Number 1 Worst Detroit Tigers Draft – 1997
It didn’t make any sense at the time, and it still doesn’t make any sense 25 years later. In 1997 the Detroit Tigers had the first overall pick in the draft and used it on college reliever Matt Anderson. There were some behind-the-scenes issues with other potential picks J.D. Drew and Troy Glaus, and Anderson did have a huge arm, but taking a pure reliever at 1-1 is the equivalent of an NFL team drafting a punter first overall.
Anderson made his MLB debut just over a year later, and he had a solid rookie year, compiling a 3.27 ERA over 44 innings, albeit with a disturbingly high 31 walks. But things never got any better for him. He pitched out of Detroit’s bullpen for the next five seasons, but he never posted an ERA under 4.72, and in 2002 he infamously hurt his arm the same night he competed in a silly octopus-throwing contest. He finished his Tigers career with a 4.89 ERA over 246.2 innings, and his -0.6 career WAR is the third worst ever for a #1 overall pick.
The Tigers didn’t fare any better with their subsequent picks. Second-round lefty Shane Loux struggled to miss bats in the minors, but he still made seven starts for the Tigers in 2002 and 2003, and he finished his big-league career with a 5.94 ERA and -1.5 WAR. Third rounder Matt Boone never made it to Double-A, fourth-round pick Alan Webb never reached the majors, but was one of the players Detroit sent to Texas in the infamous Juan Gonzalez trade, and fifth-round shortstop Heath Schesser was out of baseball by 1999. The only other draft pick from that class to play for the Tigers was 26th-rounder Max St. Pierre, who stuck around forever and eventually saw action in six games in 2010.