Albert Pujols and the 8 Biggest Steals in MLB Draft History

Jeffrey Schmidt@JeffSchmidt9Correspondent IIIJune 6, 2011

Albert Pujols and the 8 Biggest Steals in MLB Draft History

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 5: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates his walk-off home run against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Cubs 3-2 in 10 innings.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwan
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Baseball is a game of numbers.

    These numbers often decide who is in the Hall of Fame and who is not. 

    With 50 rounds in this year's draft, it often happens that great players get overlooked and become late-round steals. Those hidden gems are what make average teams into championship teams. 

    In no particular order, here's a list of some of the greatest draft steals of all time. 

Mark Buehrle

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    CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 07: Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox smiles at fans during player introductions before the home opener against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field on April 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Rays 5-
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    When a guy has thrown a no-hitter and a perfect game during his career, he's something special. When that same person is drafted in the 38th round, it makes him all that much more special. 

    In the 1998 draft, the Chicago White Sox made their 38th-round selection on Mark Buehrle and they have not looked back since. Buehrle is 153-114 and has a World Series ring to boot. 

    At age 32, he still has some gas left in the tank and has been moderately successful this season. 

Ryan Howard

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    ATLANTA, GA - MAY 15:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Phillies took Ryan Howard in the fifth round of the 2001 draft and got more than what they bargained for. 

    Howard made his debut in 2005 and received Rookie of the Year honors. Since that time, he has collected an MVP award, been a two-time NL home run champion and an NLCS MVP. 

    Howard also led the Phillies to a world championship in 2008, and will look to add another this season. 

Mike Piazza

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    OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 15:  Mike Piazza #31 of the New York Mets doubles against the Oakland Athletics in the second inning during an MLB game on June 15, 2005 at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Mike Piazza has amassed 427 home runs, 1,335 RBI and a career .308 batting average—all this while being a catcher. Piazza's draft story famously includes a favor requested by Piazza's father of his friend and Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda that he select Mike in the draft. 

    Piazza was drafted in the 61st round of the 1988 draft and played most of his historic career with the Dodgers and Mets. 

Jim Thome

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    9 OCT 2001: Jim Thome #25 of the Cleveland Indians swings at a pitch during game one of the American League Division Series against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. The Indians defeated the Mariners 5-0 to take a one game to no
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    A 21-year career that has included 593 home runs, 1,635 RBI and 2233 hits—who could that be? 

    The answer to that question is 13th-round selection Jim Thome. Thome had some great years with the Cleveland Indians and was one of the elite players of his time. With the power and hits to back him, I believe he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. 

Albert Pujols

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    LOS ANGELES - JULY 31:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31, 2005 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  The Cardinals won 7-5 in 11 innings.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn /Getty Im
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Albert Pujols is arguably the best player in baseball, yet he was drafted in the 13th round of the 1998 draft. 

    Pujols was a third baseman when he was drafted but would go on to play first base, win three MVP trophies and a World Series.

    With his contract up at the end of the season, it's intriguing to see how much a team will pay for the future Hall of Famer. 

Jorge Posada

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    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 30:  Jorge Posada #20 of the New York Yankees bats against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 30, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Jorge Posada was drafted in the 24th round in the year of 1990 by the New York Yankees. Posada became one of the best catchers in baseball while being one of the centerpieces during the Yankees four championship runs. 

    The five-time All-Star will likely retire at the end of this year, leaving behind one of the best careers for a catcher in league history. 

Roy Oswalt

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 17: Starter Roy Oswalt #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on May 17, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    A guy who is now part of the "Fantastic Four" was looked at as not being fantastic at all. Roy Oswalt was selected in the 23rd round by the Houston Astros of the 1996 draft. 

    Oswalt made his debut in 2001 and has gone on to win 153 games. He also lead the Astros to their only World Series in 2005 which they eventually lost. 

John Smotlz

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 12:  John Smoltz #29 of the Atlanta Braves deals a pitch against the New York Mets during their game on September 12, 2007 at Shea Stadium in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Get
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Smoltz was drafted by the Tigers in 1985 going in the 22nd round. The Tigers got the short end of the stick when it comes to Smoltz, as he eventually went off to the Braves where he went onto eight All-Star games, a Cy Young Award and a World Series.