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The 11th Pick In The MLB Player Draft Is Cursed, According To Science

Illustration for article titled The 11th Pick In The MLB Player Draft Is Cursed, According To Science

In a perfect world, the first person selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft every year would be the best performing player from that crop. The second player would perform slightly below that, and so on and so forth. Of course, it doesn't work that way. For every Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez, there's a Brien Taylor or Mike Piazza, outliers on both ends of the spectrum that serve to screw up that process of prediction. By and large, though, draft someone in the first round and chances are you're going to get someone who pans out, but there's one selection you really don't want to get saddled with.


As ranked by cumulative Wins Above Replacement, players selected with the 11th pick in the MLB Draft do far worse historically then players on both sides of that slot. To wit:

1. 779.3
2. 495.8
3. 428.2
4. 490.3
5. 295.3
6. 450.1
7. 216.5
8. 201.5
9. 218.1
10. 385.1
11. 94.1
12. 246.2
13. 251.4
14. 210.6
15. 229.7
16. 232.7
17. 220.5
18. 102.3
19. 307.7
20. 317.1


The most notable player to ever be picked with that infamous 11th selection? Greg Luzinski, who slugged 307 home runs for the Phillies and White Sox in the 1970s and early '80s. The good news for the immediate future of the 11s is that quite a few present-day stars should bring that WAR number up in the years to come. Seattle's Justin Smoak, Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, and Detroit's Max Scherzer are all part of the 11 Club, and if they pan out as we all suspect they will, the 11 slot will no longer be associated with abject underachievement. That distinction, instead, will likely carry over to the 27th overall pick, which has a WAR of 90.7 thanks to Vida Blue, Pete Harnisch, and nearly no one else of note.

Beyond the first round, the pick you really don't want to end up with among the first 128 is number 77, which has an accumulated WAR of -1.0. That's right, you're literally better off drafting any other player than the one you plan to draft. (For that, you can thank these guys. No hitter has more than eight HRs, no pitcher more than 19 wins. Grim stuff.)

Still, there's something odd about that No. 11 pick. At 10, you've got Mark McGwire, Robin Ventura, Ted Simmons, and Tim Lincecum. At 12, there's Jered Weaver, Nomar, Kirk Gibson, and Oddibe McDowell. In between, nothing even close. It will depend on the offenses of the Mariners and Pirates becoming something resembling explosive, but if that happens, the 11s may finally have their day.


[h/t Neil P.]

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