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Standing of Pat: Pat Burrell's Place Among Top Draft Picks

"One of those, please."  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
"One of those, please." (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The late 1990s were a dark time for the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans. Which is to say, rather than watch the game, most of us just got blackout drunk and checked the box scores the next morning.

One of the good things that putrid baseball gets you is some sweet draft positioning. After blowing it in 1997 and selected J.D. Drew (boo) second overall, only to not sign him, the Phillies fouled the bed so badly in the 1997 season that they earned the first overall draft pick in the 1998 amateur draft.

Some years there is a consensus first overall pick. 1998 was one of those years. And that pick was Pat Burrell.

Burrell, the 1998 Golden Spikes Award winner at the University of Miami, would go on to have a productive Major League career, winning a World Series with the Phillies in 2008, and the Giants in 2010, but there will always be talk that he failed to live up to his potential as a first overall pick. But did he?

Year Tm Pos WAR Type Drafted Out of
1993 Mariners Alex Rodriguez (minors) SS 104.6 HS Westminster Christian (Miami, FL)
1990 Braves Chipper Jones (minors) SS 82.7 HS Bolles HS (Jacksonville, FL)
1987 Mariners Ken Griffey (minors) OF 78.6 HS Moeller HS (Cincinnati, OH)
1980 Mets Darryl Strawberry (minors) OF 42.9 HS Crenshaw HS (Los Angeles, CA)
2001 Twins Joe Mauer (minors) C 40.3 HS Cretin HS (St. Paul, MN)
1977 White Sox Harold Baines (minors) 1B 37.0 HS St. Michael's HS (Easton, MD)
1985 Brewers B.J. Surhoff (minors) SS 34.4 4Yr University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)
1965 Athletics Rick Monday (minors) OF 32.7 4Yr Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
1988 Padres Andy Benes (minors) RHP 29.6 4Yr University of Evansville (Evansville, IN)
2000 Marlins Adrian Gonzalez (minors) 1B 28.2 HS Eastlake HS (Chula Vista, CA)
1995 Angels Darin Erstad (minors) OF 27.8 4Yr University of Nebraska at Lincoln (Lincoln, NE)
1981 Mariners Mike Moore (minors) RHP 24.9 4Yr Oral Roberts University (Tulsa, OK)
1983 Twins Tim Belcher (minors) RHP 24.6 4Yr Mount Vernon Nazarene University (Mount Vernon, OH)
1976 Astros Floyd Bannister (minors) LHP 24.1 4Yr Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
1978 Braves Bob Horner (minors) 3B 21.0 4Yr Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
1999 Devil Rays Josh Hamilton (minors) OF 20.2 HS Athens Drive HS (Raleigh, NC)
1989 Orioles Ben McDonald (minors) RHP 19.8 4Yr Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA)
1998 Phillies Pat Burrell (minors) 3B 18.7 4Yr University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL)
1969 Senators Jeff Burroughs (minors) OF 17.2 HS Woodrow Wilson HS (Long Beach, CA)
1992 Astros Phil Nevin (minors) 3B 15.9 4Yr California State University Fullerton (Fullerton, CA)
1986 Pirates Jeff King (minors) SS 14.7 4Yr University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR)
2005 Diamondbacks Justin Upton (minors) SS 11.5 HS Great Bridge HS (Chesapeake, VA)
1996 Pirates Kris Benson (minors) RHP 11.0 4Yr Clemson University (Clemson, SC)
2007 Devil Rays David Price (minors) LHP 10.4 4Yr Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
1982 Cubs Shawon Dunston (minors) SS 10.0 HS Thomas Jefferson HS (Brooklyn, NY)
1967 Yankees Ron Blomberg (minors) 1B 8.7 HS Druid Hills HS (Decatur, GA)
1970 Padres Mike Ivie (minors) C 7.2 HS Walker HS (Decatur, GA)
1974 Padres Bill Almon (minors) SS 2.7 4Yr Brown University (Providence, RI)
2009 Nationals Stephen Strasburg (minors) RHP 2.1 4Yr San Diego State University (San Diego, CA)
1968 Mets Tim Foli (minors) SS 1.2 HS Notre Dame HS (Sherman Oaks, CA)
2006 Royals Luke Hochevar (minors) RHP 1.1
1994 Mets Paul Wilson (minors) RHP 0.5 4Yr Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
1973 Rangers David Clyde (minors) LHP 0.4 HS Westchester HS (Houston, TX)
2003 Devil Rays Delmon Young (minors) OF -0.2 HS Adolfo Camarillo HS (Camarillo, CA)
2002 Pirates Bryan Bullington (minors) RHP -0.4 4Yr Ball State University (Muncie, IN)
1979 Mariners Al Chambers (minors) OF -0.7 HS John Harris HS (Harrisburg, PA)
1972 Padres Dave Roberts (minors) 3B -0.7 4Yr University of Oregon (Eugene, OR)
1984 Mets Shawn Abner (minors) OF -1.3 HS Mechanicsburg Area HS (Mechanicsburg, PA)
1997 Tigers Matt Anderson (minors) RHP -1.4 4Yr Rice University (Houston, TX)
1975 Angels Danny Goodwin (minors) C -1.4 4Yr Southern University and A&M College (Baton Rouge, LA)
1971 White Sox Danny Goodwin (minors) C -1.4 HS Peoria Central HS (Peoria, IL)
2011 Pirates Gerrit Cole (minors) RHP 4Yr University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
2010 Nationals Bryce Harper (minors) OF JC College of Southern Nevada (Henderson, NV)
2008 Rays Tim Beckham (minors) SS HS Griffin HS (Griffin, GA)
2004 Padres Matt Bush (minors) SS HS Mission Bay HS (San Diego, CA)
1991 Yankees Brien Taylor (minors) LHP HS East Carteret HS (Beaufort, NC)
1966 Mets Steven Chilcott (minors) C HS Antelope Valley HS (Lancaster, CA)
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/17/2012.

There are all of the first overall amateur draft picks since the introduction of the June draft in 1965, ranked by order of rWAR. Bask in it. Can we really conclude anything?

There's obviously a "top tier" here -- Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, and Ken Griffey, Jr. -- three Hall of Fame talents with a pile of MVP awards between them.

Also: B.J. Surhoff had himself a pretty nice career, huh?

Burrell occupies a no-man's land between the productive regulars on the list and the washouts/disappointments. And if you think about it, Burrell's career was injury-shortened/plagued, and just a little disappointing. But he was no Steven Chilcott, Antelope Valley High School Class of 1966. Also incidentally, the alma mater of Frank Zappa and Don Vilet, aka Captain Beefheart. The more you know...

Maybe the important question to ask is whether the Phillies could have done better selecting someone else from that draft class. Who's been the best player from the 1998 draft? Here's the first round, ranked by rWAR.

Year OvPck Tm Pos WAR Type Drafted Out of
1998 20 Indians CC Sabathia (minors) LHP 49.8 HS Vallejo HS (Vallejo, CA)
1998 5 Cardinals J.D. Drew (minors) OF 45.9 4Yr Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
1998 35 White Sox *Aaron Rowand (minors) OF 20.2 4Yr California State University Fullerton (Fullerton, CA)
1998 1 Phillies Pat Burrell (minors) 3B 18.7 4Yr University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL)
1998 2 Athletics Mark Mulder (minors) LHP 16.3 4Yr Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
1998 7 Reds Austin Kearns (minors) OF 15.8 HS Lafayette HS (Lexington, KY)
1998 10 Rangers Carlos Pena (minors) 1B 15.2 4Yr Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
1998 43 Yankees *Mark Prior (minors) RHP 13.7 HS University HS (San Diego, CA)
1998 14 Tigers Jeff Weaver (minors) RHP 13.3 4Yr California State University Fresno (Fresno, CA)
1998 33 Expos *Brad Wilkerson (minors) OF 10.3 4Yr University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
1998 22 Mariners Matt Thornton (minors) LHP 9.4 4Yr Grand Valley State University (Allendale, MI)
1998 17 Astros via Rockies *Brad Lidge (minors) RHP 8.3 4Yr University of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN)
1998 12 Red Sox Adam Everett (minors) SS 7.9 4Yr University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC)
1998 8 Blue Jays Felipe Lopez (minors) SS 7.1 HS Lake Brantley HS (Altamonte Springs, FL)
1998 3 Cubs Corey Patterson (minors) OF 6.2 HS Harrison HS (Kennesaw, GA)
1998 16 White Sox Kip Wells (minors) RHP 6.2 4Yr Baylor University (Waco, TX)
1998 9 Padres Sean Burroughs (minors) 3B 1.1 HS Woodrow Wilson HS (Long Beach, CA)
1998 21 Mets Jason Tyner (minors) OF 0.1 4Yr Texas A&M University (College Station, TX)
1998 34 Tigers *Nate Cornejo (minors) RHP 0.1 HS Wellington HS (Wellington, KS)
1998 27 Marlins Chip Ambres (minors) OF -0.1 HS West Brook HS (Beaumont, TX)
1998 28 Rockies via Braves *Matt Roney (minors) RHP -0.1 HS Edmond North HS (Edmond, OK)
1998 42 Phillies *Eric Valent (minors) OF -0.1 4Yr University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
1998 19 Giants via Astros *Tony Torcato (minors) 3B -0.2 HS Woodland HS (Woodland, CA)
1998 18 Angels Seth Etherton (minors) RHP -0.7 4Yr University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
1998 25 Giants Nate Bump (minors) RHP -0.7 4Yr Pennsylvania State University (State College, PA)
1998 32 Cardinals *Ben Diggins (minors) 1B -0.8 HS Bradshaw Mountain HS (Dewey, AZ)
1998 23 Dodgers Bubba Crosby (minors) OF -1.0 4Yr Rice University (Houston, TX)
1998 31 Royals *Chris George (minors) LHP -1.0 HS Klein HS (Spring, TX)
1998 4 Royals Jeff Austin (minors) RHP -1.1 4Yr Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)
1998 36 Rockies *Choo Freeman (minors) OF -1.5 HS Dallas Christian HS (Rowlett, TX)
1998 6 Twins Ryan Mills (minors) LHP 4Yr Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
1998 11 Expos Josh McKinley (minors) SS HS Malvern Prep HS (Malvern, PA)
1998 13 Brewers J.M. Gold (minors) RHP HS Toms River North HS (Toms River, NJ)
1998 15 Pirates Clint Johnston (minors) LHP 4Yr Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
1998 24 Yankees Andy Brown (minors) OF HS Richmond HS (Richmond, IN)
1998 26 Orioles Rick Elder (minors) OF HS Spayberry HS (Marietta, GA)
1998 29 Giants via Devil Rays *Arturo McDowell (minors) OF HS Forest Hill HS (West Palm Beach, FL)
1998 30 Royals via Diamondbacks *Matt Burch (minors) RHP 4Yr Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)
1998 37 Astros *Mike Nannini (minors) RHP HS Green Valley HS (Henderson, NV)
1998 38 Giants *Chris Jones (minors) LHP HS South Mecklenburg HS (Charlotte, NC)
1998 39 Orioles *Mamon Tucker (minors) OF HS S. F. Austin HS (Austin, TX)
1998 40 Rockies *Jeff Winchester (minors) C HS Archbishop Rummel HS (Metairie, LA)
1998 41 Giants *Jeff Urban (minors) LHP 4Yr Ball State University (Muncie, IN)
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/17/2012.

So there's what whole matter of CC Sabathia, then there's J.D. Drew. Sabathia was an unusual prospect due to his size, and there's no way they were drafting Drew again. Other notables in later rounds include Adam Dunn (2nd round, 50th - 24.0 rWAR); Matt Holliday (7th round, 210th - 30.9 rWAR); and the second highest rWAR total (46.3) from the 1998 draft comes from none other than Mark Buehrle, selected in the 38th round, 1139th overall.

The amateur draft is not a crapshoot per se, but with Buehrle more than doubling Burrell's rWAR total (and counting), it's obvious that draft remains somewhat unpredictable. Burrell was the clear "consensus" pick. And while Burrell didn't become the same caliber of player as Alex Rodriguez or Chipper Jones, he also wasn't Shawn Abner. He was still a productive contributor on two World Championship teams.

For your consideration: If you were Ken Griffey, Jr., would you trade your career for Pat Burrell's? Personal accolades, hardware, and a ticket to the Hall of Fame, or two World Series rings?