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POLL: Do you believe in tanking?


cHawk
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Tanking Poll  

30 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you believe in the art of tanking?



When a season is lost, you begin to wonder what there is to look forward to. That could be player development, win streaks, or the draft.

So, tanking.

Credit to UrinatingTree for making that intro.

As you all know, the draft order in the first round is basically the league’s standings in Win%, but reversed. Hence, the team with the worst record in baseball gets the first overall pick. The team with the 2nd worst record in baseball gets the 2nd overall pick, 3rd worst record gets the 3rd overall pick, and so on.

Thus, some teams have gotten the idea to not play to win, but to play to improve their draft position (or in simple terms, play to lose).

And if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. If your season is lost, winning games is meaningless in the long run. However, draft position is not meaningless. It can be meaningful in the long run. So in that sense, tanking would make sense.

However, you can also make an argument that tanking “disrespects the integrity” of the game. Everyone in a Jersey or Headset should be giving it their all. Plus, tanking could result in a drop in attendance, and a loss in revenue.

The reason I’m talking about this is that the Twins had a choice earlier in the season. They were 12-24 and 26-41. Last place throughout the year. They had a chance to bring out the tanks to get a top three pick. However, they didn’t. Disclaimer: I’m not criticizing that choice.

But we have seen teams in the past who have been in lost seasons who did take this route. You could argue the Jaguars did it in 2020 by benching Gardner Minshew in favor of starting Mike Glennon (who was worse than Minshew) in route to a 1-15 record and the #1 Overall Pick.

I want to know what side of this y’all are on. Do you believe in the technical long run advantages of tanking to improve draft position or do you not? Do you believe that tanking to improve draft position disrespects the integrity of the game or do you not? Please share your opinion down below:

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7 hours ago, freshinthehouse said:

In the NBA? Absolutely.  In the MLB?  Eh, not so much.  Rarely are there slam-dunk talents in the mlb draft that are worth deep-sixing your season over.

Yep. In the NBA having two top-flight players can get you into the playoffs. Having three can get you a championship. In MLB having two top flight players pretty much guarantees you'll win 65 games. Moreover, in baseball it's much, much more difficult to project a draft-eligible player's ultimate performance level compared to basketball.

One can also look at it this way. The Twins are currently in the #8 position for the 2022 draft. Now look at how many star MLB players were drafted 8th or later. (Almost all of them.)

Tanking is silly. If you want to succeed, simply draft a good player each time your turn comes up. It comes down to scouting, scouting, and scouting.

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On 9/24/2021 at 8:41 PM, cHawk said:

Do you believe in tanking?

Do you believe in tanking, in a GM's heart?
How the losses can give their rebuild a head start
When it's tanking, losing is groovy
Every loss means draft position's improving
Seems contradict'ry, 100 losses the goal
Like when a fair ball hits off the foul pole

If you believe in tanking, you're losing to win
Clutch hitting today becomes like a sin
Fill your roster with enough AAA guys
And they won't win a game no matter how hard they try
The fans tune out and start leaving the stands
Sell them on the five-year plan

(two-year instrumental break)

If you believe in tanking, just swallow your pride
The success cycle's rolling, too early to ride
But maybe, if your scouting is right
You'll find the next Mike Trout on draft night
Then draft and develop and the right FA signs
And the future success will just blow your mind

(Do you believe like the Cubs believed?) Do you believe, believer?
(Do you believe like the Astros believed?) Do you believe in tanking?
(Do you believe like the White Sox believe?) Do you believe in tanking?

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Tanking in baseball is more complicated than tanking in other sports because of the minor leagues and prospects. Chicago and Houston tanked their way to championships, but it wasn't only about draft position, it was also about trading veterans for young players and prospects. I also differentiate between pre-season tanking and in-season tanking. I think they're very different. This season for example, I think it would've been the wrong move to hold onto Cruz once the season was lost. Look to the future with a veteran on a 1 year deal. Berrios is a little more interesting of a situation, but can't really blame them for that move either. But pulling what Baltimore is currently doing is a different situation. They're pre-season tanking by refusing to even attempt to field a competitive team. I'm not on board with that (in any sport) at all. I really don't get why they hold onto someone like Trey Mancini at all when they're clearly not trying to win and he'll be 30 on the last year of arb next year, but that's a discussion about how good they are at tanking. 

So, overall, I think leagues need to find a way to have every team approach every offseason in an attempt to compete the next season and stop actively refusing to employ real major league talent. But in-season tanking like the Twins sort of did (never went full tank by just playing prospects) by trading expiring deals for future assets is alright with me. Especially when they're assets on the doorstep of the majors like the prospects they got back for Cruz and Berrios.

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I only believe in it to the point that you trade away any veteran players for young prospects (and to accumulate high draft picks by losing).  I don't believe in it if you're playing bad players when better are available (by hiding good players on the injured list with phantom injuries).  

I've changed my attitude over the years, now I think a season is wasted if you don't win the World Series (I'm exaggerating a little).  So if your front office feels they don't have the players available to win it all in a given year, they need to evaluate whether they can acquire enough talent to win it all (either in the current year or let's say the next 2 years).  If the answer to that is "No", then tank.  Most teams are probably in the middle somewhere, so there should really only be a couple teams that go tank mode before a season even starts.  The Twins have enough young prospects and young veterans that are entering or in their prime years that I don't think they should tank.  

 

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Tanking is what teams do, now that teams have figured out that lowercase 'w' winning is no longer the best way to uppercase 'w' Win.  Certainly, tanking in the NFL/NBA in order to get draft picks is a much more straightforward path than MLB.  That said, it is better to draft higher, and not just in the first round, but in every round.  

In 2012, the Twins won 2 more games than the Rockies, and 5 more than the Cubs.  Tank better, and they have Bryant or Gray instead of Stewart.  In 2013, the Twins won 3 more games than the White Sox, and the same as the Cubs (but "won" the tiebreaker).  Tank better, and they have Rodon or Schwarber instead of Gordon.  In 2014, the Twins won 6 more than Arizona, 4 more than the Rockies, 3 more than the Rangers, and the same as Houston (and once again "won" the tiebreaker).  Tank better, and they have Swanson, Bregman, or Tucker instead of Jay.

Now, there is butterfly effect (maybe those players develop completely differently if the Twins are overseeing them), and there's no guarantee the Twins don't still take Stewart, Gordon, and Jay.  There's no guarantee the Twins don't take a different guy that would have still failed (Appel, Tate, Aiken, Kolek, etc.).  But had the Twins lost 20 more games across those 3 seasons, we could have Bryant, Rodon, and Bregman on this team right now, and for the least 4-6 years--that's a huge improvement.

My perspective is that going into the offseason, every team needs to figure out how realistic the chances are that they win 90 games.  If it's above 50-60%, the goal should then be to figure out how to win 100 games.  If it's below 50-60%, the goal should be to figure out how to lose 100 games, while frontloading the rebuild (that means every guy with less than 3 years of control left either gets extended or traded).  The worst place a team can be is in the 70-90 win range; if you can't accelerate out of that, you need to slam on the brakes, and refill your tank to you can floor it in 1-3 years, and not 2-4 more years after that lost season.

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Tanking in baseball makes no sense.  In football, basketball, or hockey it makes some sense.  There are several reasons it makes no sense.  One, no one player will mean the difference between a winning team or not in baseball.  In other sports one generational player can make the whole difference at times.  Football a HOF QB can carry a team.  In basketball the best player can carry a team.  Baseball the best player, i.e. Mike Trout, who was not a number 1 pick, will not mean the team will be playoff bound for years.

Second, there is never a guarantee the number 1 pick will be best, or even make the majors.  Sometimes the best guy in the draft is much later in the 1st round or not even in first round.  Look at Mark Appel, he was drafted 8th, possibly could have been 1st, did not sign then went 1st and never made the majors. Many other top draft picks never make the majors too.  Even when they are the best in the draft it does not mean they will make all the difference.

To me, I want to see what every guy has and never make moves that lead to losing.  I do not like teaching players losing is fine in baseball.  I also feel there are things to be learned by trying to win the whole season regardless of standings.  

In other sports I do feel there is benefit to drafting best player because you normally have a better idea of what they will offer for years to come, baseball not so much. 

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If you were going to tank for a particular player, I hope you're planning to wait on winning until 2030. It frequently takes at least 4 years of minor league development plus a minimum of 2-3 years maturing in the majors to become a player that might make a difference. So if the Twins draft a future major league player in 2022 based on this years record, that player could, maybe begin to have an impact in 2028. Who would be  left from the current roster to team with that player? 

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I certainly vote 'no' for the reasons noted here.  Other thoughts:

  • Given how these things go, baseball is unique in that not having the league / union dictate salary caps or floors, This means that the financial situation of each team is dependent on how the owner sees a path to profitably.  Some owners are content to not really compete because the TV revenue sharing and a low payroll is a way to provide a good margin of profitability.  Even way back when, Connie Mack knew that fielding a team that had a low payroll 'but not last place' was typically the most profitable years he could have as an owner and liked to sell off players after a winning stretch.
  • Being 'competitive' is such a tough thing to predict at many different points.  This year the Padres, Cardinals and Giants are pretty good examples of things you might have expected at the beginning of the year not being true at the end of the year.  It seems to be the case that teams catch lightning in a bottle with teams that they might not have considered to be at the peak of a 'competitive window'.  It's a different scenario now with expanded playoffs - but the '87 and '91 Twins were a pretty good example of decent teams getting hot at the right time.
  • Who wants to watch your team get pounded year in and year out in the hope that a development pipeline bears fruit?  As successful as Tampa has been at selling off players for prospects, it sure doesn't seem that they're building a strong and loyal fan base.
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The kind of tanking the Cubs and Astros did is something teams continue to emulate, and only those 2 teams have been able to reap rewards from their efforts.

Baltimore has been a laughingstock for the last 6+ years. Pittsburgh is going to continue being a bottom dwelling team for the foreseeable future. Detroit has 1 above .500 season since 2014. Miami has 1 above .500 season since 2009. 

The strategy doesn’t appear to be too sound anymore without spending money to supplement the prospects and getting lucky with trades. Bad teams continue to be bad teams with no end in sight. 

 

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10 minutes ago, Vanimal46 said:

The kind of tanking the Cubs and Astros did is something teams continue to emulate, and only those 2 teams have been able to reap rewards from their efforts.

Baltimore has been a laughingstock for the last 6+ years. Pittsburgh is going to continue being a bottom dwelling team for the foreseeable future. Detroit has 1 above .500 season since 2014. Miami has 1 above .500 season since 2009. 

The strategy doesn’t appear to be too sound anymore without spending money to supplement the prospects and getting lucky with trades. Bad teams continue to be bad teams with no end in sight. 

 

The Twins unintentionally tanked (2011-2015) and made the playoffs again(2017, 2019, 2020).  The Tigers though are at the point of turning the corner as lots of pitchers got their first exposure and they are on the verge of a .500 season.  

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32 minutes ago, Brandon said:

The Twins unintentionally tanked (2011-2015) and made the playoffs again(2017, 2019, 2020).  The Tigers though are at the point of turning the corner as lots of pitchers got their first exposure and they are on the verge of a .500 season.  

I think a successful tank job is finding your time to aggressively go after free agents for a playoff run once the prospects are established. The Tigers can certainly take advantage now that Minnesota and Cleveland are declining.

The Cubs were successful because they aggressively went after Jon Lester, Jayson Heyward (even though it didn’t work out as they hoped), and a lucky trade for Arrieta for peanuts. Plus mid season trades for Chapman, and others I’m too lazy to look up. 

We’ve seen the White Sox aggressively go after free agents to supplement their prospect core of Moncada, Jimenez, Robert, etc. 

If you don’t get aggressive in free agency and trades after your prospects are established, you end up perpetually rebuilding like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Miami. 

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