When asked to research something in school I was automatically bored. Now? I skip actual work to research something. So when Pat asked me about the baseball draft and the Hall of Fame I couldn’t resist. So The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything took a quick break to bring you this research.
The Major League Baseball June Draft started in 1965 when the Kansas City Athletics took Rick Monday first overall. Rick Monday is not a Hall of Famer, but a guy in the second round – Johnny Bench – is. Pat wondered how many first round picks ever made the Hall of Fame as opposed to other rounds. Well, that wasn’t enough for me. Let’s just dive in . . .
Since the draft began 46 players have made the Hall of Fame. If that sounds like a low number please remember that several players who could be in are in mid-career or have only recently retired. Albert Pujols and Mike Trout will be in the Hall eventually, and Joe Mauer may be in as well, but right now they are not eligible. But anyway, of those 48, five were elected by the Veterans Committee, a committee known more for the questionable Hall elections. But that’s for another day. Let’s break them down, shall we?
Average Win Shares: 368
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 62.33
There are three players who were drafted first overall that have been inducted. Those three are Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, and Harold Baines. Baines is a very questionable selection at best, but he was far from a bad player. Reggie Jackson was famously taken after Steve Chilcott because the Mets felt they needed a catcher – the rule as always, don’t draft for position. For what it’s worth, George Brett’s brother Robin Yount and Paul Molitor were both third overall picks for the Brew Crew. They were half of the 1982 World Series infield, Harvey’s Wallbangers. Barry Larkin was taken fourth and Derek Jeter sixth. The Big Hurt was taken seventh overall. Ted Simmons is our second VC inductee, and drafted tenth overall, was is not the worst HOF selection, actually a pretty good one. Jim Rice was drafted 15th
overall, but was not the even the second best player selected that year. Roy Halladay was 17th overall for the Blue Jays, and Craig Biggio was taken 22nd overall. And Kirby Puckett, taken third overall was damn good. Oh, Dave Winfield was pretty good at hitting a baseball, too.
Average Win Shares: 351
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 70.53
That year Jim Rice was drafted 15th overall? In the second round the Phillies and Royals back-to-back took Mick Schmidt and George Brett. Johnny Bench was taken in the 1965 draft and turned out to be the greatest all around catcher the sport has ever seen so far. Both Lee Smith and Alan Trammell were VC inductees, but to be blunt Trammell is better than other candidates that people want in and Lee Smith was the all-time saves leader for quite a while. Hardly the worst of candidates. There are three 300-game winners in this group – Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Randy Johnson. Oh, and Cal Ripken was a second rounder, too. Pretty strong group.
Average Win Shares: 362
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 70.79
Here we have Eddie Murray, the third person with 3,000 hits and 500 homeruns. We also have Tony Gwynn, a guy who managed to get 3,141 hits; he was pretty good. Also included is Dennis Eckersley, Bert Blyleven, and Gary Carter. Carter is one of the 10-15 greatest catchers ever, Eckersley helped to redefine the closer role, and Blyleven is still fifth all-time in strikeouts. This group is about quality, not quantity.
Average Win Shares: 416
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 70.90
The greatest defensive shortstop of all time, Ozzie Smith, is one of them. So is Jeff Bagwell, a guy who was traded for a middle reliever (and Sawx fans think it was a curse). Oh, and the greatest leadoff hitter ever was also a fourth round pick. Rickey was amazing.
Average Win Shares: 225
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 52.10
The only one is Jack Morris, and to be frank, he’s questionable at best. Bluntly stated, he was never the best pitcher of his league for any year, let alone a decade or anything else. He wasn’t even a top five. Let’s just move on. . .
Average Win Shares: 390
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 60.02
Tim Raines, a guy who was a contemporary of Rickey, is the only one from the sixth round. As you can tell from the Win Shares and HOF Rating, he was much more worthy than Morris.
Average Win Shares: 394
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 72.75
LORD PALMERSTON!!!! But all seriousness aside, Wade Boggs was another amazing hitter who spent too much time in the minors (again, the Sawx were cursed?).
Average Win Shares: 223
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 61.13
The Goose. Ask him and he’ll tell you about how tough it was for him compared to the modern relievers. Regardless, a worthy selection and ahead of his time. But, you know, I’ve mentioned three relievers who have given up significant postseason homeruns. Part of being good means you have to have failure from time to time. Eckersley, Gossage, and Smith were great, but were not perfect.
Average Win Shares: 388
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 79.93
I was originally leaving this out because it was the Secondary Draft, but the story is just amazing to me. In 1965 the Dodgers took Tom Seaver in the 10th round but he didn’t sign. Then a year later the Atlanta Braves took Seaver with the 20th overall pick of said draft. But because he was pitching in a legit college season, at the time he signed it was against the rules. So the commissioner William Eckert did what most of these idiots do and take a bad situation and make it worse. Seriously, you know baseball is the greatest game because it survives despite the idiots who run it.
Eckert voided the deal, and despite it being voided Seaver was now ineligible by NCAA standards. Now, he’s a free agent. But instead of letting negotiations happen, Eckert put the teams bidding into a hat and pulled out “Mets”. Yes. That happened.
Average Win Shares: 266
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 59.63
Understand that one out of three can lower an average much more greatly than say 10. I know that would seem obvious, but please understand what we deal with in this world. Anyway, Andre Dawson was a part of an Expos system that frankly should have won more and may still be in Montreal if they had any real playoff success. Dawson was a class act, helped Tim Raines get his life back together, and helped lead the Expos to their only postseason series win. Mike Mussina was a dominant pitcher in one of the toughest eras for a pitcher and was that way in the toughest division. Trevor Hoffman is the one who brings the numbers down, but relievers are tough to evaluate. Someday we will figure it out.
Average Win Shares: 334
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 69.29
The only one here is the Von Ryan Express. Nolan Ryan is polarizing in many circles, but make no mistake about it, no one disagrees with his inclusion in the Hall.
Average Win Shares: 383
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 63.38
Jim Thome will be joined by Albert Pujols at some point, but right now he remains the only one from this round to be elected.
Average Win Shares: 346
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 61.93
Seriously, the Phillies made Ryne Sandberg an additional part of a trade that sent Larry Bowa to the Cubs. Bowa wanted a new contract, wasn’t worth it, so the Phillies gave away Sandberg in the mix. Somehow I’m sure this made sense, what with all of the coke in the 80’s. No. It makes no sense whatsoever.
Average Win Shares: 168
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 48.76
Bruce Sutter. If I remember correctly the Braves finished paying him about two years after he was inducted, which tells you all you need to know about the Braves before John Schuerholz arrived. Thank Science for Dale Murphy.
Average Win Shares: 289
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 62.65
Every year at the trade deadline you will see John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander. I get the “win now” mentality, but I believe fewer and fewer teams are willing to give up 20 years for a shot at one.
Average Win Shares: 324
Average Hall of Fame Rating: 70.52
Mike Piazza was famously drafted as a favor for Tommy Lasorda. All he became was the best hitting catcher in the history of the sport. I wrote a couple of years ago about the best steals in the draft and Mike Piazza was easily the top steal, but led to a lot more fun, because that is what baseball research is.
So let’s wrap this up. The Major League Baseball June Draft has given us so far 46 Hall of Famers. Of those 46 players 15 were first round picks, three of them first overall. Nine were second round picks. In other words, half of the Hall of Famers drafted were taken within the first two rounds. Basically if you’re looking for a future Hall of Famer in a draft class, look early.