Random take Tuesday

Two weeks from today the Orioles could wind up with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. But the odds of that are real, real low. On Dec. 6 at the Winter Meetings baseball will hold the first-ever draft lottery. It will take place that Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. ET and be televised by MLB Network.

The 18 teams that did not make the playoffs all have a shot at getting the No. 1 pick and in fact, the top six picks in the draft will be determined by the lottery. The teams that lost the most last year, Washington (55-107), Oakland (60-102) and Pittsburgh (62-100) all are listed at a percentage of 16.5 to gain the No. 1 pick. Cincinnati is next at 13.2 percent with Kansas City at 10.0 percent via the lottery.

The Orioles are listed 17th at 0.36 percent to get the top pick. So, we’re saying’ there’s a chance. It’s just not a very good one at all, less than one half of one percent. The Orioles are 17th because they had the second-best record at 83-79 behind Milwaukee (86-76) among non-playoff teams.

The 12 clubs that made the MLB postseason will select between 19 and 30 in round one. If the O’s don’t beat the odds and get one of those top six selections, they would be expected to pick 17th in round one. The selections for picks No. 7-18 will go in reverse order of the standings after the top six get chosen via the lottery. The O’s have not picked 17th or lower since taking high school lefty DL Hall No. 21 in the opening round of the 2017 draft.

The last four years – since selecting Adley Rutschman No. 1 overall in 2019 – Baltimore has selected first, second, fifth and first.  

The lottery is new to baseball for this year and the 2023 draft. It is part of the new collective bargaining agreement that began this year with all 18 non-playoff teams in the lottery for the top six picks, and the order of all postseason clubs (picks 19 through 30) will be determined by when they got eliminated and their revenue-sharing status.

The draft will once again be 20 rounds and the lottery is used for the first round only. After that non-playoff teams pick in reverse order of the standings, meaning the Orioles would be expected to have the 17th pick in each round. The Orioles are still expecting to get a competitive balance pick and one estimate suggests they will have five picks in the draft’s first 110 or so selections next year.     

Praise for Hays: We’ve had some discussions this offseason already about outfielder Austin Hays. He is a player where some fans seem to be questioning his future role on the team. For me I still see him having a big role.

While offense was down throughout baseball in 2022 and maybe more so in Baltimore as the left-field wall was moved back, Hays saw his OPS drop from .769 in 2021 to .719. That is less a drop than we may think when looking at OPS plus where Hays was above league average each season.

In 2022, he hit .250/.306/.413/.719 with 35 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, 66 runs and 60 RBIs. His OPS plus of 103 makes him three percent over league average (which was .701) where in 2021 his OPS plus was 107.

But his offense really fell off in the second half of last year. In the first half, Hays batted .270/.325/.454/.779 and in the second half he hit .220/.276/.349/.626.

One aspect that Hays told me he liked about his ’22 season was that he stayed on the field. Not one day on the injured list. Also, Hays set career highs in games, plate appearances, at-bats, hits, doubles, extra-base hits, walks, and hit-by-pitches. He tied for the O's lead in doubles with Adley Rutschman and finished second on the Orioles in extra-base hits behind Anthony Santander's 57.

I see him as a player that will come into his own over the next few seasons. One that can find another gear on offense while also contributing big on defense in Baltimore's spacious left field and also on the bases with speed. He brings some intensity to the field too which doesn't hurt.

But his bat needs more hard-contact next season with a little less chasing to find that higher gear. 


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