May 8, 2003
Now that some time has passed and we have the use of hindsight to guide us, let's take a look at the best and worst picks for each owner in the 2003 draft. Choices do not include injuries after the season started because that was an unknown at draft time. Using a combination of early season results and future potential, here are the best and the worst.
Best - Austin Kearns, 14th round
Comment - David Wells at 15 also looks like a steal, but Kearns is an outfielder who, despite a recent slump, has the potential to reach the 40 HR mark and put up numbers better than some outfielders drafted many rounds earlier, such as Cliff Floyd and Mike Cameron.
Worst - Mark Bellhorn, 12th round
Comment - Bellhorn is starting to prove that last year was a fluke and unless he's turns it on in a hurry, the North Siders will be stuck with a 12th pick that won't be getting many major league ABs.
Best - Larry Walker, 6th round
Comment - Everyone was afraid of the injury potential, but Walker hasn't missed a game yet, and even though his power is down a bit, this Colorado hitter always puts up crazy batting average totals (.316 career, .338 last year) and is good for well over 100 runs and RBIs and possibly 10 SBs. You can't get that from anyone else in round 6.
Worst - Roy Halladay, 2nd round
Comment - At the time, it seemed like a few picks too early, but now with Halladay failing to impress anyone, it looks even worse. With Prior, Wood, Mussina, Vazquez, and others still available, this wasn't Vavster's wisest move.
Best - Darren Dreifort, 28th round
Comment - Weaver was a nice pick at 14, but getting a strikeout pitcher with a decent "win" potential from playing in LA is a flat out steal at 28. While everyone else was filling out their backup middle infielders, UA got a guy who should help his rotation all year.
Worst - Ben Sheets, 10th round
Comment - Not a disaster, but Sheets has never lived up to his potential (4.45 career ERA) and plays on one of the worst teams in baseball. His K ratio isn't as good as advertised and his career WHIP is just under 1.40, so there's very little to gain from picking Sheets so early.
Best - John Smoltz, 5th round
Comment - The 5th round isn't exactly "sleeper" territory, but Smoltz is as automatic as they come. In a year with 12 owners, no one ever admits the importance of saves until after the season starts. Snagging Smoltz here gives Slim instant contention in saves without sacrificing a big bat.
Worst - Andy Fox, 19th round
Comment - The 19th round isn't exactly early, but there were plenty of other starters still available when Slim chose backup Fox, such as Casey, Carl Everett, Mondesi (which he chose later) and a ton of pitchers left (Armas, Lilly, Eaton, etc.).
Best - Carl Everett, 22nd round
Comment - No one expected it and no one knows how long it will last, but we're nearing mid-May and Z Money is getting early round production from his late round pick.
Worst - Pat Burrell, 3rd round
Comment - This one is based mostly on hindsight, with Burrell struggling mightily, but it would have been a better (and safer) pick if Z Money chose someone like Wood, Bagwell, or Smoltz.
Best - Jamie Moyer, 10th round
Comment - Moyer is always a steal because he's not overpowering. He just gives you a good ERA, a decent WHIP, a high win total, and doesn't hurt you in the strikeout category every year. You can't ask for more out of a 10th rounder.
Worst - Rick Reed - 14th round
Comment - Reed's 2002 success hasn't translated to this season, as he has struggled in most of his starts. David Wells was still available. Ouch.
Best - Hank Blalock, 23rd round
Comment - Like Z Money, Flux is getting some big numbers from drafting a Texas hitter late. Blalock has maintained a surprisingly high batting average so far and has given Flux some power at a somewhat thin position.
Worst - Jose Contreras, 15th round
Comment - A big risk that was a major bust. Triple A stats don't count in the majors, so Flux is left with nothing when he could have picked up a much needed closer.
Best - Dave Roberts, 16th round
Comment - David Eckstein, Randy Winn, Danys Baez are just a few of the names chosen several rounds ahead of Roberts, who gives the Stonecutters a decent average and plenty of runs to go along with the bunches of SBs he has accumulated so far.
Worst - Joe Crede, 15th round
Comment - This isn't exactly a major bust, but the Stonecutters had a pretty solid draft. Crede's only decent stat is his RBI total (15), but he'll have to do much better than that to justify this pick.
Best - Mike MacDougal, 26th round
Comment - No contest, as MacDougal looks like the real deal, saving games on a team that looks to have many more wins than expected. This is reason number 1 why owners wait until later to draft closers - they want to stumble on a Mike MacDougal. Towns succeeds here.
Worst - Jeremy Giambi, 13th round
Comment - Jeremy is and always will be a part time player, and with an already crowded Boston lineup, Towns had no business picking Giambi this early.
Best - Tom Glavine, 10th round
Comment - Glavine showed no signs of slowing down last year (2.96 ERA, 18 -11), so getting a pitcher of this caliber in a double digit round is a mistake by everyone except Vandelay.
Worst - Mo Vaughn, 15th round
Comment - Nen and Byrd (8th and 12th) were health risks from the get go, but most of the devastating news came after the draft. With Mo, though, it's just been a case of zero production when put in the lineup. Vaughn blames bone spurs and a bum knee, but better conditioning could have prevented some of his problems and made life much easier for Vandelay.
Best - Kevin Brown, 9th round
Comment - Another health risk, no one took a flier on Brown until Damage snagged him and it has paid off. He's putting up stats worthy of a healthy Kevin Brown and is already faring better than Wade Miller, Colon, Buerhle, Burnett, and other pitchers selected well ahead of him.
Worst - Eric Milton, 16th round
Comment - Junior Spivey hasn't exactly lived up to 8th round status, but Milton has yet to throw a pitch and his injury problems were known at the time of the draft. Before fellow owners could warn Damage, Milton was already off the board.
Big League Chew
Best - Jerry Hairston, Jr., 25th round
Comment - Hairston already has a double digit steal total and looks to have improved upon his previous seasons. He.plays at a very thin position, too, so getting him this late was a great move by BLC.
Worst - Roberto Alomar, 6th round
Comment - BLC's 25th pick is doing a better job at 2B than Alomar. Change his name to Roberta, because Alomar is done. He still hasn't figured out the National League pitchers and never will.
It's a little early to say who had the worst draft, as players drafted early and struggling can still turn it around (Thomas, Lowe, Halladay, etc.). What is obvious, however, is that the two owners with the best overall drafts were Slim Shady and Stonecutters. The standings reflect the success in their drafts, and both squads have high picks that have underperformed or are coming off an injury (Berkman, Griffey, Beltran), so this is just a fair warning to the rest of the league. Good luck the rest of the way and look for more updates here in the future. In the meantime, check out the rest of TCO to see what you're missing!