Redrafting the 2001 MLB Draft
Redrafting the 2001 MLB Draft
If there’s an MLB draft that most teams wish they could have back, it’s probably the June edition from 2001. Of the 30 players picked in the first round, only 16 went on to play at least 100 games in the major leagues and just three turned into superstars.
But hidden throughout the later rounds were eventual regular everyday players, including a significant crop of pitchers who would develop into valuable rotation pieces.
Excluding players who were drafted but didn’t sign such as Ian Kinsler, Nick Markakis and Andre Ethier, what would happen if the league got a do-over for the 2001 MLB Draft? Let’s dive in and see.
*All statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference
What if: How would the Nationals look if a few moves were done differently?
1. Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer (orig. 1/1) – 55.3 WAR
Actual pick: Joe Mauer
If given the opportunity to redo this pick 1,000 times, the Twins would pick Joe Mauer every single time.
The Minnesota hero grew up in St. Paul and starred for his home state in the majors, turning in a Hall of Fame career that was highlighted by three batting titles, five Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves and the 2009 AL MVP award.
2. Chicago Cubs: Mark Teixeira (orig. 1/5) – 50.6 WAR
Actual pick: Mark Prior
Given that the Cubs used this pick to select the player who was on the mound during the Steve Bartman incident during the 2003 NLCS, they wouldn’t hesitate to go elsewhere if given the chance to redraft.
Luckily for them, one of the best sluggers of his time is still on the board. Mark Teixeira hit 409 home runs over 14 seasons, including a stretch of eight consecutive years in which he hit at least 30.
With Teixeira in the fold, the Cubs’ championship drought very well might have ended a whole lot sooner.
3. Tampa Bay Devil Rays: David Wright (orig. 1/38) – 49.2 WAR
Actual pick: Dewon Brazelton
Brazelton never panned out in the majors, accruing a 6.38 ERA and -3.1 WAR over 271 career innings. In this redraft, however, the Devil Rays take David Wright and change the entire trajectory of their franchise.
Tampa Bay, a recent expansion team, was coming off a 92-loss season and wouldn’t even reach the playoffs until 2008. Outside of Carl Crawford, they lacked a star player with whom to build around.
Wright fixes that, adding a perennial Gold Glove third baseman and MVP candidate to the mix. They still would’ve needed to add more pieces around him, but the addition of Wright would’ve accelerated Tampa Bay’s timeline toward contention.
4. Philadelphia Phillies: Dan Haren (orig. 2/28) – 35.1 WAR
Actual pick: Gavin Floyd
Here’s a list of pitchers who made at least 30 starts every year from 2005 to 2015: Dan Haren, Mark Buehrle. That’s it. That’s the list.
A three-time All-Star, Haren put together a strong MLB career in his own right with over 2,000 strikeouts and a 3.75 ERA. But his most significant value to the teams that employed him was his ability to post, never failing to stay healthy after his first full season in 2005.
Floyd had himself a respectable career but swapping him out for Haren at No. 4 overall is a no-brainer.
5. Texas Rangers: Ryan Howard (orig. 5/4) – 14.7 WAR
Actual pick: Mark Teixeira
Teixeira is no longer on the board at No. 5 for the Rangers, so they go and take another slugger who did something Tex never did: win an MVP.
Ryan Howard got off to as good a start as a player can with a Rookie of the Year award in his first season and the 2006 NL MVP the year after. By the time he finished his age-31 season, he had 286 homers and looked to be on track for Cooperstown with a strong second half of his career.
Injuries struck the next two years and he was never quite the same after that, but that wouldn’t stop Texas from taking the Phillies slugger.
6. Montreal Expos: Kevin Youkilis (orig. 8/17) – 32.4 WAR
Actual pick: Josh Karp
The first team in this draft to select a player in the actual draft who never made it to the majors, the Expos nab themselves an everyday infielder in Kevin Youkilis at No. 6 overall.
Few players were better than Youkilis from 2007 to 2011, when he posted a .294/.395/.517 slash line with 108 home runs and a pair of top-six AL MVP finishes. The Expos, who had moved to D.C. and become the Nationals by that point, had the third-worst record in the majors over that span.
If he had been drafted by Montreal, Youkilis’ name would have been synonymous with Ryan Zimmerman’s as one of the faces of the Nationals’ rebuild.
7. Baltimore Orioles: Dan Uggla (orig. 11/22) – 18.2 WAR
Actual pick: Chris Smith
The 2001 draft was significant for the Orioles because later that year, franchise icon and Hall-of-Famer-to-be Cal Ripken Jr. hung up his cleats and called it a career. Looking to draft its next cornerstone player, Baltimore instead took a college lefty who never made it to Double-A.
Dan Uggla was no franchise cornerstone, but he anchored the middle of the Marlins’ lineup for years as one of the league’s premiere home run hitters. Consider this: The only player in Marlins history with more homers through his age-30 season was some guy named Giancarlo Stanton.
A team that wouldn’t get back over .500 until 2012, the Orioles had just three players hit at least 30 home runs in a season from 2007 to 2011. Uggla did it on his own all five of those years.
8. Pittsburgh Pirates: J.J. Hardy (orig. 2/12) – 28.1 WAR
Actual pick: John Van Benschoten
J.J. Hardy played shortstop at a time when shortstops weren’t expected to carry much of the offensive load. Though he never put together any monster campaigns he did bring a rare blend of power and slick fielding to the position.
With 188 home runs throughout a career that stretched from 2005 to 2017, only three other shortstops had home over that span. Aside from a couple years of playing Jack Williams at the position, the Pirates saw a revolving door of players try sticking at shortstop only to disappoint.
He wouldn’t have saved Pittsburgh from the years of misery it endured, but Hardy would’ve been a star for a Pirates team that had very few.
9. Kansas City Royals: Jim Johnson (orig. 5/7) – 8.1 WAR
Actual pick: Colt Griffin
The first reliever off the board, Jim Johnson is one of two pitchers ever to record back-to-back seasons with at least 50 saves. He goes to the Royals at No. 9 in this redraft after Kansas City’s actual pick, Colt Griffin, failed to reach the majors.
Johnson’s first full season wasn’t until 2008, but he turned in a productive career as a closer with 178 career saves and a 3.79 ERA. Though his two worst seasons (2014-15) coincided with the Royals’ back-to-back World Series runs, Johnson would’ve been a valuable piece with which to build a contender.
10. Houston Astros: C.J. Wilson (orig. 5/5) – 17.5 WAR
Actual pick: Chris Burke
The Astros get an absolute steal here with C.J. Wilson, who started his career as a reliever before moving to the rotation at 29 years old and transforming into an All-Star starter.
Wilson made it to the majors in 2005, the same year Houston lost the World Series despite a rotation headlined by Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens. If Wilson was developed as a starter in the minors, could he have been the missing piece that pushed the Astros to a title?
11. Detroit Tigers: Ricky Nolasco (orig. 4/2) – 13.5 WAR
Actual pick: Kenny Baugh
A middle-of-the-rotation starter who routinely flirted with 200 innings, Ricky Nolasco would’ve given the Tigers yet another quality pitcher for their run of playoff appearances from 2011 to 2014.
12. Milwaukee Brewers: Rich Hill (orig. 7/13) – 13.6 WAR
Actual pick: Mike Jones
Hill would’ve classified as an investment, as he only eclipsed 60 innings twice over his first 11 seasons. But a team that felt good about its medical staff would be hard-pressed to pass on Hill, who has put together a 3.00 ERA with a 10.6 K/9 over 82 starts from 2016-2019.
13. Anaheim Angels: Mark Prior (orig. 1/2) – 16.6 WAR
Actual pick: Casey Kotchman
The original No. 2 overall pick, Mark Prior looked to be on his way to becoming one of the game’s best starters when he placed third in NL Cy Young voting at 22 years old. However, injuries shredded his arm and Prior was out of the majors by the time he was 26.
14. San Diego Padres: Chris Young (orig. 16/27) – 16.5 WAR
Actual pick: Jake Gautreau
Ending a run of five straight pitchers is Chris Young, a 16th-round pick who went on to play nearly 1,500 games and make the NL All-Star team in 2006. The Padres could’ve used a center fielder too after starting a different player there on Opening Day every year from 2003 to 2010.
15. Toronto Blue Jays: Gavin Floyd (orig. 1/3) – 15.7 WAR
Actual pick: Gabe Gross
The last of the original top-five picks to be taken in this redraft, Gavin Floyd was a solid starter throughout his mid-to-late 20s before injuries limited him to just 49 appearances (14 starts) over his final four seasons.
16. Chicago White Sox: Edwin Jackson (orig. 6/24) – 8.7 WAR
Actual pick: Kris Honel
Nobody embodies the word “journeyman” quite like Edwin Jackson, who’s played for 14 teams throughout his MLB career. Perhaps that changes if the Mets make him a first-round pick.
17. Cleveland Indians: Jason Bartlett (orig. 13/14) – 18.4 WAR
Actual pick: Dan Denham
He only had one All-Star season, but Jason Bartlett was still a solid shortstop who didn’t strike out often and appeared in nearly 900 career games.
18. New York Mets: Rajai Davis (orig. 38/8) – 11.9 WAR
Actual pick: Aaron Heilman
Rajai Davis played for the Mets in 2019, though they would’ve gotten him a lot sooner in this redraft. Davis is an excellent defender who can play all three outfield positions, though he’s never been a big producer at the plate.
19. Baltimore Orioles: Luke Scott (orig. 9/21) – 11.8 WAR
Actual pick: Mike Fontenot
The Orioles acquired Luke Scott as part of the Miguel Tejada trade with the Astros, but they could’ve gotten him in the draft before he went in the ninth round. Scott took a while to reach the majors but turned into a productive hitter whose defensive limitations forced him all over the diamond.
20. Cincinnati Reds: Geovany Soto (orig. 11/2) – 12 WAR
Actual pick: Jeremy Sowers
Geovany Soto was one of three players from this draft to go on and win a Rookie of the Year award, joining Ryan Howard and Bobby Crosby. Though he never did live up to the 23 homers and .868 OPS he posted in his rookie year, Soto did look like an up-and-coming star during his first taste of the big leagues.
21. San Francisco Giants: Jonny Gomes (orig. 18/3) – 3.5 WAR
Actual pick: Brad Hennessey
Injuries plagued Jonny Gomes for most of his career, but he put together a solid career considering he was drafted in the 18th round. He turned in three 20-homer seasons and could’ve been a solid outfielder and important clubhouse presence for the Giants during their championship runs like he was for the Red Sox when they won the World Series in 2013.
22. Arizona Diamondbacks: Noah Lowry (orig. 1/30) – 10 WAR
Actual pick: Jason Bulger
Noah Lowry gave the Giants three and a half years of solid pitching out of the rotation before injuries forced him to retire at 26. The Diamondbacks should be happy to scoop him up at No. 22 and give their win-now team a boost.
23. New York Yankees: Zach Duke (orig. 20/8) – 12.2 WAR
Actual pick: John-Ford Griffin
Though he began his career as a starter, Zach Duke changed into a reliever at 28 and developed into a lefty specialist. His numbers weren’t spectacular but could’ve been a valuable bullpen arm for New York.
24. Atlanta Braves: Matt Albers (orig. 23/28) – 2.4 WAR
Actual pick: Macay McBride
Back-to-back relief arms here as Matt Albers goes to the Braves at No. 24. Albers made a career out of eating the middle-to-late innings but never touching the closer role for an extended amount of time.
25. Oakland Athletics: Chad Tracy (orig. 7/22) – 5.4 WAR
Actual pick: Bobby Crosby
Chad Tracy’s career seemed like it was taking off in 2005 when he hit. 308 with 27 home runs and a .911 OPS over 145 games at 25 years old. His production fell off after that, but he did turn into a reliable bench bat later in his career.
26. Oakland Athletics: Jeff Mathis (orig. 1/33) – 0 WAR
Actual pick: Jeremy Bonderman
Don’t let the 0 WAR dissuade you, Jeff Mathis has long been considered one of the league’s best game-callers, pitch-framers and defensive wizards behind the plate. There’s a reason he’s started over 800 games despite a career batting average of .195.
27. Cleveland Indians: Casey Kotchman (orig. 1/13) – 7.5 WAR
Actual pick: Alan Horne
A left-handed first baseman who never hit for much power, Casey Kotchman played at least 125 games for six straight years with a .725 OPS over that span before his career ended at 30.
28. St. Louis Cardinals: Bobby Crosby (orig. 1/25) – 5.4 WAR
Actual pick: Justin Pope
Bobby Crosby looked like Miguel Tejada’s successor in Oakland when he won AL Rookie of the Year in 2004 behind 22 home runs and a .744 OPS. But injuries allowed him only one other season playing 100+ games after that and even when healthy, he was never capable of putting it all together.
29. Atlanta Braves: Gabe Gross (orig. 1/15) – 4.6 WAR
Actual pick: Josh Burrus
A former starting quarterback at Auburn, Gabe Gross looked like one of the best overall athletes in the draft when he was picked 15th overall. He ultimately made it to the majors but was relegated to a fourth outfielder/pinch hitter role.
30. San Francisco Giants: Scott Hairston (orig. 3/22) – 6.5 WAR
Actual pick: Noah Lowry
Scott Hairston made a career out of being a light-hitting utility player, appearing at all three outfield positions as well as second base. He also crushed lefties, posting an .805 career OPS against southpaws.