Yes, the baseball draft can feel like a bit of a crapshoot, but it does help to be picking near the top.
This year’s draft took place Monday night, with the Detroit Tigers selecting Auburn right-hander Casey Mize with the top pick . San Francisco followed by picking Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart. It could be a while before either of those players makes an impact in the majors, but if the past two decades are any indication, the top two picks are as likely as anybody to provide major value.
From 1998-2017, the 20 players picked No. 1 overall have been worth a total of 313.5 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.com. That’s more value than any other slot in the first round. The 20 players drafted at No. 2 have been worth 261.3 WAR, which is the second-most value.
After the top two picks, the draft has been more hit-or-miss. For example, the No. 7 pick (222.4 WAR) has yielded significantly more value than the No. 4 pick (82.1). That’s not to say that a team should rather pick seventh than fourth – it’s just an example of how imprecise the process can be.
Here are each of the top 30 draft slots in the first round, how much WAR they’ve been worth since 1998, and which player had the highest WAR at that draft spot during the timespan. All data from Baseball-Reference:
No. 2: 261.3 (Justin Verlander, Tigers, 2004, 60.7)
No. 3: 125.3 (Evan Longoria, Devil Rays, 2006, 50.5)
No. 5: 221 (Mark Teixeira, Rangers, 2001, 51.8)
No. 9: 87.9 (Barry Zito, Athletics, 1999, 32.0)
No. 12: 103.9 (Jered Weaver, Angels, 2004, 34.4)
No. 16: 65.8 (Nick Swisher, Athletics, 2002, 22.0)
No. 17: 105.1 (Cole Hamels, Phillies, 2002, 54.4)
No. 18: 28.1 (Corey Seager, Dodgers, 2012, 13.7)
No. 19: 84 (Alex Rios, Blue Jays, 1999, 27.4)
No. 20: 112.9 (CC Sabathia, Indians, 1998, 60.6)
No. 22: 65.1 (Jeremy Guthrie, Indians, 2002, 17.9)
No. 24: 38.6 (Chad Billingsley, Dodgers, 2003, 17.3)
No. 25: 121.9 (Mike Trout, Angels, 2009, 59.7)
No. 26: 4 (Jeremy Bonderman, Athletics, 2001, 4.9)
No. 27: 22.8 (Rick Porcello, Tigers, 2007, 17.3)
No. 29: 64.4 (Adam Wainwright, Braves, 2000, 38.1)
No. 30: 16.3 (Noah Lowry, Giants, 2001, 10.0)
Not surprisingly, the picks in the top half of the first round yielded more value, but standouts like Utley, Sabathia and Trout were all taken outside the top 10.
Other developments from around the majors:
More than two months into the season, the American League is still home to some extremes. The Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners and Astros are all on pace to win at least 100 games, while the Orioles, Royals and White Sox are each on pace to lose at least 100.
The Cubs trail Milwaukee in the NL Central, but they had quite a victory Wednesday night when Heyward hit a game-winning grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Philadelphia. Chicago won 7-5.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Andrew Heaney of the Angels threw a one-hitter in a 1-0 victory over Kansas City on Tuesday night, which also happened to be the left-hander’s 27th birthday .
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