The Rule 4 draft is as much an event as it is an opportunity, and as a result of this opportunity, optimism is widespread around baseball. The 49 years of data available allow a picture to be painted for what can be expected out of the draft.
While hope is held for landing the next Mike Trout and concern will always exist that a player may fail, numbers can be used to keep expectations in check and lead us to what is most likely to happen with each pick in the draft. Below is a look at what can be expected out of each pick in the first round of this year's draft as well as a peek into the best- and worst-case scenarios at each pick.
To determine the "typical" pick at each spot, I developed a profile based on the average WAR, height and weight for each pick slot. I then matched the player to the profile with career WAR holding the most weight.
Please note that this only covers the first round, which is just 27 picks this year, because the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles forfeited their first-round selections by signing free agents from others teams who had received qualifying offers. (The Toronto Blue Jays have two first-round picks.)
No. 1 overall (2014: Houston Astros)
Pat Burrell, 1998, 18.8 career WAR (college 3B, 6-foot-4, 235 pounds)
"Pat the Bat" averaged 18.7 at-bats per home run during his first three seasons in the majors, including a 2002 season when he belted 37 homers. However, his career never took off due to a lack of defensive ability and struggles to make consistent contact. College third basemen produce 11.8 WAR in their careers if they reach the majors, and Burrell was able to exceed that.
Best-case scenario: Alex Rodriguez's (1993) 116 career WAR is 31 wins better than the next best No. 1 overall pick (Chipper Jones, 1990, 85 WAR).
Worst-case scenario: Matt Bush (2004), Brien Taylor (1991 and Steve Chilcott (1966) are the only non-active No. 1 picks to never reach the majors. Danny Goodwin (1971) did not sign with the White Sox the first time he was drafted and produced minus-1.7 WAR in his career for the Angels, who took Goodwin No. 1 in 1975.
Upton has been the subject of much scrutiny in recent years, but he has had a productive career. He reached 250 steals this year at 29 years old and has hit 15 or more home runs four times. A 26.2 percent strikeout rate has prevented Upton from sustaining success over time. Upton is one of 27 shortstops drafted at 6-3 or taller to make the majors (only two such non-active shortstops have failed to reach the majors).
Best-case scenario: Reggie Jackson (1966) made a living out of tormenting pitchers in the postseason. In the regular season, Jackson produced 73.8 career WAR and finished in the top five in MVP voting four times.
Worst-case scenario: Mark Lewis (1988) was such a liability defensively that he produced minus-2.6 career WAR, theoretically costing his team more games than if he had not appeared in the majors at all.
No. 3 overall (Chicago White Sox)
Brian Anderson, 1993, 10.4 career WAR (college LHP, 6-1, 190 pounds)
Anderson's career got off to a rocky start as he couldn't find a regular place in a rotation through the first five years of his career as he was sent back and forth between the majors and minors. Eventually he settled into the Diamondbacks' rotation, where he was a member of the 2001 world championship team.
Best-case scenario: In a span of five years, the Milwaukee Brewers made the two best No. 3 picks in the history of the draft: Robin Yount (1973) and Paul Molitor (1977). In 1982, the duo led the Brewers to their only appearance in the World Series. Yount won two MVP awards and both players are enshrined in Cooperstown.
Worst-case scenario: Josh Vitters (2007) started as the No. 43 prospect on Baseball America's top prospects list and slipped every year after. He played in just 36 games in the majors and has an OPS+ of 7 and minus-1.3 WAR.
Floyd had a slow start to his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, but things changed when he was traded to the White Sox along with Gio Gonzalez for Freddy Garcia. Between the ages of 25 and 28, Floyd pitched 780 1/3 innings with a 4.08 ERA, compiling 13.8 WAR over that span. High school right-handers are among the riskiest picks as they fail 49 percent of the time, but Floyd has found success in the big leagues.
Best-case scenario: Barry Larkin (1985) was recently inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and serves as an analyst at ESPN. Larkin managed 70.2 WAR in his career and received nine Silver Slugger Awards. Larkin's career was capped by his 1995 season when he won the NL MVP, a gold glove and a silver slugger award.
Worst-case scenario: Alex Barrett (1965) played seven seasons in the minor leagues and never appeared in the majors. During his 563 games in the minors, he hit just .209 with only 20 home runs and 300 strikeouts.
Morrow could never quite remain healthy enough to put together a strong career in the majors. At the peak of his ability, he led the American League by striking out 10.2 batters per nine innings. Morrow's best start came on August 8, 2010 against the Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched a shutout while allowing just one hit and striking out 17 batters.
Best-case scenario: Dwight Gooden (1982) had an infamous battle with drug abuse that limited what his career could have been, but he still produced 53.2 career WAR, the most of any No. 5 overall pick. In his second season, following up rookie of the year honors in his first year, Gooden led the National League in ERA (1.53), wins (24) and strikeouts (268) on his way to the NL Cy Young award.
Worst-case scenario: Bill Bene (1988), not to be mistaken for Oakland A's GM Billy Beane (who was also a first-round selection), threw more than 500 innings in the minor leagues without ever appearing in majors. In those innings, he managed just a 5.45 ERA and walked 9.5 batters per nine innings.
No. 6 overall (Seattle Mariners)
Rocco Baldelli, 2000, 10.2 career WAR (high school OF, 6-4, 190 pound)
Baldelli's biggest achievement arguably came before he reached the majors, when he was considered the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. Baldelli never quite reached his potential due to injuries, but still managed to hit .302 over 92 games in 2006 and was a member of the 2008 Rays team that went worst-to-first and reached the World Series.
Best-case scenario: Barry Bonds (1985) is arguably the greatest player to ever play the game. He amassed 162.4 WAR in his career while hitting 762 home runs and stealing 514 bases. In an incredible stretch between 2001 and 2004, Bonds produced 43.4 WAR, hit 209 home runs and walked 755 times.
Worst-case scenario: Johnnie LeMaster (1973) was two times worse than any other No. 6 pick to reach the majors, with minus-5.4 WAR in his career. One of the amazing things about LeMaster is that he played 1,039 career games, and he likely would have struggled mightily to play that much in today's analytical world.
Kearns finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2002 as he reached the rare .300/.400/.500 slash line over 107 games. However, that would be Kearns' best season as he never reached any of those milestones again and was a subpar defender in the outfield.
Best-case scenario: The No. 7 pick has been very friendly, especially in recent years. Clayton Kershaw (2006), Troy Tulowitzki (2005), and Prince Fielder (2002) were all picked at the spot. However, the best player ever to be drafted at the spot is none other than The Big Hurt. Frank Thomas produced 73.7 WAR in his career and ranks 19th all-time in OBP at .419.
Worst-case scenario: Chris Smith (2001) pitched only 89 2/3 innings in his minor league career and never reached a level higher than Class A. Meanwhile, he posted a 6.12 ERA and walked 70 batters while striking out just 67.
No. 8 overall (Colorado Rockies)
Felipe Lopez, 1998, 7.6 career WAR (high school SS, 6-0, 205 pounds)
Lopez was a journeyman for most of his career, and he served as a utility infielder for a large portion of that time. While he frequently struggled to contribute value, he did have a 4.2 WAR season in 2005 that helped him win a silver slugger award and make the NL All-Star team.
Best-case scenario: Todd Helton (1995) produced almost 25 more WAR in his career than any other No. 8 pick. After serving as the backup quarterback during Peyton Manning's freshman season at the University of Tennessee, Helton became the most famous member of the Blake Street Bombers. As a college first baseman, Helton had every advantage as that player group produces an average of 17 WAR in their careers.
Worst-case scenario: Wade Townsend (2004, 2005) was twice the No. 8 pick in the draft, first by the Orioles and then by the Rays. Even though he was drafted this high twice, he never reached the majors and pitched just 22 1/3 innings at a level higher than Class A.
Francis was the second-earliest Canadian taken in the draft behind his fellow countryman Adam Loewen, who went No. 4 in the same draft. While Francis struggled his whole career to be anything more than a back-end starter, he outproduced Loewen by nearly 10 WAR. College lefties produce on an average just 5.2 WAR in their careers, but Francis nearly doubled that mark.
Best-case scenario: Kevin Appier (1987) reached 54.9 WAR in his career and led the American League in ERA (2.56) in 1993 while with Kansas City. Appier never won a Cy Young and appeared on only one All-Star team, but few pitchers have ever produced more WAR in their careers, and most of them are in the Hall of Fame.
Worst-case scenario: David Hibner (1977) failed to reach the famous Mendoza Line during his minor league career as he hit just .194 in 439 minor league games. As a high school shortstop, the odds were in his favor as shortstop is among the more frequent positions to appear in the majors among high school players (43 percent fail rate).
Maybin showed a lot of promise as a prospect, being ranked in Baseball America's top 10 prospects three times. That ranking never quite panned out, as Maybin has struggled at the plate with just a .370 career slugging percentage. Maybin, however, has been a plus defender at a premium position, which has helped him build his career value. He has gotten off to a good start with the Padres this season and is still just 27.
Best-case scenario: Mark McGwire (1984) joined Sammy Sosa in 1998 to help bring baseball fans back to parks after the 1994 player strike. McGwire broke Roger Maris' long-standing home run record in '98 by hitting 70 home runs. He went on to hit 583 homers in his career.
Worst-case scenario: Pat Rockett (1973) might be the worst player to appear in the majors as a first-round pick. Rockett produced minus-5.5 WAR in only 152 career games, which places him tied for 15th fewest career WAR. Rockett played 204 fewer games than any other player on the list.
No. 11 overall (Toronto Blue Jays)
Adam Eaton, 1996, 5.3 career WAR (high school RHP, 6-2, 190 pounds)
The No. 11 pick in the draft is well-known for being a "cursed" pick, and Eaton is a reflection of that. Eaton threw 1,178 2/3 innings with a 4.94 ERA and gave up nearly 10 hits per nine innings over his career. As a high school right-handed pitcher, Eaton produced just around the expected WAR (5.8) in his career.
Best-case scenario: Andrew McCutchen (2005) is already the most productive No. 11 pick in the history of the draft, despite playing just four full seasons. McCutchen has two seasons with seven WAR or more, has won an MVP, and has appeared on three All-Star teams.
Worst-case scenario: With a pick so famously bad (2.55 WAR per pick) it is hard to pick just one worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario in this instance may just be having the No. 11 pick in the draft.
No. 12 overall (Milwaukee Brewers)
Joe Saunders, 2002, 9.5 career WAR (college LHP, 6-3, 215 pounds)
Saunders has made a career out of being just good enough to stay in the majors. In his best season in 2008, he made the AL All-Star team with a 3.41 ERA while helping the Angels reach the 100-win plateau. Saunders' limiting factor was his inability to record strikeouts, as he posted K/9 rates of 5.0 or lower five times in his career.
Best-case scenario: Nomar Garciaparra (1994) has produced the most WAR of any No. 12 pick, but he is currently being chased by Jered Weaver (2004), who sits at 33.2 career WAR. Nomar won a rookie of the year award and Weaver has finished top five in AL Cy Young voting three times.
Worst-case scenario: Jay Roberts (1981) played in the minor leagues for just four seasons before ending his career. He never reached the majors and hit .187 with a .269 slugging percentage in 226 games.
Redman was effective in 2003 as a member of the world champion Florida Marlins, but that was about the extent of his success in the majors. Redman had a 4.85 ERA in more than 1,200 innings as a starter, and he struck out just 5.4 batters per nine innings. College left-handed pitchers produce the least value of any position at 5.2 WAR.
Best-case scenario: Manny Ramirez (1991) is one of the most controversial players to play in the past 25 years, but he also was one of the best with 69.2 WAR. Manny finished in the top 10 in MVP voting nine times, but he never won a MVP award.
Worst-case scenario: Noel Jenks (1969) and Doug Heinhold (1973) both failed to make an appearance in professional baseball. Jenks was drafted by the Red Sox, and Heinhold was drafted by the Yankees.
No. 14 overall (San Francisco Giants)
Tommy Greene, 1985, 7.1 career WAR (high school RHP, 6-5, 225 pounds)
Greene's career was short-lived, but he was productive when he pitched. In the two full seasons he had as a starter, he had earned run averages of 3.38 and 3.42 in 407 combined innings. Greene's career was constantly hampered by injuries, but he did start Game 4 of the 1993 World Series against the Blue Jays.
Best-case scenario: Derrek Lee (1993) was a member of the group that was traded in 1997 for Kevin Brown the season after the Marlins won their first World Series. Lee would go on to win a title with the Marlins in 2003 before being traded as a part of Florida's second major fire sale. Lee led the NL in hits (199), doubles (50), batting average (.335), slugging percentage (.662), total bases (393) and OPS (1.080 during his 2005 season with the Chicago Cubs).
Worst-case scenario: Richard McKinney (1968) tore up minor league baseball with an .844 OPS in 685 career games. However, he produced minus-2.5 career WAR in just 341 career games at the big-league level.
Drew's bat has never been good enough to rank him among the best shortstops in baseball, but his work as a defender has made him valuable throughout his career. With 4.8 defensive WAR, Drew's defense has been his calling card, and it was most prevalent on the 2013 world champion Boston Red Sox during their postseason run.
Best-case scenario: Chase Utley (2000) is among the most underrated players in the history of baseball. He has produced 59.1 WAR despite averaging just 108 games per season from 2010 to 2013. Utley has produced a staggering 17.1 defensive WAR in his career, including 3.5 during the 2008 season.
Worst-case scenario: Andrew Yount (1995) appeared in just 170 professional games and never reached the majors. He had two different stints where he was out of baseball for three or more years.
Wells was effective early on in his career as he posted a 3.43 ERA over 395 2/3 innings pitched between his 2002 and 2003 seasons. From 2004 through the end of his career, he would go on to produce a 5.28 ERA in 675 innings while leading the league in losses twice.
Best-case scenario: Lance Berkman (1997) became a member of the group in Houston known as The Killer Bees. Berkman produced 51.8 career WAR and appeared in the World Series twice. In 2005, he was part of the Astros team that got swept by the White Sox. In 2011, he was a member of the Cardinals team that made a miraculous Game 6 comeback and beat Texas in seven games.
Worst-case scenario: Hayden Simpson (2010) was not on the radar as a first-round pick until he was picked at No. 16 by the Chicago Cubs. Simpson had a 6.83 ERA in 168 2/3 innings in the minors, and he was out of professional baseball after just three years.
Lidge was one of many young arms who find their way into the bullpen at the major league level. Lidge was a dominant closer for a large portion of his career as he managed 225 career saves and had two full seasons with an ERA under 2.00. Lidge's most notable moment as a player was as the pitcher who recorded the final out for the Phillies in the 2008 World Series.
Best-case scenario: Two members of the 2009 Phillies' famous H2O rotation lead the way in career WAR among No. 17 overall picks. Cole Hamels produced 34.9 career WAR, but Roy Halladay beats him handily with 64.7 career WAR. Halladay won two Cy Young awards and was among the best pitchers after the turn of the century.
Worst-case scenario: Ted Cox (1973) finished his career with minus-1.5 WAR in 272 games in the majors, mostly because of an abysmal .622 OPS while playing corner infielder, corner outfielder and designated hitter.
Davis' career is still a work in progress, and he may never become what some might have thought he could be. Davis hit 58 home runs in his first 339 career games, but strikeouts prevented his career from taking off. After being known as a good defender in the minors, Davis has struggled to produce on the defensive end with just minus-1.7 defensive WAR in his career.
Best-case scenario: Willie Wilson (1974) is by far the best player taken at No. 18 overall. Wilson produced 46 career WAR, which is nearly 30 more WAR than the next-best player. Wilson led the American League in triples five times and once led the majors in hits with 230 in 1980.
Worst-case scenario: Josh Fields (2008) has spent parts of eight seasons in the minor leagues. When he has appeared in the majors, he's compiled a minus-1.0 WAR in 50 innings of work.
Bohanon's shining moment as a player came in 1998 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers from the New York Mets. He pitched 97 1/3 innings and recorded a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the trade. Outside of that season, Bohanon struggled mightily in the majors as he finished his career with a 5.19 ERA.
Best-case scenario: Bobby Grich (1967) produced 70.9 career WAR, but he was nearly doubled up in his career by none other than Roger Clemens. The Rocket (1983) produced 140.3 WAR in his career and won the Cy Young award seven times on his way to winning 354 games.
Worst-case scenario: Gene Hiser (1970) appeared in 206 games with the Chicago Cubs and had an OPS of .528. He could not make up for his lack of a bat with defense either as he posted a minus-0.5 career defensive WAR and a minus-1.9 WAR overall.
No. 20 overall (Tampa Bay Rays)
Eric Milton, 1996, 16.6 career WAR (college LHP, 6-3, 200 pounds)
Milton pitched most of his career as a league-average starter with an ERA+ of 94 over nearly 1,600 innings pitched. Milton pitched with good control, but failed to strike out hitters at a strong rate. Milton was able to appear in one All-Star Game in 2001 with Minnesota.
Best-case scenario: Mike Mussina (1990) is the leader of the pack among players taken with the No. 20 overall pick at 83 career WAR. Mussina won 270 career games and made the All-Star Game five times and finished in the top 10 in Cy Young award voting eight times.
Worst-case scenario: Tim Conroy (1978) produced just minus-2.5 WAR in his career in just less than 500 innings with the Cardinals during the 1980s. He lost 32 of his 50 career decisions as a pitcher.
At his best, Pennington was among the best defenders at his position in the majors. Pennington has three different seasons in his career with a defensive WAR of 1.8 or higher. While his bat never developed into anything, Pennington provided decent value in multiple seasons, reaching as many as 4.5 WAR in 2010 with the Athletics. Pennington is one of 41 first-round picks drafted at 5-10 or shorter to reach the majors.
Best-case scenario: Before he was an announcer for ESPN, Rick Sutcliffe (1974) was the most successful No. 21 overall pick in draft history. Sutcliffe is one of very few pitchers to win both a rookie of the year award and a Cy Young award in his career.
Worst-case scenario: Gary Thurman (1983) was a poor defensive player as he accumulated minus-2.2 defensive WAR in his career in just 424 games. Overall, he was a minus-2.7 WAR player.
No. 22 overall (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Matt Thornton, 1998, 12.0 career WAR (college LHP, 6-6, 235 pounds)
Thornton never attracted much attention behind Bobby Jenks in the White Sox's bullpen in the late 2000s, but for a good stretch of his career, he was among the best setup men in baseball. From 2008 to 2012, Thornton had an ERA+ of 150 over 325 innings pitched.
Best-case scenario: There is stiff competition for the best player drafted at No. 22 overall. Craig Biggio (1987) and Rafael Palmeiro (1985) produced 65.1 WAR and 71.6 WAR, respectively. Both hitters are members of the 3,000-hit club, and Palmeiro ended his career with 569 home runs while Biggio recorded 668 career doubles.
Worst-case scenario: Tony Moretto (1975) had just a .603 OPS in 336 career games in the minor leagues. Moretto managed to hit just seven home runs in his minor-league career.
Francouer is famous for his inability to produce offensively at times, but he actually produced three seasons of three or more WAR. Francouer had a cannon for an arm and recorded 121 career outfield assists. For those who like to criticize Francoeur, he is a success for even having made the majors at all as high school outfielders fail to reach the majors 54 percent of the time.
Best-case scenario: Jason Kendall (1992) is among the fastest catchers to play the position as he stole 189 bases in his career. Kendall was also a .288 career hitter and produced 13.2 career defensive WAR.
Worst-case scenario: Randy Stein (1971) failed as a starting pitcher and moved to the bullpen, where he was not very good. Stein had a 5.72 career ERA in 133 2/3 innings pitched and had a WAR of minus-2.4.
Bogusevic struggled to become much more than a role player, as he didn't earn a starting job as an outfielder until 2012 with Houston after converting from the mound. If not for historically bad teams in Houston, Bogusevic may not have gotten a chance in the majors. In his short time in the league, he had 22 steals in 299 career games.
Best-case scenario: Rondell White (1990) leads No. 24 picks in WAR among those taken in the first round. White made one All-Star team in 2003, and he was an above-average hitter for most of his career. White played 667 games with the Montreal Expos and hit .292.
Worst-case scenario: There have been three separate occasions where the No. 24 pick has failed to sign (1971, 1988 and 1997). Only eight players drafted at No. 24 overall have produced more than one career WAR.
Crosby was one of Billy Beane's first five first-round picks in the draft during the "Moneyball" era. Crosby won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2004 as he hit 22 home runs as a shortstop. However, Crosby went on to hit just 40 home runs the rest of his career over 585 games.
Best-case scenario: After watching 24 teams pick their players, the Angels made a selection with a compensation pick for losing Mark Teixeira to the New York Yankees. That player was Mike Trout (2009), who has produced 23.6 WAR so far in his career. Trout is on pace to produce more than 60 WAR in his first 1,000 career games.
Worst-case scenario: Scott Ruffcorn (1991) had an ERA of 8.57 in 70 1/3 innings pitched. This helped him to a -2.4 career WAR.
No. 26 overall (Boston Red Sox)
Jeremy Bonderman, 2001, 5.2 career WAR (high school RHP, 6-0, 210 pounds)
Bonderman was rated as the No. 20 prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2003 season, but he never panned out. Bonderman had just a 4.91 ERA in 1,231 career innings pitched. Bonderman was a rookie on the 2003 Tigers team that lost 119 games.
Best-case scenario: Dave Henderson (1977) was a late bloomer, but when he bloomed he was a good player. From 1988 to 1991, Henderson produced 20.7 WAR while he hit .275 and hit 84 home runs.
Worst-case scenario: Thomas Hartley (1984) played in just 162 games in the minor leagues with a .218 batting average and .276 slugging percentage. He was out of professional baseball by the age of 21.
Santos' career started as a hitter, but after failing to see his bat develop, he was transitioned to a pitcher by the White Sox. Santos was effective in his first two seasons as he struck out 11.6 batters per nine innings. Arm injuries have limited Santos' career, but he was effective when healthy.
Best-case scenario: Pete Harnisch (1987) had a three-year stretch with Houston where he posted a 3.12 ERA over 641 innings and won 37 games. After hitting a bumpy road in the middle of his career, he came back in the late 1990s as an effective starter with the Cincinnati Reds, and he ended his career with a 3.89 ERA.
Worst-case scenario: Jacob Shumate (1994) is among the worst first-round picks of all-time. He recorded a 7.09 ERA in 312 1/3 innings pitched in the minor leagues and never appeared higher than Double-A.