With the draft on the horizon it is the perfect time to take a look back at some of baseball's all time best #1 picks. Just because someone is drafted #1 overall doesn't mean they are going to be the next best thing just look at Brien Taylor. Sometimes, however, teams who did their scouting wind up with future hall of famers.
Erstad was a decorated college athletic shining mostly in baseball, but also playing a role as a punter on a National Championship winning football team. After being in 1995 Erstad made it to the bigs by 1996 and never left. It went on to win a World Series, become a 2x All-Star, Silver Slugger award winner, and a 3x Gold Glove winner and the only person in MLB history to win a Gold Glove as a outfielder and infielder. Is currently second all-time for home runs by a someone born in North Dakota.
He has a career WAR of 28.6.
The first draft pick in MLB history turned out to be a pretty good one. He was no superstar, but was an above average player nonetheless and earned himself two All-Star appearances, the first in 1968 and the second in 1978. He was also a member of the 1981 World Series winning Los Angeles Dodgers team and despite being a utility player had one of the biggest moments of the playoffs when in the last game of the NLCS he hit a two-run home run to give the Dodgers a lead that turned out to be the winning runs in the 2-1 affair. The shot was so devastating Expos fans refer to the game as "Blue Monday". In my opinion he deserves to be on this list for the lone incident when two protesters attempted to burn an American flag on the field and Monday stole the flag from them and saved it from being burned. An act of a true patriot. Today Monday serves as the radio analysts for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He finished his 19 year career with a 38.0 WAR.
In my opinion Benes is one of the most underrated number 1 picks of all-time. He wasn't going to put up all the gaudy stats, but he is currently tied for 226th place on the all-time wins list with 155 and 64th all-time in strikeouts with 2,000. He did lead the league in strikeouts once, earned an all-star appearance, and finished in the top 6 of Cy Young voting twice. He only had 2 losing seasons and finished his career with an ERA under 4.00. Benes threw out the first pitch in Arizona Diamondback history.
Finished his 14 year career with a 35.6 WAR.
The Marlins are probably kicking themselves over this one. They liked Gonzalez enough to dish out a $3 million dollar signing bonus. After he suffered a wrist injury they quickly traded him for Ugueth Urbina. He was traded once more before he wound up in San Diego where he has created the beginnings of a potential hall of fame career. Despite playing in a notorious pitchers park Gonzalez has recorded three consecutive year of 30+ homers earning him two All-Star appearances. Not only can he mash at the plate he is also the reining Gold Glove winner for two consecutive years.
He already has a 18.4 WAR through 6 1/3 seasons.
It took three tries with the number one pick, but the Mets finally struck gold when they selected the slugging high school outfielder. It didn't take long to see the how great a player Strawberry would be when he won NL Rookie of the Year honors after posting a .257 average with 26 home runs, 74 RBI's and 19 steals. Strawberry went on to win over Mets fans by being a crucial part of the 1986 World Series winning team. Strawberry went on to win three more rings with the Yankees and finished his career with 8 All-Star appearances, 2 Silver Sluggers, and a Home Run Derby victory. He is a member of the 30-30 club, 1,000 RBI club, 300 home run club, and 200 stolen base club.
His career WAR through 17 seasons stands at 43.2.
While Mauer is iconic for his sideburns this man will go down as one of the greatest hitting catchers of all-time. Despite being the most recent draftee to make the list he has of the greatest resumes on the list already. He is a three time AL Batting Champion, three time All-Star, three time Silver Slugger, two time Gold Glove winner, and reigning AL MVP. May I remind you that this is a catcher we are talking about. He has accomplished all this despite just being in his seventh season and has even been hampered by injuries throughout his career. There is no doubt in my mind he will be higher on this list by the end of his career.
Current WAR is 29.2.
Even though the White Sox passed on Hall of Famer Paul Molitor who went two picks later, they have to be pleased with their selection. Baines went on to become a great player in his own right and a borderline Hall of Famer although it appears that he won't enter the hall. Baines lasted 22 seasons, but in he fell just short in his quest for 3,000 hits ending his career with 2,866. He ranks 55th all-time in home runs with 384, 59th all-time in doubles with 488, and 29th all-time in RBI's with 1,628. He is a six time All-Star, one time Silver Slugger winner, and has had his #3 retired by the White Sox.
His career WAR is 45.3.
There has been nothing I've dreaded more as a Mets fan than watching Larry mash year after year. He is easily one of the greatest switch hitters of all-time right up there with the likes of Mickey Mantle. Chipper is the only switch hitter in MLB history to hit .300+ with 400 home runs. Chipper's numbers have taken a hit the last couple of years so it doesn't look like he well be able to last too much longer, but he is a long shot to obtain 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. He does appear to be a lock for 1,500 RBI's however. In his illustrious career he has won a World Sereies, been selected in 6 All-Star games, won 2 Silver Slugger Awards, an NL MVP, and an NL Batting Title.
His career WAR is 83.6.
This soon to be Hall of Famer with the "sweetest swing in baseball" just announced his retirement after spending 22 years winning the hearts of Americans with his amazing play. You can call him one of the unluckiest players of all-time as he always seemed to get freak injuries that hampered his career and without them would be #1 on this list. Even with all the injuries he is still one of the greatest the ever was. Junior has an endless list of accomplishments that includes thirteen All-Star selections, ten Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, AL MVP, NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, All-Star Game MVP, a member of the 600 home run club (5th all-time), the 50 home run club, 2,000 hits club, 1,000 RBI club, and a selection to the MLB All-Century team. There are just so achievements he has accomplished one can not list them all. His presence will certainly be missed within the baseball community.
His career WAR is 85.4.
What are the odds the same team makes the two best #1 picks of all-time? I am sure National fans hope they can be in that arguments one day with their tandem of Stephen Strasburg and soon to be Bryce Harper. What can be said about Alex Rodriguez? Even with the whole steroid scandal nothing can be taken away from is skill level and level of success he has sustained. At just 34 years old A-Rod is already just nine home runs away from 600 in his career, 51 RBI's away from 1,800, 408 hits away from 3,000, and 1 SB away from 300. He has managed to do all that while maintaining a batting average above .300. A-Rod has a legitimate shot to hold records for most home runs, RBI's, and run scored by the time his career is over. He is truly a once in a generation player that we should all enjoy until his career comes to an end. Like Griffey, it is practically impossible to list all his accomplishments, but a brief overview would be twelve All-Star games, ten Silver Slugger Awards, four time Hank Aaron Award winner, three time AL MVP, two time Gold Glove winner, World Series Champion, and holder of various MLB records.
His career WAR is 105.6!
- Pat Burrell - Philadelphia Phillies 1988 (21.2 WAR)
- Phil Nevin - Housotn Astros 1992 (18.1 WAR)
- B.J. Surhoff - Milwaukee Brewers 1885 (35.9 WAR) He was 10a./10b. with Erstad
- Mike Moore - Seattle Mariners 1981 (35.7 WAR)
- Jeff Burroughs - Washington Senators 1969 (21.6 WAR)