MLB History: Re-Visiting the Loaded 2011 Draft

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MLB History: The 2011 Draft was loaded
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 24: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates scoring a run on a two-run single by J.D. Martinez (not pictured) during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Two of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park on October 24, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

When looking back at the most talented drafts in MLB history, the 2011 Draft is one of them. This draft featured many future All-Stars and even a future MVP. This draft is also unique in the way that the first 29 picks have all made it to the majors. Not every draft pick panned out though, and even those who succeeded haven’t reached the level of success people expected. Here we will look back at the first 30 picks of the 2011 Draft and examine who each team should have drafted.

MLB History: The First 30 Picks of the 2011 Draft, Re-Ordered

1. PIT: Real Pick: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA –– New Pick: Mookie Betts, SS, Overton HS (Nashville, TN)

With all due respect to Gerrit Cole, he hasn’t come close to the success that Betts has had. Betts wasn’t drafted until the fifth round and he didn’t stick at shortstop, but he has turned into one of the best players in baseball. He has a .301/.373/.522 (135 OPS+) batting line with 155 homers, 238 doubles, 509 RBIs, 136 steals, and 45.4 rWAR.

In addition to his fantastic offense, Betts has racked up 121 DRS in the outfield, and he’s taken home five Gold Gloves. Betts is a four-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, and a two-time world champion. In 2018, Betts took home the AL MVP and Batting Title. He has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in five consecutive seasons, including two second-place finishes.

2. SEA: Real Pick: Danny Hultzen, LHP, UVA –– New Pick: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice University

This is definitely a pick the Mariners would like to have back. Danny Hultzen is considered one of the biggest busts in MLB history. He lit up the NCAA as a senior at UVA, but succumbed to injuries and never made the majors for the Mariners.

Meanwhile, Rendon has torn up the majors in every full season he’s played. While he’s only made one All-Star Game, Rendon’s numbers simply remarkable. He’s hit .290/.372/.490 (127 OPS+) with 145 homers, 256 doubles, 577 RBIs, and 31.2 rWAR. Rendon is a two-time Silver Slugger and has finished as high as third in MVP voting. In 2019, Rendon helped the Nationals win their first-ever World Series. He is currently entering the second year of his seven-year, $245 million contract with the Angels.

3. ARI: Real Pick: Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA –– New Pick: Francisco Lindor, SS, Montverde HS (Montverde, FL)

UCLA managed to have two of their pitchers go in the first three picks of this draft. While Bauer has turned into a fine pitcher, he barely played for Arizona before getting shipped to Cleveland. Lindor on the other hand has developed into one of the best shortstops in MLB. He has a .285/.346/.488 (117 OPS+) slash line with 138 homers, 191 doubles, 99 steals, 411 RBIs, and 28.7 rWAR. Lindor is a four-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glover, and two-time Silver Slugger. He has finished in the top 15 of MVP voting in every full season he’s played in. When all is said and done, Lindor may rank as one of the best shortstops in MLB history.

4. BAL: Real Pick: Dylan Bundy, RHP, Owasso HS (Owasso, OK) –– New Pick: George Springer, OF, UConn

Bundy hasn’t been bad per se, but he hasn’t been nearly as good as people thought he would be. Springer though has turned into a great five-tool player. He has a .279/.361/.491 (131 OPS+) batting line with 174 homers, 137 doubles, 48 steals, 458 RBIs, and 27.5 rWAR. Springer is a three-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger, and a world champion. He also has 24 DRS in the outfield. As a result of his great performance, Springer signed a six-year, $150 contract with the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason.

5. KC: Real Pick: Bubba Starling, OF, Gardner-Edgerton HS (Gardner, KS) –– New Pick: Cole

Bubba Starling also makes the list of one of the worst draft busts in MLB history. Starling received a massive $7.5 million signing bonus, but he struggled so mightily that he didn’t make the majors until 2019. Currently, Starling has a .544 OPS and -1.5 rWAR.

While Cole falls to fifth in this version of the draft, he’s still had a very good career. After five solid seasons in Pittsburgh, Cole was traded to the Astros, where he became one of the best pitchers in baseball. Following the 2019 season, Cole signed a massive nine-year, $324 million contract with the Yankees. At the time, it was the largest contract in MLB history. Overall, Cole has a 101-55 record with a 3.19 ERA/3.11 FIP (128 ERA+), a 1.119 WHIP, and 1,430 strikeouts in 1,268 innings (10.1 K/9). Cole is a three-time All-Star and has finished as high as second in Cy Young voting.

6. WAS: Real Pick: Rendon –– New Pick: Trevor Story, SS, Irving HS (Irving, TX)

Some may take Story’s career numbers with a grain of salt because he’s played his whole career in mile-high Denver, but he’s been fantastic regardless. He has a career batting line of .277/.343/.535 (114 OPS+) with 134 homers, 146 doubles, 80 steals, 375 RBIs, and 21.0 rWAR. Story has also been stellar in the field, racking up 48 DRS. He is a two-time All-Star and a two-time Silver Slugger. Story has also finished as high as eighth in MVP voting.

7. ARI: Real Pick: Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow HS (Broken Arrow, OK) –– New Pick: Marcus Semien, SS, UC Berkeley

You may have figured it out by now, but this draft had an amazing class of shortstops. Semien wasn’t taken until the sixth round and he isn’t the flashiest player, but he’s had a solid career. He has a .254/.322/.425 (105 OPS+) batting line with 155 homers, 170 doubles, 66 steals, 380 RBIs, and 22.3 rWAR. Semien was particularly strong in 2019 when he put up 8.9 rWAR and finished third in AL MVP voting.

8. CLE: Real Pick: Lindor –– New Pick: Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt University

Sonny Gray is one of many strong pitchers to come from Vanderbilt. Outside of a brief rough patch with the Yankees, Gray has consistently produced at a high level. He is a two-time All-Star and has finished as high as third in Cy Young voting. Overall, Gray has a 3.54 ERA/3.66 FIP (117 ERA+), a 1.220 WHIP, and 1,066 strikeouts in 1,132 innings (8.5 K/9). With his recent surge in strikeouts, Gray is only be getting better as the years go by.

9. CHC: Javy Baez, SS, Arlington Country Day School (Jacksonville, FL) –– New Pick: Baez

The Cubs still end up with Javy Baez in this version of the draft. “El Mago” has had his ups and downs, but he’s put together a nice career thus far. Heading into his contract year, Baez has a .264/.304/.473 (102 OPS+) batting line with 118 homers, 142 doubles, 63 steals, 378 RBIs, and 17.7 rWAR. He has 25 DRS at shortstop and displayed the ability to play almost anywhere on the diamond. Baez is a two-time All-Star, a Gold Glover, and a world champion. In 2018, Baez finished as the runner-up to Christian Yelich in the MVP race. The Cubs should try to keep Baez around beyond 2021.

10. SD: Real Pick: Cory Spangenberg, 2B, Indian River Community College –– New Pick: Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Dartmouth College

The Padres whiffed big time on this pick. Spangenberg only posted 4.6 rWAR and a .704 OPS before leaving the states to play ball in Japan in 2020. Hendricks meanwhile didn’t get drafted until the eighth round. “The Professor” doesn’t blow hitters away with high velocity and hasn’t made an All-Star Game, but he’s become known as one of the best control artists in MLB history. Hendricks has a 69-48 record with a 3.12 ERA/3.53 FIP (133 ERA+), a 1.105 WHIP, and 882 strikeouts in 1,047.1 innings (7.6 K/9). Hendricks helped the Cubs break their 108-year curse in 2016, the same year in which he led MLB in ERA and finished third in Cy Young voting.

11. HOU: Real Pick: Springer –– New Pick: Bauer

In this version of baseball, known Astros hater Trevor Bauer ends up in the Space City. Bauer’s career numbers may not be worth his massive contract, but he’s had some strong seasons. In 2018, Bauer was an All-Star and finished sixth in Cy Young voting. He likely would have been a front-runner that year if it wasn’t for an injury. In 2020, Bauer won the NL Cy Young Award, leading the NL in ERA, WHIP, and ERA+. Now Bauer has to prove that he can build on the outstanding season with the Dodgers.

12. MIL: Real Pick: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, University of Texas –– New Pick: Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, University of South Carolina

The Brewers had high hopes for Jungmann, especially after he won the 2011 Dick Howser Trophy. Unfortunately, Jungmann struggled mightily in 2016 and 2017 and was out of the majors by 2018.

Bradley hasn’t done a ton of hitting in the majors, though he has made an All-Star Game. His glove however makes up for his lack of offense. Bradley only has one Gold Glove, likely because he’s played in the same league as Kevin Kiermaier. Overall, Bradley has 49 DRS in centerfield and 18.0 rWAR.

13. NYM: Real Pick: Brandon Nimmo, OF, East HS (Cheyenne, WY) –– New Pick: Blake Snell, LHP, Shorewood HS (Shoreline, WA)

Nimmo has been a solid player, but Snell has been much more of an impact player. Snell has a 3.24 ERA/3.50 FIP (130 ERA+), a 1.237 WHIP, and 648 strikeouts in 556 innings (10.5 K/9). In 2018, Snell was an All-Star and won the Cy Young, leading the AL in wins, ERA, and ERA+.

14. MIA: Real Pick: Jose Fernandez, RHP, Braulio Alonso HS (Tampa, FL) –– New Pick: Kolten Wong, 2B, University of Hawaii

This pick here is a very sad one to write about. Jose Fernandez was immensely talented and enjoyed success in the majors, but he passed away tragically in a boating accident in September of 2016. MLB history would have changed dramatically had Fernandez been selected by another team, but we will never to its full extent.

Kolten Wong hasn’t been much of a hitter, but he’s been stellar defensively. Wong is a two-time Gold Glover and has 50 DRS to go with 16.9 rWAR.

15. MIL: Real Pick: Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech –– New Pick: Mike Clevinger, RHP, Seminole Community College

The Brewers received this pick for failing to sign Dylan Covey in 2010. They used the pick on Jed Bradley, who never suited up for the Brewers. Clevinger was drafted by the Angels in the fourth round, but he never played for them as he was dealt to Cleveland for Vinnie Pestano. Clevinger has had some injury problems, but he’s been fantastic when healthy. Thus far, Clevinger has a 44-23 record with a 3.19 ERA/3.53 FIP (142 ERA+), a 1.186 WHIP, and 603 strikeouts in 542.1 innings (10.0 K/9). He will miss the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, but expectations are still high.

16. LAD: Real Pick: Chris Reed, LHP, Stanford –– New Pick: Kevin Pillar, OF, CSU Dominguez Hills

The Dodgers struck out on this pick, as Reed would never appear in the majors for them. Pillar wasn’t selected until the 32nd round by the Blue Jays. Similar to Jackie Bradley, Pillar’s bat isn’t what he’s known for. Pillar has racked up 57 DRS in the outfield and has made multiple highlight-reel catches. Pillar also had 16.7 rWAR, which is pretty good for a 32nd round pick.

17. LAA: Real Pick: C.J. Cron, 1B, University of Utah –– New Pick: Nick Ahmed, SS, UConn

Ahmed is another defensive-minded player, though his offense has improved in recent years. Ahmed has won two Gold Gloves and has racked up a spectacular 81 DRS at shortstop, elevating his rWAR to a respectable 12.0.

18. OAK: Real Pick: Gray –– New Pick: Nimmo

Unlike Pillar and Bradley, Brandon Nimmo is not known for his defense, but his offense has been solid. He doesn’t hit for a super high average, but his .258/.390/.448 (130 OPS+) batting line is nothing to scoff at. He also has 39 homers, 59 doubles, 121 RBIs, and 8.0 rWAR. Nimmo is a player that most teams would slot at the top of their lineup.

19. BOS: Real Pick: Matt Barnes, RHP, UConn –– New Pick: Michael Fulmer, RHP, Deer Creek HS (Edmond, OK)

Another UConn draft pick, Barnes has turned into a solid reliever for the Red Sox, but nothing to write home about. Fulmer on the other hand has been a solid pitcher when he’s healthy. He won Rookie of the Year in 2016 and followed that up by making the All-Star Game in 2017. While Fulmer has been hampered by injuries for the past few seasons, there’s still hope he can return to form in the coming years.

20. COL: Real Pick: Tyler Anderson, LHP, University of Oregon –– New Pick: Travis Shaw, 3B, Kent State University

For a pitcher, getting drafted by the Rockies sets you up for failure. Anderson hasn’t been completely terrible, but his 4.65 ERA leaves much to be desired. Shaw isn’t a superstar, but he’s a solid, power-hitting infielder. He has a .243/.325/.448 (102 OPS+) batting line, 105 homers, 116 doubles, 327 RBIs, and 9.7 rWAR. Shaw’s best seasons came in 2017 and 2018 when he hit over 30 homers in both years.

21. TOR: Real Pick: Tyler Beede, RHP, Lawrence Academy (Groton, MA) –– New Pick: Bundy

Beede didn’t end up signing with the Jays, though he did eventually make the majors with the Giants. While Bundy hasn’t quite lived up to his billing, he’s still been a solid pitcher. His biggest issue has been the home run ball, which has led to an inflated career ERA of 4.54. Bundy had a great season for the Angels in 2020 though, which means that his numbers may have also been hurt by pitching in Camden Yards, which is very hitter-friendly.

22. STL: Real Pick: Wong –– New Pick: Blake Treinen, RHP, South Dakota State University

Treinen was selected by the A’s in the seventh round. He was traded to the Nationals in 2013, though he would end up back in Oakland in 2017. Treinen has had some ups and downs, but he’s had a solid career as a reliever. He has a 3.02 ERA/3.34 FIP (138 ERA+), a 1.278 WHIP, and 413 strikeouts in 425.2 innings (8.7 K/9). Treinen was an All-Star in 2018 when he racked up 38 saves and a minuscule 0.78 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 80.1 innings. That same season, Treinen finished sixth in Cy Young voting and 15th in MVP voting.

23. WAS: Real Pick: Alex Meyer, RHP, University of Kentucky –– New Pick: Ken Giles, RHP, Yavapai College

Alex Meyer never ended up playing for the Nationals and was out of MLB after the 2017 season. Giles on the other hand was a seventh-round pick, and he wowed fans with his electrifying fastball and a wipeout slider. “100 Miles Giles” has been fantastic when healthy, pitching to a 2.74 ERA/2.45 FIP and a 1.117 WHIP with 115 saves and 478 strikeouts in 351 innings (12.3 K/9). He will miss 2021 due to Tommy John Surgery but expect Giles to remain effective for years to come.

24. TB: Real Pick: Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Spring Valley HS (Columbia, SC) –– New Pick: Zach Davies, Mesquite HS (Gilbert, AZ)

Taylor Guerrieri got off to a promising start to his professional career, but it all went downhill after he suffered a torn UCL and failed a drug test in 2013. While Davies isn’t a strikeout artist, he’s had a solid big league career. He has a 3.79 ERA/4.18 FIP (114 ERA+), a 1.275 WHIP, and 497 strikeouts in 683.2 innings (6.5 K/9).

25. SD: Real Pick: Joe Ross, RHP, Bishop O’Dowd HS (Oakland, CA) –– New Pick: Brad Miller, SS, Clemson University

Joe Ross never appeared in a game for the Padres, as he was traded to the Nationals in 2015. There, he would develop into a fairly average pitcher. Miller wouldn’t stick at shortstop and didn’t really break out until after the Mariners traded him. He developed a bit of a power stroke, hitting as many as 30 homers in a season. Miller still fills roster spots as a lefty with some thump in his bat.

26. BOS: Blake Swihart, C, V Sue Cleveland HS (Rio Rancho, NM) ––  New Pick: Joe Panik, SS, St. John’s University

Many people had high hopes for Blake Swihart, but he struggled mightily in the big leagues before the Red Sox released him in 2019. Meanwhile, Panik became an All-Star and helped the Giants win a World Series. Panik would tail off in the following years, but his contact-hitting ability made him a solid contributor.

27. CIN: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra HS (Martinez, CA) –– New Pick: James McCann, C, University of Arkansas

Stephenson’s struggles can mainly be attributed to his days as a starter, but he’s shown flashes of being a solid reliever in recent years. McCann also struggled at the beginning of his career, but after altering his swing in 2019, he improved dramatically. McCann was an All-Star and 2019 and after a strong 2020, he earned a nice four-year contract worth $40 million with the Mets.

28. ATL: Real Pick: Sean Gilmartin, LHP, FSU –– New Pick: Cron

The Braves traded Gilmartin to the Twins in 2014, and he wouldn’t make the majors until 2015 with the Mets. Cron meanwhile has put together a solid career while playing for the Angels, Rays, Twins, and Tigers. He has a .257/.312/.464 (111 OPS+) slash line with 118 homers, 123 doubles, 373 RBIs, and 7.6 rWAR. Cron has hit as many as 30 homers in a season.

29. SFG: Real Pick: Panik –– New Pick: Cody Allen, RHP, High Point University

Cody Allen was a 23rd round pick, but he became arguably the best closer in franchise history for the Indians. In his seven seasons in Cleveland, Allen recorded a 2.98 ERA/3.17 FIP and a 1.189 WHIP while racking up 564 strikeouts in 463.2 innings (11.5 K/9). While he never made an All-Star Game, Allen racked up a franchise-leading 149 saves for the Tribe. Allen recently retired, but he had a strong career overall.

30. MIN: Real Pick: Levi Michael, SS, UNC-Chapel Hill –– New Pick: Seth Lugo, RHP, Centenary College of Louisiana

We have arrived at the lone player of the top 30 picks who did not make the majors. Levi Michael is currently a free agent and has a career .718 OPS in the minors. Lugo meanwhile was a 34th round pick and has become one of the Mets’ most valuable pitchers. While he’s had injuries, Lugo has a 3.45 ERA/3.59 FIP (116 ERA+), a 1.148 WHIP, and 384 strikeouts in 383.1 innings (9.0 K/9). As a reliever, Lugo has a 2.53 ERA, compared to a 4.35 as a starter.

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