5 Greatest Number 1 Overall Picks in MLB Draft History

Paul Banks

As the American poet Cornell Haynes, better known as "Nelly," famously asked: "what does it take to be number one?" In the MLB Draft, it takes more talent and potential than everyone else in your class; at least in the eyes of scouts.

Ironically, the team which got the #1 overall pick selection most correct, not once but twice, is the only franchise never to have won a pennant. They also have the longest current postseason drought of the four major sports. It's the Seattle Mariners, who've held the number one selection fourth most in baseball history.

1. Ken Griffey Jr., 1987, Seattle Mariners, Moeller High School.

No one, not even Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds or Hank Aaron, ever hit 56 home runs in back to back seasons. Junior did more than put the Mariners franchise on the map; one could easily argue that he was the club's savior. The man who changed Seattle baseball forever turned the hype written on his rookie year baseball cards into prophecy.

Career Stats: 83.8 WAR, 10 Gold Gloves, 630 Home Runs, .907 OPS.

2. Alex Rodriguez, 1993, Seattle Mariners, Westminster Christian High School.

Repeated violations of baseball's PED policy will likely keep him out of Cooperstown, but his legacy is cemented elsewhere. No other MLB player has earned more money than "Pay-Rod," ($445,159,552 from 1994-2017) and the next closest is Albert Pujols ($285,040,436 from 2001-present).

When the Texas Rangers gave him $252 million over seven years in 2000, it changed the athlete compensation game forever. It's a big reason why he's appeared on just about every CNBC program in existence.

Career Stats: 117.5 WAR, 696 Home Runs, .930 OPS.

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3. Chipper Jones, 1990, Atlanta Braves, Bolles High School.

One of just three #1 overall picks to reach the Hall of Fame, Jones got in with 97.2% of the first ballot vote. He's also the 18th player (and only switch hitter) in history to record a .300 batting average, .400 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage in 5,000+ at bats.

Career Stats: 85.3 WAR, 468 Home Runs, .930 OPS.

4. Harold Baines, 1977, Chicago White Sox, St. Michael's School.

The elementary school I attended, back in the 1980s, rewarded Straight A students with free Sox ticket vouchers, and Baines was who we went to see at Old Comiskey Park. Bill Veeck started scouting him at age 12, and last summer, finally, Baines got enshrined in Cooperstown.

Career Stats: 2,866 Hits, 1,628 RBIs, .820 OPS.

5. Joe Mauer, 2001, Minnesota Twins, Cretin-Derham Hall High School.

The St. Paul native spent his entire 15-year career with the Twins, and it was literally the hometown kid living the dream. Mauer won the MVP, three batting titles, five Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves.

Career Stats: .306 BA, .827 OPS, 1,018 Runs.

Honorable Mention: Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Justin Upton, Gerrit Cole, Adrian Gonzalez, David Price, B.J. Surhoff, Darryl Strawberry.

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.

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