Number one overall picks are supposed to be THE guy when it comes to being a part of an MLB franchise. They are supposed to come up through the Minor League systems quickly and then be able to turn the fortunes of a franchise around. One example that comes to mind is Bryce Harper. Harper turned the Nationals from lovable losers to a winning franchise that was making the postseason in just about every season that Harper has been a part of. Of course, the big question in D.C. is will Bryce stay or will Bryce go? Another example to look at is Mike Trout. Trout has been a force for the Los Angeles of Anaheim ever since he stepped foot in the clubhouse. But what happened to those other teams that had the opportunity to draft number one overall, but didn't get a Bryce Harper or a Mike Trout?
It happens all of the time in sports. Players get drafted higher than they really should, but then end up providing underwhelming performances for their teams that drafted them. In the MLB, it really hurts to miss on a draft pick, especially if you waste time trying to groom them up to be one of the cornerstone franchise players. So who exactly are these guys that we are talking about that shouldn't have had the privilege of being drafted first overall? Let's get right into it! Let's take a look at 12 poor MLB first overall picks and who should've been taken instead.
24 Poor Pick: Bryan Bullington - Pittsburgh Pirates (2002)
Bryan Bullington was a big-time prospect coming into the 2002 MLB draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates were on the clock at number one overall and needed somebody that would be able to help get their franchise in the right direction. The Pirates took Bullington, but some feel like it was a "safe choice" sort of pick as opposed to picking the best overall player in that draft class. There were a lot of other solid draft picks that could have been taken, as Bullington ended his MLB career going 1-9 with a 5.62 ERA. He had a little bit better luck in the NPB, but Bullington was still a very bad pick.
23 Should've Drafted: Zach Greinke
The Pittsburgh Pirates should have really used their number one overall pick on Zach Greinke. Greinke has proven so far in his time in the MLB that he can handle pitching in different markets, no matter how big or small. Greinke is a five-time All-Star and also won the AL Cy Young Award back in 2009. He also has been the MLB ERA leader twice and a five-time Gold Glove award winner. The bottom line is that the Pirates got it wrong when they didn't go with Zach Greinke in the 2002 draft. Think what could have been if Zach Greinke became a Pittsburgh Pirate!
22 Poor Pick: Tim Beckham - Tampa Bay Rays (2008)
Tim Beckham was a highly talented infielder that had the Tampa Bay Rays' eyes glued all over him. Eventually, the inevitable happened and the Rays ended up taking Beckham number one overall in 2008. The Rays thought they had a winner with Beckham, but he is no longer with the team and he did not do anything significantly good during his time with the Rays. With the Rays and Orioles, Tim Beckham has a .252 average with 48 home runs and 151 RBIs. There were a lot of other prospects that the Tampa Bay Rays could have potentially selected in order to bring their franchise to a more competitive state.
21 Should've Drafted: Buster Posey
In that same draft class, there was a catcher that went fifth overall to the San Francisco Giants. That particular catcher's name just happened to be Buster Posey. Posey has made a name for himself by being a big part of the San Francisco Giants winning three World Series titles in a five-year span. Besides winning the World Series three times, Buster Posey has also been a six-time All-Star, an NL MVP in 2012, the Rookie of the Year in 2010, and a four-time Silver Slugger award winner. It is safe to say that the Rays should have taken their chances on Buster Posey.
20 Poor Pick: Pat Burrell - Philadelphia Phillies (1998)
Pat Burrell was part of the reason for the Philadelphia Phillies being successful and winning the World Series in 2008. Before that all happened, however, Burrell was selected first overall by the Phillies in 1998 MLB draft. The move seemed like a good one for both sides and the Phillies were confident Burrell could be a huge part of the Phillies future. It's not that Burrell was a bad player. It is just that Burrell was not a superstar for the Phillies like they probably wanted. In his MLB career, Burrell hit .253 with 292 career home runs and 976 RBIs. The Phillies could have done better with this particular MLB draft.
19 Should've Drafted: Mark Mulder
This was one of those drafts that didn't have that superstar caliber talent. When the Athletics were very good, they had their three-headed monster in the rotation with Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder. Mulder was the big left-handed pitcher that didn't have quite the curveball that Barry Zito threw. Regardless, Mulder finished his career a two-time All-Star along with a career record of 103-60 with a 4.18 ERA. In the end, the A's got exactly what they needed during Mulder's peak seasons. The Philadelphia Phillies could have had a pitcher that could have been a real difference maker.
18 Poor Pick: Brien Taylor - New York Yankees (1991)
Coming out of his home state of North Carolina, Brien Taylor ended up being the number one overall selection by the New York Yankees. The Yankees figured that Taylor could add to the team that would eventually be the AL team of the 1990s. Unfortunately, due to injury, Taylor was never as effective as he dreamed he would be while putting on the pinstripes. He never made it above the Double-A level and sadly had to retire sooner than he would have liked. What is worse for the Yankees is they could have had somebody much better that ended up playing for their rivals, the Boston Red Sox.
17 Should've Drafted: Manny Ramirez
One of the greatest right-handed hitters to arguably suit up in a baseball uniform was Manny Ramirez. Ramirez did most of his damage in the early part of his career with the Cleveland Indians and then when he was hitting his full stride with the Boston Red Sox. Manny's numbers truly speak for themselves. He was a 12-time All-Star, a two time World Series champion, a World Series MVP when the Red Sox ended their World Series title drought in 2004, along with many other awards. Manny could have been deadly as a New York Yankee and taken full advantage of Yankee Stadium.
16 Poor Pick: Matt Anderson - Detroit Tigers (1997)
What was surprising about the Detroit Tigers' number one overall pick in 1997 is that they took the prospect that wasn't even ranked the number one overall prospect by Baseball America. He was the 24th overall prospect in that class, but still made a big enough impression on the Tigers that they wanted to draft him number one overall. Anderson wasn't bad, but he wasn't the transcendent pitcher that the Tigers had hoped for. In seven seasons, he went 15-7 with a 5.19 ERA and 224 career strikeouts. The Tigers really whiffed on this pick and could have had a big bat in their lineup instead of Matt Anderson.
15 Should've Drafted: Troy Glaus
The Los Angeles Angels were able to capitalize on the mistake of the Tigers by selecting Troy Glaus out of UCLA at third overall and watching him grow in front of their very eyes. Glaus was a big part of the Angels' 2002 World Series title team while accomplishing a lot on his own as well. Glaus was a four-time All-Star, a World Series champion as we mentioned before, along with being a two-time Silver Slugger award winner. Glaus had some great years with the Angels and he could have been doing that for the Detroit Tigers too, had they picked him first overall.
14 Poor Pick: Brady Aiken - Houston Astros (2014)
Brady Aiken was the first overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft by the Houston Astros. The Astros thought they hit the jackpot with Aiken, considering he was a hard throwing left-handed starting pitcher who could solidify a rotation. The only problem was that Aiken did not sign with the Astros. He went to IMG Academies in Florida to post-grad for a year and then was taken by the Indians 17th overall in 2015. The Astros missed out big on Brady Aiken with him not signing. The Astros could have even had a right-handed pitcher that turned out to be very dominant.
13 Should've Drafted: Aaron Nola
In that same draft, the Philadelphia Phillies took right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola. Nola has certainly been worth the advertisement as he was very dominant in 2018. He was an NL All-Star and was also in the running for the Cy Young Award. He is 41-28 in his career so far with a 3.35 ERA. Nola was special coming out of LSU and the Phillies knew it. They just need a few more pieces to put it together. Now, it is paying dividends as the future looks very bright for the Phillies with Nola leading at the top of the pitching rotation.
12 Poor Pick: Phil Nevin - San Diego Padres (1992)
The Houston Astros took infielder Phil Nevin out of Cal. State Fullerton with the first pick in the 1992 MLB draft. Nevin did not last long in Houston as he was gone after one season and caught on to a few other MLB teams, including the San Diego Padres. The Padres years were some of the best years of Nevin's career, as he was an All-Star for them in 2001. He is now in the coaching business, recently being a base coach for the New York Yankees. Nevin hit .270 with 208 home runs and 743 RBIs before he hung up his cleats for good. The Astros could have selected better.
11 Should've Drafted: Derek Jeter
Imagine if the Astros could have a time machine and go back and select Derek Jeter? Jeter was a part of the Michigan baseball team before being selected by the Yankees in the same draft that the Astros selected Nevin in. Look at the stats with Derek Jeter and the Astros front office is probably laughing at the fact that they could have had him in their organization. Jeter was a 14-time All-Star and a five-time World Series champion. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1996 and also won a Gold Glove five times. It's safe to say Jeter should have been the number one overall pick in the 1992 MLB draft.
10 Poor Pick: Paul Wilson - New York Mets (1994)
The New York Mets thought they had the next best pitcher coming out of Florida State University in Paul Wilson. Wilson was highly talented and the Mets thought they could draft him and team him up with other prospects to create a rotation of the future. It did not pan out that way, as Wilson was 5-12 in his first season with the Mets, as well as finishing 40-58 lifetime with a 4.86 ERA. He spent time with the Mets, Rays, and Reds before he was finished with his MLB career. The New York Mets messed that pick up and could have had a much better middle infielder with the number one selection.
9 Should've Drafted: Nomar Garciaparra
A little later on at 12th overall, the Boston Red Sox ended up selecting a shortstop by the name of Nomar Garciaparra in the 1994 draft. Nomar was a fan favorite with the Red Sox and he put up numbers to make the fans love him even more. He was a six-time All-Star and also won the 1997 Rookie of the Year award. He was a two-time batting champion and the Silver Slugger award winner in 1997. He also was the NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2006. Nomar had quite the career and could have had great success in New York.
8 Poor Pick: Dansby Swanson - Arizona Diamondbacks (2015)
The Arizona Diamondbacks had the first overall selection in the 2015 MLB draft. They ended up taking Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson. Swanson was soon after traded to the Atlanta Braves. Although the Braves surprised people in 2018 by winning the NL East and making the playoffs, Swanson was not a huge part of that. There was a point in the season where he was demoted and is known more for his glove than his bat. He is hitting .244 in his career with 23 home runs and 127 RBIs. Swanson still has time to go, but it doesn't look great. Imagine if they drafted Alex Bregman?
7 Should've Drafted: Alex Bregman
Alex Bregman is one of the many reasons that the Houston Astros went on to win the World Series in 2017. He was an All-Star in 2018 and found himself to be one of the top players the Astros had in 2018, even though he was competing with guys like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and others. Bregman has hit .282 at the big league level along with 58 home runs and 208 RBIs. Bregman was taken second overall, but could have and should have easily been the number one pick. The Diamondbacks would have had somebody to help out Paul Goldschmidt, while he was with the organization.
6 Poor Pick: Mark Appel - Houston Astros (2013)
The Houston Astros had the number one pick in the 2013 draft, trying to get all of their young pieces together for a run in a few years. One of the pieces they thought would help was Mark Appel. Appel was a relief pitcher that caught the attention of the Astros. But, he didn't pan out as the Astros had hoped. He was a victim of injuries hurting him a lot and his career ended at the young age of 26. The Astros have had bad luck with some of their draft picks. Imagine if they selected a certain third baseman that plays for the Chicago Cubs?
5 Should've Drafted: Kris Bryant
The Chicago Cubs had the second pick in that draft and selected University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant. Bryant has certainly had fun with the Cubs since he joined. He helped them reverse a 108-year curse while being an NL All-Star twice and winning the MVP in the National League in 2016. He was also the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015, so the Cubs knew they had someone special. The Cubs are very fortunate that Bryant was around at two for the taking. He has hit .285 on his career with 107 home runs and 325 RBIs.
4 Poor Pick: Luke Hochevar - Kansas City Royals (2006)
In 2006, the Kansas City Royals decided to bolster up their pitching staff by taking Luke Hochevar, first overall. He had two different stints with the Royals and the second stint ended up resulting in a World Series title. Hochevar himself however did not have the best numbers in the world. He was 40-65 with a 4.98 ERA, which is not necessarily the best ERA to see on a pitcher, especially a relief pitcher. The Royals had quite the bullpen for themselves to help them win the 2015 World Series. But they could have had one of the best left-handed starters in baseball if they re-drafted.
3 Should've Drafted: Clayton Kershaw
The Royals REALLY missed the boat on this one as they could have had Clayton Kershaw be the ace of their staff. Kershaw has made a name for himself in the MLB with his funky wind-up, overpowering fastball and wipeout curveball. Kershaw has won three Cy Young awards as well as the NL MVP and is a seven-time All-Star. Kershaw has had his postseason woes, which continued to haunt him this past October. The bottom line is that if the Kansas City Royals were smart enough, they could have had Clayton Kershaw be their ace and maybe help them stay dominant longer than they ended up being in reality.
2 Poor Pick: Matt Bush - San Diego Padres (2004)
The San Diego Padres had a chance in the 2004 MLB draft to select a player that was going to be somebody that stuck around the Padres for life. They had that once with Tony Gwynn and were hoping to find somebody else similar to that. They ended up selecting Matt Bush number one overall, but he wasn't even their first choice. Bush was supposedly the third prospect that the Padres supposedly wanted, with Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver at the top of their respective list. If the Padres wanted a solid starting pitcher, they should have taken a look at a guy named Justin Verlander.
1 Should've Drafted: Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander has been, without a doubt, one of the most dominant right-handed pitchers in the last decade. He spent many years with the Tigers being the ace of the rotation, along with guys like Max Scherzer helping him out. Now, they are separated and Verlander has been with the Astros through their World Series title and ALCS defeat at the hands of the Red Sox in 2018. Verlander is a seven-time All-Star and also won the AL League Cy Young and MVP awards in 2011. Justin Verlander would have looked very good in a San Diego Padres uniform.