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Texas Rangers draft lottery fever

The Rangers could get the 1st pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, or the 13th pick, or something in between

French ‘National Lottery’ Poster 1945 highlighting a campaign to fund care for displaced families Photo by: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It used to be that, when an MLB season ends, you knew where your team is going to be picking in the next year’s draft. Have the 7th worst record, as the Rangers did in 2022? You pick 7th, barring there being a compensatory pick because someone didn’t sign a higher pick in the previous year’s draft, or someone losing their first round pick for bad behavior, or something.

However, as part of the latest CBA, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to implement a draft lottery. The MLBPA wanted this in order to discourage teams from tanking* — tanking teams are really bad and don’t spend money on players, which is bad for the players and bad for the sport in general. The Houston Astros famously tanked to get multiple top picks a decade or so ago, and the Baltimore Orioles were following a similar path until this year, but that strategy doesn’t work anymore, since you are limited in the number of top six draft picks you can get in consecutive years (for clubs that don’t receive revenue sharing money) or in three straight years (for clubs that receive revenue sharing money), and your odds of getting the top pick, even if you have the worst record in the league, are just 16.5%.

* “Tanking” meaning “purposely being as bad as possible in order to get a top draft pick,” as compared to rebuilding, or just being bad. For whatever reason, folks want to use tanking and rebuilding interchangeably, and they don’t mean the same things.

Baseball America has a breakdown of the draft lottery situation that includes the odds of each of the 18 non-playoff teams getting the #1 overall pick. The three teams with the worst records — the Nationals, the A’s and the Pirates — all have a 16.5% chance of getting the #1 spot.

If you are curious about the Texas Rangers’ odds of picking first, well, good news — we have that info for you. Per BA, the Rangers have a 5.5% chance of landing the #1 pick.

If the Rangers don’t end up with one of the top six picks, they could end up with anywhere from the 7th overall pick to the 13th overall pick, depending on how many of the clubs that ended up with one of the top six selections had worse records (or better records, either way) than Texas did. If, for example, the Cubs and Red Sox (teams with better records than the Rangers) get the top two picks because MLB is rigged, and picks three through six went to teams with worse records than the Rangers, then Texas would pick 9th.

Since Texas doesn’t receive revenue sharing money, if they end up with a top 6 pick in 2023, they can’t pick any higher than 7th in 2024, regardless of their record.

The BA piece linked above has all sorts of details, so I’d encourage you to check it out.