On Monday, ESPN completed its fourth annual franchise player draft, in which 30 of the network’s baseball experts put on their general manager caps and picked the players around which they’d build a team. In news that should surprise no one, 22-year-old Angels outfielder Mike Trout went No. 1 overall.
Baseball Prospectus co-founder Christina Kahrl had the second pick and went with the player most often compared to Trout, rightly or wrongly: Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. Kahrl cited the 21-year-old Harper’s potential high-end return and long-term value.
— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) June 2, 2014
Fans who disagreed with the pick — and there were a lot of them — pointed to Harper’s inability to stay on the field.
@BBTN Just terrible.
— Russ Novak (@Russ_Novak) June 2, 2014
— Bryce (@brycben) June 2, 2014
— James Grendel (@Grendel1985) June 2, 2014
— David Houser (@intheHouser) June 2, 2014
— Charles (@CharlieAF1) June 2, 2014
ESPN’s David Schoenfield and Eric Karabell picked Stephen Strasburg with the seventh pick of the second round (No. 37 overall) for Doug Glanville’s team, while Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and Orioles slugger Chris Davis were selected fourth and 54th, respectively.
Trout and Harper went No. 1 and No. 2 in last year’s draft, as well. In 2012, Strasburg was sixth, Harper was 12th and Trout was 13th. In 2011, the first year ESPN conducted this exercise, Harper was ninth, Trout was 12th and Strasburg was 22nd.