Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking at Previous #1 Overall Picks

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 04: Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Two of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 4, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 04: Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Two of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 4, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – 1993: Third baseman Jeff King #7 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fields a ball during a Major League Baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium in 1993 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – 1993: Third baseman Jeff King #7 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fields a ball during a Major League Baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium in 1993 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have had the number one overall pick four different times. With them having the number one overall pick in this summer’s draft let’s take a look at their former number one overall picks.

The Pittsburgh Pirates finished the 2020 MLB season with just 19 wins. This made them the worst team in baseball in the shortened 60-game season. With this performance, if you wish to call it that, they clinched the number one overall pick in this summer’s MLB Draft.

This is far from the first time they’ve gotten the #1 overall pick. It will be the 5th time in the franchise’s history since the start of the MLB amateur draft back in 1965. The number one overall pick can mean you can have an outstanding draft class ahead of you that can significantly boost your team’s future, or waste a potentially franchise-changing opportunity. So let’s go back through the team’s history and look at all the drafts in where they got the #1 pick, starting with their very first time in 1986.

1986

After finishing the 1985 season 57-104 the Pittsburgh Pirates received the top overall pick in the 1986 draft. They used this pick to draft infielder Jeff King. King would end up playing 8 seasons with the Bucs, but never fully reached his lofty number one overall selection status.

Overall, he was roughly a league-average batter hitting .258/.320/.417 with 99 home runs, a .325 wOBA, 97 wRC+ and 98 OPS+. King played a little bit of everywhere in the infield, mainly seeing time at the infield corners, but also time at second base and a few games at shortstop sprinkled in between.

Following the 1995 season the Pittsburgh Pirates traded the infielder to the Kansas City Royals along with Al-Star shortstop Jay Bell for three different Jeffs (Wallace, Martin, Granger) and Joe Randa.

Randa ended up being the most productive and was pretty decent for the Bucs. He had a .817 OPS, .359 wOBA, 113 wRC+ and 3.7 fWAR in 1997. But 1997 would end up being the only year he was in Pittsburgh for one year before being selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the expansion draft.

King played out his last few seasons with the Royals in 1997-1999 and put together a nice 11-yea career. But he wasn’t the most valuable player selected in that draft. That would belong to pitcher Rick Reed.

Reed was the Bucs’ 26th round selection. Reed didn’t play much in the early stage of his career, pitching just 266.1 innings through his first 8 seasons in the bigs. 124.2 of these innings came in a Bucs’ uniform. But he had a late-career breakout. From 1997 to 2002, Reed pitched to the tune of a very solid 3.77 ERA, 4.18 FIP and 1.18 WHIP in 1144.1 innings. Reed was best at limiting walks with a walk rate of just 4.2%. He made two all-star game appearances in these 6 seasons, that being in1998 and 2001, and compiled a career 19.3 fWAR.

Overall, eight players from their 1986 draft made it to the majors. However, nobody else of real note came from this draft. Outfielder Tom Goodwin played 14 years in the bigs and infielder Mike Mordecai didn’t sign with the Bucs but was drafted again in 1989 by the Atlanta Braves. He ended up playing 12 years in the bigs but had a negative fWAR.

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