David Price and Luke Hochevar, two former overall #1 picks, are scheduled to make their first career opening day starts for their respective teams in 2011. It is always an honor for a pitcher to be picked by his manager to make an opening day start and in some instances, for a #1 overall pick it lends validation to the organization for drafting and developing him.
Since the amateur draft was instituted in 1965, only 14 pitchers have been selected #1 overall. These #1 overall picks have had varying degrees of success and failure, posting an overall record of 871-898 and have made a total of 20 opening day starts compiling a record of 6-7 (the most opening day starts by a former #1 overall pick is Mike Moore with 6). David Price is off to a terrific start to his career and may exceed all other former #1 picks in career wins and opening day starts by the time his career is over. Below is a quick look at the careers of the former overall #1 picks including opening day starts.
In 1973 the Texas Rangers made David Clyde the first ever pitcher to be selected #1 overall and immediately went from a high school pitcher to a member of the Rangers starting rotation. Clyde had a disappointing career posting an 18-33 record with an ERA of 4.63 with a rWAR of 0.4. Clyde never started an opening day game.
In 1976 the Houston Astros selected Floyd Bannister with the #1 overall pick. Bannister pitched for parts of 15 seasons and posted a record of 134-143 with a 4.06 ERA and a rWAR of 24.1. He made one opening day start and was the winning pitcher.
In 1981 the Seattle Mariners selected Mike Moore with the #1 overall pick. Moore pitched parts of 14 seasons and posted a record of 161-176 with an ERA of 4.39 and a rWAR of 24.9. He made a total of 6 opening day starts, 3 as a member of the Seattle Mariners and 3 as a member of the Detroit Tigers, and posted a record of 2-2 in those starts.
In 1983 the Minnesota Twins selected Tim Belcher with the #1 overall pick. He was not signed by the Twins and was selected in the January secondary phase of the draft by the New York Yankees who immediately signed him. The Yankees did not realize that by signing him prior to the February Free Agent Compensation Draft he was eligible to be drafted and Belcher was drafted off the Yankees roster by the Oakland A's. Belcher pitched in parts of 14 seasons and posted a record of 146-140 with an ERA of 4.16 and a rWAR of 26.3. He made two 4 opening day starts, 2 with the LA Dodgers, 1 with the KC Royals, and 1 with the Anaheim Angels, and went 2-1 in those starts.
In 1988 the San Diego Padres selected Andy Benes with the #1 overall pick. Benes pitched parts of 14 seasons and posted a record of 155-139 with an ERA of 3.97 and a rWAR of 29.6. He made a total of 6 opening day starts, 3 with the San Diego Padres, 1 with the St.Louis Cardinals, and 1 with the Arizona Diamondbacks (Inaugural Game), and went 0-4 in those starts.
In 1989 the Baltimore Orioles selected Ben McDonald wit the #1 overall pick. McDonald pitched parts of 9 seasons and posted a record of 78-70 with a 3.91 ERA and a 19.8 rWAR. He made one opening day start as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers and was the losing pitcher in that game.
In 1991 the New York Yankees selected Brein Taylor with the #1 overall pick. Taylor was a Scott Boras client and used the threat of enrolling in Junior College to garner a 1.55M signing bonus with the Yankees. Taylor injured his shoulder in a bar fight and never made an appearance in the major leagues.
In 1994 the New York Mets selected Paul Wilson with the #1 overall pick. Wilson pitched parts of 7 seasons and posted a record of 40-58 with an ERA of 4.86 and a rWAR of 0.5. He made one opening day start for the Reds in 2005 and received a no decision.
In 1996 the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Kris Benson with the #1 overall pick. Benson pitched parts of 9 season and posted a record of 70-75 with an ERA of 4.42 and a rWAR of 11. He made one opening day start as a member of the Pirates and earned a victory.
In 1997 the Detroit Tigers selected Matt Anderson with the #1 overall pick. Anderson pitched parts of 7 seasons in the majors and posted a record of 15-7 with an ERA of 5.19 and a -1.4 rWAR. Anderson never made a start in the major leagues.
In 2002 the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Brian Bullington with the #1 overall pick. Bullington has pitched in parts of 5 seasons and posted a record of 1-9 with a 5.62 ERA and a rWAR of 5.62.
In 2006 the Kansas City Royals selected Luck Hochevar with the #1 overall pick. Hochevar has pitched in parts of 4 seasons 19-32 with an ERA of 5.60 and a rWAR of -0.6. Hochevar is scheduled to make his first ever opening day start in 2011.
In 2007, the Tampa Bay Rays selected David Price with the #1 overall pick. Price has pitched in parts of 3 seasons and posted a record of 29-13 with an ERA of 3.31 and a rWAR of 6.7. David Price will make his first ever opening day start in 2011.
In 2009, the Washington Nationals selected Stephen Strasburg with the #1 overall pick. Strasburg pitched in part of the 2010 season and posted a 5-3 record with an ERA of 2.91 and a rWAR of 1.6 before tearing the ligament in the elbow and undergoing Tommy John Surgery.