Mike Zunino Would Put The Top Three Picks From 2015 In the Same Lineup
Now that the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft has begun, several columnists have been discussing the historic draft from ten years ago. Jim Callis at MLB.com on July 14 wrote a piece debating whether the team that went first in 2012, the Houston Astros, made the right pick.
Since Houston went on to win the World Series and capture three pennants with the top overall choice, it would be hard to argue that drafting shortstop Carlos Correa was a mistake. Correa of course was a key piece to making the Astros perennial champions of the American League West, averaging 28 home runs and 103 runs batted in each year since his 2015 debut.
The number two overall pick that year, while he may not have put up quite as impressive numbers as Correa, could still be considered to have been a better bet. Unlike the guy drafted ahead of him, Byron Buxton is still on the same team that picked him.
In spite of being frequently on the injured list since his debut in 2015, Buxton has somehow managed to put up great numbers. His 27 home run average is just one under that of Correa and although his RBI count is just 71, you must take into account that many of Buxton's plate appearances have come as the leadoff hitter.
Whether Correa or Buxton should have gone first is a moot point now, considering the two talents are playing for the same team. Buxton's Twins signed Correa to a free agent contract over the winter and, along with a healthy Buxton, has led Minnesota atop the American league Central at the season's halfway point.
It is no mere coincidence that the Twins have remained in first place for all but a few days so far in 2022, for they are the only team in this century to have the two top picks from any given year play together in the same lineup everyday as veterans.
A team has to have intermittent lousy seasons in order to get one of the first two picks, usually it plays its home games in a small market. Because of the economic inequality of the sport, it is highly unlikely that the player will remain with his original club once he becomes eligible for free agency.
Look at the top picks with the biggest names from the past twenty years, and you will realize how few of them ever re-signed with their original clubs. Garrit Cole went first overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011, and he has since then switched uniforms three times.
The year before the Pirates got the second pick, pitcher Jameson Taillon who, like Cole, is currently on the New York Yankees. The guy selected before Taillon in 2010, Washington outfielder Bryce Harper, left the Capitol to sign a lucrative free agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Armed with the two top picks from the same year, the Twins are set for a run to the postseason. That achievement would be of little comfort to the fans in the Twin Cities, given the fact that the team has lost 23 straight playoff games.
In order to increase their chances of breaking this dubious streak, Minnesota might want to consider a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. They have the number three overall pick from 2015, and he currently plays a position that has been a weakness for the Twins.
Mike Zunino is one of the best catchers in the game, making the All-Star team and finishing in the top twenty in voting for last year's Most Valuable Player. He is available because the Rays have Francisco Mejia as their everyday back stop, and Zunino is eligible for free agency after the season.
Since the top two picks have gotten Minnesota to the most regular season wins in the A. L. Central, perhaps adding their third pick will get them some victories in the playoffs. If they do indeed acquire Zunino, maybe the team will consider becoming the Minnesota Triplets.