Back before the draft, a story in Sports Illustrated described agent Scott Boras telling the Nationals that two “50-year players” — the kind of talents that only come around twice a century — would be available to them in 2009 and ’10 in the form of Stephen Strasburg, a 50-year pitcher, and Bryce Harper, a 50-year hitter.
And as good as Strasburg has been, perhaps he’s not the first pitcher selected No. 1 overall to finally be worth the choice. In 2007, two years before Strasburg was drafted, the Rays took David Price
out of Vanderbilt. A little more than a year later, he was closing out the Red Sox to send the Rays to the World Series. Now, three years and a month after being drafted, Price, at 24, is the youngest All-Star Game starting pitcher
since a 23-year-old Dwight Gooden in 1988. (That’s how good Gooden was back then — at 23 in ’88, he made his second career All-Star Game start, two years after his first.)
It feels premature to do so, but based on his success thus far — an All-Star starting assignment, a key save in the ALCS and career numbers over 257 innings (what used to constitute a full season for a top starter) that would garner Cy Young consideration — Price may be the best pitcher selected No. 1 overall in the history of the sport. Of course, the praise was similar for Gooden during his first few impressive seasons, but the early returns are promising. We’ll just have to see how it plays out — not just how Price ranks historically, but in a career that will unfold alongside that of Strasburg over the next decade or so, we can hope.
Pitchers selected No. 1 overall