With the first round of the Major League Baseball draft in the works, teams are angling to land long-term cornerstones as we speak. The Royals, for instance, tabbed high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. second overall on Monday. If things go according to plan, he’ll evolve into a franchise player the way other recent second overall selections have. The best No. 2 choices over the past several years have been Kris Bryant, who joined the Cubs in 2013, and 2015 Astros pick Alex Bregman. The two have become stars since their respective draft nights, but whom would you rather have?
Bryant, now 27, exploded on the scene in 2015, winning NL Rookie of the Year honors with a 6.1-fWAR season, and hasn’t looked back since. The third baseman/outfielder added an NL MVP and a World Series to his list of accomplishments in 2016, the season he helped the Cubs break a 108-year title drought. Bryant’s now a two-time All-Star with a career slash line of .284/.386/.518 (141 wRC+), 120 home runs and 25.3 fWAR in 2,715 lifetime plate appearances.
Bregman’s also a world champion, having aided in the Astros’ victory in 2017. That was the year after Bregman debuted in the majors. Since then, the 25-year-old infielder – whose primary position is third – has earned an All-Star nod and batted a Bryant-like .280/.369/.507 (140 wRC+) with 75 long balls, 31 steals and 14.8 fWAR across 1,804 trips to the plate.
Beyond the fact that they’re two of the most valuable players in baseball, Bryant and Bregman are each under control for at least the next couple seasons. Bryant, who’s on a $12.9MM salary, has two more years of arbitration eligibility left after this one. The Astros, on the other hand, will avoid the arb process with Bregman as they move forward. Houston locked Bregman up to a five-year, $100MM extension prior to the season, meaning he’s under wraps through 2024.
Age and team control may play a factor as you choose between Bryant and Bregman. Regardless of which player you prefer, though, it’s obvious these are two of the premier first-rounders in recent history. They give hope to every downtrodden franchise that had a high pick Monday.
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