It's been a while since I've done a fanpost. Forgive me if I have made any mistakes.
As we march into the final series of the season I find myself thinking about the one good thing that comes out of terrible seasons like this. The more games the team loses, the better the draft pick will be. The Mariners, of course, are in position to nab a great draft pick. But one thing that struck me is how we wound up in that position in the first place.
Draft Standings ending June 23rd
Team Record GB RS RA
Baltimore 19-52 -- 234 381
Pittsburgh 25-46 6.0 234 398
Cleveland 26-44 7.5 294 355
Houston 27-45 7.5 243 363
Arizona 28-45 8.0 347 424
Kansas City 30-43 10.0 325 365
Seattle 30-41 11.0 245 303
This is where we were on June 23th. Baltimore was running away with the #1 draft pick. Baltimore was a full 6.0 games behind Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, we had six teams with better draft position. It was no wonder the name "Anthony Rendon" was quickly becoming a meme that was already getting old. Trying to suck that much was not going to be easy.
Why did I choose such a seemingly arbitrary date such as June 23rd? That was the day we won our 6th game in a row in the Cubs series. That put the team at 11 games below .500 and only 2.5 games behind Oakland (but still 13 games behind the 1st place Rangers). The record was good for a .423 winning percentage. That also turned out to be as high as we were going to get for the rest of the season.
Also of interest, I've included "Runs Scored" and "Runs Allowed." I could not help but notice that our Seattle Mariners had scored more runs to date than Houston, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. Trying to secure a strong draft pick seemed to be a pipe dream since it would require some big time tanking to get there. Little did we know, two teams were about to embark on a journey of MAXIMUM SUCKAGE. Before reading on further, carefully note how Seattle and Pittsburgh were 5.0 games apart at the time.
Draft Standings ending September 29
Team Record GB RS RA
Pittsburgh 56-102 -- 571 847
Seattle 61-97 5.0 506 672
Baltimore 63-95 7.0 597 773
Arizona 64-94 8.0 702 821
Kansas City 65-93 9.0 664 836
Fast-forward to today. Pittsburgh has secured the #1 draft pick. Baltimore went from 6.0 games in control to 7.0 games out of #1. Seattle went from holding the 7th pick to having a shot at the 2nd pick! Just remarkable! How can this be?
Since June 23rd, both Seattle and the Pittsburgh have gone 31-56; Tied for the worst mark in baseball from that point in time. Both teams went about it in different ways. Pittsburgh combined bad offense and allowing runs as if they were Santa Claus. Seattle, having reasonable run prevention, took their offense into legendary lows not seen by any team in decades.
Two other teams, however, wound up screwing themselves over in the draft pick race but hopefully it was for a good cause. Baltimore went 44-43 which is kind of a deceptive record. Baltimore was heading in the direction of the draft pick until they hired Buck Showalter, who has gone 30-22 since taking over the team. For whatever reason, Houston decided to go 48-38 and is now sitting behind nine teams in the draft order.
Race for the #2 Draft Pick (4 games remaining)
Team Record GB Streak
Seattle 61-97 -- L1
Baltimore 63-95 2.0 W1
Arizona 64-94 3.0 L2
Kansas City 65-93 4.0 L1
Now we focus on the four teams that matter with each having four games remaining. Even with them being listed, Kansas City has almost no shot at #2 as the three other teams need to win all of their games while KC loses them all.
Our problem here is that we cannot afford a tie-breaker scenario. The tie-breaker favors the team who had a worse record last year. We won 85 games last year. The rest of the teams top out at 70 wins. With a 2.0 game gap, we do have a bit of flexibility.
My preferred scenario? Split the Oakland series to secure a 63-99 record. We avoid a 100-loss season which makes the players happy that they've accomplished something out of this disastrous season. It takes Kansas City and Arizona clean out of the #2 slot. It makes sure that Baltimore has to drop all of their games in Detroit in order to take the #2 slot from us and I don't see that happening.
Of course, with the next year's draft being reportedly deep it has been argued that we're in good position no matter what happens. But it's something that's been sitting in my mind for a bit while drumming up the "draft standings" going into the final four games.