Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Griffey a Pirate? Chipper a Tiger? The MLB draft rule that changed history

What if I told you that, if not for a now-defunct MLB draft rule, Ken Griffey Jr. would be wearing a Pirates cap on his Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown?

And that Alex Rodriguez never would have been a Mariner, either?

And that Chipper Jones would’ve gone to Detroit, not Atlanta?...

All of that is due in part to a small yet significant draft rule retired 15 years ago. It stipulated that the No. 1 pick alternate each year between leagues. The NL drafted first in even years; the AL was first in odd years. Take Griffey’s draft, for example. The NL had drafted first in 1986 — Pittsburgh took Jeff King — and the top pick ping-ponged back to the AL in 1987. The lucky losers? The Mariners, despite having a better record than the Pirates.

This rule, alternating draft order by league, lived for 41 years. It shaped the course of baseball history, and then it quietly went away.

“I did not know about that rule,” Jones said, then laughed. “Not until now.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 27, 2020 at 10:39 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: draft

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Itchy Row Posted: May 27, 2020 at 12:15 PM (#5953826)
If, for some reason, Todd Van Poppel had been OK with Detroit picking him first instead of Atlanta, Chipper would have still been there for the Braves at #2. The next three picks after Chipper were Tony Clark, Mike Lieberthal, and Alex Fernandez. At least one of them would have been available at #5, and Seattle and Cleveland tied for the fifth-worst record in 1989. Both teams were good by the mid-90's but would have been better with Clark, Lieberthal, or Fernandez than the players they did take, Marc Newfield for Seattle and Tim Costo for Cleveland. Of course, they may not have developed the same way in different organizations.
   2. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2020 at 01:40 PM (#5953858)
The rule made sense before IL play was instituted. Record alone couldn't identify whether the 63-win Orioles were worse than the 64-win Padres. Even now, it wouldn't be unreasonable.
   3. flournoy Posted: May 27, 2020 at 06:57 PM (#5953965)
I preferred the alternating method, since it made it a lot easier to remember who was drafted which year. (If I were trying to remember whether Phil Nevin was drafted #1 in 1991 or 1991, then I could remember that Chipper Jones was drafted in 1990, so Nevin must have been 1992.)

Would the Tigers have taken Chipper Jones #1, or did they prefer Tony Clark anyway if they weren't going to take Van Poppel? I guess we'll never know. For what it's worth, Bobby Cox (the Braves' GM when Chipper was drafted) has said that he preferred Chipper Jones to Todd Van Poppel regardless. Whether you believe that or think it's revisionist history is up to you, but I think it's true.
   4. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 28, 2020 at 04:02 PM (#5954188)
Griffey a Pirate?


Mark Merchant is fine too, I guess.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
The Piehole of David Wells
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogMLB officially cancels 2020 Arizona Fall League
(2 - 3:07pm, Sep 23)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogThe AL MVP Battle Could Come Down to Philosophy
(9 - 3:04pm, Sep 23)
Last: caspian88

NewsblogAngels' Andrelton Simmons opts out as Los Angeles' season draws to a close
(34 - 2:52pm, Sep 23)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogEmpty Stadium Sports Will Be Really Weird
(9718 - 2:50pm, Sep 23)
Last: Ron J

Newsblog8th? BBTF Central Park Softball Game: October 3
(96 - 2:28pm, Sep 23)
Last: Karl from NY

NewsblogMultiple Reports Link Angels To Dave Dombrowski
(12 - 2:27pm, Sep 23)
Last: The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV)

NewsblogOT - NBA Bubble Thread
(2849 - 1:43pm, Sep 23)
Last: ramifications of an exciting 57i66135

NewsblogSeeding, not record, will determine who bats last in this year's neutral-site World Series
(9 - 12:55pm, Sep 23)
Last: The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV)

NewsblogRob Manfred exclusive: Commissioner says MLB plans to have fans at NLCS, World Series
(6 - 12:49pm, Sep 23)
Last: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad)

NewsblogOT - Soccer Thread - Brave New World
(161 - 12:12pm, Sep 23)
Last: MY PAIN IS NOT A HOLIDAY (CoB).

NewsblogWhy losing Justin Verlander marks beginning of the end of Astros' sad legacy
(44 - 10:58am, Sep 23)
Last: bunyon

NewsblogYou can trust OMNICHATTER!, for September 22, 2020
(27 - 10:20am, Sep 23)
Last: Crispix Attacksel Rios

NewsblogOT Gaming: October 2015
(978 - 10:50pm, Sep 22)
Last: It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out

NewsblogThe Cubs finished their worst offensive season ever at Wrigley Field. Can they just blame it on 2020?
(18 - 9:55pm, Sep 22)
Last: Walks Clog Up the Bases

NewsblogPassan: Inside a final week like MLB has never seen before
(7 - 8:41pm, Sep 22)
Last: the Hugh Jorgan returns

Page rendered in 0.3073 seconds
48 querie(s) executed