By David Sabino
June 10, 2010
Nine For Now

First overall picks in the "real" draft made a big splash this week when the Nationals selected über-prospect Bryce Harper in thel amateur draft while the 2009 pick, Stephen Strasburg, made the most highly anticipated big league debut for a pitcher in a generation. Right now the sky appears to be the limit for Strasburg and Harper, but first overall picks rarely live up to the hype. This is especially true for pitchers. Of the 14 hurlers snagged at the top of the draft, only four won 100 big league games, with Mike Moore ('81 Mariners) leading the way with a record of 161-176.

There are 12 No. 1 picks active in the majors, but since we've recently covered the relative fantasy values of Alex Rodriguez (1993 Mariners) and Chipper Jones ('90 Braves), the following list is limited to the top selections of past 15 years. Keep in mind that three -- Harper, Matt Bush ('05 Padres) and Tim Beckham ('08 Rays) have no major league experience and another two, Matt Anderson ('97 Tigers) and Darin Erstad ('95 Angels) have concluded their big league careers.

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1 David Price (Rays '07)
David Price (Rays '07)
The current AL leader in wins (nine) and ERA (2.23) has been meeting, if not exceeding all expectations, both of the Rays and of his fantasy owners. Since joining Tampa Bay's rotation for good on May 25, 2009, the bullpen hero of the Rays run to the '08 World Series has been one of the game's biggest winners. In fact, only New York's CC Sabathia and Detroit's Justin Verlander have more victories among American League pitchers (21 each) than Price's 19 in that time. The only thing we'd like to see improve is his strikeout rate, which stands at a moderate 6.9 per nine innings, well off the pace of the leaders.
2 Joe Mauer (Twins '01)
Joe Mauer (Twins '01)
Injuries have kept the reigning AL MVP's numbers modest (2 HR, 25 RBIs, .316 avg.). Still, his ability to catch fire at any point, and his rare combination of power and average at a position where offensive standouts are few and far between, are why his value will always outdistance his raw numbers.
3 Stephen Strasburg (Nationals '09)
Stephen Strasburg (Nationals '09)
Prior to his recall, the San Diego State product showed no mercy on the overmatched minor league opposition by going 7-2 with 65 strikeouts, a 1.30 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in 55 1/3 innings. Then in his big league debut he was stellar, setting a Nationals record with 14 strikeouts (fourth best in Expos/Nationals franchise history) and matching the best strikeout game by the best pitcher in the history of our Nation's Capital, Walter Johnson. He's going to make it fashionable again to be a Washington insider.
4 Adrian Gonzalez (Marlins '00)
Adrian Gonzalez (Marlins '00)
One of the NL's best power hitters was one of the most sought after bats during the offseason. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the trading block: The Padres got good, and now Gonzalez is an indispensible cog in the NL Wild Card leader's offense, ranking among the top 10 in home runs, providing his fantasy owners with a .286/.391/.516 line.
5 Josh Hamilton (Rays '99)
Josh Hamilton (Rays '99)
One of three Devil Rays (yes, they still had Devil in their name when the choices were made) selections on this list, Hamilton is finally emerging from a funk that's plagued him ever since his eye-opening '08 season, his first in Texas. Since the beginning of June he's hitting .429/.444/.800 and is tied with Carlos Lee for the major league RBI lead for June. His three home runs since the first of the month are one off of the lead.
6 Justin Upton (Diamondbacks '05)
Justin Upton (Diamondbacks '05)
It's been a rough year in the desert for everyone associated with the Diamondbacks, and Upton is no exception. Sure, he's hit 10 home runs and driven in 30 runs, but he leads the majors in strikeouts (80 in 223 at-bats) and his batting average and on-base and slugging percentages have fallen off dramatically from last season, when he was one of the league's top power-hitting outfielders.
7 Delmon Young (Rays '03)
Delmon Young (Rays '03)
It appeared that at-bats were going to be hard to come by this year when the Twins signed DH Jim Thome as a free agent, and they have been, but Young has made the most of the three-way platoon with Thome and OF/DH Jason Kubel. Since May 20, Young leads the majors in RBI with 20 and has largely relegated Thome to the pine during the hot streak.
8 Luke Hochevar (Royals '06)
Trevor Hoffman, Brewers
It's been an up-and-down season for the Royals' second starter. In five wins Hochevar has limited his opponents to a 2.91 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and averaged 6.8 innings per start. In his four losses his ERA is 7.83 with a 1.78 WHIP in 5.75 innings per outing.
9 Pat Burrell (Phillies '98)
Pat Burrell (Phillies '98)
Pat the Bat wore out his welcome in Tampa Bay, getting released on May 19 after hitting just .202 with two home runs and 13 RBIs as a DH this year. Now, after signing a minor league deal with the Giants, he's emerged as a bench bat on the shores of another bay, San Francisco's, where he's hitting .357 with an RBI in limited playing time.

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