That's right all you baseball fans out there. After losing 7 in a row against the Cards, the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched the #1 position in Major League Baseball yesterday with a 7-2 win at Busch. Number #1, you ask?
THE NUMBER 1 PICK IN NEXT YEAR'S DRAFT,
that is. Not to take anything away from the Pirates win but the Cardinals had learned earlier in the day that the Reds had already clinched the Central and they were out of the playoffs.
Going into the game, the Pirates were 55-101. Also battling for the basement and top pick were the Seattle Mariners who also won yesterday, beating the Rangers 3-1. The Mariners were 60-96. So by doing the math, all things being equal, they would both end the season in a tie and the tie-breaker is last years standings. Only the Nats finished worse than the Pirates last year. So despite another dysmal season (in a long line of 18 straight), there was still a reason not to give up in September.
The strange thing is that despite the permanent residence in the futility column, this will be the first time the Pirates have picked first since 2002. That year they took the prize pitching prospect, Bryan Bullington. We all know how well that worked out for them, now don't we? Four World Champio.....oh, wait, that wasn't the Pirates. Moving on. Instead, the Pirates have had a couple #2 picks over the last few years, those being Pedro Alvarez in 2008, who just won the NL Player of the week and Jameson Taillon in 2009, one of the best HS talents that should be a major impact player in the next few years.
The overall top talent for 2011 would appear to be the 3rd baseman from Rice, Anthony Rendon. I am not going to say he is the undisputed #1 pick because I am the farthest thing from an expert on baseball prospects. Not to mention the fact that until a few weeks ago, I had no idea who the guy even was. But in most of the pre-draft rankings created by people much smarter than me, he sits very near, if not on the top of most of those lists. A little background on Mr. Rendon...
Anthony was the Freshman of the Year in 2009 after batting .388 with 20 homers. The next year, he followed that up by becoming College Player of the Year for his .394 with 26 homers. He has quick wrist and hand speed and enough power behind his swing to make him one of the best hitters in the draft class. Plus, he's not too shabby at third either. Some have said that if he would have been eligible last year, he might have been a better pick than Bryce Harper. I'm not sure about that because of his recent bouts with injuries and his surgery to fix a busted ankle but despite all that, he is still ranked pretty high.
Regardless of who they get, this is probably the biggest overall pool of talent in a draft class in many years. I just hope for their sake, they make a smart choice when it comes time for their pick. A team like Pittsburgh, in their current situation, stands to benefit the most from a great draft.