Homegrown Bounty: The Best Picks To Star With All 30 Drafting Teams

See also: Enter Our Draft Delirium Contest


Few outcomes in baseball are more aesthetically pleasing than when a club drafts a player, develops him and has him star for the big league club for many years.

To achieve that outcome, an organization’s amateur scouting department, player-development staff and front office must strike a rare balance. They must find the player, refine him, then keep him around to reap the reward. You can’t have one leg without the other two.

So as the 50th draft approaches, let’s take stock of how the 30 teams have fared in this regard, assessing each club’s best-ever homegrown stars who were eligible for the draft. For this exercise we rank players by Wins Above Replacement (Baseball-Reference version) accumulated with the original signing club only.

While WAR can only estimate a player’s overall value, you’ll find the results presented here make intuitive sense, and that groups of players with high WAR totals tend to translate into winning seasons, playoff appearances and World Series titles for their teams.

A key to the symbols: An asterisk (*) denotes a member of the Hall of Fame; a carrot (^) represents an active player in 2014; a (D/F) designation means the player signed the following year as a draft-and-follow; and to denote the various secondary phases of the draft that existed prior to 1987, we use one cross (†) for the June secondary phase and two crosses (††) for one of the two January phases.

Teams are ranked by strength of homegrown hauls during the 1965-to-present Draft Era.


1. Red Sox

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Roger Clemens RHP 81.3 Texas 1983 1 (19)
Wade Boggs* 3B 71.6 HS—Tampa 1976 7
Dwight Evans RF 66.2 HS—Chatsworth, Calif. 1969 5
Jim Rice* LF 47.4 HS—Anderson, S.C. 1971 1 (15)
Nomar Garciaparra SS 41.1 Georgia Tech 1994 1 (12)

4-27-03 Boston at Anaheim

The Red Sox struck gold with a first-round pick once each decade with Jim Rice in the 1970s, Roger Clemens in the 1980s and Nomar Garciaparra in the 1990s. Each would go on to star for some of the most memorable AL pennant winners in franchise history in 1975, 1986 and 2004—though Boston traded Garciaparra before it reached the ’04 World Series, of course. More remarkably, the Red Sox unearthed premium high school talent outside the top few rounds with fifth-rounder Dwight Evans in 1969 and seventh-rounder Wade Boggs in 1976. So prodigious has been the club’s player-development machine that Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk (39.5 WAR, 1967, fourth overall) could not crack the top five. Same goes (at the moment) for second baseman Dustin Pedroia (39.6, 2004, second round) and lefthander Jon Lester (28.9, 2002, second round), both stalwarts for the 2007 and 2013 World Series champions.


2. Phillies

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Mike Schmidt* 3B 106.5 Ohio 1971 2
Chase Utley^ 2B 59.1 UCLA 2000 1 (15)
Jimmy Rollins^ SS 42.6 HS—Alameda, Calif. 1996 2
Cole Hamels^ LHP 33.4 HS—San Diego 2002 1 (17)
Scott Rolen 3B 29.2 HS—Jasper, Ind. 1993 2

Phillies Mike Schmidt

Developing an ace the caliber of Cole Hamels and a double-play duo of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley in the span of seven drafts helps explain how the Phillies won pennants in 2008 and ’09 in the midst of five straight NL East division titles. (All three remained Phillies five years after the final World Series appearance, too.) Those clubs received contributions from other homegrown stars, most notably left fielder Pat Burrell (16.7 WAR, 1998, first overall) and first baseman Ryan Howard (18.8, 2001, fifth round). For good measure, Philadelphia also drafted two of the best third basemen of the past 50 years, finding both Mike Schmidt and Scott Rolen in the second round. Rolen produced an additional 40.8 WAR for the Cardinals, Reds and Blue Jays after leaving Philadelphia.


3. Orioles

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Cal Ripken Jr.* SS 95.5 HS—Aberdeen, Md. 1978 2
Eddie Murray* 1B 56.3 HS—Los Angeles 1973 3
Mike Mussina RHP 47.6 Stanford 1990 1 (20)
Bobby Grich 2B 36.0 HS—Long Beach 1967 1 (19)
Brian Roberts^ 2B 28.9 South Carolina 1999 1s (50)

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All the stars from the AL pennant-winning Orioles of 1969-71 signed prior to the Draft Era, though 1967 first-rounder Bobby Grich received cups of coffee during the final two years. He didn’t earn regular play until 1972, however, and had moved on to the Angels by the time Baltimore made the 1979 World Series. Eddie Murray starred for the ’79 Orioles and again for the 1983 World Series winners, alongside Cal Ripken and lefty Mike Flanagan (21.8 WAR, 1973, seventh round). Baltimore came by Mike Mussina by more conventional means, taking him in the first round of the 1990 draft and watching him take flight in the majors the next year. During his seven-year peak from 2003-09, Brian Roberts hit .288/.362/.430 and averaged 34 stolen bases.


4. Yankees

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Derek Jeter^ SS 71.8 HS—Kalamazoo, Mich. 1992 1 (6)
Andy Pettitte LHP 51.6 San Jacinto (Texas) JC 1990 22 D/F
Ron Guidry LHP 47.9 Southwest Louisiana 1971 3
Thurman Munson C 45.9 Kent State 1968 1 (4)
Jorge Posada C 42.7 Calhoun (Ala.) CC 1990 24 D/F

Derek Jeter

In the span of three years from 1990-92 the Yankees signed Mariano Rivera out of Panama and drafted Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada, signing the last two as draft-and-follows taken after the 20th round of the 1990 draft. As a quartet they drove the success of six AL pennant winners from 1998 to 2009. Ron Guidry and Thurman Munson served as homegrown jewels of the 1977-78 World Series winners. First baseman Don Mattingly (42.2 WAR, 1979, 19th round) narrowly missed making the list, though Yankees fans who came of age between the late-’70s and late-’90s dynasties can continue to carry a torch for the current Dodgers skipper.


5. Royals

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
George Brett* 3B 88.4 HS—Segundo, Calif. 1971 2
Kevin Appier RHP 47.3 Antelope Valley (Calif.) JC 1987 1 (9)
Willie Wilson CF 42.2 HS—Summit, N.J. 1974 1 (18)
Bret Saberhagen RHP 40.8 HS—Reseda, Calif. 1982 19
Mark Gubicza RHP 38.3 HS—Philadelphia 1981 2

George Brett

The Royals’ appearance here is doubly impressive because as a 1969 expansion team, they (1) did not participate in the first three drafts—and began drafting in the fourth round in 1968—and (2) they traded two of the most talented players they ever drafted to preempt their departures via free agency. Those players would be center fielder Carlos Beltran (24.7 WAR, 1995, second round) and righthander Zack Greinke (26.2, 2002, sixth overall). Elsewhere, George Brett, Mark Gubicza, Bret Saberhagen and Willie Wilson are recognizable as stars of the 1985 World Series champions, along with second baseman Frank White (34.7 WAR), who signed as an amateur free agent in 1970.


6. Athletics

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Rickey Henderson* LF 72.5 HS—Oakland 1976 4
Sal Bando 3B 52.0 Arizona State 1965 6
Reggie Jackson* RF 48.0 Arizona State 1966 1 (2)
Mark McGwire 1B 42.8 Southern California 1984 1 (10)
Eric Chavez^ 3B 34.8 HS—San Diego 1996 1 (10)

Henderson Rickey 6525.95_Act_NBLSauritch

The Athletics signed righthander Catfish Hunter, left fielder Joe Rudi and closer Rollie Fingers as amateur free agents in 1964, one year before the first draft, then supplemented the eventual 1972-74 World Series champions with the 1965-67 drafts, taking Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson, lefty Vida Blue (29.1 WAR, 1967, second round) and first baseman Gene Tenace (23.5, 1965, 20th round). Oakland owes much of its early-2000s success to draft picks such as Eric Chavez, first baseman Jason Giambi (28.8, 1992, second round) and back-to-back-to-back hits Tim Hudson (31.0, 1997, sixth round), Mark Mulder (19.7, 1998, second overall) and Barry Zito (30.9, 1999, ninth overall). With three waves of pennant-contending teams in the early ’70s, late ’80s and early 2000s, the A’s have perhaps the deepest list of homegrown talent of any organization during the Draft Era.


7. Tigers

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Lou Whitaker 2B 74.9 HS—Martinsville, Va. 1975 5
Alan Trammell SS 70.4 HS—San Diego 1976 2
Justin Verlander^ RHP 41.9 Old Dominion 2004 1 (2)
Jack Morris RHP 37.9 Brigham Young 1976 5
Lance Parrish C 29.9 HS—Walnut, Calif. 1974 1 (16)

Justin Verlander

The Tigers acquired much of the core of 1984 World Series champions in the 1974-76 drafts, finding bargains outside the first round with Jack Morris, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. In other drafts, Detroit used first-round picks to nab Lance Parrish in 1974 and right fielder Kirk Gibson (27.6 WAR) with the 12th overall pick in 1978. Justin Verlander has pitched in two World Series, owns a Cy Young Award trophy, has all sorts of black ink on his Baseball-Reference page and already is, at age 31, the best pitcher the Tigers have ever drafted.


8. Braves

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Chipper Jones 3B 85.0 HS—Jacksonville 1990 1 (1)
Tom Glavine* LHP 58.7 HS—Billerica, Mass. 1984 2
Dale Murphy CF 46.9 HS—Portland, Ore. 1974 1 (5)
David Justice RF 24.2 Thomas More (Ky.) 1985 4
Brian McCann^ C 23.5 HS—Duluth, Ga. 2002 2

Atlanta Braves vs Washington Nationals

The Braves dominated the NL in the 1990s with three stars produced by their scouting and player-development machine—Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones and David Justice—along with shrewd pickups such as righthanders Greg Maddux and John Smoltz and international signings such as center fielder Andruw Jones and catcher Javy Lopez. Atlanta also converted a handful of other draft picks into successful big league regulars, such as lefty Steve Avery (13.5 WAR, 1988, third overall), shortstop Jeff Blauser (20.6, 1984, fifth overall in June secondary), left fielder Ryan Klesko (10.7, 1989, fifth round) and righty Kevin Millwood (13.2, 1993, 11th round).


9. Reds

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Johnny Bench* C 75.0 HS—Anadarko, Okla. 1965 2
Barry Larkin* SS 70.2 Michigan 1985 1 (4)
Joey Votto^ 1B 34.7 HS—Toronto 2002 2
Eric Davis CF 30.5 HS—Los Angeles 1980 8
Gary Nolan RHP 26.3 HS—Oroville, Calif. 1966 1 (13)

Reds Johnny Bench

Notable members of the Big Red Machine of the 1970s whom the Reds drafted include Johnny Bench, the 36th player ever drafted and the best position player from baseball’s inaugural draft, Gary Nolan, right fielder Ken Griffey Sr. (25.3 WAR, 1969, 29th round) and lefthander Don Gullet (14.1, 1969, 14th overall). Barry Larkin and Eric Davis struck fear in opponents as power/speed players who starred up the middle for the Reds’ World Series winner in 1990. Like Bench (1970, ’72) and Larkin (1995), Joey Votto (2010) has an MVP award to his credit.


10. Expos/Nationals

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Gary Carter* C 55.6 HS—Fullerton, Calif. 1972 3
Tim Raines LF 48.9 HS—Sanford, Fla. 1977 5
Andre Dawson* CF 48.1 Florida A&M 1975 11
Steve Rogers RHP 45.3 Tulsa 1971 1 (4)†
Tim Wallach 3B 36.8 Cal State Fullerton 1979 1 (10)

 

Expansion cousins of the Royals in 1969, the Expos experienced similar player-development success, if not the same on-field success as Kansas City. (They never won a playoff series, much less a World Series.) Montreal from 1982-84 featured all five players listed above in regular roles, but still they won no more than 86 games during those three seasons. Gary Carter and Andre Dawson are enshrined in Cooperstown, and Tim Raines has hovered near 50 percent of the vote in each of the past three elections. The top Nationals player on the list is third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (34.2 WAR, 2005, fourth overall), the first player ever drafted by Washington. Other young Nationals stars like shortstop Ian Desmond, left fielder Bryce Harper and righthanders Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann are building their cases.


11. Cardinals

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Albert Pujols^ 1B 86.4 Maple Woods (Mo.) CC 1999 13
Ted Simmons C 44.8 HS—Southfield, Mich. 1967 1 (10)
Ray Lankford CF 37.5 Modesto (Calif.) JC 1987 3
Keith Hernandez 1B 34.3 HS—San Bruno, Calif. 1971 42
Yadier Molina^ C 27.8 HS—Vega Alta, P.R. 2000 4

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Many of the principals for the Cardinals’ three NL pennant winners of the 1980s were imported from other teams, but exceptions include 1982 co-MVP Keith Hernandez and assorted others such as left fielder Vince Coleman (12.0 WAR, 1982, 10th round), righty Bob Forsch (21.5, 1968, 26th round) and third baseman Terry Pendleton (15.0, 1982, seventh round). While Ted Simmons (1968-80) and Ray Lankford (1990-2001, ’04) played for comparatively fallow periods in franchise history, the same is not true for Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, who helped drive St. Louis to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.


12. Twins

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Kirby Puckett* CF 50.9 Triton (Ill.) JC 1982 1 (3)††
Bert Blyleven* RHP 49.3 HS—Garden Grove, Calif. 1969 3
Brad Radke RHP 45.6 HS—Tampa 1991 8
Joe Mauer^ C 44.8 HS—St. Paul, Minn. 2001 1 (1)
Kent Hrbek 1B 38.4 HS—Bloomington, Minn. 1978 17

Joe Mauer

Bert Blyleven, Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett starred for the 1987 World Series champs, along with homegrown lefthander Frank Viola (27.2 WAR, 1981, second round) and third baseman Gary Gaetti (27.1, 1979 June secondary, 11th overall). Rookie of the Year second baseman Chuck Knoblauch (37.9, 1989, 25th overall) and righty Scott Erickson (12.7, 1989, fourth round) chipped in for the 1991 champs. No. 1 overall draft pick, six-time all-star and three-time AL batting champ Joe Mauer could shoot near the top of this list before he’s through.


13. Mets

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Tom Seaver* RHP 76.1 Southern California 1966
David Wright^ 3B 47.1 HS—Chesapeake, Va. 2001 1s (38)
Dwight Gooden RHP 41.6 HS—Tampa 1982 1 (5)
Darryl Strawberry RF 36.5 HS—Los Angeles 1980 1 (1)
Jon Matlack LHP 26.6 HS—West Chester, Pa. 1967 1 (4)

HEADLINE HERE

Drafted by the Dodgers (did not sign) and Braves (selection voided) in 1965 and ’66, Tom Seaver joined the organization only after the commissioner conducted a three-team lottery for the USC ace’s services. The three-time Cy Young Award winner still is the only Mets player in the Hall of Fame. First-round picks Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry appeared headed down that path as superstars for the Mets dynasty-that-wasn’t of the 1980s, but late nights and early declines undermined their productivity.


14. Brewers

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Robin Yount* SS 77.0 HS—Woodland Hills, Calif. 1973 1 (3)
Paul Molitor* 3B 59.6 Minnesota 1977 1 (3)
Ryan Braun^ LF 35.7 Miami 2005 1 (5)
Jeff Cirillo 3B 26.2 Southern California 1991 11
Ben Sheets RHP 25.6 Northeast Louisiana 1999 1 (10)

Ryan Braun

The Brewers’ track record with first-round position players is not a new phenomenon. In the decades since Paul Molitor and Robin Yount led Milwaukee to the 1982 World Series, the Brewers identified stars such as B.J. Surhoff and Gary Sheffield in the 1980s, Geoff Jenkins in the 1990s and Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks in the 2000s.

 


15. Astros

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Craig Biggio 2B 65.1 Seton Hall 1987 1 (22)
Lance Berkman 1B 48.0 Rice 1997 1 (16)
Roy Oswalt RHP 45.5 Holmes (Miss.) CC 1996 23 D/F
Bill Doran 2B 30.3 Miami (Ohio) 1979 6
J.R. Richard RHP 21.5 HS—Ruston, La. 1969 1 (2)

Astros Craig Biggio

Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt starred for the Astros’ lone NL pennant winner in 2005, though the franchise’s late-’90s and early-2000s division winners also received contributions from homegrown closer Billy Wagner (16.0 WAR, 1993, 12th overall) and righthander Shane Reynolds (19.2, 1989, third round).

 


16. White Sox

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Frank Thomas* 1B 68.2 Auburn 1989 1 (7)
Mark Buehrle^ LHP 49 Jefferson (Mo.) JC 1998 38 D/F
Robin Ventura 3B 39.3 Oklahoma State 1988 1 (10)
Harold Baines RF 24.5 HS—St. Michael’s, Md. 1977 1 (1)
Jack McDowell RHP 21.7 Stanford 1987 1 (5)

Frank Thomas

The White Sox hit on four straight first-rounders from 1987 to 1990 in Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura, Frank Thomas and righty Alex Fernandez (20.5 WAR, 1990, fourth overall), and that quartet powered Chicago to an AL West division title in 1993. (They led the newly-formed Central at the time of the ’94 strike, too.) Mark Buehrle was one of the few homegrown stars to grace the postseason roster of the 2005 World Series champs.


17. Blue Jays

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Dave Stieb RHP 57.4 Southern Illinois 1978 1 (17)
Roy Halladay RHP 48.5 HS—Arvada. Colo. 1995 1 (17)
Jimmy Key LHP 30.0 Clemson 1982 3
Jesse Barfield RF 29.4 HS—Joliet, Ill. 1977 9
Vernon Wells CF 28.7 HS—Arlington, Texas 1997 1 (5)

Roy Halladay

Just off the list we find homegrown contributors—in addition to Jimmy Key—to the 1992-93 World Series champs: righty Pat Hentgen (26.7 WAR, 1986, fifth round) and first baseman John Olerud (22.5, 1989, third round). Toronto also hit on numerous first-round position players in addition to Vernon Wells, including right fielder Shawn Green (1991), second baseman Aaron Hill (2003), center fielder Lloyd Moseby (1978), right fielder Alex Rios (1999) and left fielder Shannon Stewart (1992). Not bad for a club that didn’t begin drafting until 1977.


18. Angels

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Chuck Finley LHP 52.2 Northeast Louisiana 1985 1 (4)††
Tim Salmon RF 40.5 Grand Canyon (Ariz.) 1989 3
Frank Tanana LHP 34.4 HS—Detroit 1971 1 (13)
Jered Weaver^ RHP 34.1 Long Beach State 2004 1 (12)
Darin Erstad 1B 32.6 Nebraska 1995 1 (1)

4-3-03 Baseball Reliquary Comedy Night

The Angels built their 2002 World Series winners in large part through shrewd drafting, the fruits of their effort including Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon as well as left fielder Garret Anderson (28.0 WAR, 1990, fourth round), third baseman Troy Glaus (22.5, 1997, third overall), righty John Lackey (25.0, 1999, second round) and closer Troy Percival (16.9, 1990, sixth round). In case you’re wondering, center fielder Mike Trout needs another 10 WAR to dislodge Erstad on the list.


19. Dodgers

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Ron Cey 3B 47.5 Washington State 1968 3†
Orel Hershiser RHP 39.9 Bowling Green State 1979 17
Steve Garvey 1B 36.4 Michigan State 1968 1 (13)†
Bob Welch RHP 32.6 Eastern Michigan 1977 1 (20)
Clayton Kershaw^ LHP 32.5 HS—University Park, Texas 2006 1 (7)

Clayton Kershaw

The Dodgers’ storied 1968 draft haul includes not only Ron Cey and Steve Garvey, but also second baseman Davey Lopes (32.0 WAR, January secondary, second round). All three teamed up on Los Angels NL pennant winners in 1977-78 and ’81. Orel Hershiser almost single-handedly guided the light-hitting 1988 Dodgers to a World Series victory, overturning the powerful offenses of the Mets and Athletics to get there. One of the more remarkable draft stories ever, Mike Piazza went from 62nd-round afterthought in 1988 to the all-time leader for home runs by a catcher. He contributed 31.9 WAR to the Dodgers and 27.4 for the Mets and three other teams.


20. Pirates

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Barry Bonds LF 50.1 Arizona State 1985 1 (5)
Dave Parker RF 34.6 HS—Cincinnati 1970 14
John Candelaria LHP 32.1 HS—Brooklyn 1972 2
Jason Kendall C 30.6 HS—Torrance, Calif. 1992 1 (23)
Andrew McCutchen^ CF 28.8 HS—Fort Meade, Fla. 2005 1 (11)

Pirates Barry Bonds

Dave Parker and John Candelaria starred on the 1979 World Series champs, while five-tool outfielders (and MVPs) Barry Bonds in 1992 and Andrew McCutchen in 2013 represented end points between the 20-season gap between winning Pirates clubs.

 

 


21. Cubs

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Rick Reuschel RHP 48.3 Western Illinois 1970 3
Mark Grace 1B 43.9 San Diego State 1985 24
Greg Maddux* RHP 33.8 HS—Las Vegas 1984 2
Kerry Wood RHP 25.5 HS— Grand Prairie, Texas 1995 1 (4)
Mark Prior RHP 15.7 Southern California 2001 1 (2)

Greg Maddux

Hall of Famer Greg Maddux produced twice as much WAR for the Braves (66.0) than he did the Cubs, but he did spend the first seven seasons of his storied career with Chicago, leading the club to the 1989 NL East division title (along with Mark Grace). A different pair of young starters—Mark Prior and Kerry Wood—propelled the 2003 Cubs to within a game of the World Series.


22. Padres

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Tony Gwynn* RF 68.8 San Diego State 1981 3
Dave Winfield* RF 31.9 Minnesota 1973 1 (4)
Jake Peavy^ RHP 24.7 HS—Mobile, Ala. 1999 15
Randy Jones LHP 20.8 Chapman (Calif.) 1972 5
Andy Benes RHP 20.7 Evansville 1988 1 (1)

Dave-Winfield-1980-cw

No team has made more No. 1 overall draft selections than the Padres (five), and they hit on only one of them when Andy Benes enjoyed his best years in San Diego in the early ’90s. Finding two of the best right fielders of the Draft Era in Tony Gwynn and Dave Winfield helps mitigate that a bit. Still, the Padres have fared nowhere near as well as the Royals, Expos or Brewers, their 1969 expansion cousins.


23. Giants

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Will Clark 1B 35.5 Mississippi State 1985 1 (2)
Matt Williams 3B 33.9 Nevada-Las Vegas 1986 1 (3)
Robby Thompson 2B 33.6 Florida 1983 1 (2)†
Matt Cain^ RHP 32.2 HS—Germantown, Tenn. 2002 1 (25)
Jack Clark RF 30.6 HS—Covina, Calif. 1973 13

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The Giants built three-quarters of an infield using first-round picks from 1983-86, taking in order Robby Thompson, Will Clark and Matt Williams, but fans probably will view the run of first-rounders from 2000-08 more favorably. In that time, San Francisco drafted Matt Cain (2002), righthander Tim Lincecum (2006), lefty Madison Bumgarner (2007) and catcher Buster Posey (2008), the core of the 2010 and 2012 World Series winners.


24. Mariners

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Ken Griffey Jr. CF 70.4 HS—Cincinnati 1987 1 (1)
Alex Rodriguez^ SS 38.0 HS—Miami 1993 1 (1)
Alvin Davis 1B 19.9 Arizona State 1982 6
Mark Langston LHP 19.4 San Jose State 1981 2
Mike Moore RHP 18.0 Oral Roberts 1981 1 (1)

MLB: ALEX RODRIGUEZ SEATTLE MARINERS

The Mariners, expansion cousins of the Blue Jays in 1977, nailed three of the four No. 1 overall picks in franchise history, taking Mike Moore (1981), Ken Griffey Jr. (1987) and Alex Rodriguez (1993), benefiting, of course, from once-a-decade talents like Griffey and A-Rod being available. Seattle signed DH Edgar Martinez and shortstop Omar Vizquel as international free agents and traded for lefty Randy Johnson, making the late-’90s teams some of the most talented ever.


25. Indians

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Jim Thome 1B 47.9 Illinois Central JC 1989 13
Manny Ramirez RF 29.9 HS—New York 1991 1 (13)
C.C. Sabathia^ LHP 27.5 HS—Vallejo, Calif. 1998 1 (20)
Albert Belle LF 27.3 Louisiana State 1987 2
Charles Nagy RHP 25.2 Connecticut 1988 1 (17)

Angel Stadium

The Indians did well to extend the contracts of their mid-’90s lineup stalwarts like Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome before they hit free agency, but they didn’t keep any of them in Cleveland much past the age of 30, and that’s reflected in the relatively low WAR totals. Ace of the 1995 and ’97 AL pennant winners, Charles Nagy stuck around until age 35, but injuries undercut his final three years with the Indians.


26. Rangers/Senators

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Jim Sundberg C 34.7 Iowa 1973 1 (2)††
Ian Kinsler^ 2B 34.6 Missouri 2003 17
Kenny Rogers LHP 31.6 HS—Plant City, Fla. 1982 39
Rusty Greer LF 22.3 Montevallo (Ala.) 1990 10
Mark Teixeira^ 1B 21.5 Georgia Tech 2001 1 (5)

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With the exception of Ian Kinsler, much of the talent on the 2010-11 AL pennant winners was acquired by the Rangers in trades. Even the successful late-’90s Texas clubs—except for Rusty Greer and righthander Rick Helling (14.0 WAR, 1992, 22nd overall)—were built by means other than the draft, particularly the international free agent market, where the Rangers signed right fielder Juan Gonzalez and catcher Ivan Rodriguez out of Puerto Rico.


As one would reasonably surmise, the four 1990s expansion teams finish at the bottom of the heap, simply by virtue of having fewer total draft picks and less time for those players to develop and accumulate value. However, the Rockies made a dogged run at the Rangers, who had been drafting as the expansion Washing Senators right from the onset of the Draft Era.


27. Rockies

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Todd Helton 1B 61.5 Tennessee 1995 1 (8)
Troy Tulowitzki^ SS 36.1 Long Beach State 2005 1 (7)
Matt Holliday^ LF 18.4 HS—Stillwater, Okla. 1998 7
Aaron Cook RHP 16.8 HS—Hamilton, Ohio 1997 2
Jason Jennings RHP 10.4 Baylor 1999 1 (16)

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This top five is a fine cross-section of the key players for the 2007 NL pennant winners. All they’re missing are lefthander Jeff Francis (10.2 WAR, 2002, ninth overall) and international signee Ubaldo Jimenez. The next position player on the list is center fielder Dexter Fowler (9.6, 2004, 14th round), who won’t be building on his total following his trade to the Astros.

 


28. Rays

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Evan Longoria^ 3B 37.4 Long Beach State 2006 1 (3)
Carl Crawford^ LF 35.5 HS—Houston 1999 2
James Shields^ RHP 19.3 HS—Santa Clarita, Calif. 2000 16
David Price^ LHP 18.7 Vanderbilt 2007 1 (1)
B.J. Upton^ CF 15.4 HS—Chesapeake, Va. 2002 1 (2)

David Price

Much as is the case with the Rockies, the Rays’ 2008 AL pennant winners are well represented here, especially with top-of-the-draft stars Evan Longoria, David Price and B.J. Upton.

 

 

 


29. Diamondbacks

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Brandon Webb RHP 33.3 Kentucky 2000 8
Justin Upton^ RF 14.3 HS—Chesapeake, Va. 2005 1 (1)
Stephen Drew^ SS 13.1 Florida State 2004 1 (15)
Paul Goldschmidt^ 1B 12.5 Texas State 2009 8
Chad Tracy 3B 5.9 East Carolina 2001 7

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Given how abruptly his career ended, Brandon Webb is an overlooked ace of the mid-2000s. The BA Rookie of the Year in 2003, he won the ’06 NL Cy Young Award and finished runner-up the following two seasons. However, he made only one major league appearance after 2008, when he was 29 years old. In a strange bit of synchronicity, the Diamondbacks selected both Webb and star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth round of the draft.


30. Marlins

Top Five Pos WAR Source Year Rd (Pick)
Josh Johnson^ RHP 25.4 HS—Jenks, Okla. 2002 4
Giancarlo Stanton^ RF 17.0 HS—Sherman Oaks, Calif. 2007 2
Charles Johnson C 11.7 Miami 1992 1 (28)
Josh Beckett^ RHP 10.7 HS—Spring, Texas 1999 1 (2)
Jose Fernandez^ RHP 7.4 HS—Tampa 2011 1 (14)

Giancarlo Stanton

Two interrelated factors work against the Marlins in this exercise. Not only has the club shown a tendency to sell off premium players years before they have to pay full freight, but they don’t receive “homegrown” credit for the prospects they receive in exchange. For example, a list of most productive Marlins players includes shortstop Hanley Ramirez, left fielder Cliff Floyd, right fielder Gary Sheffield, lefty Dontrelle Willis and righthanders A.J. Burnett and Anibal Sanchez, all of them acquired in trades.