Revisiting the 1973 draft

June 1973. Richard Nixon is president. Secretariat is about to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in a quarter century. Paul McCartney and Wings’ “My Love” tops the Billboard charts. Gas costs 39 cents a gallon (give or take).

On June 5, Major League Baseball’s draft took place. With the first pick, the Texas Rangers selected lefthanded pitcher David Clyde. The sad story of Clyde, who was rushed to the big leagues at age 18, just weeks after graduating from high school, is well documented and deserves coverage of its own, but what about the rest of the class?

Draft in a box
  • Players selected: 747
  • Signed players who earned at least one win share: 57
  • Total win shares earned by signed players: 3,880
  • Unsigned players who earned at least one win share: 27
  • Total win shares earned by unsigned players: 1,112
  • First drafted and signed player with at least one win share: David Clyde, P, Rangers, first round (first overall), 11 win shares
  • Last drafted and signed player with at least one win share: Eric Rasmussen, P, Cardinals, 32nd (676th), 43
  • “Peak season” for signed players: 1979, when 37 players accounted for 412 win shares
  • Most win shares in one season: Robin Yount, SS, Brewers, 1982, 39
Best by round (career win shares)

Two future Hall of Famers in the first round? Another in the third? Heck, Jack Clark in the 13th and Dwayne Murphy in the 15th aren’t too shabby…

Round Player Pos Team Overall Pick Win Shares Comments
1 Robin Yount SS Brewers 3 423 NY-Penn All-Star, ’73; HOF, ’99; “Did not do anything with the bat but his bat mechanics are fairly sound. Should be a line drive type hitter with +4 power.” (from high school scouting report filed April 24, 1973—Scouting Reports, p. 143)
Dave Winfield P Padres 4 415 HOF, ’01; “Among the outfielders of history, I find it difficult to get a sense of where he belongs. There are two players, maybe three, who have to be rated ahead of him in right field. I speak of Ruth and Aaron, and maybe Frank Robinson. Anybody else, and you can make an argument either way.” (Baseball Abstract 1985, p. 261)
2 Fred Lynn OF Red Sox 41 280
3 Eddie Murray C Orioles 63 437 Appalachian League All-Star, ’73; Florida State League All-Star, ’74; Southern League All-Star, ’76; HOF, ’03; “His best year was every year. He never won an MVP Award—but he was an MVP candidate every year.” (New Bill James Historical Abstract, p. 434)
4 Kerry Dineen OF Yankees 85 1 NY-Penn All-Star, ’73
5 LaMarr Hoyt P Yankees 109 72
6 Joe Wallis OF Cubs 136 21
7 Mike Flanagan P Orioles 159 158 Became pitching coach and broadcaster after retiring; Orioles GM since ’03
8 Mike Krukow P Cubs 184 109 Broadcaster for Giants since ’94
9 Wayne Gross 1B A’s 215 104 “…my idea of an ideal No. 2 hitter. He gets on base a lot to set up the inning, he takes a lot of pitches, which allows the running game to take place naturally, and despite his speed he very rarely grounds into a double play.” (Baseball Abstract 1983, p. 170)
10-12 n/a
13 Jack Clark P Giants 294 316 California League All-Star, ’74 (at 3B); Texas League All-Star, ’75 (at 3B); “Perhaps the best hitter in baseball in the early eighties, other than Pedro Guerrero, although, as was true with Pedro, something was always standing between Clark and an MVP season.” (New Bill James Historical Abstract, p. 805)
14 n/a
15 Dwayne Murphy OF A’s 359 173 “Reminds me some of Jimmy Wynn; he’s bigger and has a better arm, hasn’t been as consistent with that bat, but the same basic abilities.” (Baseball Abstract 1984, p. 218)
16 Terry Harper P Braves 370 28
17 Joe Sambito P Astros 404 69 Became a player agent after retiring
18 Mike Squires OF White Sox 429 30 Southern League All-Star, ’74 & ’75; last left-handed thrower to play catcher (two games in ’80) or third base (13 in ’84) in the big leagues
19 Larry Bradford P Braves 442 11
20 n/a
21 Mardie Cornejo P Mets 493 4
22-31 n/a
32 Eric Rasmussen P Cardinals 676 43 GCL All-Star, ’73 (known as “Harold” at the time)

Best by position drafted

Eddie Murray behind the plate? Dave Winfield on the mound? Matt Keough at third base? Stop the madness!

Pos Player Team Round Overall Pick Win Shares
C Eddie Murray Orioles 3rd 63 437
1B Wayne Gross A’s 9th 215 104
2B Pat Rockett Braves 1st 10 4
3B Matt Keough A’s 7th 167 50
SS Robin Yount Brewers 1st 3 423
OF Fred Lynn Red Sox 2nd 41 280
OF Dwayne Murphy A’s 15th 359 173
OF Ruppert Jones Royals 3rd 57 139
P Dave Winfield Padres 1st 4 415
P Jack Clark Giants 13th 294 316
P Mike Flanagan Orioles 7th 159 158
P Mike Krukow Cubs 8th 184 109
P LaMarr Hoyt Yankees 5th 109 72

Best by primary position in majors

Ah, this looks a little more familiar…

Pos Player Team Round Overall Pick Win Shares
C Mike Heath Yankees 2nd 37 100
1B Eddie Murray Orioles 3rd 63 437
2B Pat Rockett Braves 1st 10 4
3B Wayne Gross A’s 9th 215 104
SS Robin Yount Brewers 1st 3 423
OF Dave Winfield Padres 1st 4 415
OF Jack Clark Giants 13th 294 316
OF Fred Lynn Red Sox 2nd 41 280
P Mike Flanagan Orioles 7th 159 158
P Mike Krukow Cubs 8th 184 109
P LaMarr Hoyt Yankees 5th 109 72
P Joe Sambito Astros 17th 404 69
P Len Barker Rangers 3rd 49 66

For the trivia buffs: Heath attended Hillsborough High in Tampa, the same school that later produced Dwight Gooden, Gary Sheffield, Carl Everett, et al.

Best drafts by team

Six teams drafted (and signed) players whose total career win shares exceeded 300:

  1. Orioles: 615 (595 from Murray, Flanagan)
  2. Brewers: 432 (all Yount)
  3. Padres: 428 (415 from Winfield)
  4. Giants: 369
  5. Red Sox: 344
  6. A’s: 333
Worst drafts by team

Seven teams drafted (and signed) players whose total career win shares totaled less than 50:

  1. Angels, Reds: 0
  2. Indians, Tigers: 1
  3. Dodgers, 16
  4. Twins, 26
  5. Braves, 43
Ones that got away

Several players who were drafted but who didn’t sign went on to have fine careers:

  1. Jeff Reardon, P, Expos, 23rd round (527th overall), 157 win shares
  2. Bob Stanley, P, Dodgers, ninth (210th), 149
  3. Floyd Bannister, P, A’s, third (71st), 128
  4. Ken Landreaux, OF, Astros, 8th (188th), 114
  5. Bryn Smith, P, Cardinals, 49th (741st), 100
Revisionist history

Coulda, shoulda, woulda… Hindsight is 20/20, of course, so take this with huge buckets of salt. It’s interesting to ponder the paths not taken, though, and here’s how the first round might have played out with a priori knowledge of future events. The below includes unsigned picks.

  1. Rangers, Eddie Murray
  2. Phillies, Robin Yount
  3. Brewers, Dave Winfield
  4. Padres, Jack Clark
  5. Indians, Fred Lynn
  6. Giants, Dwayne Murphy
  7. Angels, Mike Flanagan
  8. Nationals, Jeff Reardon
  9. Royals, Bob Stanley
  10. Braves, Ruppert Jones
  11. Twins, Floyd Bannister
  12. Cardinals, Ken Landreaux
  13. Yankees, Mike Krukow
  14. Mets, Wayne Gross
  15. Orioles, Mike Heath
  16. Cubs, Bryn Smith
  17. Red Sox, Jay Howell
  18. Dodgers, Gary Roenicke
  19. Tigers, John Stearns
  20. Astros, La Marr Hoyt
  21. White Sox, Mitchell Page
  22. Reds, Joe Sambito
  23. Athletics, Bill Sample
  24. Pirates, Len Barker
Odds and ends

Some other interesting names and/or stories popped up in the ’73 draft. Here are a few of them:

  • Steve Swisher, C, White Sox, first round (21st overall)—Nick Swisher‘s dad
  • Mitchell Page, OF, A’s, 3rd (72nd)—Great rookie season in ’77, decent follow-up in ’78, then fell off cliff
  • Bobby Clark, SS, Astros, 14th (332nd)—Posted 29/0 K/BB ratio over 93 plate appearances for Angels in ’82
  • Danny Boone, P, Angels, 15th (343rd)—Didn’t sign; first of five times he was drafted (three times by Angels, who finally signed him in June ’76)
  • Ronald Reagan, 3B, Reds, 20th (477th)—Out of Southeastern Oklahoma State University; no clue if he’s related to the former president, but it’s somewhat amusing that a guy with that name would be drafted by a team called the Reds
  • Tim Ireland, 2B, Expos, 25th (563rd)—Only big-league hit came on May 11, 1982, while playing for Kansas City; in the sixth inning he singled off the Brewers’ Jamie Easterly; Ireland later became a minor-league manager
  • Dick Jauron, SS, Cardinals, 25th (567th)—Drafted by NFL’s Detroit Lions in fourth round; played safety for the Lions and Cincinnati Bengals from 1973 to 1980, currently head coach of the Buffalo Bills
  • Rudy Jaramillo, OF, Rangers, 29th (631st)—Hit .365 for Sarasota (GCL) in first pro season but never reached the big leagues; hitting coach for Texas Rangers since 1994

If you’ve made it this far, I thank you for your indulgence and hope that you enjoyed this look back at what turned out to be a fruitful draft. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got an Adam 12 marathon to watch.

References & Resources
Lots of help on this one. In no particular order: Baseball-Reference.com, Win Shares and several Baseball Abstracts including the New Historical Abstract (Bill James), Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (Johnson & Wolff), Scouting Reports (Stan Hart), Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (Joel Whitburn).

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