The 2010 amateur draft officially launched the pro careers of several of the modern game’s biggest stars, and since we’re almost a decade removed from that draft class, it seems like a natural time to look back at what ended up being a particularly fascinating draft in hindsight.
Of course, it’s very easy to pick apart any draft with the benefit of years of hindsight, which is why we’re stopping short of any full mock redraft. First off, given the long period of minor league seasoning that every prospect requires and the fact that virtually every team deploys a “take the best player available” approach, it’s hard to look back at each team’s 2010 roster and try to re-draft by positional needs at the time. Secondly, that long minor league process is such a major element in how a player develops, it’s quite possible that any of the superstars at the top of this list might have fallen into obscurity (to say nothing of an injury or some other random setback) had they come up in another organization’s farm system.
So in short, perhaps the simplest method is just to list the top 43 players from 2010 by bWAR, stopping at the somewhat arbitrary cutoff point of 3.0 bWAR. (The actual 2010 first round consisted of a whopping 50 players, thanks to an unusually long 18-pick sandwich round of compensatory picks, as per the old Type A/Type B free agent designation system). We will also only be listing the drafted players who actually signed with their teams, so such notables as 546th overall pick Kris Bryant or 935th pick Aaron Judge aren’t included.
As a refresher, here’s a list of the actual first round of the 2010 draft. As a further reminder of how the draft is in many ways a crapshoot, consider that of the 50 real life first-rounders, 18 never reached the big leagues, and 13 have yet to generate anything beyond a replacement-level 0.0 bWAR at the Major League level. The Rays had three first-round picks (Josh Sale, Justin O’Conner, Drew Vettleson) who never made it to the Show, yet they struck gold on a future Gold Glove winner in the 31st round.
1. 45.3 bWAR: Chris Sale (13th overall, White Sox)
2. 36.7 bWAR: Manny Machado (3rd, Orioles)
3. 36.3 bWAR: Andrelton Simmons (70th, Braves)
4. 35.5 bWAR: Jacob deGrom (272nd, Mets)
5. 31.8 bWAR: Christian Yelich (23rd, Marlins)
6. 31.8 bWAR: Bryce Harper (1st, Nationals)
7. 25.7 bWAR: Kevin Kiermaier (941st, Rays)
8. 19.3 bWAR: Adam Eaton (571st, Diamondbacks)
9. 18.4 bWAR: J.T. Realmuto (104th, Marlins)
10. 17.2 bWAR: Yasmani Grandal (12th, Reds)
11. 15.7 bWAR: Noah Syndergaard (38th, Blue Jays)
12. 15.7 bWAR: Kole Calhoun (264th, Angels)
13. 13.3 bWAR: Whit Merrifield (269th, Royals)
14. 13.3 bWAR: James Paxton (132rd, Mariners)
15. 13.0 bWAR: Corey Dickerson (260th, Rockies)
16. 10.9 bWAR: Joc Pederson (352nd, Dodgers)
17. 10.8 bWAR: Drew Pomeranz (5th, Indians)
18. 10.7 bWAR: Eddie Rosario (135th, Twins)
19. 10.3 bWAR: Matt Harvey (7th, Mets)
20. 9.7 bWAR: Nicholas Castellanos (44th, Tigers)
21. 9.2 bWAR: Drew Smyly (68th, Tigers)
22. 8.9 bWAR: Aaron Sanchez (34th, Blue Jays)
23. 8.9 bWAR: Jedd Gyorko (59th, Padres)
24. 8.8 bWAR: Robbie Ray (356th, Nationals)
25. 8.5 bWAR: Evan Gattis (704th, Braves)
26. 8.2 bWAR: Jameson Taillon (2nd, Pirates)
27. 6.7 bWAR: Adam Duvall (348th, Giants)
28. 6.1 bWAR: Mark Canha (227th, Marlins)
29. 6.0 bWAR: Alex Claudio (826th, Rangers)
30. 6.0 bWAR: Addison Reed (95th, White Sox)
31. 5.8 bWAR: A.J. Griffin (395th, Athletics)
32. 5.8 bWAR: Taijuan Walker (43rd, Mariners)
33. 5.7 bWAR: Michael Lorenzen (221st, Rays)
34. 5.6 bWAR: Sam Dyson (126th, Blue Jays)
35. 5.3 bWAR: Delino DeShields Jr. (8th, Astros)
36. 5.2 bWAR: Vince Velasquez (58th, Astros)
37. 5.2 bWAR: Derek Dietrich (79th, Rays)
38. 4.9 bWAR: Mike Foltynewicz (19th, Astros)
39. 3.8 bWAR: Tyler Thornburg (96th, Brewers)
40. 3.8 bWAR: Jimmy Nelson (64th, Brewers)
41. 3.3 bWAR: Greg Garcia (229th, Cardinals)
42. 3.2 bWAR: Brandon Workman (57th, Red Sox)
43. 3.0 bWAR: Chad Bettis (76th, Rockies)
A few more observations….
- It’s fun to imagine a world where the Nationals follow up drafting Stephen Strasburg with the #1 overall pick in 2009 with another ace in Chris Sale in 2010, though Harper was widely considered the top player available a decade ago. Many scouts at the time felt Sale was a risk for a future arm injury, which led to his drop to the White Sox at the 13th overall spot. While Sale recently went under the knife for a Tommy John procedure, his decade of near Cooperstown-level performance made his selection of the best picks in White Sox history.
- The Blue Jays still end up with Noah Syndergaard in this reality, as the Jays had the 11th overall pick of the 2010 draft. Syndergaard was the headliner of a four-prospect package sent by Toronto to the Mets in December 2012 in the trade that brought R.A. Dickey to the Jays.
- Even in the modern era of heavy player movement, it stands out that so few of the players on the list are still with the teams that originally drafted them. DeGrom, Kiermaier, Merrifield, Pederson, and Rosario are the only players in the top 25 who are still playing with their original teams, and Pederson came seemingly within a hair of being dealt to the Angels this past offseason.
- Upon seeing Matt Harvey in the 19th spot on this list, Mets fans may immediately question the logic of re-ordering the draft solely by bWAR. Needless to say, in a strict re-draft, Harvey would certainly drop a lot lower given the uncertainty surrounding his future. That said, Harvey’s solid bWAR total is perhaps a reminder of just how good the Dark Knight was before injuries curtailed his status as one of baseball’s top pitchers.
- Left-hander Dean Kiekhefer, the 1099th overall pick, was the lowest-drafted player to reach the majors. Kiekhefer climbed from the 36th round to appear in 30 MLB games with the Cardinals (his drafting team) and Athletics from 2016-18.
dave frost nhlpa
Not a Yankee on the list drafted by them and Paxton will have only pitched one season combined.
Either asleep at the switch or better allocation of money elsewhere.
True, their first round pick of Cito Culver was a crap pick but in this scenario they would have landed Taijuan Walker at 32.
Bryce Harper (per his contract) is so damn overrated.
Its so easy for people outside of Philly to say that, but Harper was a marketing sensation that probably paid back a decent little percentage of his contract via ticket sales and merch before he even suited up for his first spring training AB.
Harper is definitely a 25.3M/year player, which is his AAV salary.
I dunno….he leaves D.C., does nothing on the team he joins, and the team he leaves wins the World Series…..
good old correlation = causation
Harper did nothing on the Phillies in 2019? .882 OPS. 125 OPS+. 4.3 WAR. 35 HR. 114 RBI. That’s a whole lot of nothing.
Acuna and Soto laugh at those stats and the salary difference
Exactly, if those stats are “nothing”, I’d sign up for that nothing because I dig the long ball.
Harpers cap hit is 27.5 and you have to factor it a little higher as the later years are obv going to be sunk so your going to want to get a 30+ mill dollar value in his prime-
Yes he does provide back money to the PhIllies with marketing but if your going to dump that money back into giving Mccuthch 20 mill each over the next 2 years is it really “true” at that point
Philly went from wide ope payroll to yikes its getting cramped in here really really quick…. Not the way ida built it up
It has the feeling of hanging a nice picture up to cover the hole in the wall behind it org
One of the worst opinions in baseball. Getting prime Harper for a 25 million AAV is a good deal.
Prime Harper doesn’t help his team win games.
care to explain how that makes any sense?
His career OPS+ is 137 and has never even got close to leauge average. Please back up your dinosaur takes with a stat.
oh absolutly. but he’s a huge ticket draw and has a lot of abilities that go beyond the box score, so its really not a bad contract. he’s overrated for sure, but hardly terrible.
Top 5 best and worst draft picks by teams would be a good series.
Top 5 best and worst international free agent signings would be a good list too.
Top 5 best and worst trades by teams
Top 5 best and worst free agent signings
Trips down memory lane and introducing younger fans to older team history could be a fun series.
Another bad year for the Cubbies. Hayden Simpson who wasn’t on ANY draft boards went to the cubs with the 16th pick. Hendry tried to act like he was the next Tim Lincecum. Amazing how cheap the Tribune was with the draft. Thank goodness Baez was a high schooler willing to sign for anything.
I remember that draft. The story I remember coming out was that literally on draft day, Crane Kenney comes into the room and tells the staff their draft budget was reduced (I think by half) so they ended up going with Simpson (who they liked and would have taken later maybe) earlier because he’d be cheap.
I can’t seem to find the article that details it, but it still stuck with me.
Over a third (15 of 43) would fall outside a 5-round draft.
There are going to be some fantastic choices/diamonds-in-the-rough to be found if MLB goes that route.
Imagine deGrom, Eaton, Merrifield, to name a few, going undrafted?
“Five is the fewest number of rounds the clubs are allowed to draft this year, per a March agreement with the Players Association governing the sport during the COVID-19 shutdown. That agreement lays out other conditions for the draft, including signing bonuses that will be equivalent to 2019.
After the fifth round, teams can sign an unlimited number of undrafted players for a maximum bonus of $20,000.” -Ken Rosenthal
There is nothing keeping teams from acquiring more than five players.
20,000 is garbage money though. lots of talented players might step away from the game in favor of more profitable avenues
You’re right that’s not much money. It just depends on how badly they want to play.
I don’t think you understand how the MLB draft works.
Teams don’t draft based on talent a lot of times they draft based on the ability to sign the player after the first round.
Sometimes very talented players went in the 15th round
2010 was the time when a team could offer as much as they wanted to players drafted wherever
I have no idea. College Baseball is preparing for a lot of players to stick with their commitments.
I have a feeling you may not see many major league teams draft high school players
You’re going to have a lot of high school players walk away from baseball because the signing bonuses are so low, and because scholarships for college ball won’t be available because juniors and seniors who might have gone pro will stay in college.
Use that same imagination to see guys like deGrom, Eaton, and Merrifield not ever getting a chance because they went undrafted and ending up coaching HS baseball instead of playing in the majors. Between a shorter draft and fewer MILB teams, it’s somewhat likely that those diamonds in the rough will never be unearthed in the future,
College Baseball is much better than hanging out in the low minors for 3 years.
Teams can still sign undrafted players this year.
HS players have four choices if not drafted
signing a small contract
I see for players who have played 4 years of College Baseball but like I said those players can still sign with teams for a small contract if they want
Only having 5 rounds isn’t hurting anyone.
Actually could really help teams with great scouting departments.
that’s not true if you’re a high school guy who is getting overslot money. and for what it’s worth you havent tried both so i dont see why your opinion on the matter – because its absolutly an opinion and not a fact – really means much here.
You cannot say “totally incorrect” to a clearly stated imaginary statement about what might happen in the future. My thinking is just as correct as yours, because both answer are purely what we think MIGHT happen. Your opinion is no more valid than mine.
If I am a senior in college I don’t have any eligibility left…
I believe the NCAA are going to allow these players an extra year
I am going to take the signing bonus and play minor league ball.
Look at these players you mention signing bonus.
You have zero leverage as a senior in college.
I believe DeGrom was drafted as a junior anyway.
He could have went back for his senior year
But to say only having 5 rounds is somehow going to force future great players to walk away from baseball is incorrect.
Players have leverage as juniors…
Have some leverage as HS players.
Signing bonus are slated by draft pick now.
But most players being drafted aren’t getting 6 digit bonuses when they are drafted in the 10th round or lower anymore.
Back in the day they were because you didn’t have rules so teams would back the truck up to HS players who were drafted late that teams were questioning if they were going to play college ball or not.
I wish the NBA and mlb would do a Mr. irrelevant
As good as Simmons is, I would definitely rather have Harper.
even with his additude?
what attitude? i admit that was one of the reasons i didnt like him at first, but seeing him on Philly showed that he’s matured beyond that at this point.
Colon will always be an albatross around Dayton Moore’s neck…
I know it’s simply listed by WAR, but Simmons over the peaks of DeGrom & Yelich is just distracting
this just shows tbe limitations of such a list – and also how much WAR overrates defense.
Not necessarily. Any defensive metric would have Simmons off the charts in his early years.
and i wouldn’t dispute that fact. i know Simmonds is probably the best defender of his class and his value in the field is undenyable, but i think its more others the get a boost. actually from what i hear about Simmonds his D actually doesnt measure high enough on these metrics. that being said, i still think he falls as Yelich, DeGrom and others continue to dominate.
SP at most play in 33/34 games.
They have a much larger impact on games but they only play 1/5 of the time
I would take an above average SS over an excellent SP 100% of the time.
Thats insane !!
What happens when you get to a 1 game take all scenario in the playoffs?
You don’t get there unless you have everyday players.
Putting the cart before the horse.
Hmm Interesting and goes against what every big league club actually trys to do including yours with Ver Cole and Grienke….
Wash- Invested heavily in Sp
Yankees – Heavily
Lotta carts getting to the World series lately off the backs of Solid Sp
Hows the horses doing pulling that Angels cart?
You have to get to the playoffs first
Without players in your lineup who can produce you aren’t getting to the playoffs.
So teams do invest in pitching but first and foremost are the core positions.
There is a reason why the SF Giants drafted Buster Posey.
Dodgers have their core position players they have brought in.
Grandal one was of the first players the new regime brought in.
Didn’t get rid of him until they had a young catcher coming up
Yankees as well but the Yankees haven’t won anything yet
What Red Sox team?
The one that had Jason Varitek.
Varitek was one of the biggest steals of the 1990s IMO
i think you’re 100% wrong. WAR actually struggles to properly compare SP to fielders and even struggles to define good pitchers amongst themselves. Simmonds is valuable but no doubt DeGrom is on pace to be a better player and provides more day-to-day value right now.
Like I said in another post.
What it ultimately comes down to is where your organization is at.
I am not even factoring in the WAR.
If I don’t have a future SS in my organization I am going for the SS over the SP 100% of the time.
Much rather have that guy playing SS than having a SP and no SS.
You have to factor in everything and not just say he is better than Simmons.
That isn’t even an important point.
What is important is what position you need in your organization
Catcher even more than SS.
You can look at the actual drafts. Most organizations reach on Catchers because of this.
The value of a solid defensive catcher who can provide a 850+ OPS is #1 for any organization
For the most part catchers can make SP or pitchers in general look better
But pitchers can’t make catchers look better
Grandal and Realmuto may not be #1 on that list
But they are way more valuable than probably half the people he is behind
Another factor is by position
How many OF
How many SP
How many SS
How many Catchers
For the most part catchers can make SP or pitchers in general look better
But pitchers can’t make catchers look better
Perhaps its time for a week off, you started out just bad overall, now your off the rails
You are incorrect…
You are trying to promote your own player.
If he wasn’t on the NY Mets you wouldn’t care.
Fact is he isn’t even the #1 SP
Look at the draft and how many SP are on there.
Look at the # of SS
# of Catchers
Simmons in my lineup for the next 10 years is worth more than any SP.
After I get Simmons and a Grandal I worry about SP
If the Angels had Simmons under contract for ten years, they would offer him for DeGrom in a heartbeat. NYM would laugh and hang up.
The Angels have had an “above average” shortstop since 2016, but they’ve struggled to find an excellent SP. They haven’t won squat. I think they’d disagree with you.
Chris Sale was drafted by the White Sox and no matter how great was the White Sox still were a 70 win team.
I believe it was Steve Carlton in the Won 27 games. The Phillies only won like 60.
An Elite SP doesn’t get a team anywhere.
Much better to have elite everyday players and then get starters.
160 over 32.
Or better to have SP and get position players. Most successful teams prioritize pitchers. There’s a reason for that.
You literally don’t have to look past the the player you’re backing here and his current team to point out the flaw in your argument.
Andrelton Simmons has been on the Angels since 2016. He plays with a pretty good CF, Mike Trout, you might have heard of him?
The Angels have won 306 games total in the four seasons those two players have played together, and haven’t won more than 80 games.
The Mets & Jake deGrom, meanwhile, have managed 320 wins in that time, including 86 & 87 win seasons, and a playoff appearance.
Team-building can be incredibly subjective in terms of what you’re looking to build around, but you need to have that something to build around in the first place. And I don’t think it’s any stretch of an argument to argue that deGrom would be more valuable to build around than Simmons in this case.
This is just further proof that WAR is a useless stat.
Simmons made it to the majors before they did. That extra playing time helped him get more WAR. I loved Simmons when he was a Brave, but I would absolutely take an Ace over a GG shortstop.
LaAstros reminds me of a guy named Maverick on the old ESPN boards. He was consistently wrong too.
This certianly does show re-drafting by WAR would be a terrible way to go about it.
great lack of Phillies picks on here. smh why cant this team draft
I’m curious how high Taillon climbs this list without injury. I know the same could be said about a lot of players, but it is kind of crazy to consider that just adding two healthy seasons of 3.0war to Taillon’s stats lands him in the Top 15.
Machado or Simmons holding down SS for 4-5 years would have made the Buccos a lot more competitive and could have snagged a strong haul in a trade (bc we all know an extension is laughable here). We might be talking about a very different Pirates team during McCutchen’s wasted prime years.
id say good health alone may double Taillon’s WAR, and that doesn’t even include all the potential growth that playing for ~2-3 more years in the Majors provides
WAR or no WAR, if were redrafting then there’s no way Simmons goes before DeGrom
Matters the organization.
If I don’t have a SS in my organization that I can feel who can play 10-15 years I am drafting one.
Same with Catcher.
Catchers usually go much higher than some and teams often reach on that position.
SS isn’t that far behind.
This isn’t the NFL. MLB teams rarely/never draft based on current needs. They usually try to to pick the best player available.
You have organizational needs.
Not talking about your MLB team. But your organization.
At times the CF in AA is your organization’s #1 CF.
Majority of draft picks are based on this.
Catchers are usually drafted very high.
It is the hardest yet quickest way to professional baseball.
The Padres have both Machado and Tatis Jr long term, yet they drafted a SS #2 overall last year. Not a need, but the best available.
Another dynamic draft by the Royals.
humphrey x boegarts
“I participated in the 2010 draft and all I got was Chad Bettis” – t-shirt for Rockies fans
The Rox got Corey Dickerson too. They didn’t do great with their 1st rounders (Kyle Parker, Peter Tago), but plenty of teams did worse than Dickerson.
wu tang killa beez
I don’t know why people are hating Bryce Harper so much, he is a star player who can provide 30+HR and 100+RBIs every year if healthy, sold a lot a jerseys and tickets for sure last year in philly and will continue to do so for the next decade.
Of course his contract isn’t that great, but is there really a free agent who signs a great deal with their new team ? A free agent contract is a bad contract as soon as it’s signed
I am not hating on him.
I think people overvalue production with OF.
A lot of great OFs
I will use this for example. Basically a point about scarcity.
If you have 10 OFs who have WAR over 7.5
Wouldn’t you say that one catcher who produces a WAR of 6.8 is more valuable than those OF if the next best catcher has a WAR of 5.
When we look at WAR we also have to look at the position itself.
Not the WAR but how it compares with the competition at the position
A 30 HR Catcher IMO who plays defense is almost 2x the value of a 30 HR OF.
I believe a SS is probably 1.5x a corner outfielder. About the same as a CF.
Hes had over 100 rbis once in his 8 year career
You do realize 58 players had 30 hrs last year in the MLB
Its….. like….not a thing…..anymore
Simple, he’s overrated and not a likeable guy.
I think if anything this is a testament on how random baseball can be and how wonderful it is that late rounds can produce quality players.
You can definitely build an impressive team from the 2010 draft class. Look at those names.
Great article Mark, thanks for putting this together. Btw, Michael Lorenzen never signed with the Rays in 2010 and therefore doesn’t qualify for this list. I would’ve liked this as a Rays fan, it looks like outside of Kiermaier this draft was terrible for them. Especially having so many picks near the top. The same for them for the 2011 draft, that was an even bigger swing and a miss!!
The hell with War
What a draft class
I wish we could do it again, because that would make Christian Yelich the main prospect dealt to the Rockies in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal instead of Drew Pomeranz.
I think the shortened draft is a bad decision by baseball, especially if they continue it past 2020. It’s going to come back to bite them.
Wow. Heck of a first round!
No yankees. Hmmmmm
That’s because the player they picked in the first round never made it.