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16.5 Percent

By David Finoli


Since baseball didn’t want to be left out of the draft lottery fun that the NBA and the NHL currently enjoy, they decided to institute one for themselves in 2023. In hockey and basketball, it’s to keep teams from tanking seasons (yea that’s what the Penguins did to draft Mario Lemieux) but they both have salary caps which theoretically gives teams the opportunity to become winners on a quicker basis. In baseball there is no salary cap so tanking for a few years seems to be the lone way small markets can compete from time to time, so the lottery really isn’t going to be much of a deterrent for the small market teams. Anyway, here is how it works.

The bottom three teams in the major league standings all have the same mathematical chance to get the first pick, and thus the Pirates didn’t need to completely tank to be part of the lottery. Washington, Pittsburgh and Oakland all have a 16.5% chance for the first pick in the draft. Fifteen other teams that didn’t make the playoffs all have an opportunity for the first pick. Here are the odds for each:

1. Nationals (55-107), 16.5 pct

2. A’s (60-102), 16.5

3. Pirates (62-100), 16.5

4. Reds (62-100), 13.2

5. Royals (65-97), 10.0

6. Tigers (66-96), 7.5

7. Rangers (68-94), 5.5

8. Rockies (68-94), 3.9

9. Marlins (69-93), 2.7

10. Angels (73-89), 1.8

11. D-backs (74-88), 1.4

12. Cubs (74-88), 1.1

13. Twins (78-84), 0.9

14. Red Sox (78-84), 0.8

15. White Sox (81-81), 0.6

16. Giants (81-81), 0.5

17. Orioles (83-79), 0.4

18. Brewers (86-76), 0.2.

There will be six lottery picks, which means the Pirates can pick first—but can be as low as ninth in the first round if they, the Nationals or the A’s don’t get selected for one of the lottery picks. Picks 7-18 will be done from lowest winning percentage on up. After the first-round lottery chances go out the window and rounds 2-20 will be done the traditional way of lowest winning percentage to highest.

Here is an interesting twist to it all. If a team receives money in revenue sharing, it will be ineligible for the lottery two years in a row—and will pick no higher than 10th in the draft in which they are ineligible to receive a lottery pick. We will call this the Nutting Rule. On the backend, if a team supersedes the competitive balance tax of $230 million by more than $40 million, they drop ten places in the draft. Let’s call this the Non-Nutting Rule.

The Lottery will be on December 6th.

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