Usually when an MLB team’s win percentage is hovering around .300 at the end of August, they can at least take some solace in the fact that they are about to receive the first pick in the following year’s MLB draft. Unfortunately for the Orioles and Royals, two organizations can’t both have the number one overall pick, even if they’re both historically bad in the same year.
Instead, the Orioles and the Royals entered this past weekend playing for the rare distinction of possibly losing 110+ games and still not drafting first overall.
It may not necessarily be difficult to finish an MLB season hovering around 50 wins, because any team could lose all 162 games in a season if they really wanted to, but the feat is definitely rare. Since the 2004 season, only one MLB team has finished with fewer than 55 wins: the 2013 Astros. Those Astros finished 51-111 on the way to their third consecutive number one overall pick. Daring to beat all odds, the Royals and Orioles are both on track to win fewer than 55 games this season.
Luckily for the Birds, following a series in which they were swept by the second worst team in baseball, the Orioles are finally back on track towards obtaining the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft. And they now have a hefty “lead.”
With only 24 games left to play, the Orioles are sitting 6.5 games behind the Royals for the second-worst record in baseball. While anything is possible, that would be a hefty, and frankly unwanted, comeback for the Baltimore Orioles. Assuming the Royals, who are quietly 8-2 in their last 10 games, continue their season-long pace, they will tack on another eight or nine more wins over the next month.
Conservatively, let’s say the Royals finish with a record of 54-108. That means the Orioles would have to win 14 of their last 24 games to catch up, a winning percentage of .583 compared to their season-long winning percentage of just .290. While I’d love to see the recent call-ups add a spark to the Orioles lineup and defense, I just don’t see that happening.
Even if the Orioles happen to finish out the season playing .500 baseball, the O’s would still end up with only 52 wins. The Royals could win seven of their remaining 25 games, a winning percentage of .280, and still wind up with 53 wins. Case in point, it’s looking more and more likely that the Orioles will secure the first overall pick in the 2019 draft.
As a silver lining to Royals fans, and potentially Orioles fans if the team suddenly gets hot in these last few weeks, many scouts agree that the 2019 draft class is headlined by two premier talents. Preferences seem to be split nearly down the middle between high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and collegiate catcher Adley Rutschman of Oregon State. So, the loser of the number one draft pick will still be looking at a premier talent, they just won’t get to pick which one.
On a game-to-game basis, I’m rooting for the Orioles to win every single one. It’s in my DNA as a fan. That being said, it would be extremely disappointing to suffer through this lost season without the top selection to show for it. And in that regard, I’m always hoping the Orioles lose. It seems to make even less sense after writing it down, but I swear the logic is sound in my head.
It’s rough going when your team’s positive outcome involves losing games instead of winning them, but this has been a strange season for Orioles fans. I thought Baltimore would have been numb to a season like this after powering through 14 consecutive losing seasons, but this is different. The only light at the end of the tunnel revolves around what the Orioles largely failed to do in the 2000s: the full rebuild. After all, the 51-111 Houston Astros in 2013 won the World Series only four years later.
Where do you guys fall on wanting the Orioles to win versus wanting the first overall draft pick? It’s a weird dichotomy for sure. Pop in the comments and let us know.