The playoff field isn't quite set, but I'll go ahead and make my predictions anyway. First, my power rankings of the teams that are still alive:
3. Red Sox
I'll pick the Tigers to get by the Twins on Tuesday, and they should present the Yankees a tougher challenge than Minnesota would. It won't matter, though, as the Yankees should win their Division Series easily. The Angels and Red Sox series should be a fairly even clash, and there's not much to separate the National League clubs, but I'll pick the Angels, Cardinals and Rockies to prevail in the other first-round series. The Yankees and Cardinals will meet in the World Series, with New York winning in six games.
There won't be an Ask BA next week, but I'll be back to answer your questions on Oct. 19.
The Braves and Giants were one game apart from having the same record for the second straight season. Had that happened, the tiebreaker would have been whichever team had the worst record in the most recent year in which they didn't have the same mark, so San Francisco once again would have picked ahead of Atlanta. But the Braves lost in 15 innings and the Giants won in 10 innings on the final day of the season, so the point became moot.
This question is a good excuse to take an initial look at the order for the first round of the 2010 draft. The first 16 picks are protected from free-agent compensation, but 15 of the last 16 choices can change hands if one of those clubs signs a Type A free agent whose former team offered him arbitration. The only protected pick in the second half of the first round is No. 31, which the Rays got for failing to sign 2009 first-rounder LeVon Washington.
The order for the first round:
|1. Nationals (59-103)||17. Rays (84-78)|
|2. Pirates (62-99)||18. Mariners (85-77)|
|3. Orioles (64-98)||19. Tigers/Twins loser (86-77)|
|4. Royals (65-97)||20. Braves (86-76)|
|5. Indians (65-97)||21. Tigers/Twins winner (87-76)|
|6. Diamondbacks (70-92)||22. Rangers (87-75)|
|7. Mets (70-92)||23. Marlins (87-75)|
|8. Astros (74-88)||24. Giants (88-74)|
|9. Padres (75-87)||25. Cardinals (91-71)|
|10. Athletics (75-87)||26. Rockies (92-70)|
|11. Blue Jays (75-87)||27. Phillies (93-69)|
|12. Reds (78-84)||28. Dodgers (95-67)|
|13. White Sox (79-83)||29. Red Sox (95-67)|
|14. Brewers (80-82)||30. Angels (97-65)|
|15. Rangers (for failure to sign Matt Purke)||31. Rays (for failure to sign LeVon Washington)|
|16. Cubs (83-78)||32. Yankees (103-59)|
For the first 40 drafts from 1965-2004, the two leagues alternated making the No. 1 overall pick. In even-numbered years, the National League team with the worst record picked first, followed by the American League club with the worst mark, then the NL team with the second-worst record, then the AL club with the second-worst mark, and so on. Starting in 2005, the draft order was determined solely by records and not league affiliation.
Interestingly, four of the teams that have owned the No. 1 overall choice since 2004 wouldn't have had that pick under the old rules. In 2005, the Diamondbacks would have given up the first selection—and Justin Upton along with it—to the Royals. Kansas City wouldn't have had the top pick in 2006, as it would have gone to the Rockies. That would have made Greg Reynolds the No. 1 overall selection, an even worse choice than the Royals made when they took Luke Hochevar.
The Rays would have kept the No. 1 choice they spent on David Price in 2007, but not the one they used on Tim Beckham in 2008. The latter pick would have gone to the Pirates, who would have taken Pedro Alvarez, whom they grabbed at No. 2.
The biggest winner in this alternate reality would have been the Mariners. Rather than lose the Stephen Strasburg sweepstakes by sweeping the Athletics in the final week of the 2008 season, Seattle would have kept 2009's No. 1 overall pick because it would have been the AL's turn. The Nationals would have missed out on Strasburg but would have the 2010 top choice they've claimed by virtue of their 59-103 record.
I don't think the chances are good that any of them ever will reach the big leagues. No team ever made as many mistakes selecting a No. 1 overall pick as the Padres did with Bush in 2004 , and both San Diego and the Blue Jays cut him loose this year because of his repeated alcohol-related problems. His baseball career may be over.
Patel and Singh became the first India natives ever to sign pro baseball contracts when they joined the Pirates last November. They appeared on an Indian reality show, "The Million Dollar Arm," with Singh prevailing over more than 30,000 participants.
Singh is the better prospect of the two and at least he's lefthanded, but he had no prior baseball experience and his fastball currently ranges from 80-87 mph. He posted a 5.84 ERA in 12 innings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, so he has a long ways to go.