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The Best First Overall MLB Draft Picks Ever

Updated October 13, 2018 1.2k votes 235 voters 3.7k views15 items

The MLB team with the worst record gets the first overall draft pick. You would think that would mean striking gold but history has shown otherwise. Since the MLB draft first started in 1965, there have been more busts than jackpots. In fact, Ken Griffey Jr. became just the first overall pick to be inducted into the Hall of Fame when he was enshrined in 2015. That means for every Chipper Jones, there is a Steve Chilcott, who was drafted first by the Mets in 1966, and never played a single game at the Major League level. However, there are still plenty of MLB picks that go on to have productive careers in the Bigs. Here are the best #1 baseball draft picks.

Although Griffey is the only player currently on this list in Cooperstown, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be others. Chipper Jones is certain to make the cut when he is eligible in 2018. And although Alex Rodriguez is statistically the best overall player on this list, baseball has yet to figure out what to do with players who are inextricably linked to performing enhancing drugs.

Guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Joe Mauer, and David Price may or may not finish their careers with the prestigious numbers needed to get into the Hall, but all three have had excellent careers, with plenty of time left to prove their mettle. There may be no player on this list of best first round draft picks with more raw talent than Darryl Strawberry, if not for his off the field issues, his solid career could have been one of the best ever.

There are a couple of guys on this list that are just getting their feet wet in the Majors but are already on the right road to Cooperstown. Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg are as good as any offensive player and pitcher currently in the game, and could lead the Washington Nationals all the way to the World Series. However, it takes more just talent to be labelled one of the best ever, they both need to find a way to avoid injury, and stay productive for at least another ten years.

Vote up for the players who you think are the best MLB draft picks.
  • Ken Griffey, Jr.
    Photo: Rennett Stowe / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
    Ken Griffey, Jr., AKA "the Kid," was drafted by the Seattle Mariners to play center field in 1987. He stayed with the Mariners for 13 seasons before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 2000. The 13-time All-Star played in the majors for 22 years and finished with 630 home runs, the 6th most in MLB history. Griffey was not just a prolific homer run hitter, he also won ten Gold Glove awards, along with the AL MVP in 1997. Griffey was voted in to Hall of Fame in 2016, the first year that he became eligible. He received 99.3% of the vote, the highest percentage in Hall of Fame history.
    • Position: Designated hitter, Outfielder, Left fielder
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Donora, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    • Bats: Left-handed
    • Teams: Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds
    Good pick?
  • Chipper Jones
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
    Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones was drafted as a short stop by the Atlanta Braves in 1990. In an era when very few guys stay with one team their entire career, Jones never wore anything other than a Braves jersey. The switch hitter had some injury issues as he approached 40, but still managed to win a batting title at the age of 36 in 2008 by hitting .364. The eight-time All-Star hit for both average and power, finishing his career with 468 home runs and a .303 lifetime batting average. In 1995, the year the Braves won the World Series, Jones finished second in the Rookie of the Year balloting. He should be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible in 2018.
    • Position: Outfielder, Left fielder, Third baseman
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: DeLand, Florida, United States of America
    • Bats: Ambidexterity
    • Teams: Atlanta Braves
    Good pick?

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  • Alex Rodriguez
    Photo: Bradley Park / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
    Alex Rodriguez, A. Rod, was drafted out of high school by the Seattle Mariners to play short stop in 1993. The 14-time All-Star played with the Mariners for 7 years before signing with the Texas Rangers, who traded A. Rod to the New York Yankees in 2004. The three-time American League MVP is signed with the Bombers through 2017. He was on the 2009 Yankee team that won the World Series. Rodriguez is part of the 3,000 hit club, 500 home run club, and also has two Gold Glove awards. A. Rod is the best statistical player on this entire list, however, his name is linked with illegal performance enhancing drugs and the Biogenesis scandal. It will be interesting to see how history treats Rodriguez.
    • Position: Shortstop, Third baseman
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Washington Heights, New York City, New York, United States of America
    • Bats: Right-handed
    • Teams: Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees
    Good pick?

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  • Bryce Harper
    Photo: Richard Martin / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    Bryce Harper was selected by the Washington Nationals to play the outfield in the 2010 draft. Harper has only been in the Majors for four years but has already appeared in three All-Star games. He won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2012, and was the unanimous selection for the NL MVP Award in 2015, at just 22 years old. Obviously, Harper still has a lot to prove, but if he can stay healthy and productive, he is on track for Cooperstown.
    • Position: Right fielder
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Bats: Left
    • Teams: Washington Nationals
    Good pick?

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