The Red Sox currently own the third-worst record in baseball.
One series, three games. That’s all that remains of the 2020 season for the Boston Red Sox. We’re approaching the finish line but there’s still plenty of time for movement in the standings with so many teams bunched together near the bottom.
While nothing has been officially confirmed yet, reports indicate that MLB is highly likely to base next year’s draft order on this season’s standings, following the traditional method despite some concern that the league was toying with other ideas due to the truncated nature of this season.
The Red Sox enter the day at 22-35, placing them last in the AL East and third-worst in the majors. Assuming that MLB sticks to the plan on drafting in reverse order of the standings, this lines up for Boston to have the No. 3 pick in next year’s draft.
The top pick is out of reach with the Pittsburgh Pirates sitting four games behind the Red Sox with only three games left. The dream of drafting Vanderbilt ace Kumar Rocker has sadly slipped away.
The Texas Rangers are three games behind Boston. The No. 2 pick is technically still in play but it would require the Red Sox to lose their remaining three games while the Rangers would need to sweep a Houston Astros club that’s still fighting to lock up a playoff spot. That’s probably not happening, although if it somehow came to fruition, the Red Sox would get the tiebreaker over the Rangers for the higher draft pick. Boston and Texas haven’t faced each other this year but by sweeping the Astros, the Rangers would finish with the superior intradivisional record.
The most realistic best-case scenario would be the Red Sox hanging on to the No. 3 pick, which they can ensure by losing their three games against the Atlanta Braves this weekend.
Atlanta has already clinched the NL East and they are currently the No. 2 seed heading into the postseason. They are too far behind the Los Angeles Dodgers to steal the top seed and they have a fairly comfortable two-game lead over the No. 3 seed Chicago Cubs who they also own the tiebreaker over.
That leaves the Braves with little to play for in this series against the Red Sox. They only need to win once to lock themselves into the No. 2 seed. If they get that out of the way Friday night, Atlanta might opt to rest most of their starters in the remaining two games. That could hand Boston an easy win or two that could cost them their top-three draft pick.
The Red Sox put themselves in this spot with a three-game winning streak this week. After all the misery they have put us through this season, Boston chose the last week of the season to start stringing together wins. The Red Sox have won six of their last 10 games to make the race for a top draft pick a bit more interesting.
Thursday night’s blowout loss to the Baltimore Orioles was tough to watch but it was necessary in order for the Red Sox to avoid plummeting down the draft order. A win for Boston would have capped a three-game sweep of the O’s and put the division rivals in a tie in which Baltimore would own the tiebreaker for draft order.
In that scenario, the Red Sox would have moved into a tie with the Washington Nationals at 23-34. The Red Sox took two out of three against the Nats earlier this year, giving Washington the tiebreaker for draft positioning.
It gets a bit more complicated when it comes to the Detroit Tigers. They had two games scheduled against the St. Louis Cardinals while they were dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that were postponed with no plans to make up those games. One of the many bizarre aspects of this season is that some teams won’t get to play 60 games. The Red Sox and Tigers are tied with 22 wins but Boston has two more losses by virtue of playing more games. Had Boston beaten Baltimore on Thursday, their .404 winning percentage would be slightly higher than Detroit’s .400 mark.
The loss in the series finale with the O’s allowed Boston to stay in the No. 3 draft spot while a win would have dropped them to the sixth pick. That’s a fairly significant swing based on one game and the Red Sox are still in danger of falling in the draft order depending on the outcome of this weekend.
Winning one game against the Braves could do some damage. The Tigers would finish with a slightly worse winning percentage if they get swept by the Kansas City Royals this weekend. The Royals would have the No. 7 pick based on the current standings and they sit two games ahead of Boston. If they win their series with Detroit this weekend, at least that’s one team that won’t be moving ahead of the Red Sox in the draft order.
The Red Sox own the tiebreaker for draft order over the 22-34 Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona still has four games left and they could move ahead of Boston in the draft if they lose all of them while the Red Sox win at least one more.
Washington could also move ahead of Boston if they get swept by the New York Mets and the Red Sox win at least one game.
Beating the Braves twice could allow Baltimore to move ahead of them in the draft order if they get swept by the Blue Jays. Detroit, Washington and Arizona would be more likely to move up. Boston almost certainly won’t hang on to the No. 3 pick if they win this series in Atlanta.
Sweeping the Braves would be the real nightmare scenario. Arizona and Washington most likely move ahead of them in the draft order if that happens while Baltimore’s chances also improve.
Someone has to win in the Tigers-Royals series. If the Tigers lose the series, they would move ahead of Boston in the draft if the Red Sox win their remaining games. The Royals would need to be swept by Detroit in order to have a chance to move ahead of Boston in the draft, in which case the Tigers wouldn’t be moving up.
Seattle and Colorado both have four games remaining. Losing all of them would get them to 35 losses, equaling Boston’s current total. The Red Sox own the tiebreaker over both though, so neither can move ahead of them in the draft order.
The Red Sox have a very slight chance of getting the No. 2 pick but the more realistic outcome would be settling for the third pick in the draft. That assumes they don’t win again this season though. Winning at least one more game means the Red Sox could finish anywhere from the third-worst record to seventh-worst.
It’s been a rough season for Red Sox fans but at least the end result could be a new top prospect being delivered in the next draft. They’ve come this far, they can’t blow it now. As much as it may pain us to root against our Red Sox, you should be hoping that they get swept this weekend.