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The Washington Nationals Should Pass on Stephen Strasburg

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The Washington Nationals Should Pass on Stephen Strasburg
(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Everyone knows, or thinks they know, that the Washington Nationals intend to pick Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 overall pick in Tuesday's MLB Draft. 

With Strasburg comes an enormous contract that many are predicting to be upwards of $50 million, as well as historical trend that says not to take him.

In the history of the MLB Draft, zero pitchers taken in the top 10 have had Hall of Fame type-careers.  That's it—zero.  I find this extremely interesting. 

My first thought was that teams must have a tendency to take hitters high and pitchers later, but that's not true.

In the history of the MLB Draft, 55 percent of the picks have been position players. This compares to the average baseball team since 56 percent of a team is made up of position players and 46 percent pitchers. 

Although no pitchers from the top 10 picks have had Hall of Fame careers, there are a couple who were close. These two pitchers are Kevin Brown and Dwight Gooden.  Both good pitchers, but neither of them are Hall of Fame caliber.

Compare this to the amount of position players to come out of the top 10 picks in the MLB Draft. 

Here is a list of just some of the players that have been selected who have had good enough careers to at least be on the ballot for the Hall of Fame: Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Dave Winfield, Chipper Jones, Barry Bonds, Robin Yount, Derek Jeter, Barry Larkin, Mark McGuire, Todd Helton, Frank Thomas, Troy Glaus, Harold Baines, and Darryl Strawberry.

Whether you think that guys like Bonds or McGuire belong in the Hall of Fame due to steroids is one thing, but they were still incredible players. 

And on top of this, there are still a lot of positional players out there that are good and maybe more comparable to the Kevin Browns of the world, such as J.D. Drew, Pat Burrell, Vernon Wells, Darin Erstad, and Robin Ventura.

That's not even including a lot of the younger players who are just now breaking into the bigs and are good all-around players.  They include Nick Markakis, Josh Hamilton, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, and Joe Mauer.

Now I will give you the other side, which is a list of some of the better or decent pitchers to come out of the top 10 picks of the draft. 

This list includes: David Price, Barry Zito, Kerry Wood, John Danks, Tim Belcher, Mike Moore, Justin Verlander, Jack McDowell, Mike Morgan, Mark Prior, Mark Mulder, and Ben Sheets.

Obviously there are some big names here on the pitching list that many people have heard of and have good stretches of their careers.  But also notice that there is no Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, or Roy Halladay.

It's just very difficult to find a good arm to draft in the top 10 for a variety of reasons.  Pitching is a mental game, and it's hard to find pitchers who know how to take care of their arms and prevent major career-altering injuries.

Granted there is a first time for everything, but history says the chances that the Nationals draft a great pitcher with one of their first two picks are very small. 

History states that if the Nationals decide to go with an arm, it is more likely for them to to draft a bust or a guy who is good for a few years then struggles like Zito or Mulder, rather than to hit on an all-time great.

If I was the Nationals, I might pass on the popular choice that could cost an arm and a leg to go with a safer choice that could just cost an arm. 

No matter what, the first choice in the draft comes with a price tag, but there are other options that history says could get a better return than a pitcher like Strasburg.

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