2002 MLB Draft Is Remembered for a Great Class

The 2002 MLB Draft is most commonly known as “Moneyball.” The New York Times best-selling book turned movie focused largely on the Oakland Athletics scouting operations. Besides that, 2002 featured a strong draft class with many players finding their way to the major leagues. The top selections of the Draft were bitter disappointments, especially the Pittsburgh Pirate’s first overall selection of Bryan Bullington. Bullington only won one game in the majors. As for the second overall selection, B.J. Upton arrived in Tampa Bay for a 12-year career.

But that’s not all. The draft class from 20 years ago had many great names who found their way to succeed in the majors. More than two draft picks are still playing today, and they’re included in our list of draft picks from 2002.

2002 MLB Draft

Writers note: Career stats for active players are from July 15, 2022.

Prince Fielder 

Pick/Team: First round, 7th overall, Milwaukee Brewers

Career stats: WAR: 23.8, AB: 5,821, H: 1,645, HR: 319,  RBI: 1,028, R: 862, SB: 18, .283/.382/.506, 134 OPS+

Prince Fielder is not only the son of Cecil Fielder, but he’s a six-time All-Star. Fielder holds the Milwaukee Brewers team record for home runs and RBI in a single season. At 23 years and 139 days, Fielder became the youngest player to hit 50 home runs in a season. Pete Alonso and Aaron Judge are the only players to hit 50 home runs in their rookie seasons. Prince and Cecil are the only father-son duo to each hit 50 home runs in a season. They were the only father-son duo to hit 40 home runs in a season until 2021. Vladimir Guererro Jr. joined his father to achieve the accomplishment.

Cole Hamels

Pick/Team: First round, 17th overall, Philadelphia Phillies

Career stats: WAR: 59.0, W-L: 163-122, 3.43 ERA, 423 G, 422 GS, 2,698 IP, 2,560 SO, 1.183 WHIP

Cole Hamels had a reputation for being consistent throughout his career. “Hollywood” started 30 games or more 10 times in his career. The right-hander finished in the top 10 of Cy Young voting four times while earning another four All-Star selections. Hamels is the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP for the Philadelphia Phillies. In his final start with Philadelphia, Hamels struck out 13 for the 13th no-hitter in franchise history. Despite being a 163-game winner, Hamels has thrown just 3 1/3 innings since 2019.

Matt Cain

Pick/Team: First round, 25th overall, San Francisco Giants

Career stats: WAR: 29.1, W-L: 104-118, 3.68 ERA, 342 G, 331 GS, 2,085 2/3 IP, 1,694 SO, 1.228 WHIP

Matt Cain was 17 when the San Francisco Giants took him with the 25th pick of the 2002 MLB Draft. Cain played a pivotal role in helping the Giants out of the Barry Bonds era. His 331 career starts rank second in franchise history behind Juan Marichal. A three-time Al-Star, Cain pitched the only perfect game for the Giants on June 12, 2012. Cain posted a 4-2 record with a 2.10 ERA in eight postseason starts.

Jon Lester

Pick/Team: Second round, 57th overall, Boston Red Sox

Career stats: WAR: 43.4, W-L: 200-117, 3.66 ERA, 452 G, 451 GS, 2,740 IP, 2,488 SO, 1.278 WHIP

In 2007, Jon Lester did the unthinkable. Lester got the start and then won the final game of the 2007 World Series, less than two years after being diagnosed with lymphoma. He made five All-Star appearances and won an NLCS MVP during one of his three World Series runs. From 2008-2019, the southpaw made at least 30 starts or more per season. He became the 119th pitcher to reach the milestone and the 30th lefty. 

Russell Martin

Pick/Team: 17th round, 511th overall, Los Angeles Dodgers

Career stats: WAR: 38.9, AB: 5,701, H: 1,416, HR: 191,  RBI: 771, R: 883 SB: 101, .248/.349/.397, 101 OPS+

Russell Martin is the second Canadian drafted in the 2002 MLB Draft. Martin made his major league debut in 2006 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It didn’t take long for Martin to make an impression, finishing ninth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2006. The following season he earned both Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards 2007. He made the playoffs 10 times, making three appearances in the ALCS and two in the NLCS. 

Zack Greinke

Pick/Team: First round, 6th overall, Kansas City Royals

Career stats: WAR: 74.8, W-L: 222-138, 3.44 ERA, 545 G, 503 GS, 1 SV, 3,187 2/3 IP, 2,851 SO, 1.163 WHIP

Since becoming a full member of the Kansas City Royals in 2008, Zack Greinke has had quite a career. He’s accumulated six All-Star appearances, six Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. The right-hander has made 25 starts or more 13 times in his career. Greinke once won the Cy Young Award while earning five top-10 Cy Young finishes. He enters the All-Star break with 149 strikeouts away from 3,000 for his career.

Joey Votto

Pick/Team: Second round, 44th overall, Cincinnati Reds

Career stats: WAR: 64.4, AB: 6,954, H: 2,077, HR: 337,  RBI: 1,0985, R: 1,138 SB: 80, .299/.414/.515, 146 OPS+

The Cincinnati Reds should be proud of drafting Canadian Joey Votto in the second round. The 2010 NL MVP is known for his plate discipline as he struck out 130 times or more only twice in his career. His .4154 career OBP is the highest for a first baseman with 5,000 plate appearances or more since Jimmie Foxx. Votto is the first Canadian player since Larry Walker to hit 300 home runs and have 1,000 RBIs. He’s also the second Canadian to have over 2,000 hits.

Charlie Morton

Pick/Team: Third round, 95th overall, Atlanta Braves

Career stats: WAR: 12.6, W-L: 112-99, 4.02 ERA, 310 G, 309 GS, 1,724 IP, 1,606 SO, 1.298 WHIP

Charlie Morton has played 15 seasons for five teams in the majors. Morton arrived at the Atlanta Braves after seven years in the minors. Multiple injuries derailed his career, but he’s accumulated a respectable career as a pitcher. He pitched the final four innings in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Morton appeared in two more World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta. In Game 1, he injured his leg before completing 2 1/3 innings with three strikeouts.

Rich Hill

Pick/Team: Fourth round, 112th overall, Chicago Cubs 

Career stats: WAR: 16.2, W-L: 78-56, 3.82 ERA, 339 G, 210 GS, 1205 1/3 IP, 1,243 SO, 1.225 WHIP

Rich Hill was drafted three times (1999, 2001, 2002) before signing in 2002. Since then, Hill has been a long-term investment. He’s only eclipsed 60 innings twice over his career, but he’s put up respectable numbers. From 2016-2021, Hill put together a 3.22 ERA with a 9.9 K/9 over 123 games. He’s the only pitcher in league history to have a perfect game broken up in the ninth inning by a fielding error and a no-hitter broken up in extra innings by a walk-off home run.

Notable Draft Selections from 2022

Brian McCann, Curtis Granderson, Denard Span, Josh Johnson, Scott Kazmir, Jeff Francoeur, Adam Lind, Brandon McCarthy, Jacoby Ellsbury, Nick Markakis, Hunter Pence, Jonathan Papelbon

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Players Mentioned:

Bryan Bullington, B.J. Upton, Prince Fielder, Cecil Fielder, Pete Alonso, Aaron Judge, Cole HamelsMatt Cain, Barry Bonds, Juan Marichal, Jon Lester, Russell Martin, Zack Greinke, Joey Votto, Jimmie Foxx, Larry Walker, Charlie Morton, Rich Hill, Brian McCann, Curtis Granderson, Denard Span, Josh Johnson, Scott Kazmir, Jeff Francoeur, Adam Lind, Brandon McCarthy, Jacoby Ellsbury, Nick Markakis, Hunter Pence, Jonathan Papelbon