Thoughts on ESPN's Franchise Player Draft

May 27, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a home run in the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday, ESPN held its annual MLB Franchise Player Draft. The concept: 30 analysts pick, based on a predetermined draft order, the player that they would take -- over the next ten years -- around whom to build a franchise.

I loved this idea so much that we're going to try to take a stab at it over here at Beyond the Box Score. In the meantime, here are some quick thoughts on the ESPN analysts' selections...

Best picks:

I think the best picks came in the middle of the draft -- specifically from 12 to 16:

  • Tim Kurkjian grabbed Bryce Harper, who could have justifiably been the top pick in the draft. Frankly, I have no idea how Harper fell this low. The 19-year-old has a 130 wRC+ through his first 129 career plate appearances, and I think it's safe to say he's going to do some amazing things over the next decade.
  • Jim Caple selected Mike Trout with the 13th round pick. Again, I have no idea how Trout fell this low -- he, like Harper, could have justifiably been chosen first overall. Both Harper and Trout were taken later in this year's draft than in last year's draft, which is a bit odd because they've only raised their stock over the last year.
  • Christina Kahrl took Giancarlo Stanton at #14. Stanton, still just 22 years old, has a career OPS+ of 136 and is an above-average defender in right field -- another excellent pick.
  • Steve Berthiaume chose Brett Lawrie at #15. Lawrie, like the other great picks, is still quite young (22) but has already flashed signs of brilliance -- both with the bat and glove.
  • Lastly, Keith Law took Andrew McCutchen with the 16th pick. McCutchen is 25, so the next ten years would ideally constitute McCutchen's prime. It's hard not to like this selection, considering what McCutchen brings to the table with his strong up-the-middle power-speed combo. Plus, as a speedy player, McCutchen will presumably age well.

On the flip-side of things, these were some not-so-good choices...

  • Justin Verlander at #4 (Orel Hershiser). I mean, Verlander has been unbelievably dominant since the start of 2011, but he's a) a pitcher (which means he comes with a lot of risk), and b) he's already 29 years old. I could see the case for Verlander, but at #4? There were so many other excellent options remaining.
  • Starlin Castro at #9 (Aaron Boone). I don't dislike this pick all that much on its own, but again, guys like Trout, Harper, and Stanton were still on the board at the time. Castro's 22, and he's already established himself as a strong-hitting middle-infielder with speed; but his defense isn't great, his plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired, and I see his power as a bit overrated. (A .120 ISO really isn't all that impressive, especially considering that Castro hits for a high batting average.) But again, it wasn't the pick -- Castro at #9 is fairly reasonable -- so much as the fact that there were other better options available at the time.
  • Neftali Feliz at #22 (Enrique Rojas). Again, it's the fact that he's a pitcher. He hasn't turned 25 yet, and he's a very talented player, but he doesn't wow me enough to justify the inherent risk that comes with being a pitcher. Not to mention, he hasn't exactly dominated since converting to a starter (4.58 FIP).
  • Jeff Samardzija at #26 (Rick Sutcliffe). This is hands down the worst pick of the draft. Just a terrible, terrible selection. Samardzija is a 27-year-old pitcher with all of 15 career starts and a 101 ERA+ under his belt. You really want to go about building a franchise around that?

Anyway, I guess I'll put my money where my mouth is when we roll at the BtB version of this...

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