Take it from the top: Redrafting each No. 1
Hindsight gives us a look at which player should have been selected first overall
The No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft is supposed to be the no-brainer, the slam dunk, the no-doubt-about-it type of pick. Those taken with the first selection are the ones slated not just for a big league career, but for superstardom.
As history has shown, it hasn't always worked out that way.
With the 50th anniversary of the Draft, it seemed like a good idea to go through every top pick since Rick Monday went No. 1 overall in 1965 through Brady Aiken a year ago, and do it all over again. Using only players available for the Draft at the time who signed that year -- there were different phases of the Draft in years past, so only those eligible for the June regular Draft were considered -- and with the help of hindsight, below is a look at who the top pick each year should have been.
The D-backs will get to add to this list on Monday, when they make the first selection of the 2015 Draft. Coverage of it begins with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at noon on Wednesday.
It should be noted that only eight of the 50 No. 1 picks taken in the history of the Draft were determined to be picks that should be made again if given the chance, showing just what a crapshoot the Draft is, even at the top. As we look at the top picks, decade by decade, the D-backs are on the clock.
1965: Actual pick: Rick Monday, A's | Should've picked: Johnny Bench (2)
1966: Actual pick: Steven Chilcott, Mets | Should've picked: Reggie Jackson (2)
1967: Actual pick: Ron Blomberg, Yankees | Should've picked: Bobby Grich (19)
1968: Actual pick: Tim Foli, Mets | Should've picked: Thurman Munson (4)
1969: Actual pick: Jeff Burroughs, Senators | Should've picked: Bert Blyleven (3rd round)
1970: Actual pick: Mike Ivie, Padres | Should've picked: Rich Gossage (9th round)
1971: Actual pick: Danny Goodwin, White Sox | Should've picked: Mike Schmidt (2nd round)
1972: Actual pick: Dave Roberts, Padres | Should've picked: Gary Carter (3rd round)
1973: Actual pick: David Clyde, Rangers | Should've picked: Robin Yount (3)
1974: Actual pick: Bill Almon, Padres | Should've picked: Dale Murphy (5)
Monday, the first-ever No. 1 pick, certainly was a capable big leaguer, a two-time All-Star who collected collected 1,619 hits and 241 home runs while finishing with a WAR of 33.1. But Bench is arguably the greatest catcher of all time with a WAR of 75 and 389 career home runs. An argument could be made for Nolan Ryan, but let's go with position scarcity and take the backstop.
The 1971 Draft was the first of two times Goodwin was taken No. 1 overall. The first time, it was the White Sox, who likely wouldn't mind going back and taking Schmidt, the Hall of Fame third baseman. Even if they passed him up, there was another third baseman in the second round to consider, another Hall of Famer in George Brett.
1975: Actual pick: Danny Goodwin, Angels | Should've picked: Lou Whitaker (5th round)
1976: Actual pick: Floyd Bannister, Astros | Should've picked: Rickey Henderson (4th round)
1977: Actual pick: Harold Baines, White Sox | Should've picked: Ozzie Smith (4th round)
1978: Actual pick: Bob Horner, Braves | Should've picked: Cal Ripken Jr. (2nd round)
1979: Actual pick: Al Chambers, Mariners | Should've picked: Orel Hershiser (17th round)
1980: Actual pick: Darryl Strawberry, Mets | Should've picked: Strawberry
1981: Actual pick: Mike Moore, Mariners | Should've picked: Tony Gwynn (3rd round)
1982: Actual pick: Shawon Dunston, Cubs | Should've picked: Bret Saberhagen (19th round)
1983: Actual pick: Tim Belcher, Twins | Should've picked: Roger Clemens (19)
1984: Actual pick: Shawn Abner, Mets | Should've picked: Greg Maddux (2nd round)
The Angels were the second team to take a shot at Goodwin No. 1 overall in 1975 and he did make it to the big leagues with the team. But the Angels might've rather had Whitaker, an All-Star second baseman who led all 1975 Draft picks with a WAR of 74.9. Hall of Famer outfielder Andre Dawson was an 11th-rounder as well.
The 1984 Draft was chock full of high-end talent. Abner, and his -1.3 WAR, didn't turn out to be one of them. Think Mets fans can envision Maddux in their rotation? No? How about fellow Hall of Famer and second-rounder Tom Glavine then? Prefer a bat? Mark McGwire was taken 10th overall.
1985: Actual pick: B.J. Surhoff, Brewers | Should've picked: Barry Bonds (6)
1986: Actual pick: Jeff King, Pirates | Should've picked: Gary Sheffield (6)
1987: Actual pick: Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners | Should've picked: Griffey Jr.
1988: Actual pick: Andy Benes, Padres | Should've picked: Mike Piazza (62nd round)
1989: Actual pick: Ben McDonald, Orioles | Should've picked: Frank Thomas (7)
1990: Actual pick: Chipper Jones, Braves | Should've picked: Jones
1991: Actual pick: Brien Taylor, Yankees | Should've picked: Manny Ramirez (13)
1992: Actual pick: Phil Nevin, Astros | Should've picked: Derek Jeter (6)
1993: Actual pick: Alex Rodriguez, Mariners | Should've picked: Rodriguez
1994: Actual pick: Paul Wilson, New York Mets | Should've picked: Nomar Garciaparra (12)
The 1985 Draft was a great one and Surhoff certainly had a solid Major League career. But Bonds went No. 6 overall, while Barry Larkin (No. 4) and Rafael Palmeiro (No. 22) were first-round picks as well (No. 22), while Randy Johnson went in the second round and John Smoltz went in the 22nd round.
The Mariners certainly did well in this decade, picking first twice and coming away with A-Rod and Junior. With the Braves taking Chipper in 1990, this decade had the most success, with three "on the money" selections.
1995: Actual pick: Darin Erstad, Angels | Should've picked: Carlos Beltran (2nd round)
1996: Actual pick: Kris Benson, Pirates | Should've picked: Jimmy Rollins (2nd round)
1997: Actual pick: Matt Anderson, Tigers | Should've picked: Tim Hudson (6th round)
1998: Actual pick: Pat Burrell, Phillies | Should've picked: CC Sabathia (20)
1999: Actual pick: Josh Hamilton, Devil Rays | Should've picked: Albert Pujols (13th round)
2000: Actual pick: Adrian Gonzalez, Marlins | Should've picked: Chase Utley (15)
2001: Actual pick: Joe Mauer, Twins | Should've picked: Mauer
2002: Actual pick: Bryan Bullington, Pirates | Should've picked: Zack Greinke (6)
2003: Actual pick: Delmon Young, Devil Rays | Should've picked: Adam Jones (37)
2004: Actual pick: Matt Bush, Padres | Should've picked: Justin Verlander (2)
Mark Teixeira and David Wright have more WAR than Mauer from the 2001 Draft, but not by a lot. Mauer gets an edge for his abilities behind the plate for a large portion of his career and he easily outstrips the guy many thought would be the top pick that year: Mark Prior.
In 2004, many in the Padres' Draft room were looking at different options. Stephen Drew, Jered Weaver and, yes, Verlander, who went one pick later. They were forced to save money and stay local, and Bush is no longer in baseball.
2005: Actual pick: Justin Upton, D-backs | Should've picked: Andrew McCutchen (11)
2006: Actual pick: Luke Hochevar, Royals | Should've picked: Clayton Kershaw (7)
2007: Actual pick: David Price, Devil Rays | Should've picked: Giancarlo Stanton (2nd round)
2008: Actual pick: Tim Beckham, Rays | Should've picked: Buster Posey (5)
2009: Actual pick: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals | Should've picked: Mike Trout (25)
2010: Actual pick: Bryce Harper, Nationals | Should've picked: Harper
2011: Actual pick: Gerrit Cole, Pirates | Should've picked: Cole
2012: Actual pick: Carlos Correa, Astros | Should've picked: Correa
2013: Actual pick: Mark Appel, Astros | Should've picked: Kris Bryant (2)
2014: Actual pick: Brady Aiken, Astros | Should've picked: Carlos Rodon (3)
This most recent decade is more guesswork and looking into a crystal ball, including predicting that Correa will indeed prove to be as good as he seems so far, before he's played a game in the big leagues. Harper and Cole are really still just getting started, but their 2015 seasons thus far certainly point to them becoming the impact players many predicted in '10 and '11.
The 2005 Draft is another extremely deep one, and it might be seen as the best Draft of all time when all is said and done. At the time, Upton was the slam-dunk choice for the top pick, and he's been a very good big leaguer, making two All-Star teams and posting a 22.3 WAR to date. Troy Tulowitzki and Ryan Braun lead the class in WAR, but McCutchen is right behind them in third and is three years younger.