Swanson and Max Fried.

2. Astros
Houston is the only organization to graduate an MVP (José Altuve) and a Cy Young Award winner (Dallas Keuchel) in the 2010s, not to mention a pair of Rookies of the Year (Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez). Alex Bregman may be the best homegrown Astro of the decade when all is said and done, and George Springer and J.D. Martinez (who was released by Houston before taking off) also have made their presence felt at the plate.

3. Red Sox
In perhaps the biggest Draft coup of the decade, Boston stole Mookie Betts in the fifth round in 2011. The Red Sox had several other late-round finds who drastically exceeded expectations, including sixth-rounder Anthony Rizzo, 17th-rounder Josh Reddick and ninth-rounder Travis Shaw. Their international department did quality work as well, landing Xander Bogaerts, Yoán Moncada and Rafael Devers.

4. Cubs
First-round picks Kris Bryant and Javier Báez and unheralded trade acquisition Kyle Hendricks played major roles when Chicago finally snapped its 108-year World Series title drought in 2016. In addition to Bryant and Báez, the Cubs have cranked out several other notable infielders, including D.J. LeMahieu, Starlin Castro and Gleyber Torres. They've had a number of international success stories too, such as Castro, Torres, Willson Contreras, Jorge Soler and Eloy Jiménez.

5. Nationals
Few teams have struck paydirt with three consecutive first-round picks better than Washington did with Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon. Newer additions Trea Turner, Juan Soto and Victor Robles have huge upsides as well, while Lucas Giolito finally broke out with the White Sox in 2019.

6. D-backs
Paul Goldschmidt went from eighth-round choice to face of the franchise in Arizona. The Diamondbacks cranked out a steady stream of solid performers, including A.J. Pollock, Ender Inciarte, Adam Eaton, Patrick Corbin, Trevor Bauer, David Peralta and Mitch Haniger.

7. Cardinals
No organization produced more 2010s graduates who have accrued at least 5.0 bWAR than St. Louis, which has 19. The most accomplished members of that group are Matt Carpenter and Lance Lynn, though Paul DeJong and Jack Flaherty could surpass them in the future.

8. Dodgers
Los Angeles keeps seamlessly integrating Top 100 Prospects into its perennial National League West championship clubs: Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Julío Urias and Will Smith. The Dodgers' most prolific 2010s graduates so far have been international products Carlos Santana and Yasiel Puig, with Kenley Jansen not far behind.

9. Marlins
While every other team on this list has made multiple playoff appearances in the last decade, Miami hasn't enjoyed a winning season since 2009. That seems hard to believe considering the Marlins developed a pair of MVPs in Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, not to mention Marcell Ozuna, J.T. Realmuto, the late Jose Fernandez and Luis Castillo -- none of whom are still in South Florida.

10. Royals
The final spot on our Top 10 came down to Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, and the Royals' 2014 pennant and 2015 World Series championship were the deciding factors. While the system didn't churn out a true superstar, Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Eric Hosmer, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a homegrown nucleus on those two Fall Classic clubs, which were boosted by trades that included Jake Odorizzi and Sean Manaea. More recent successes include Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.