While most baseball fans are keyed in on the pennant races, here at Baseball America we're keeping tabs on how the top of the draft is shaping up next year. With a record of 51-98 heading into Friday's game, the Astros have all but locked up the top pick. After that, though, it's a lot closer. Let's take a look at the bottom 10 teams in the standings.
|HOUSTON ASTROS||51-98 (.342)||—|
Remaining schedule: 3 @ CHC (.433), 3 @ CIN (.493), 4 vs. COL (.470) and 3 vs. STL (.544)
While they haven't officially clinched, the Astros have a "tragic" number of six for the top choice in next year's draft. The last time the Astros had the first-overall selection was in 1992 when the team picked third baseman Phil Nevin from Cal State Fullerton, over Derek Jeter.
|MINNESOTA TWINS||59-89 (.399)||8.5|
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. CLE (.490), 1 @ NYY (.608), 3 vs. SEA (.416), 4 @ CLE (.490) and 3 vs. KC (.430)
The Twins, who are 1-9 in their last 10 games, haven't had a first-overall pick since 2001 when they chose hometown catcher Joe Mauer. That was a year after the team's last second-overall pick of righthander Adam Johnson from Cal State Fullerton.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||60-88 (.405)||9.5|
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. LAA (.550), 4 @ BOS (.577), 4 @ DET (.580) and 3 vs. BOS (.577)
The Orioles have the most difficult remaining schedule of this group—and while they're too far back to realistically have a shot at the first pick, they'll probably wind up picking second and are almost guaranteed to make 2012 the sixth year in a row with a pick in the top five.
|SEATTLE MARINERS||62-87 (.416)||11.0|
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. TEX (.573), 1 @ CLE (.490), 3 @ MIN (.399), 3 @ TEX (.573) and 3 vs. OAK (.453)
The Mariners, who have scored the fewest runs in the majors this season (507), held the No. 2 pick last year (lefthander Danny Hultzen) and in 2009 (second baseman Dustin Ackley), but the team has never had the fourth overall pick in its 35-year existence.
|SAN DIEGO PADRES||63-87 (.420)||11.5|
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. ARI (.580), 3 @ COL (.470), 3 vs. LAD (.490) and 3 vs. CHC (.433)
This will be an important draft for the Padres who added a lot of talent with extra picks in this year's draft but have not landed an impact first-rounder since taking first baseman Derrek Lee in 1993.
|KANSAS CITY ROYALS||65-86 (.430)||13.0|
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. CWS (.490), 2 vs. DET (.580), 3 @ CWS (.490) and 3 @ MIN (.399)
This is familiar territory for the Royals—the last time the team didn't have a pick in the top half of the first round was 1995. Since then, they've added a solid core of young players at the major league level and should continue to add premium talent to their system.
|CHICAGO CUBS||65-85 (.433)||13.5|
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. HOU (.342), 3 vs. MIL (.580). 3 @ STL (.544) and 3 @ SD (.420)
This could be the Cubs' highest choice since 2007 when the team picked third baseman Josh Vitters. The Cubs are currently without a general manager after firing Jim Hendry, but scouting director Tim Wilken could very well remain with the team despite the changes above him.
|FLORIDA MARLINS||67-83 (.447)||15.5|
Remaining schedule: 3 @ WAS (.480), 3 vs. ATL (.573), 3 @ MIL (.580) and 3 vs. WAS (.480)
The Marlins have only picked in the top 10 just once over the past decade (catcher Kyle Skipworth in 2008). Before that, the team made good selections of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (first overall, 2000), righthander Josh Beckett (No. 2, 1999) and outfielder Mark Kotsay (No. 9, 1996).
|PITTSBURGH PIRATES||68-82 (.453)||16.5|
Remaining schedule: 3 @ LAD (.490), 3 @ ARI (.580), 3 vs. CIN (.493) and 3 @ MIL (.580)
Like the Royals, the Pirates are used to this situation. Earlier in the season the team flirted with a winning record, but tanked in the second half and just recently guaranteed the team's 19th-straight losing season. If the team actually does wind up picking ninth, it would be the Pirates' lowest pick since 2005 when they got outfielder Andrew McCutchen 11th overall.
|OAKLAND ATHLETICS||68-82 (.453)||16.5|
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. DET (.580), 3 vs. TEX (.573), 3 @ LAA (.550) and 3 @ SEA (.416)
If the Pirates and Athletics wind up tied, the Pirates would have the edge because they finished with a worse record last season. If the A's wind up with a single-digit pick, it would be the first time in that situation since 1999 when they got lefthander Barry Zito out of Southern California.
*Note that GB stands for games back of last place and the win percentages are as of Sept. 15.
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