The Braves now trail the Phils by 2 games in the race for the #1 draft pick, It’s a two-team race, as the Rockies, Reds and Brewers trail the Braves by 4.
So should we root for the Phils to win the next two? (Braves win the top pick in case of a tie.) Next year’s draft is considered bereft of a sure thing, though that could change.
History suggests the obvious, that teams with the 1st overall pick usually fare better than teams with the second. By a 2-to-1 margin, as it turns out.
From 1990-2013, the No. 1 overall pick the top pick either had a better career or looks poised to 14 times (in bold). Seven times,the second choice was the wiser one (in italics). Two were a wash (strike through), uninspiring picks all. It’s too early to judge 2012, though top pick Carlos Correa has a nice head start on Byron Buxton. It’s not too early to judge 2013, however. Ask the Astros, who could’ve had Kris Bryant but opted for Mark Appel, who had a 4.37 ERA and 1.413 WHIP in the minors this year.
The line-ups follow.
1990: Chipper, Tony Clark. No need to elaborate.
1991: Brien Taylor, Mike Kelly. Taylor never made it to the bigs. Kelly did, but was a bust. Manny Ramirez, chosen 13th, would’ve been the better pick.
1992: Phil Nevin, Paul Shuey, Nevin is remembered as a disappointment, but he finished his big league career with 208 homes. Shuey was a serviceable middle reliever. Neither was Derek Jeter, chosen 6th.
1993: Alex Rodriguez, Darren Dreifort. And some of the worst contracts in the game. Otherwise, no contest.
1994: Paul Wilson, Ben Grieve. Slight edge to Grieve, who flamed out after a fast start. Would’ve been a much more interesting debate had the 12th and 13th picks (Nomar and Konerko) gone 1-2.
1995: Darrin Erstad, Ben Davis. Erstad was generally average though when he was good, like when he had 240 hits in 2000, he was a difference-maker.
1997: Kris Benson, Travis Lee. A marginal starter vs. a marginal first baseman. A weak draft — Eric Chavez, chosen 10th, had the best career of the first rounders.
1997: Matt Anderson, J.D. Drew. This one is more of an aberration. Taking a college reliever with the No. 1 overall pick will never happen again, and the Phils weren’t able to sign Drew. And there were some better alternatives, especially Lance Berkman, taken 16th
1998: Pat Burrell, Mark Mulder. Had Mulder stayed healthy this might’ve been a wash, but Burrell was better than you think, finishing his career with an .834 OPS and 292 HR.
1999: Josh Hamilton, Josh Beckett. Despite all his issues, Hamilton has had a better career than Beckett (.290-.350.516, with 198 HR; Beckett won 138 games with career 3.88 ERA).
2000: Adrian Gonzalez, Adam Johnson. Gonzalez still one of the premier power hitters in the game. Johnson won once with a 10.25 ERA. None of the others chosen in the Top 10 are in the majors.
2001: Joe Mauer, Mark Prior. Even if Prior had stayed healthy, it’d be tough to top Mauer’s contributions: .314 BA, .846 OPS.
2002: Bryan Bullington, B.J. Upton. Even the B.J. who played for the Braves would’ve been a better pick than Bullington. The better debate: Zack Grienke and Prince Fielder, selected 6 and 7th.
2003: Delmon Young, Rickie Weeks. Fitting that both likely played their last game in the majors this year, but there weren’t many better options. Nick Markakis, selected 7th by the O’s, has been by far the most productive player chosen in the 1st round.
2004: Matt Bush, Justin Verlander. Bush never made the bigs and is now in prison.
2005: Justin Upton, Alex Gordon. Gordon may be the better all-around player now, but it took him longer to get there and is four years older than J-Up. Helluva draft that year, with Ryans Zimmerman and Braun and Troy Tulowitzki going in the Top 10. The best pick, however, would’ve been Andrew McCutchen, taken 11th overall.
2006: Luke Hochevar, Greg Reynolds. Sort of like choosing between Matt Marksberry and Ross Detweiler, but 44 wins and a 5.04 ERA is better than 6 wins and a 7.01 ERA. Horrible miscalculations by the Royals and Rockies, who could’ve had Clayton Kershaw, chosen 6th, or third overall pick Evan Longoria.
2007: David Price, Mike Moustakas. Price is about to become one of, if not the, highest-paid pitcher ever. Until last year’s postseason, Moustakas was considered a bust but finally turned the corner this year.
2008: Tim Beckham, Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez is the lesser of two disappointments. The Rays and Pirates must grit their teeth every time No. 5 pick Buster Posey gets another hit.
2009: Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley. Not close, though both the Nats and Mariners wish they had selected Mike Trout, chosen with No. 25, a pick that would’ve belonged to the Braves. Instead Frank Wren traded for Casey Kotchman and Stephen Marek.
2010: Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon. You’ll notice that, with the exception of Price, all of the pitchers chosen in the Top 2 have been plagued by injuries.
2011: Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen. Cole has avoided injury so far but a bum shoulder has put Hultzen’s career in jeopardy.
*2012: Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton. Correa is already playing like a star, but Buxton still could become one, though he’s struggled so far with the Twins. But the sample size is small.
2013: Mark Appel, Kris Bryant. Appel has been mediocre in the minors. Bryant has been outstanding in the majors. And further evidence that, when you’re drafting this high, the risk is lower with hitters.
No one should know that better than the Braves, who would’ve taken Todd Van Poppel first in 1990 had he not threatened to attend college.
Well that was a lot of time spent proving very little. Hope you enjoyed.
Markakis 9, Olivera 5, Freeman 3, Pierzynski 2, Maybin 8, Simmons 6, Peterson 4, Bourn 7, Weber 1