Accursed Number: A Look at the Magic Number for the Worst Record in Baseball

Atlanta Braves
In case you were wondering, Chris Johnson‘s search for rock bottom was successful. He helped lead the way for the entire Atlanta Braves team (USATSI).

Final Day of Season Update:

Since this was apparently picked up on mlbtr.com, I thought I would provide new readers with final-day-of-season scenarios for draft order:

  • First Pick: Phillies
  • Second Pick: Cincinnati. Braves could tie for second worst record, but Cincy holds the tiebreaker with worse record in 2014.
  • Third Pick: Braves or Rockies. Braves clinch if lose either game of the double-header, or if Colorado wins their final game. If Colorado loses and Braves win both games, they will tie and Colorado holds the tiebreaker. 
  • Fourth Pick: Braves or Rockies. Whoever loses out in the scenarios for third pick. Colorado holds the tiebreaker over Milwaukee and Oakland.
  • Fifth Pick: Milwaukee or Oakland. Milwaukee holds the tiebreaker, so they clinch fifth pick with loss or Oakland win. Loser of the fifth pick is guaranteed sixth pick.

Original Article:

With less than a week of Major League Baseball’s regular season remaining, there isn’t much in the standings to be excited about – for anyone. Unless you are a fan of the American League West, the playoff teams (even the matchups and locations) are pretty much nailed down. Maybe it’s just because the Atlanta Braves are out of it this year, but this is one of the more boring stretch runs I can remember.
The reverse standings are much more interesting (maybe again because I’m an Atlanta Braves fan), and I’ve mustered a bit of enjoyment from this waste of a season by watching the “reverse stretch run,” so to speak. With two series left, there is still some room for movement among teams with the worst record. (The worst record determines the draft order for next June’s first year player draft, in case you didn’t know). In the draft analysis I posted early this month, I found that the first pick is very valuable because it is noticeably more likely to result in an impact MLB player. The Phillies are in really good shape to secure it, but the Braves are not out of the picture. Also, my analysis found that the second pick tends to be more valuable than subsequent picks, and the Braves are in a tight battle for it, leading the Cincinnati Reds by one game.

The Accursed Number (The Magic Number for worst record)

While the reverse standings let us know how the draft order would stand today, it is a little less clear what has to happen in terms of wins and losses these last games in order to “clinch” a specific slot in the draft. Because of this, I am posting the “Accursed Number,” which is basically the reverse magic number for teams who have been hexed by some unknown malevolent entity, causing their team to be cursed with a horrible season. (I also considered “Silver Lining Number” as a high draft pick is the silver lining to a bad season. Feel free to let me know if you prefer this, or another, more creative option.)

 

The First Year Player draft is designed so that if there is a tie for worst record, the team with the worst record the prior year (2014 in this case) wins the tiebreaker. These Accursed Number takes the tiebreaker into account. (Current as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, September 28.)

The Accursed Number to clinch the top pick in the draft:

TeamWLE
Philadelphia5997--
Atlanta62943
Cincinnati63932

These are the only teams not yet eliminated, making them the worst of the worst. Philadelphia is in very good shape for the top pick as they hold a three game lead over the Braves in the reverse standings, and hold the tiebreaker against both Atlanta and Cincinnati.

The Accursed Number to clinch the second pick:

TeamWLE
Atlanta Braves6294--
Cincinnati Reds63936
Oakland Athletics65923
Colorado Rockies66903
Milwaukee Brewers66902

So basically, if the Braves somehow split their final six games, and Oakland, Colorado, and Milwaukee lose out (remembering losing is good in this scenario), the Braves are still guaranteed at least the third pick.

So how does the rest of the season look?

Here’s a quick look at remaining opponents for the bottom four teams, along with their records against those opponents:

Braves:

  • Home for three against the Nationals (3-13 overall; 3-3 at home)
  • Home for three against the Cardinals (1-2 in St. Louis)

Phillies:

  • Home for three against the Mets (2-14 overall; 1-7 at home);
  • Home for three against the Marlins (9-7 overall; 4-2 at home)

Reds:

  • Home for three against the Cubs (6-10 overall; 2-4 at home)
  • Away for three against the Pirates (10-6 overall; 4-2 away)

Oakland:

  • Away for two against the Angels (7-10 overall; 3-5 away)
  • Away for three against the Mariners (4-12 overall; 1-5 away)

While the Braves look like they have a shot to really stink it up facing one team that has beaten them up this year only to be followed by the best team in baseball, there are two reasons they won’t be able to suck enough to catch the Phillies:

  1. The Braves have actually played the reeling Nationals well in Atlanta (compared to the 0-10 record in Washington, anyway).
  2. The Phillies have stunk against the Mets in every way possible this year, and they don’t need to lose much to lock down the top pick. A glimmer of hope is if they somehow manage to take advantage of a Mets team that has locked down the division, and then take care of business against a team they actually have a winning record against. However, this hope is more along the lines of “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” then it is a real possibility. Winning five of six against the Phillies this month was fun, but it pretty much cost the Atlanta Braves the top draft pick.
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Jason Heyward in that uniform still doesn’t look right. (Billy Hurst/AP)

The real competition is for the second pick. While Cincinnati looks to have the toughest schedule, they have actually held their own against the Cubs and have a good record against the Pirates. However, the Pirates have won four of seven in the second half of the season, when they surged and the Reds faltered. The Braves, on the other hand, have lost four straight to the Nationals. The home series win was in early July. It seems like an eternity ago, but if you think way, way back, the Braves were a completely different team at that point. After facing the Nats, the Braves have the honor of watching Jason Heyward and the Cardinals celebrate the best record in baseball this year by wrapping up their season on Turner Field. So that should be “good?” Eh, I don’t like it, especially since I would prefer Jason Heyward and the BRAVES celebrate the best record in baseball on Turner Field…but remember the draft pick. (That’s what I’ll keep telling myself.)

Overall, the Braves should definitely land a top three pick, and have a really good chance to hold onto the second pick. That is a good spot to be sitting in June. This is the silver lining on which I am choosing to focus, anyway.

It’s been a terrible season, and I’m ready for it to end. But I’m really looking forward to maintaining my interest in baseball by paying attention to the draft order race this last week. Really, though, I’m pleased that no matter what, we will end up with a quality, top five pick in the draft.

After the regular season and playoffs end, I’m eager to see what moves are made, and I’m looking forward to following some key players in Arizona (especially Lucas Sims, Connor Lien, Andrew Thurman, and Daniel Winkler) and in winter ball (especially Hector Olivera). I’m sure I’ll give my two cents (maybe even ten cents) during the winter baseball season.

P.S. There is no offseason in baseball.

About Micah Smith 24 Articles

LIttle known fact: during the infamous Outfield Fly ruling, I was doubled over on the floor thinking I was headed to the hospital because I took a bite of a ghost pepper and it was burning a hole through my guts. It was an all around bad day.

Moral of the story: Trust people when they say ghost peppers are too hot for you to eat! And record the game in case of emergency.

I also have a great family, good job in university research, and love the Braves.

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