The Texas Rangers have been having a lousy season. That much you know because you checked out on baseball season back in July, when the team (beset by injuries) collapsed to the bottom of the standings. You probably also heard something about manager Ron Washington resigning because he cheated on his wife.
Fans could take some solace this season in the fact that the Rangers weren’t just playing mediocre baseball — they were terrible, laying claim to the worst record in all of MLB. That meant they were in line to get the No. 1 pick in the 2015 first-year player draft because those selections are awarded to teams in reverse order of their win-loss records from the previous season.
At the time of Washington’s departure, the Rangers’ record stood at 53-87, a .379 win percentage that made them a safe bet to finish with 100 losses, the standard measure in MLB for separating bad seasons from god-awful ones.
Then interim manager Tim Bogar took over, and it all fell apart. They’ve been among the hottest teams in baseball since Sept. 5, going 12-6. They swept Atlanta, essentially dropping the Braves out of contention. They swept the Oakland A’s, putting that once-mighty team’s playoff position in jeopardy. They took two out of three from the division-winning Angels, and just completed another sweep of the Houston Astros.
Did someone in the front office forget to tell Bogar ixnay on the inningway? The Rangers no longer have the worst record in baseball. They “trail” the Arizona Diamondbacks by 2.5 games with only four games remaining. Barring a miracle, the No.1 pick is likely already out of reach.
Worse yet, because the Astros failed to sign the No. 1 overall pick of the 2014, Houston has automatically been granted the No. 2 pick as compensation. So right now the Rangers sit in the No. 3 draft spot, clinging to a mere half-game lead over the Colorado Rockies. With a disastrous sweep of the A’s in the final four-game series of the season, which starts tonight and runs through Sunday, Texas might even end up behind the Minnesota Twins, in fifth position.
This is about more than a single draft selection. The order of finish also determines the overall amount of money allotted to each team to sign all of its picks in the first 10 rounds, because each slot in the draft gets assigned a dollar amount (the higher the pick, the more money that becomes available because teams can come in under the slot value and spread that cash to be used on others.)
As weird as it’s going to feel for Rangers fans, they need to be cheering for an Oakland sweep this weekend in Arlington.