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6 Ways to Determine 2021 Draft Order Without 2020 Season

Watching the NFL draft over the last three days allowed for a semi-normal return to life. Looking forward to the 2020 MLB Draft, though, we see something far from normal. Already delayed to July, we may see a condensed five-round version of the traditional draft, a far cry from the 40 rounds we’ve come to expect.

There’s also the possibility that the 2021 Draft may be shortened too. But what happens if there is no 2020 season? How will the 2021 draft order be determined?
Image courtesy of © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s look at a few options:

1) Based on previous three years’ win total

What might be the “simplest” idea in terms of calculating, the draft order could be ordered by reverse win totals over the previous three season. It would result in this order:

1 Tigers (58.33)
2 Orioles (58.67)
t3 Marlins (65.67)
t3 Royals (65.67)
5 White Sox (67.00)
6 Padres (69.00)
7 Reds (70.00)
8 Giants (71.33)
9 Blue Jays (72.00)
10 Rangers (74.33)
11 Pirates (75.33)
12 Phillies (75.67)
13 Angels (77.33)
14 Mets (77.67)
15 Mariners (78.33)
16 Rockies (83.00)
17 Braves (86.33)
t18 D-backs (86.67)
t18 Rays (86.67)
20 Cardinals (87.33)
21 Twins (88.00)
22 Athletics (89.67)
t23 Brewers (90.33)
t23 Cubs (90.33)
25 Nationals (90.67)
26 Red Sox (95.00)
27 Indians (95.33)
28 Yankees (98.00)
29 Dodgers (100.67)
30 Astros (103.67)


My preference (of the six ideas): 6. It’s too simple. Literally no one is doing anything right now, so there has to be a better idea than the most basic idea.

2) Basic lottery

When the 1994 NHL season didn’t happen due to a lockout, the 1995 NHL Draft used a pretty basic lottery idea to determine draft order. MLB could employ a similar strategy. Teams would be weighted based on making the playoffs between 2017-2019, and first overall picks in the last four drafts (2017-2020). Teams that had not made the playoffs nor selected first overall received three lottery balls. If a team made the playoff once or had a first overall pick, they received two lottery balls. All other teams got one lottery ball.

Three balls (13 teams): Angels, Blue Jays, Giants, Mariners, Marlins, Mets, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Reds, Royals, White Sox

Two balls (5): Cardinals, D-backs, Orioles, Rays, Tigers

One ball (12): Astros, Athletics, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Dodgers, Indians, Nationals, Red Sox, Rockies, Twins, Yankees

After a team had a ball drawn, they could not receive another pick. All odd-numbered rounds followed this same order. Even-numbered rounds were reversed, resulting in a snake-style draft.

My preference (of the six ideas): 3. It’s a really good, workable idea. In fact, it worked the last time an idea like this was needed.

3) Complex lottery

This would be similar to the previous idea, but would determine the Top 50 picks. There would be no competitive balance picks, though compensatory picks could be added after the Top 50. Round 2 would begin after the first 50 picks and the compensatory round and would use the first model to determine the order of selection for the remainder of the draft.

The intrigue with this model is that teams could end up with between zero and five picks in the Top 50 selections. How many balls you end up with in the hopper would be determined as follows:

-All teams get one (30 balls)
-Teams that typically receive a Competitive Balance pick (teams who received shared revenue) get an additional ball. (14 balls)
-Teams that drafted in the Top 10 over the last three seasons (excluding compensation picks) would receive another ball or balls. (30 balls; up to 3 per team)

This would result in 74 balls, 24 of which would not be chosen. The top 20 picks would be protected (could not be traded or lost to free agent signings). If you have one or zero picks in the Top 50, your first pick is protected (cannot be lost due a free agent signing). Picks 21-50 (and their assigned pick value) could be traded.

The reveal would definitely be televised and the hopper breakdown would look as follows:

Five balls (1 team): Padres

Four balls (6): Marlins, Orioles, Pirates, Reds, Royals, Tigers

Three balls (5): Athletics, Blue Jays, Giants, Rockies, White Sox

Two balls (12): Angels, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, D-backs, Indians, Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Rangers, Rays, Twins

One ball (6): Astros, Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals, Red Sox, Yankees

The Twins would have a 2.7% chance of receiving the first pick. All teams chances to select first would be between 1.4% and 6.8%. That seems fair.

My preference (of the six ideas): 2. I actually love this idea. A lot.

4) Based on three years’ spending pools

Teams that had less success, lost players that resulted in draft compensation or are in a smaller market end up with larger draft pools. On the flip side, good teams, those who signed the best free agents or are in larger markets, end up with smaller draft pools. This idea takes the average of what teams spent in 2018 and 2019 with their bonus pools in 2020. Calculating the order this way would have similar results to the first idea, though this weighs recency a little heavier (as draft pools increase year-by-year -- until 2020). It would result in the following order:

1 Royals ($14,085,600)
2 Tigers ($13,219,633)
3 Orioles ($12,962,833)
4 Marlins ($12,322,500)
5 Padres ($12,148,843)
6 White Sox ($11,327,667)
7 Pirates ($11,146,000)
8 Giants ($11,009,767)
9 Rays ($10,837,800)
10 D-backs ($10,288,300)
11 Blue Jays ($9,917,700)
12 Rangers ($9,751,567)
13 Reds ($9,734,733)
14 Mariners ($9,430,533)
15 Mets ($9,213,579)
16 Indians ($9,010,388)
17 Rockies ($8,951,000)
18 Phillies ($8,619,167)
19 Cardinals ($8,468,033)
20 Angels ($8,267,200)
21 Braves ($7,720,200)
22 Cubs ($7,643,917)
23 Athletics ($7,631,333)
24 Red Sox ($7,526,900)
25 Twins ($7,464,900)
26 Brewers ($7,154,233)
27 Nationals ($7,031,793)
28 Dodgers ($6,888,980)
29 Yankees ($6,865,100)
30 Astros ($5,020,866)

My preference (of the six ideas): 5. Gets the nod over option 1 due to the weight of recent results.

5) Organizational record

Somehow combining both major- and minor-league records over a number of years may give a more accurate look at organizational talent. How you weigh wins at each level would make this a very complex exercise.

My preference (of the six ideas): 4. It might be the best way… but would be very, very complicated.

6) Owner blind bid

This is my favorite (and also the least likely) option. Create a TV event that includes all 30 owners and each owner takes a turn revealing a donation to a charity of their (or MLB's) (or by fan vote!) choice. (Bids would obviously have to be revealed to MLB prior to the live event.) Those donations are put in order, from greatest to least, and that’s the draft order. Want to call the owners cheap? This is your chance!

Competitive Balance and compensatory picks would still be included and starting in round two, draft order would have to revert to using one of the other ideas.

My preference (of the six ideas): 1. But it would NEVER happen.

What do you think? Would you go with one of these options or is there a better idea out there?

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Nine of twelve
Apr 26 2020 04:12 PM

7. 2019 W-L record. I think that's the most obvious option. It does give the teams who finished low last year a bit of an advantage in getting the same high picks two years in a row but I don't see any better way to do it.

    • Craig Arko likes this
Some sort of composite calculation based on W-L record (or some average of a number of years) and player salary. Win-loss record be damned if you’re one of the 5-6 teams with a massive, massive competitive advantage
Nine of twelve
Apr 27 2020 08:11 AM


Some sort of composite calculation based on W-L record (or some average of a number of years) and player salary. Win-loss record be damned if you’re one of the 5-6 teams with a massive, massive competitive advantage

IMHO what is really needed is more extensive revenue-sharing. Absent that this might make sense every year. The obstacle is that it will be very difficult to convince the teams referenced here to agree to either plan.

Why not scrap the draft all together and go with a roulette type thing.Each team picks one player they would like to draft each round, no duplicates allowed.Then you put those names on a giant wheel and each team gets one spin.After each team spins you get the player you landed on, unless another team did as well.Then of course there would be a player or players not picked, so what do we do?Simple you take the duped players and non spun players onto a second wheel with again only the teams remaining to spin.You continued to do this until each team gets a player.  


You do this for however many rounds you want to do for drafting.How do we figure out bonus pools you ask?Greedy players and their agents always wanting to make sure they get the money they deserve.Well I have that figured out too. The first player named in each round gets that round slot bonus value.Then instead of a draft number attached the player will have slot value attached.For example, say the number one overall gets 5 million, and number two gets 4.5 million, and joe bob gets named first for the wheel, no matter what team gets job bob his value for bonus pool is 5 million, and you can sign him for whatever value you want but normal rules apply.


Imagine the trades that would happen after the "wheel of fate of future ball players" event.Just a thought. 

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