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The Giants are drafting second in the 2018 MLB Draft, and that’s a good thing

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How often has the second-overall pick had a better career than the first-overall pick? More often than you think.

San Francisco Giants v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Giants will pick second in the 2018 MLB draft because of a Pablo Sandoval home run. This is amusing and terrifying at the same time, but what does that really mean? Should the Giants be devastated that they weren’t rewarded for this miserable season with a shiny, new no. 1 pick?

Probably not.

The Giants have drafted second in the MLB Draft just once, and they came away with Will Clark. If that’s all you want to know, you’re justified in skipping off into the sunset. It’s hard not to get a good player in the draft when a team picks second, and the Giants will have a great chance at finding a valuable contributor to their future plans.

Who is the best player ever drafted #2?

That would be Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, who was drafted by the A’s in 1966. He’s followed by Justin Verlander and Will Clark, both of whom might be in the Hall of Fame one day (depending on what the Eras Committees think about Clark in the future).

I’m pretty sure the Giants would be happy with a player as effective and popular as Clark, but that’s just a guess.

Which player is something of the average selection with the second pick?

That’s probably Mike Moustakas, who shows around the middle of the career WAR rankings, though he still has a chance to add on. There are a lot of players still in the middle of their careers (Jameson Taillon, Byron Buxton, Alex Bregman) or who haven’t even started (Hunter Greene, Nick Senzel), so it’s hard to figure out the exact median player. But Moustakas seems like a good mix of flawed and important, which makes his career value something that’s reasonable to expect.

He helped the Royals win a championship, after all. Just like Alex Gordon, who was also picked second overall.

How many flops were there with the second pick?

Plenty. It is the draft, after all. Mike Lentz, Garry Harris, and Augie Schmidt never made the majors. Mark Merchant was the guy drafted immediately after Ken Griffey, Jr., and he wasn’t quite as successful, either. Mark Lewis was a high-profile bust, even if I remember his grand slam against the Mets fondly.

Of the 53 picks, about 25 of them had disappointing careers worth less than 10 WAR, but that includes players like Ben Grieve, Kurt Stillwell, and Darren Dreifort, who still gave their respective teams some excellent seasons. Not to mention that Stillwell was traded for Danny Jackson, who helped the Reds win the 1990 World Series. You can’t just tally up the WAR of individual players because prospects have inherent value before they win a single game.

Have there been times when the second-overall pick has had a better career than the first-overall pick?

[cracks knuckles]

Oh, baby, have there.

In 1966, Reggie Jackson was drafted behind Steve Chilcott.

In 1969, J.R. Richard was drafted behind Jeff Burroughs (who was pretty good himself).

In 1972, Rick Manning was drafted behind Dave Roberts (not that one).

In 1973, John Stearns was drafted behind David Clyde ... with Robin Yount and Dave Winfield following Stearns.

In 1978, Lloyd Moseby was drafted behind Bob Horner, who was shafted out of a much longer career because of injuries.

In 1979, Tim Leary was drafted behind Al Chambers.

In 1984, Bill Swift was drafted behind Shawn Abner.

In 1985, Will Clark was drafted behind B.J. Surhoff.

In 1986, Greg Swindell was drafted behind Jeff King (and Matt Williams was drafted third overall, too).

In 1995, Ben Grieve was drafted behind Paul Wilson.

In 1997, J.D. Drew was drafted behind Matt Anderson.

In 2002, B.J. Upton was drafted behind Bryan Bullington.

In 2003, Rickie Weeks was drafted behind Delmon Young.

In 2004, Justin Verlander was drafted behind Matt Bush.

In 2013, Kris Bryant was drafted behind Mark Appel.

This doesn’t include the drafts in which both players were of comparable value, like with Justin Upton and Alex Gordon, or Pat Burrell and Mark Mulder. It also doesn’t include the drafts where both players were busts. The point is that it’s not that common for a situation like the Griffey or A-Rod draft, where one player’s career absolutely dominated the career of the player selected behind him.

The point is that Pablo Sandoval didn’t doom the Giants. He just probably doomed them because the universe is always down for a good jape.

The Giants need good young players. They will probably get one of them next June. While it would have been a lot simpler if they could have picked first for the first time in franchise history, they shouldn’t worry too much about that second-overall pick. Now that the misery is over, it’s time to get excited.