I haven't posted anything on here before, so please, bear with me...
I've read a lot about all of the prospects that could potentially be taken by Pittsburgh at #1. I've read arguments on both sides on whether to take a position player or a pitcher; many of them make sense. SHOOTFOR2010 piqued my interest with this FanPost; Schide followed it up with this one using WAR. McCutcheonIsTheTruth dropped this FanPost compiling things about the top guys that the Bucs might take. I wanted to combine these ideas, so I used BBRef's draft page so that I could see WAR easily next to the players in question. I went back to the beginning to get as big a sample size as possible.
14 total pitchers have been taken, accumulating for a total of 141.6 WAR between them, for an average of 14.2 WAR per pitcher. The closest pitcher to this mean is Kris Benson, who managed 11.0 WAR over his 9 year MLB career with no All Star appearances. Benson finally retired, leaving Strasburg, David Price, Hochevar, and maybe even Bryan Bullington to increase that total in the future. Only Brien Taylor (91, Yankees, never made MLB) and David Clyde (93, Rangers, horrible publicity stunt/failure) were high school pitchers, combining for .4 WAR total; I'm concluding that Dylan Bundy does not have history on his side (rumors and contract demands notwithstanding). Andy Benes had the highest WAR at 29.6; he managed one All Star appearance in 14 seasons. Benes had an okay MLB career, but not what you want to project out of someone going #1 overall, especially considering how much money the team will be paying him.
31 position players have been taken #1 overall (the White Sox and Angels both took Danny Goodwin in 71 and 75, respectively). These hitters accumulated a total of 639 WAR between them for an average of 20.6 WAR per position player. The closest player to this average was Bob Horner at 21.0. Horner won ROY in 1978 and earned one All Star appearance over 10 seasons. A-Rod has the highest WAR (103.9) while 4 position players never made MLB (this number includes Tim Beckham and Bryce Harper, who are still developing in the minor leagues, as well as Matt Bush, who hasn't made his MLB debut and has been converted to a pitcher). A-Rod, Chipper, and Griffey were all high school players and are likely HOFers; only Steven Chilcott (Mets, 66) was drafted as a high school player and never made MLB. This lends some support to Bubba Starling and Francisco Lindor. B.J. Surhoff has the highest WAR of the college hitters at 34.4; he lasted 19 seasons, accumulating one All Star nod.
I would consider Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen, Dylan Bundy, Trevor Bauer, Bubba Starling, and Francisco Lindor the contestants to go #1 to the Pirates. Analyzing the provided data, I would rate them Starling/Lindor, Rendon, Cole/Hultzen/Bauer, then Bundy. In my opinion, as a weathered fan, I want to see Rendon.
All of this information isn't necessarily applicable. And I understand that WAR isn't the only statistic available to the modern SABR-minded world; it was just a quick, easy way to compare pitchers and position players and the quality of their careers. Thanks for reading!!