2019 MLB Draft: The Texas Rangers are out of the 2018 playoff race, and have been since, I don’t know, Easter, I think. However, the Rangers’ final week of games is somewhat meaningful, in that the exact placement of their first round pick in 2019 is yet to be determined.
For all the consternation early in the year about this being a 100+ loss team, or a team that would rival the 110+- loss teams of the Astros in the early part of this decade, this Rangers team has been just a run of the mill bad team. The Orioles have clinched the #1 overall pick in the draft, as they are currently sitting at 45-110, while the Royals, who have clinched the #2 overall pick, are at 54-102. Those are really, really, terrible terrible bad teams.
The Rangers are currently in position to pick 8th in the 2019 MLB draft, based on 2018 won/loss record. The worst the Rangers could finish, record-wise, is 66-96, which assumes they lose all seven of their remaining games. Even a tailspin like that would likely not make a big different in where they pick, however — The ChiSox and Padres each have 94 losses, and the Tigers and Marlins each have 93 losses. All of those clubs would have to come close to winning out while the Rangers lose out for Texas to end up picking as high as #3 in the draft.
In addition, if two teams end up with the same record, the previous year’s record is the tiebreaker — whichever team had the worse record in 2017 gets the higher pick. The Rangers had a better record than the Sox, the Padres, the Tigers and the Marlins in 2017, so in any tiebreaker scenario with a team ahead of them right now in the draft order, the Rangers will get the worse pick.
The bottom line is, while it is possible that the Rangers could end up in the top six, and potentially as high as picking third, it is quite unlikely.
The Rangers main battle right now is with the Cincinnati Reds, who are currently picking 7th. Like the other teams we discussed, the Reds had a worse record than Texas last year, so Texas would have to have a worse record than Cincy this season to end up picking ahead of them. Cincy is 66-91 this season, and is finishing up the year at home with two games against the Royals and three games against the Pirates, while the Rangers have seven games on the West Coast against Seattle and Anaheim. Cincinnati has an easier schedule, but the Rangers have to lose three more games than Cincinnati in order to end the year picking ahead of them.
The good news is it is unlikely the Rangers will drop any farther down in the draft. Toronto is 71-85, San Francisco is 72-84, and the Mets and Twins each have 83 losses. With the Rangers’ “best” case scenario being winning all 7 remaining games and ending the year at 73-89, those are the only teams who could lose enough games the rest of the way to end up even tying the Rangers in losses. The Twins had a better record than Texas last year, so unless they lose all seven remaining games and the Rangers win all seven, the Rangers will be picking ahead of the Twins. Toronto, the Giants and the Mets all had worse records than Texas in 2017, so in a tie, they would move ahead of Texas. That would require the Mets to lose out and the Rangers to win out, however, while the Jays would have to lose four more games than the Rangers the rest of the way and the Giants would have to lose five more.
What does all this mean? Well, the Rangers are almost certainly picking either seventh or eighth in the 2019 draft, barring something exceptional happening in the last week. And the eighth spot is critical, because the Atlanta Braves drafted Carter Stewart 8th overall in the 2018 draft, but didn’t sign him. That means that they get the 9th pick in the 2019 draft, and everyone with the 9th worst record and beyond moves down a spot. So if the Rangers stay ahead of everyone they are currently ahead of, and also pass, say, Toronto, they wouldn’t get the 9th pick in the draft — they’d get the 10th pick.
And if you are bemoaning that the Orioles are going to end up with Bobby Witt, Jr., a reminder — at this point, there is no clear-cut #1 pick. If you have your heart set on the Rangers drafting Witt, there’s a good chance he’ll still be on the board at whatever spot the Rangers end up picking.