I've been looking forward to this piece for a long time.
Since I started writing these "re-draft" pieces, in which I go back 10 years and use the beauty of hindsight to redo the first 30 picks of a draft class, I've been salivating at the chance to get at what remains the best draft class of my own brief baseball career, the 2005 crop.
How productive was the 2005 class? Just compare it to what came the year before. The '04 draft has produced just six players who've reached 20-plus WAR in career value to date, while the 2005 class (with a year less to tack on) has already produced nine. Five players from the 2005 crop have reached 30 WAR; that's as many as the 2003 and 2004 draft classes combined, again despite the disadvantage of one less year. All five of those players were taken in the top 11 picks, so while there's certainly a high failure rate in the baseball draft, it's far from random or a "crapshoot," as you might hear from people who don't know if the ball is blown up or stuffed.
This re-draft is based on two major criteria: the players' careers to date and my projections of value they still have to offer (though the list does include players whose careers are likely over). I did not account for the players' signability at the time, nor did I consider a team's preference for high school or college players, pitchers versus position players, etc. In other words, this analysis is based purely on talent. For the first time since I started these re-drafts in 2002, the first overall pick makes the list of the top 30 players from the crop. (By the way, you can see my past re-drafts for 2004, 2003 and 2002, but I'll warn you that this one is much more fun.)
This ranking includes only players who were drafted and signed in 2005. That means some well-known major leaguers, such as Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum, who were drafted that year but didn't sign, aren't eligible for this list. Their day will come.
1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
Fort Meade (Fla.) High School
WAR to date: 33.5
McCutchen isn't the career WAR leader from this draft just yet, but given his age and productivity the past three years, he seems likely to end up topping everyone else in the class en route to what might be a Hall of Fame career.