Call me a curmudgeon, but I really hate the NFL Draft. Captain Hair-Do aside, it is a slog of a television event that really could be done in a matter of hours rather than days. Because football has become America's most popular sport these days, Bud Selig thinks he has to mimic the NFL by broadcasting the draft in prime time, starting at 6pm eastern on June 9. Rather than getting through several rounds on day one of the draft, only three rounds will be drafted, and then the draft will resume the next day at noon. All told, it is going to take three days to get through 50 rounds.
Thankfully, the draft is going to be broadcast on the MLB Network rather than ESPN, so we're spared of Steve Phillips and Bermanisms. While I'm happy that televised drafts mean more exposure, I miss the old days when the first round was blitzed through within a half-hour, with simply names being called monotonously through a speaker phone at a feverish pace.
Now that I got my Andy Rooney moment out of the way, I thought it might be fun to do a little retrospect of the first rounds of various drafts. This isn't deep draft research, there is plenty of that out there already to read up on.
We'll start with 1994, which is bustier than a cabaret show.
Charted below are all of the first rounders and their total WAR compiled for each player before they become eligible for free agency. A players' names that are italicized are those that did not play a single game in the majors.
Nomar and his "No-mah!" days aside, this is a pretty "ouch" group. Varitek and Konerko later became all-stars, but for other teams than they were originally drafted. Paul Wilson and Ben Grieve were supposed to become superstars, instead Paul Wilson fell prey to his poor mechanics and later became a Kyle Farnsworth tackling dummy. Ben Grieve allegedly had no heart. Them washing out is like the equivalent of Matt Wieters and David Price both going bust. Bad times.
Josh Booty probably has the most interesting story out of this group, and it's worth telling. He was considered to be Peyton Manning's equal coming out of high school, but elected to take the big signing bonus and play baseball instead. After hitting .198/.256/.356 in the minors, including a record-setting 195 strikeout performance in 475 at-bats while in the Midwest League, Booty went back to football and quarterbacked at LSU. (Amazingly, Booty was on the post-season roster when the Marlins won the World Series). For the Bayou Bengals, Peyton Manning he was not, but he wasn't totally awful --- over two seasons he completed 49.3% of his passes for 3,951 yards and 24 TDs. Booty has been a third-string QB in the NFL for the Browns and Raiders, but never has taken a snap in the NFL.
Booty married one of "Barker's Beauties" from the Price is Right, a model who on the show dinged a prize car on Stage Door 3. Then there was also a DUI and taser incident involving Booty a year ago. His brother, John David, quarterbacked at USC and is now a backup for the Vikings. (Thank you, Wikipedia)
Sorting them out into groups ---
|Group||#||Total WAR||Avg. Per Player
||Avg. WAR per yr.|
|High School P||6||4.1||0.68||0.114|
|High School Hitters||10||20.7||2.07||0.345|
|Non-Nomar Col. H
Not all drafts classes are equal, and while first-rounders don't have as high rates of attrition as players drafted from other rounds, the attrition rates are still high. For this draft at least, there seems to be a lot more sad stories than usual. At least it boasts of one (former) super-star.
WAR data from the ever-resourceful BaseballProjection.com