The Reverse Standings
In MLB, there are teams that contend annually, and consistently find themselves at or near the top of the standings. There is typically a group of teams that are somewhere in the middle of the pack, fighting off mediocrity and trying to take that next step. As the season progresses, these teams will either make a move and contend, remain average, or even regress down the ladder.
This brings us to the final group, one of which there is very little optimism to be found. Fans of such teams are more or less resigned to their fate, and have only trade deadline activity and draft position to fill the time late in the season. This is where the reverse standings come into play.
Clearly, it is preferable to have a rooting interest in a team that is contending for a division title or playoff berth. However, those on the other end of the baseball spectrum are forced to invert the traditional order of the MLB standings and follow them to the bitter end.
Speaking of which, here are the current reverse standings for the top ten bottom dwellers, or projected 2014 draft order, whichever terminology you prefer:
1. Houston Astros
2. Miami Marlins
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Chicago Cubs
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Minnesota Twins
7. Toronto Blue Jays
8. San Francisco Giants
9. Anaheim Angels
10. New York Mets
Good times indeed.
Again, this is not an enjoyable list to be associated with. But in the context of charting the future path of a franchise or analyzing a farm system, this list becomes rather important.
From a fan perspective, if your team happens to find itself somewhere amongst this group, and your team is assured to finish below .500, you must pose the following question.
What exactly is the point of winning five additional games if it means sacrificing spots in the 2014 draft?
It is an important question, and presents a dilemma that a fan would prefer not to confront. Please understand, I am not advocating rooting against your own team. However, especially once September rolls around and your team is playing out the string, the possible benefit of additional losses is a valid consideration.
I would even venture that in some twisted sort of way, there is an advantage to finding your team in such dire straits. You can still root for your team to win, while at the same time knowing in the dark recesses of your brain that there could be some possible future benefit to dropping both halves of a random doubleheader.
Of course, selecting an amateur player 3rd instead of 5th is by no means a guarantee for future success. Any draft is a complete crapshoot for the most part, especially the MLB version. Many players selected in the top ten of the MLB draft flame out to varying degrees, and never sniff the majors.
Personally, I am not at all concerned with my team winning say 75 games as opposed to 70. Both outcomes reflect failure, and if 70 wins gets my team a prospect they could not have otherwise gotten, I am down with that.
Whatever the case, the reverse standing can stimulate some interest in an otherwise lost season.
Happy inverting everyone!