No club wins Rookie of the Year awards like the Dodgers do. The franchise has claimed the award named for Jackie Robinson twice as many times (18) as the next closest competitor (Yankees, with nine). It's a testament to their scouting, drafting and development, and their decision-making with first round draft picks in particular.
With the MLB Amateur Draft just around the corner, let's take a look at the five best Dodgers first round draft picks of all time.
1. Clayton Kershaw, 2006, seventh overall, Highland Park High School (TX).
This era's most dominant pitcher is the obvious first choice. An eight-time All-Star, three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 Most Valuable Player, Kershaw’s 2.44 career ERA and 1.008 WHIP are the lowest among starters in the live-ball era (minimum 1,000 innings). If we revisit the topic in a decade, perhaps we'll see his starting rotation mate Walker Buehler - one of three Los Angeles first round picks out of Vanderbilt since 2015 - join him on this list.
Notable Stats: career hits allowed per nine innings pitched of 6.78 is second-lowest in MLB history (Nolan Ryan ranks first, at 6.55 H/9).
[More from Paul Banks: Five Players Dodgers Might Take with 29th Pick in MLB Draft.]
2. Mike Scioscia, 1976, 19th overall, Springfield High School (PA).
Two-time World Series winner and perhaps the best overall National League catcher in the 1980s. He also made Mr. Burns' team of softball ringers on a 1992 episode of The Simpsons, an esteemed honor; especially for a Springfield native.
Notable Stats: only person in baseball history to spend his entire playing career with one team and entire managing career with another team, with 10+ years in both places.
3. Corey Seager, 2012, 12th overall, Northwest Cabarrus High School (NC).
"Like a rock," Seager has shown stability, providing at least a .270 batting average, a .330 on base percentage and .480 slugging in every full season of MLB service. He's won All-Star and Silver Slugger honors in two of those three seasons.
Notable Stats: 26 home runs in 2016 is the Dodgers single season record for a shortstop.
4. Bob Welch, 1977, 20th overall, Eastern Michigan University.
According to his autobiography, Welch struggled with alcoholism since age 16. He died at the tender age of 57 due to an accidental fall. He made the most of his time on Earth, winning three World Series titles (two as a player, one as a coach), a Cy Young Award and making two All-Star appearances.
Notable Stats: Welch’s 27 wins with Oakland in 1990 were the most since Steve Carlton in 1972 and marked the last time anyone has won 25 or more.
5. Chad Billingsley, 2003, 24th overall, Defiance High School.
Had a short but effective career, in which he posted a 17.2 WAR, 1.37 WHIP and 3.72 ERA, with six straight seasons of double digit wins in L.A.
Notable Stat: Ironically led the NL in wild pitches (14) during his lone All-Star season of 2009.
Honorable Mention: Rick Sutcliffe (NL Rookie of the Year with the Dodgers, Cy Young Award winner in 1984 with the Cubs, three All-Star appearances), Rick Rhoden (All-Star appearance, nine career homers, 75 RBIs), Paul Konerko (traded for Jeff Shaw, 1997 Rolaids Relief Award winner with the Reds), number retired by the White Sox.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TV, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Now and SB Nation.