The names Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, Trent Richardson, and many others belong on a long list of NFL draft busts. And there is no doubting the disappointment of the careers of Greg Oden and Adam Morrison. But there is no selection more prone to a crapshoot than the 1st overall pick in the MLB Draft.
And last night, Monday May 8th when the Diamondbacks stepped up to the podium to announce SS Dansby Swanson they did their research and prayed that this year’s 1st overall pick wouldn’t make extremely long list of disappointing #1’s.
A list that includes Steve Chilcott, Al Chambers, and David Clyde. Never heard of these men? Well you’ve definitely heard of the men drafted after them. What makes these #1 picks worse is that by drafting Chilcott, Chambers, and Clyde #1 overall they were not only getting a bad player but passing on great ones. Chilcott went before Reggie Jackson, Chambers before Don Mattingly, and Clyde before Robin Yount and Dave Winfield.
And although it has been 50 years since 1965 when MLB teams started drafting players we will have to wait until 2016 for a #1 overall selection to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Ken Griffey Jr., the 1st player taken in 1987 is on a short list of All-Time greats taken at that vaunted #1 spot. A real short list.
There have only been 4 drafts in the past half-century where the #1 overall pick has gone on to have a Hall of Fame caliber career. Alex Rodriguez’s (1993) PED use has all but taken away any chance to make it in, so it looks like it is only Griffey (1987), and Chipper Jones (1991) headed to Cooperstown after being taken #1. And if former #1’s like Minnesota’s Joe Maurer (2001) and Detroit’s David Price (2007) can continue their excellent careers, it may indeed be possible that the #1 can be an established asset for teams.
Until then the #1 pick will be synonymous with disappointment. And for every Chipper Jones there is a Tim Belcher (1983), for every Maurer a Matt Anderson (1997). And the hopes of the Arizona Diamondbacks rest on the promise of Dansby Swanson, and the hope that he will be more Griffey than the last SS drafted #1 overall by an NL West team. As for that last SS….Matt Bush is a name never to be mentioned to San Diego Padres fans as his multiple felony arrests led to him playing a total of 0 games for the hometown Padres.
But why is it that the MLB #1 draft pick is such a crapshoot compared to the NFL draft’s 1st overall? Given that there have been fewer than 5 players taken #1 and on course to make the HOF in baseball over the first 50 years of the draft, and there have been 9 Hall of Famers and 25 others that made a Pro Bowl taken #1 in the NFL draft over the last 50 years, there is a huge difference in bust probability between the 2 sports (Baseball .920 and Football .320). Whatever the difference is, draft scouts and front office personnel for Arizona is hoping that they have found in Swanson.
And here is to hoping that their SS is more like #6 pick Derek Jeter than #1 pick Matt Bush.