Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pitchers Drafted First

Of the 48 men who were chosen first in baseball's amateur draft, only 13 (27 percent) were pitchers. Given their underwhelming track record, it's not hard to see why teams have traditionally been wary of taking hurlers with the number one draft pick.

1973 David Clyde
Texas Rangers owner Bob Short, desperate to boost attendance for a team bound for 105 losses, instantly promoted his 18 year-old phenom to the Show without letting him throw so much as one minor league pitch. The results were disastrous, for Clyde soon developed arm troubles and made his last MLB appearance at age 24.

1976 Floyd Bannister
A one-time All-Star, Bannister had the misfortune of wallowing for terrible teams throughout most of his 15-year career. The 1982 American League strikeout champion was a solid starter for most of the 1980s, but his unwillingness to pitch inside resulted in hitters teeing off on him for lots of long balls.

1981 Mike Moore
Struggled initially but eventually found his way. An All-Star and a workhorse, Moore averaged over 227 innings per season from 1984 through 1993, leading the league in starts three times despite posting a 100 ERA+ over that span.

1983 Tim Belcher
Belcher got off to a great start to his career with the Dodgers, compiling a 2.82 ERA through his first three seasons and leading the majors in shutouts in 1989. His career spiraled downward after he left Hollywood following the '91 campaign as he regressed into a merely average starting pitcher.

1988 Andy Benes
Benes, known as Rain Man, recorded double digit win totals in every year from 1990 through 2000 except one--the strike shortened '94 campaign. His 31.7 bWAR is still tops among the 13 pitchers that have gone first in the draft.

1989 Ben McDonald
Threw a shutout in his first major league start and produced a 115 ERA+ in his nine-year career, but was never anything special.

1994 Paul Wilson
Part of "Generation K" along with Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher during his rise through the Mets minor league system, only to disappoint at the major league level.

1996 Kris Benson
Was a perfectly average starting pitcher, as his 100 ERA+ attests. He's more well-known for marrying model Anna Benson, possibly the hottest baseball wife of all time.

1997 Matt Anderson
The only pitcher here not to make a single big league start. Anderson was worth -0.6 bWAR for his career, which doesn't seem so bad compared to his 5.19 ERA and 1.58 WHIP.

2002 Bryan Bullington
Pitched a grand total of 81 and two-thirds major league innings across five seasons for four different teams. Is now playing in Japan.

2006 Luke Hochevar
Hochevar had a 5.44 ERA in 128 starts for Kansas City before the Royals finally came to their senses and converted him to a reliever. He's thrived out of the bullpen here in 2013, so perhaps he's finally found his calling.

2007 David Price
The Tampa Bay Rays scored an ace with Price, winner of the AL Cy Young award last year (over Justin Verlander). He was also the runner-up for the trophy in 2010 to Felix Hernandez. Interestingly, Price was the first lefty starting pitcher drafted first overall since Floyd Bannister in '76.

2009 Stephen Strasburg
Strasburg was a stud from the start, whiffing 14 Pittsburgh Pirates in his first big league appearance. One of the most dominant pitchers in the game today, he's averaged 10.7 K/9 for his career and is primed to be an annual Cy Young candidate for years to come.


  1. Anna Benson a "model"? I guess if girls who work the Wednesday morning shift at your local redneck titty bar can call themselves models, then sure, why not? But "hottest baseball wife of all time"? Not even close. I guarantee you she would be at the bottom of the barrel in comparison to the wives of these other #1 overall draft choices, and I have never set eyes on a single one of these guys wives.

    You're crazy