Now that the Baltimore Orioles have made their pick, first overall, it’s time to address an important issue: the expectations placed upon Rutschman — and the differences between No. 1 picks in baseball versus other sports. For a full results of the first two days of the draft, .
In basketball, football, and hockey, the No. 1 pick is almost always expected to step into the team’s starting lineup and contribute from the first day onward. That isn’t the case in baseball. Rutschman is almost certain to hang around the minors until late 2020 or 2021 no matter what. Such is the reality of baseball and its full minor-league system.
When Rutschman does hit the majors, the expectations placed upon him will probably be unfair. To be clear, he has a chance to develop into an All-Star caliber backstop — a franchise catcher type. But historically, the No. 1 pick is far from a given to turn in a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career.
If you use 50 Wins Above Replacement as the baseline, only four No. 1 picks have exceed that threshold: Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., and Joe Mauer. The rest of the top 10 most productive No. 1 picks includes Adrian Gonzalez, Darryl Strawberry, David Price, Harold Baines, Justin Upton, and B.J. Surhoff — good players (with some great seasons) the whole way through, just not the generational talent types fans desire from a No. 1 pick. To take it a step further, the 46 No. 1 picks who reached the majors averaged about 23 WAR.
So, keep that in mind with Rutschman — and with other No. 1 picks in the past and future: the expectation should be “good player” rather than “transcendent talent.”
For a look at, check out our colleague Scott White’s take.
Now, onto the Watch.