Only 20 times since 1901 has a big league team lost 110 or more games in a single season. Two teams did that this year - the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Orioles.
You lose that much, you have earned the No. 1 draft pick. But Arizona, thanks to a walk-off homer on the season’s final day, is not going to get one next year. That is, barring something in the new collective bargaining agreement that changes that.
When teams tie for a spot in the draft - in this case the No. 1 pick - the previous season’s record is used as a tiebreaker with most losses getting the top pick. But that produced another tie with the O’s and Arizona both going 25-35 in 2020. So they go back another year and the O’s went 54-108 in 2019 to Arizona’s 85-77. The O’s get the No. 1 pick.
They do unless the new CBA changes that. And if the new CBA changes a thing, the Orioles have a right to be irate. Hey, if they used the 2021 standings to pick division winners and playoff teams, it’s good enough for the draft order. My take is there is no way they retroactively go back and redo the method for draft order. Of course they could do it, but it would seem very, very unlikely to me.
Again, if they do that, what next? They figure that the Los Angeles Dodgers. with one less win than the San Francisco Giants. actually did win the National League West and they have to redo the playoffs? Yes, this is a ridiculous example and won’t happen, and it’s the same way I feel about the draft order. And not because the Orioles were fortunate that Arizona won its last two games. And they did that after blowing a 7-0 lead that last Friday night and losing to Colorado.
But you can’t change the draft order after the fact, in my opinion. I don’t see much of a chance of this happening.
The O’s would, of course, be fine and in a great position with either the first or second pick. In his season-ending press conference days before he knew he would have the No. 1 pick, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said he saw no significant difference between the top two picks.
“I don’t worry about that at all,” he said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of these. You just don’t know what’s out there. Crazy stuff happens. We want to finish as strong as we can possibly finish. I think we take a lot of pride in giving some of these teams fits down the stretch. We were seeing a lot of stuff on the 2011 team recently, and people remember that, and it’s good for the team and the players, and that’s our focus right now.
“But we’re going to have a high pick. I think we might even know we’re getting the top two already, and so we have a list of players we’re preparing for that. We’re not worried about it. We picked fifth last year because of the shortened season, and I think we got a terrific player (Colton Cowser). The draft’s very fickle and I’m humble about the draft, and wherever we end up picking, we’ll pick. And hopefully do well.”
Speaking of changes: If there is one aspect of the game that can get some of the readers here stirred up during the games, it is a defensive shift. As I gauge it, the large majority of the readers that post comments do not like defensive shifts. Not at all. Not even a little.
As I keep pointing out, they only shift where the hitters hit the ball to maximize their defense, but fans still don’t warm up to the strategy.
Baseball has a problem with shifts. Hitters can’t beat them. The hitters that spread the ball all over the diamond don’t get shifted against. The ones that do can’t or won’t change. They keep beating baseballs into shifts for outs and batting averages keep dropping. There is less action in the game and fewer great defensive plays. Less of a chance to see how athletic these players are in the field.
We can pretend it’s not a problem but it is.
In the Arizona Fall League, where plays begins Wednesday, there will be no shifts this year.
In the AFL this year, the defensive team must have a minimum of four players on the infield, each of whom must have both feet completely in front of the outer boundary of the infield, and two infielders must be positioned entirely on each side of second base.
I’m a believer that this rule is coming to Major League Baseball. I am torn between my previous stance of how can we ever tell the defense where to play and the realization that the hitters can’t beat the shift. They just can’t. We’ve seen enough to know.
For me, eliminating shifts essentially results in helping those that can’t help themselves and deserve to make the outs. But at the same time, the sport needs more action and for the first time I find myself at least open to discussing eliminating shifts.
World Series odds: The Dodgers won the 2020 World Series, beating the Tampa Bay Rays in six games. And now that Los Angeles survived the NL wild card game, the Dodgers are the favorites to win the World Series again. These odds to win it all, listed by BetOnline.ag, were listed before the beginning of the Division Series.
The Dodgers have never won the World Series back-to-back, not dating to their days in Brooklyn or even to the very beginnings of their franchise in the late 1800s. But they are favored as the Division Series begin.
Los Angeles Dodgers - 5/2
Houston Astros - 5/1
San Francisco Giants - 5/1
Tampa Bay Rays - 5/1
Milwaukee Brewers - 8/1
Chicago White Sox - 17/2
Boston Red Sox - 9/1
Atlanta Braves - 12/1