6 former No. 1 picks who could be HOF-bound

January 25th, 2018

In 1990, the Braves had the first overall selection in the Draft, and they were prepared to use it on Todd Van Poppel. The Martin High School (Arlington, Texas) right-hander made it clear he would not sign with a franchise that was regularly losing more than 90 games a season.
So Atlanta went instead with another high school player: shortstop Larry "Chipper" Jones from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla. The rest is history, and Jones just joined Ken Griffey Jr. as the only other No. 1 overall Draft pick to be elected into the Hall of Fame.
The Draft began in 1965, and it was until 2016 that a No. 1 overall pick made it to Cooperstown. With Jones, we've now had two in three years, so now that the trend has begun, who might be the next to do it?
Here are the top six contenders and the year of their No. 1 overall selection:
1. Joe Mauer (2001)
The Twins' five-time All-Star enters his 15th season with the club, coming off his best OPS+ (116) season since 2013. Although he has been a primary first baseman since the '13 conversion, one look at catcher in the all-time JAWS and WAR rankings yields a resounding "yes." Mauer ranks in the top eight for both, with only Hall of Famers ahead of him. Being a one-team lifer only enhances one's candidacy.

2.  (2010) 
At the age of 25, the Nationals superstar already has five All-Star selections, one National League Most Valuable Player Award, 150 homers, 421 RBIs, 785 hits, a 140 OPS+ and a 26.1 WAR. Just as importantly, Washington has finished first or second in all six of his first big league seasons, a sign of his impact. It remains to be seen whether the Nats can negotiate a contract extension or whether he will test free agency next offseason, but the road to Cooperstown is well-paved so far.
3. Alex Rodriguez (1993)
He would be a unanimous first-ballot pick in 2022, of course, if not for the off-field matter. If Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens continue to struggle on the ballot due to alleged abuse of performance-enhancing drugs before the MLB and MLB Players Association instituted their Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program, then it is hard to imagine better support for a three-time AL MVP Award winner who was suspended after that program came about and missed all of '14 as a result. Then again, Rodriguez has expressed remorse (again) and not only became cooperative but also a friend to baseball and a popular Emmy-winning broadcast analyst who smooches J-Lo on the Kiss Cam. Times are changing. Who knows?

4.  (2012) 
The sample size is really too small to project higher after just three years, two of which were partial due to a midseason callup in 2015 and a thumb injury that caused him to play in just 109 regular-season games last season. But to say that the Houston shortstop has made the most of his time would be an understatement, highlighted by his key role in a World Series championship. He looks like a Hall of Famer.
5. (2009) 
How are we going to measure starting pitchers a decade from now, when the 200-inning annual watermark is a relic? That unknown will be a factor for a guy like him. The first of back-to-back No. 1 overall picks by Washington, the 29-year-old right-hander from San Diego State does not have Harper's Hall projection, but he could still make a legit case. He had a career-best 2.52 ERA and led MLB with a 2.72 FIP in 2017.

6.  (2007) 
The Red Sox left-hander and five-time All-Star would need to get back on track in a hurry. Once a regular in AL Cy Young Award conversation, he started 11 games in 2017 and is now with his fourth team. Price threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings of relief against Houston in the last AL Division Series, and he is listed as No. 2 in Boston's rotation behind Chris Sale.