By the time Allan Simpson published the first issue of Baseball America in 1981, major league teams had fully realized the impact potential of the draft. At that point in time, more than 75 percent of the wins above replacement (WAR) generated in the big leagues had been produced by drafted players, and that rate has remained fairly constant ever since.
What's more, the Hall of Fame has welcomed to its ranks 32 players* who entered pro ball after navigating the draft. That total doesn't even include recently-retired stars such as Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Roy Halladay and Jim Thome who are not yet eligible for enshrinement, or outside-looking-in stars such as Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and Alan Trammell, all of whom appeared on at least 25 percent of HOF ballots cast in the 2015 election.
Now, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the draft, we present the 50 greatest players to take part in the draft process. For each member of the top 50, the number in parentheses next to his name signifies his rank in terms of Baseball-Reference.com WAR among players selected in his draft year.
The table that follows spells out career achievement for all players. The first six columns express personal accomplishments—MVP or Cy Young awards (plus second- and third-place finishes), All-Star Games, Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers—while the last three signify team success as measured by postseason (PS) and World Series (WS) appearances and titles (Rings).
1. Barry Bonds (1) • LF
Year: 1985. Round: 1 (6). Team: Pirates. Source: Arizona State.
Signature Season: 2001 Giants.
Bonds set all-time single-season records for home runs (73) and slugging (.863) in 2001 while also setting the record for walks (177), which he later surpassed—twice. He owns the all-time records for home runs (762), walks (2,558) and putouts by a left fielder (5,225).
2. Roger Clemens (1) • RHP
Year: 1983. Round: 1 (19). Team: Red Sox. Source: Texas.
Signature Season: 1986 Red Sox.
Clemens led AL pitchers with a 24-4 record, 2.48 ERA and 0.97 WHIP to capture the Cy Young and MVP awards in 1986, while also becoming first pitcher ever to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game. He finished with 354 career wins (ninth all-time), 4,672 strikeouts (fourth) and a record seven Cy Youngs.
3. Alex Rodriguez (1) • SS
Year: 1993. Round: 1 (1). Team: Mariners. Source: Westminster Christian HS, Miami.
Signature Season: 2000 Mariners.
A year before hitting $252 million paydirt with the Rangers, and more than a decade before becoming entangled in the Biogenesis scandal with the Yankees, Rodriguez played his best defense at shortstop and hit .316/.420/.606 with 41 homers and 132 RBIs in spacious Safeco Field for the wild-card 2000 Mariners.
4. Tom Seaver (1) • RHP
Year: 1966 (January secondary). Round: 1. Team: Braves (selection voided). Source: Southern California.
Hall of Fame: 1992 (first ballot, 98.8 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1973 Mets.
In his second of three Cy Young Award seasons, Seaver went 19-10 for the pennant-winning 1973 Mets while claiming his third NL ERA (2.08) and strikeout (251) titles. He ranks fourth all-time with 61 shutouts and sixth with 3,640 strikeouts, and at his peak he notched a record nine consecutive 200-strikeout seasons.
5. Greg Maddux (1) • RHP
Year: 1984. Round: 2. Team: Cubs. Source: Valley HS, Las Vegas.
Hall of Fame: 2014 (first ballot, 97.2 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1995 Braves.
Even with a strike-shortened 144-game schedule in 1995, Maddux went 19-2 in 28 starts, striking out a career-high 7.8 batters per nine innings. He claimed a third straight NL ERA (1.63) title and fourth straight Cy Young Award that season as the Braves went on to win their first and only World Series in Atlanta.
6. Randy Johnson (2) • LHP
Year: 1985. Round: 2. Team: Expos. Source: Southern California.
Hall of Fame: 2015 (first ballot, 97.3 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 2001 Diamondbacks.
A career-best 372 strikeouts, ERA title (2.49), fourth Cy Young trophy and World Series title say everything about his 2001 season. Only Nolan Ryan has more career strikeouts than Johnson (4,875), the last man to strike out 300 batters in a season (2002) and the all-time career leader with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
7. Rickey Henderson (1) • LF
Year: 1976. Round: 4. Team: Athletics. Source: Technical HS, Oakland.
Hall of Fame: 2009 (first ballot, 94.8 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1990 Athletics.
Henderson stole a single-season record 130 bases in 1982, but his MVP campaign of 1990 included 65 steals and a 1.016 OPS, both of which led the AL, plus 28 homers and 33 doubles. He ranks first all-time in runs scored (2,295) and stolen bases (1,406) and stands behind only Barry Bonds for walks (2,190).
8. Mike Schmidt (1) • 3B
Year: 1971. Round: 2. Team: Phillies. Source: Ohio.
Hall of Fame: 1995 (first ballot, 96.5 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1980 Phillies.
A career-high 48 homers and 121 RBIs in 1980 propelled Schmidt to the first of three MVP awards and the first World Series title ever for the Phillies. He ranks inside the top 20 all-time with 548 home runs and 1,507 walks, while his defensive excellence resulted in the third-most assists (5,045) and fourth-most double plays (450) ever by a third baseman.
9. Derek Jeter (1) • SS
Year: 1992. Round: 1 (6). Team: Yankees. Source: Central HS, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Signature Season: 1999 Yankees.
Jeter led the AL with 219 hits in 1999 and finished with career highs for average (.349), on-base percentage (.438), homers (24) and RBIs (102) as the Yankees claimed their third title in four years. He retired with the sixth-highest total for hits ever (3,465) while appearing in more games as a shortstop (2,674) than any player but Omar Vizquel.
10. Albert Pujols (1) • 1B
Year: 1999. Round: 13. Team: Cardinals. Source: Maple Woods (Mo.) CC.
Signature Season: 2006 Cardinals.
Pujols guided St. Louis to the NLCS five times in his 11 seasons with the Cardinals from 2001 through 2011. His 2006 season goes down as his most powerful, even though he finished runner-up in the MVP vote, because he set career highs for homers (49), RBIs (137) and slugging (.671) while helping the Cardinals win the World Series.
11. Cal Ripken Jr. (1) • SS
Year: 1978. Round: 2. Team: Orioles. Source: Aberdeen (Md.) HS.
Hall of Fame: 2007 (first ballot, 98.5 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1991 Orioles.
The all-time record holder for home runs as a shortstop (345), Ripken never put up a louder offensive season than he did in 1991, when he claimed his second MVP trophy and set personal records with a .323 average, 34 homers, 114 RBIs and a .566 slugging percentage. He ranks top 20 all-time for hits (3,184, 15th), doubles (603, 13th) and total bases (5,168, 15th).
12. Chipper Jones (1) • 3B
Year: 1990. Round: 1 (1). Team: Braves. Source: Bolles HS, Jacksonville.
Signature Season: 1999 Braves.
Jones set personal high-water marks with 45 home runs, 25 steals, 126 walks, a .633 slugging percentage and 1.074 OPS in 1999, his MVP campaign during which he led the Braves to the NL pennant. Among third basemen of the Integration Era, only Wade Boggs has a higher on-base percentage than Jones (.401) and none has higher slugging (.529) or OPS (.930) marks.
13. George Brett (2) • 3B
Year: 1971. Round: 2. Team: Royals. Source: El Segundo (Calif.) HS.
Hall of Fame: 1999 (first ballot, 98.2 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1980 Royals.
Hitting .400 on Sept. 19 of the 1980 season, Brett finished the year 14-for-46 (.304) and had to “settle” for a .390/.454/.664 batting line in which he led the AL in all triple-slash categories and captured his lone MVP award for the pennant-winning Royals. He ranks sixth all-time with 665 doubles, 15th with 1,119 extra-base hits and 16th with 3,154 hits
14. Ken Griffey Jr. (1) • CF
Year: 1987. Round: 1 (1). Team: Mariners. Source: Moeller HS, Cincinnati.
Signature Season: 1997 Mariners.
Griffey’s transcendent 1997 season featured an AL-leading 56 homers, 147 RBIs, 125 runs and .646 slugging percentage. Injuries muted the second half of his career, but Junior hit 630 career homers (sixth all-time) and compiled 1,192 extra-base hits (seventh), 5,271 total bases (13th) and 1,836 RBIs (15th). He also recorded 5,147 putouts as a center fielder (sixth).
15. Wade Boggs (2) • 3B
Year: 1976. Round: 7. Team: Red Sox. Source: Plant HS, Tampa.
Hall of Fame: 2005 (first ballot, 91.9 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1985 Red Sox.
Boggs won five batting titles and led the AL in on-base percentage for five straight years, 1985 to 1989, yet he never finished higher than fourth in MVP balloting. That happened in 1985, when he hit a career-best .368 and led the AL with 240 hits and a .450 OBP. Boggs collected 3,010 hits (26th all-time) and 578 doubles (20th), and he won more Silver Sluggers (eight) than any third baseman.
16. Nolan Ryan (1) • RHP
Year: 1965. Round: 12. Team: Mets. Source: Alvin (Texas) HS.
Hall of Fame: 1999 (first ballot, 98.8 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1973 Angels.
Ryan won 20 games for the first time in 1973, going 21-16, 2.87, while establishing the single-season record for strikeouts with 383. He and Randy Johnson are the only pitchers to notch six 300-strikeout seasons, and Ryan is of course the all-time leader with 5,714 strikeouts, 2,795 walks and 6.6 hits per nine innings as well as the modern record-holder for wild pitches (277).
17. Johnny Bench (2) • C
Year: 1965. Round: 2. Team: Reds. Source: Anadarko (Okla.) HS.
Hall of Fame: 1989 (first ballot, 96.4 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1970 Reds.
Still just 22 years old in 1970, Bench established single-season catcher records with 45 home runs and 148 RBIs, when he won the first of his two MVP awards. The best all-around catcher in history, Bench played a key role on four pennant-winning Reds teams of the 1970s, including two World Series champions.
18. Robin Yount (1) • SS
Year: 1973. Round: 1 (3). Team: Brewers. Source: Taft HS, Woodland Hills, Calif.
Hall of Fame: 1999 (first ballot, 77.5 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1982 Brewers.
Yount led the AL with 201 hits, 46 doubles, 367 total bases and a .578 slugging percentage in 1982 to claim the first of his two MVP awards. He never topped his totals for hits, homers (29), RBIs (114) or runs (129) from that season, though he went on to log 3,142 hits and 583 doubles while appearing in more than 1,000 games as both a shortstop and a center fielder.
19. Bert Blyleven (1) • RHP
Year: 1969. Round: 3. Team: Twins. Source: Santiago HS, Garden Grove, Calif.
Hall of Fame: 2011 (14th ballot, 79.7 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1973 Twins.
Blyleven toiled for mediocre to poor teams for much of his career, losing 250 games (10th all-time) despite striking out 3,701 (fifth) and notching 60 shutouts (ninth). He pitched effectively for two World Series winners—the 1979 Pirates and 1987 Twins—but he turned in his best work for the 1973 Twins, when he led the AL with a 3.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio and put up career-best numbers with 20 wins, a 2.52 ERA, 325 innings and 258 strikeouts.
20. Reggie Jackson (2) • RF
Year: 1966. Round: 1 (2). Team: Athletics. Source: Arizona State.
Hall of Fame: 1993 (first ballot, 93.6 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1973 Athletics.
Jackson already had reached the majors and swatted 47 home runs in 1969, three years after being drafted, but his 1973 season probably was his best when one considers that he won the regular-season and World Series MVP awards that year for propelling the Athletics to their second of three straight titles. He led the AL with 32 homers, 117 RBIs, 99 runs scored and a .531 slugging percentage in 1973. Jackson still ranks 13th all-time with 563 homers and first with 2,597 strikeouts after all these years.
21. Frank Thomas (2) • 1B
Year: 1989. Round: 1 (7). Team: White Sox. Source: Auburn.
Hall of Fame: 2014 (first ballot, 83.7 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1994 White Sox.
Thomas led the AL in on-base percentage (.487) and OPS (1.217) for the third time in 1994, while topping the circuit with 106 runs and 109 walks in a strike-shortened season. Only Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire compiled a higher OPS in the 1990s than did Thomas—though Big Frank is king from 1990 through 1997, before things got crazy. His .974 career mark ranks 14th all-time.
22. Paul Molitor (2) • 3B
Year: 1977. Round: 1 (3). Team: Brewers. Source: Minnesota.
Hall of Fame: 2004 (first ballot, 82.5 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1982 Brewers.
Leadoff man for the hardest-hitting team of 1982, Molitor got in the act with his first double-digit home run total (19) and first 200-hit season (201), plus he scored an AL-leading 136 runs. A unique blend of talents, Molitor ranks 10th all-time with 3,319 hits, 11th with 605 doubles and 20th with 1,782 runs. Plus, he stole 504 bases for his career, making him one of 18 players since World War II to do so.
23. Tom Glavine (2) • LHP
Year: 1984. Round: 2. Team: Braves. Source: Billerica (Mass.) HS.
Hall of Fame: 2014 (first ballot, 91.9 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1991 Braves.
Glavine broke through in a big way as a 25-year-old in 1991, claiming his first of two Cy Young awards and winning 20 games for the first of five times. He never again bettered his 247 innings, 192 strikeouts, 2.8 SO/BB ratio or 1.10 WHIP from 1991. Plus, he, David Justice and Ron Gant gave the worst-to-first Braves a homegrown face.
24. Barry Larkin (4) • SS
Year: 1985. Round: 1 (4). Team: Reds. Source: Michigan.
Hall of Fame: 2012 (third ballot, 86.4 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1996 Reds.
Larkin won a World Series in 1990 and an MVP in 1995, but his 1996 effort rings loudest, for he established personal bests for home runs (33), walks (96), RBIs (89), slugging (.567) and runs scored (117). He won a shortstop-record nine Silver Slugger awards, bridging the gap between Cal Ripken in the 1980s and Alex Rodriguez in the 2000s.
25. Craig Biggio (2) • 2B
Year: 1987. Round: 1 (22). Team: Astros. Source: Seton Hall.
Hall of Fame: 2015 (third ballot, 82.7 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1997 Astros.
Catalyst for the very good Astros teams of the late-1990s and early 2000s, Biggio posted a career-best .415 on-base percentage and .916 OPS in 1997, when he led the NL with 146 runs scored. He retired with 668 doubles (fifth all-time), 1,844 runs (15th) and 3,060 hits (21st).
26. John Smoltz (5) • RHP
Year: 1985. Round: 22. Team: Tigers. Source: Waverly HS, Lansing, Mich.
Hall of Fame: 2015 (first ballot, 82.9 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1996 Braves.
Smoltz won his lone Cy Young award in 1996 for an exemplary season in which he led the NL with 24 wins, 254 innings and 276 strikeouts, and he never struck out a higher rate of batters (9.8 batters per nine innings) as a starter. He truly shined in the postseason with 15 wins (second all-time), 209 innings (third) and 199 strikeouts (first).
27. Eddie Murray (2) • 1B
Year: 1973. Round: 3. Team: Orioles. Source: Locke HS, Los Angeles.
Hall of Fame: 2003 (first ballot, 85.3 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1983 Orioles.
Murray finished top-five in AL MVP balloting each season from 1981 to 1985, with his 1983 effort featuring a career-best 33 homers and typical batting line of .306/.393/.538. Plus, the Orioles cruised to a World Series title that year. Murray leads all Integration Era first basemen with 3,255 hits, 1,917 RBIs and 5,397 total bases, and his RBI and TB totals rank 10th highest all-time.
28. Curt Schilling (1) • RHP
Year: 1986 (January regular). Round: 2. Team: Red Sox. Source: Yavapai (Ariz.) JC.
Signature Season: 2001 Diamondbacks.
A frontline starter for four World Series pitching staffs, Schilling excelled in postseason play, going 11-2, 2.23 in 19 career starts, with 120 strikeouts in 133 innings and a 0.97 WHIP. He finished runner-up in Cy Young balloting three times in the four seasons from 2001 to 2004, leading the NL with 22 wins and 257 innings in 2001. Schilling’s career 4.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio tops all pitchers since 1900.
29. Manny Ramirez (1) • LF
Year: 1991. Round: 1 (13). Team: Indians. Source: Washington HS, New York.
Signature Season: 1999 Indians.
A driving force behind five Indians postseason teams, plus four for the Red Sox and two for the Dodgers, Ramirez recorded his first black ink in 1999, leading the AL with a .663 slugging percentage, 1.105 OPS and 165 RBIs, which is the highest single-season total for any player since World War II. Ramirez’s .585 slugging mark ranks eighth all-time.
30. Ozzie Smith (1) • SS
Year: 1977. Round: 4. Team: Padres. Source: Cal Poly.
Hall of Fame: 2002 (first ballot, 91.7 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1987 Cardinals.
In a season in which seemingly everybody hit home runs, Smith didn’t go deep once in 1987, but he did hit .303/.392/.383 to establish career bests in all three triple-slash categories as well as doubles (40), walks (89), runs (104) and RBIs (75). The defensive wizard recorded more assists (8,375) than any shortstop in history, and only Omar Vizquel turned more double plays than Smith (1,590).
31. Gary Carter (1) • C
Year: 1972. Round: 3. Team: Expos. Source: Sunny Hills HS, Fullerton, Calif.
Hall of Fame: 2003 (sixth ballot, 78 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1982 Expos.
Carter made 10 straight NL all-star teams beginning in 1979, but his 1982 season stands as perhaps his finest. He hit .293/.381/.510 with 29 homers and 97 RBIs while establishing personal top marks for runs (91), walks (78), on-base percentage and OPS (.890). He’s one of five players ever to catch at least 2,000 games.
32. Tony Gwynn (1) • RF
Year: 1981. Round: 3. Team: Padres. Source: San Diego State.
Hall of Fame: 2007 (first ballot, 97.6 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1997 Padres.
Gwynn captured his eighth and final batting title as a 37-year-old in 1997, a season in which he set personal benchmarks with 220 hits, 17 home runs, 49 doubles and 119 RBIs. No player whose career began after World War II hit for a higher career average than Gwynn at .338.
33. Mike Mussina (2) • RHP
Year: 1990. Round: 1 (20). Team: Orioles. Source: Stanford.
Signature Season: 2001 Yankees.
Mussina pitched more effectively, cumulatively, in his first 10 years with the Orioles, but his best individual performance occurred in 2001, his first year with the Yankees. He set his best marks for WHIP (1.07) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.1) that year, while going 17-11, 3.15 in 34 starts for the pennant winners.
34. Ryne Sandberg (2) • 2B
Year: 1978. Round: 20. Team: Phillies. Source: North Central HS, Spokane, Wash.
Hall of Fame: 2005 (third ballot, 76.2 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1990 Cubs.
Sandberg in 1990 became one of just three second baseman ever to hit 40 home runs in a season—Rogers Hornsby and Davey Johnson are the others—and he led the NL with 116 runs and 344 total bases, in addition to homers. Sandberg won more Silver Slugger awards (seven) than any second baseman ever, and only Roberto Alomar won more Gold Gloves than his nine.
35. Jeff Bagwell (1) • 1B
Year: 1989. Round: 4. Team: Red Sox. Source: Hartford.
Signature Season: 1994 Astros.
Three times Bagwell topped 40 homers in a season, and three other times he stopped at 39, including in his MVP season of 1994. Remarkably, he played just 110 games that strike-shortened summer in which he led the NL with 116 RBIs, 104 runs, a .750 slugging percentage and 1.201 OPS. Perhaps the most well-rounded first baseman ever, Bagwell stole more bases (202) than any of his position peers during the Expansion Era and finished with the third-most assists (1,704) ever by a first baseman.
36. Carlton Fisk (2) • C
Year: 1967 (January regular). Round: 1. Team: Red Sox. Source: Charlestown, N.H.
Hall of Fame: 2000 (second ballot, 79.6 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1977 Red Sox.
Fisk made 10 all-star teams in 14 seasons from 1972 to 1985, but his 1977 effort stands out most. He hit .315 with 26 homers and established personal bests with 169 hits, 75 walks, 106 runs and a .402 on-base percentage. Fisk held the record for home runs by a catcher until Mike Piazza came along, and only Ivan Rodriguez caught more career games.
37. Alan Trammell (3) • SS
Year: 1976. Round: 2. Team: Tigers. Source: Kearny HS, San Diego.
Signature Season: 1987 Tigers.
Trammell missed winning the AL MVP award by 21 points in 1987, when he set career highs in virtually every offensive category, hitting .343 with a .402 on-base percentage, .551 slugging percentage, 28 homers, 105 RBIs and 109 runs scored. He appeared in 2,139 games at shortstop (10th all-time), recording 6,172 assists (17th) and turning 1,307 double plays (seventh).
38. Dave Winfield (3) • RF
Year: 1973. Round: 1 (4). Team: Padres. Source: Minnesota.
Hall of Fame: 2001 (first ballot, 84.5 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1979 Padres.
Winfield hit .308/.395/.558 and led the NL with 118 RBIs and 333 total bases in 1979, a season in which he also established a career-best mark for OPS at .953. He hit 34 home runs that year, a total he surpassed only once in his career. Winfield ranks top 20 career with 3,110 hits (20th), 1,093 extra-base hits (20th) and 1,833 RBIs (17th).
39. Andre Dawson (2) • RF
Year: 1975. Round: 11. Team: Expos. Source: Florida A&M.
Hall of Fame: 2010 (ninth ballot, 77.9 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1983 Expos.
Dawson led the NL with 189 hits and 341 total bases in 1983, while also mashing 32 homers and driving in 113 runs, totals he never matched outside of his gonzo 1987 campaign, when he compiled 49 and 137 for the Cubs. He ranks 28th all-time with 1,039 extra-base hits and 37th with 1,591 RBIs.
40. Tim Raines (3) • LF
Year: 1977. Round: 5. Team: Expos. Source: Seminole HS, Sanford, Fla.
Signature Season: 1987 Expos.
Even in a Collusion-shortened 139-game campaign in 1987, Raines led the NL with 123 runs scored while setting personal high-water marks with a .429 on-base percentage and .526 slugging. Just four men stole more bases than Raines (808), and he shows well with 1,571 runs scored (53rd) and 3,977 times on base (47th).
41. Jim Thome (3) • 1B
Year: 1989. Round: 13. Team: Indians. Source: Illinois Central JC.
Signature Season: 2002 Indians.
Thome launched a career-high 52 homers in 2002, his final season with the Indians, while leading the AL with 122 walks, a .677 slugging percentage and 1.122 OPS. Only Reggie Jackson struck out more times for his career than Thome, but he paid off the whiffs with 612 home runs and 1,747 walks, both of which rank seventh all-time.
42. Mike Piazza (3) • C
Year: 1988. Round: 62. Team: Dodgers. Source: Miami-Dade CC.
Signature Season: 1997 Dodgers.
Piazza won 10 NL Silver Slugger awards in a row from 1993 to 2002, but his penultimate season with the Dodgers in 1997 probably was his best. He hit .362/.431/.638 while launching 40 homers, driving in 124 runs and establishing the single-season record for catchers with a 1.070 OPS. He hit a record 396 home runs as a catcher and 427 overall.
43. Dennis Eckersley (3) • RHP
Year: 1972. Round: 3. Team: Indians. Source: Washington Union HS, Fremont, Calif.
Hall of Fame: 2004 (first ballot, 83.2 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1990 Athletics.
Eckersley won 151 games as a starter, but he’s in the Hall of Fame primarily for the second half of his career, which he spent as a dominant closer who saved 387 games. In 1990 he set the all-time reliever record with 0.49 walks per nine innings as well as records for ERA (0.61) and WHIP (0.61) that only recently have been bettered.**
44. Roy Halladay (2) • RHP
Year: 1995. Round: 1 (17). Team: Blue Jays. Source: West HS, Arvada, Colo.
Signature Season: 2010 Phillies.
The best pitcher in baseball for from 2006 to 2011, Halladay finished no lower than fifth in Cy Young balloting in any of those six seasons. He nailed down his second career trophy in 2010 when led the NL with 21 wins, 251 innings and a 7.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He ranks 19th all-time with a 3.58 SO/BB ratio, and 10th since the dawn of the Expansion Era.
45. Mark McGwire (3) • 1B
Year: 1984. Round: 1 (10). Team: Athletics. Source: Southern California.
Signature Season: 1998 Cardinals.
McGwire established a rookie record with 49 home runs in 1987, and he topped 50 home runs in four different seasons (which only he, Babe Ruth and Sammy Sosa can say), including a short-lived record of 70 bombs in 1998. One of the finest pure sluggers ever, McGwire ranks seventh all-time in slugging (.588) and 10th in both home runs (583) and OPS (.982).
46. Gary Sheffield (3) • RF
Year: 1986. Round: 1 (6). Team: Brewers. Source: Hillsborough HS, Tampa.
Signature Season: 2003 Braves.
Sheffield had many great offensive seasons of similar quality, but he set all sorts of personal benchmarks at age 34 in 2003, including a .330 average, 37 doubles, 132 RBIs and 126 runs scored. One of the most feared hitters of his era, Sheffield ranks inside the top 30 all-time with 509 home runs (25th), 1,676 RBIs (26th) and 1,475 walks (21st).
47. Carlos Beltran (1) • CF
Year: 1995. Round: 2. Team: Royals. Source: Callejo HS, Manati, P.R.
Signature Season: 2006 Mets.
Beltran established career highs with 41 homers, 116 RBIs and a .594 slugging percentage in 2006, but in the bigger picture, the five-tool talent compiled more 20 homer-20 steal seasons (seven) than any center fielder in history, and his 1.128 OPS in the postseason is the highest ever for any batter with at least 200 plate appearances.
48. Lou Whitaker (1) • 2B
Year: 1975. Round: 5. Team: Tigers. Source: Martinsville (Va.) HS.
Signature Season: 1983 Tigers.
Whitaker hit a career-best .320 in 1983 and chipped in with 40 doubles, 67 walks, 17 steals and 94 runs scored in the first of five straight all-star seasons. One of the smoothest and most durable second basemen ever, he ranks fourth in games (2,308), sixth in assists (6,653) and fourth in double plays (1,527) all-time at the position.
49. Kevin Brown (2) • RHP
Year: 1986. Round: 1 (4). Team: Rangers. Source: Georgia Tech.
Signature Season: 1998 Padres.
Only Pedro Martinez had a lower ERA than Brown (2.51) from 1996-2000—the absolute peak of the Steroids Era—and he helped pitch the 1997 Marlins and 1998 Padres to the World Series. In the latter season, he collected a career-high 257 strikeouts while allowing his lowest home run rate (eight in 257 innings) for the best entry in Padres franchise history.
50. Kirby Puckett (5) • CF
Year: 1982 (January regular). Round: 1. Team: Twins. Source: Triton (Ill.) JC.
Hall of Fame: 2001 (first ballot, 82.1 percent of vote).
Signature Season: 1987 Twins.
Puckett sandwiched his loudest offensive years around the Twins’ surprise title run in 1987—establishing career highs with 31 homers in '86 and 234 hits in '88—but he still hit .332/.367/.534 with 28 homers in '87, his second of three straight .900 OPS seasons. He then went 10-for-31 (.357) with two walks, five runs and only one strikeout in the World Series.
* Here we count Hall of Fame righthanders Tom Seaver and Bruce Sutter as products of the draft process, even though they did not sign with the teams that drafted them. Drafted twice out of Southern California, Seaver had his selection by the Braves in the 1966 January draft (secondary phase) voided, and the Mets subsequently won his signing rights in a three-team lottery. As to Sutter, he did not sign with the Washington Senators as a 21st-round pick out of high school in 1970, but he did sign with the Cubs the following September as a nondrafted free agent after one year at Old Dominion.
** Righthander Fernando Rodney posted a 0.60 ERA for the 2012 Rays, and Koji Uehara compiled a 0.57 WHIP for the 2013 Red Sox.