For a number of reasons, the MLB draft occurs each year with much less fanfare than the NFL or NBA versions. Baseball's amateur draft takes place in the middle of the MLB season. Widely unknown college and high school players are selected, and most take a few years to even reach The Show. The draft wasn't even televised until 2007, and even then it was held at 2 p.m. ET — not exactly primetime.
Despite its relative anonymity, there's no debate about the draft's importance. While diamonds in the rough crop up every year, having a high pick is extremely valuable, and the top selections often go on to MLB stardom. With this in mind, PointAfter — part of the Graphiq network — ranked the top 25 No. 1 picks in MLB draft history.
We relied largely on Wins Above Replacement to sort each player, though we also took career accolades and championship track records into account. In order to more properly weigh active players who haven't amassed a full career's worth of WAR, we sorted the list based on WAR per 162 games for position players and WAR per 200 innings pitched for pitchers.
Active players currently in the prime of their careers benefited from this ranking, as they don't yet have their average WAR per season weighed down by their decline years. For this reason, the WAR per 162 games played and WAR per 200 innings pitched are used as guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules. In addition, former players must have accumulated at least 10.0 career WAR to be eligible. This keeps former players who didn't last long in the Majors from being ranked ahead of those who stayed on the field for a long period of time.
In all, 23 of the 50 players taken with the No. 1 overall pick made at least one All-Star team. Seven of them won at least one Most Valuable Player Award, and one took home Cy Young honors, giving us an impressive group to sort through.