While watching pennant races is fun, try watching the race to the bottom of the standings–and thus the race to the top of the 2008 draft. That race is getting almost as interesting as the one at the top of the National League Central. The Devil Rays have had the worst record in the majors for most of the year, especially since they lost 25 of 30 games sandwiched around the all-star break. However, the Rays have won 13 of their last 17 games to improve to 61-83. Not only are they within nine victories of their best wins total in franchise history, but they have found company at the bottom of the standings. The White Sox and Marlins have joined the Rays in the race for the top pick and also sport 61-83 marks. The Astros, Orioles and Royals are in hot pursuit, as Roscoe P. Coltrane might say, with 81 losses apiece. Any of those six clubs could finish with the majors’ worst record. None of those clubs is playing as well as the Rays–the Royals have a six-game losing streak, the White Sox are coming off a 9-20 August, the Astros and Orioles have lost seven games already this month . . . it’s a motley group, and it’s more and more likely that the schedule-maker will determine which bottom-feeder finishes first in what we’ll call the Pedro Alvarez sweepstakes. Here, the schedule does not favor the Rays. As hot as they are, they have series remaining with the Red Sox (five games) and Yankees, plus road trips to Seattle and the Angels. The aggregate winning percentage of remaining Rays foes is a whopping .571. The Orioles are the only team anywhere close to the Rays in the degree-of-difficulty category, though the Marlins could make a run. Here’s the breakdown of the rest of the teams’ remaining strength of schedule (SOS), expressed as winning percentage of remaining opponents:
|RACE FOR THE BOTTOM|
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