Teams place an enormous amount of pressure on a player by selecting him as the first overall pick in the MLB Draft. He’s expected to be a franchise changer, in many regards. Some thrive under the pressure, but many also falter.
2014 represents the 49th year that Major League Baseball has held the June First Year Player Draft. 49 years, 49 picks.
But who were the worst ones of the lot?
Naturally a number of these picks can immediately be ruled out. There simply hasn’t been enough time to properly evaluate them. Brady Aiken, for instance, has been a part of this group for less than 24 hours and hasn’t even signed a deal with the Houston Astros yet. An argument could be made that the team’s last two selections at that first selection – Carlos Correa and Mark Appel – haven’t had enough time yet to be properly evaluated. Just to be fair, anyone taken in the last five years should also likely be taken out of the mix – eliminating Gerrit Cole, Bryce Harper, and Stephen Strasburg from consideration.
First, some honorable (or dishonorable) mentions.
Al Chambers. 1979. Seattle Mariners.
Chambers saw time in just 57 games during his MLB career, spread across the 1983-1985 seasons. In 141 plate appearances he mustered to hit a mere .208/.326/.292 with a pair of home runs. He’d end up missing the entire 1986 season, spent 1987 in the minor leagues, and 1988 in the Mexican League before ultimately calling it a career.
Shawn Abner. 1984. New York Mets.
The Mets would trade Abner to the San Diego Padres before he could ever reach the Major Leagues and he’d debut with the Friars in the 1987 season. Over parts of the next six seasons he’d appear in 392 games, batting .227/.269/.323 in 902 plate appearances, while also seeing some time with the Angels and White Sox. He’d appear in 48 more games between 1993 and 1995 before hanging up his cleats for good.
Matt Anderson. 1998. Detroit Tigers.
Talk about being fast tracked. Anderson made his debut for the Tigers less than two months after being drafted and excelled in his first taste of the Majors. Things would steadily go downhill from there, however, and he’d finish his career with 257 appearances over parts of seven seasons. With a 5.19 ERA, 1.582 WHIP, and 5.5 BB/9 over 256.2 innings of work be wouldn’t necessarily appear to be the significant disappointment that he was, but expectations were high for the flamethrower before an injury ruined his career.