Round 7: Willie Randolph
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Willie Randolph as a shortstop in the seventh round of the 1972 draft. Randolph quickly progressed through the minor leagues, and by his age-20 season, he was in the Major Leagues. Randolph only appeared in 30 games with the Pirates in 1975 but was dealt the following offseason in a trade the Pirates probably regretted.
The Pittsburgh Pirates dealt Randolph to the New York Yankees, alongside the notorious Dock Ellis, and 1974 All-Star starting pitcher Ken Brett in exchange for Doc Medich from the New York Yankees. Unfortunately for the Pirates, Randolph became one of the best players in Yankee history.
Randolph would spend the next 13 seasons in pinstripes, batting .275/.374/.357 with a .337 wOBA and 110 wRC+. Randolph was an on-base machine who swiped over 250 bags with the Yankees. He was also a great fielder who racked up over 100 total zone runs at the keystone. His 51.4 fWAR in a Yankee uniform is the highest among all NYY second basemen, just beating out Tony Lazzeri, who had a career 48.4 fWAR with the Yankees.
At the end of his career, he spent a few years with the Los Angeles Dodgers and then bounced around in Oakland and Milwaukee. He ended his career in New York, but not in a Yankees uniform. Instead, his last games were spent with their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets.
Randolph is arguably a Hall Of Fame second baseman. He has a 65.9 bWAR, higher than Craig Biggio and on par with Roberto Alomar and Ryne Sandberg. He’s also the 6th best defensive 2B in terms of dWAR (20.2) and beats out 11 other Hall Of Fame keystone defenders in terms of bWAR. His career +115 total zone runs at 2B is the third-best in MLB history, trailing just Pirates’ legend Bill Mazeroski and eight-time Gold Glover Frank White. It’s truly a shame he fell off the ballot after just one year.