Which MLB Draft Class Is the Best of All Time?

Mitch PetanickCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2012

Which MLB Draft Class Is the Best of All Time?

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    Ever since 1965, the MLB has been having its annual amateur draft. Back when it first started, there were really three drafts every yearone in January for players who graduated in the winter, one in June for players who graduated in the spring and one in August for players who were committed to summer league amateur teams.

    Every year since its inception, the draft has been surrounded by different storylines, and different chains of events unfold.

    Every scout and general manager likes to think that the guys they are picking are “can’t miss,that is, were put on this planet to do one thingplay baseball. The truth is, for every guy that is can’t miss, there are about 100 that do miss. It’s just the nature of the game.

    There really is no way to accurately forecast which players will actually make it to the show some day. To be honest, a lot of it boils down to luck. In fact, it’s predominantly luck. However, nobody associated with the game will ever agree with that last statement.

    Scouts will claim they have the secret formula to picking the needle out of the haystack, but the truth is, their formula is wrong nine times out of 10.

    There is no secret formula when picking players out—just ask Mike Piazza or Albert Pujols.

    Teams take leaps of faith and pay these young players fistfuls of money when they haven’t accomplished a single thing yet to justify it. They're just a result of the secret formula. For fitting into the formula, they are sometimes made millionaires before ever stepping foot onto a professional baseball field.

    It’s pretty crazy when you think about it.

    However, in the crapshoot we call the MLB draft there are times when teams roll a seven or eleven and hit it big. Some drafts have had multiple All-Stars and Hall of Famers. Here is a list of the top five draft classes of all time.

Honorable Mention

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    Here is a list of some draft classes worth mentioning, but not considered in the top five:

     

    1976

    Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Jack Morris, Alan Trammel, Mike Scioscia, Bruce Hurst

     

    1981

    David Cone, Tony Gwynn, Fred McGriff, Joe Carter, Ron Darling, Devon White

     

    1984

    Mark McGwire, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Al Leiter

     

    1993

    Alex Rodriguez, Billy Wagner, Chris Carpenter, Torii Hunter, Jason Varitek, Derrek Lee, Scott Rolen

     

    1995

    Kerry Wood, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Darin Erstad, Carlos Beltran, Sean Casey, Ryan Dempster, A.J. Burnett, Mike Lowell

     

    1999

    Josh Hamilton, Josh Beckett, Barry Zito, Ben Sheets, Carl Crawford, Brandon Phillips, Justin Morneau, Albert Pujols, Jake Peavy

     

    2001

    Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, David Wright, Ryan Howard, Kevin Youkilis, Dan Uggla

     

    2002

    Zack Greinke, Prince Fielder, Nick Swisher, Matt Cain, Joey Votto, Brian McCann, Jon Lester, Curtis Granderson

5. 2005 Draft Class

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    Significant Players (all selected in the first round): Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Garza.

    The 2005 MLB draft featured the sickest first round in the history of the draft. This draft class easily has the most major league significant players to ever come out of the first round. It could easily be remembered as the greatest draft class of all time.

    Give these players some more time to develop their careers and they may be in the No. 1 slot in the near future. 

4. 1977 Draft Class

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    Significant Players: Harold Baines, Paul Molitor, Bob Welch, Tim Raines, Ozzie Smith and Chili Davis.

    The 1977 draft class had the distinction of having a "wizard," an "ignitor" and a "rock" all in the group. 

    It sounds more like a new group of superheroes than a bunch of ballplayers, doesn't it?

    With two Hall of Fame players in Ozzie Smith and Paul Molitor, it is easy to see why this draft class is ranked in the top five of all time. Mix in Tim Raines, who is currently on the Hall of Fame ballot, and some may wonder why this draft class didn't rank higher. Believe it or not, there are a couple draft classes that were even stronger.

3. 1985 Draft Class

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    Significant Players: Will Clark, Barry Larkin, Barry Bonds, Walt Weiss, Rafael Palmeiro, Randy Johnson, David Justice, John Smoltz and Mark Grace.

    That is a serious list of players. This class could potentially have five Hall of Famers in Larkin (already inducted), Bonds, Palmeiro, Johnson and Smoltz if it wasn't for steroid allegations hanging over the heads of a couple of players on this list.

    When it's all said and done, this may end up being the greatest draft class of all time. But until a couple more make it into the Hall, they will have to wait to take on the No.1 spot on this list.

2. 1973 Draft Class

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    Significant Players: Robin Yount, Dave Winfield, Fred Lynn and Eddie Murray.

    A draft class with three Hall of Famers. Enough said.

1. 1971 Draft Class

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    Significant Players: Frank Tanana, Jim Rice, Rick Rhoden, George Brett, Ron Guidry, Mike Schmidt and Keith Hernandez.

    Yet another draft class with three Hall of Famers.

    Brett and Schmidt are absolute legends and arguably the top two third baseman to ever play the position. One of the most famous clips of all time is seeing George Brett come running out of the dugout after hitting a home run to argue with an umpire for being called out because he had too much pine tar on his bat.

    That clip isn't what got him into the Hall of Fame, but the fire and passion he played with did, and it is evident in that clip.