The Washington Nationals briefly “won” this year’s MLB Draft lottery. But they could never actually win it, so they didn’t…it’s complicated.
The Nationals were not eligible for a top-six lottery pick this year because they won the lottery last year, picking second overall. As a revenue sharing payor, they are not allowed to have back-to-back lottery picks.
MLB uses 14 numbered ping pong balls in an air hopper to select the lottery winners. They couldn’t hand out the Nationals’ number combinations to the other eligible lottery teams, as there was no way to do so that would not change the odds of winning for those teams.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper details how the Guardians landed the No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft.
So the Nationals’ number combinations were still able to be selected, but if they were, MLB would have a do-over.
The Nationals’ combo of 3-9-11-13 came up the first time MLB selected, so there was a do-over. The Guardians won that second drawing to land the first pick. Then the Nationals won again, so there had to be a second do-over.
This happened last year as well. The Nationals won the No. 2 pick, but then also were selected when drawing for the fifth pick, which led to a do-over that gave the Twins a chance to win the fifth pick.
The Nationals haven’t had a winning record since they won the World Series in 2019. But when it comes to having their name called in the draft lottery, they reign supreme.