MLB Competitive Balance Lottery 2013: Explaining the Hunt for the Top Pick

Benjamin Klein@BenjaminJKleinContributor IIIJuly 16, 2013

SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 07:  MLB commissioner Bud Selig announces Bryce Harper as the first overall pick to the Washington Nationals during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

If you watched the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft just over a month ago, you should’ve noticed additional picks given to a few clubs after the first and second rounds.

They were competitive balance round picks, and they’re the league’s latest attempt to create parity among the 30 organizations. To put it simply, teams who play in small markets and have low revenues earn additional draft picks in order to potentially improve in the coming years.

The league takes the 10 franchises with the lowest revenues and the 10 clubs in the smallest markets and enters them into the Competitive Balance Lottery, according to an press release from last July. There are six picks that are awarded after the first round and another six picks for after the second.

The press release reports that the team’s winning percentage from the previous season determines that team’s odds of winning the lottery. The Kansas City Royals won the lottery for this year’s draft despite owning the seventh-worst record in baseball during the 2011-12 season (71-91).

Ben Badler of Baseball America shared his thoughts on the new part of the draft:

Here’s a look at how both competitive balance rounds played out:

A34KCSean ManaeaLHPIndiana State (Ind.)
A35MIAMatt KrookLHPSt. Ignatius College Prep (Calif.)
A36ARZAaron BlairRHPMarshall (W.Va.)
A37BALJosh HartCFParkview HS (Ga.)
A38CINMichael LorenzenRHPCal State - Fullerton (Calif.)
A39DETCorey KnebelRHPTexas (Texas)
B69SDJordan ParoubeckCFSerra HS (Calif.)
B70COLAlex BalogRHPUniversity of San Francisco (Calif.)
B71OAKChad PinderSSVirginia Tech (Va.)
B72MILTucker NeuhausSSWharton HS (Fla.)
B73MIAColby SuggsRHPArkansas (Ark.)

One of the interesting parts of these picks is that organizations have the ability to trade them. There were a few trades leading up to the draft, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN (subscription required). The Marlins acquired the No. 35 pick from the Pirates, and the Tigers got the No. 39 pick from the Marlins.

Detroit originally had the last pick of the second competitive balance round. The Tigers went 95-67 during the 2011-12 season. They were awarded the pick because they were the only team not selected that receives revenue sharing money, according to Jonathan Mayo of

Anthony Castrovince of wants to make sure you fully understand:

Jim Caple of ESPN didn’t care for the Tigers having an extra pick. Here’s his main argument against the Competitive Balance Lottery:

The Mariners have not reached the postseason in a dozen years. They have finished in last place in each of the past three seasons and in seven of the past nine. They have never made it to the World Series.

And they will not receive one of the 12 competitive balance picks in this week’s amateur draft.

The Tigers have been to the American League Championship Series the past two seasons and played in last year’s World Series. They are in first place in the AL Central and feature the only Triple Crown winner in the past 45 years. They have the fourth-highest payroll in baseball.

And they, of course, will receive a competitive balance pick.

Seems like a good argument to me.

It’s a flawed system, but the league is hoping that the teams who don’t make a lot of money and don’t play in big markets improve. But if you look at the teams that had picks in this year’s competitive balance rounds, nearly half are contenders this year.

MLB has rewarded good teams, even though that may not have been intentional.

There are a few ways to improve the process of determining the teams that receive an additional pick. For example, the league could just go by win percentage from the previous year. Doesn’t that show which teams need the most help? Revenue and markets can be a bit misleading because of clubs that draft well.

The A’s are one of the best teams in baseball and it’s not because they go out and spend a ton of money each winter. And yet, they were rewarded a competitive balance round pick in this year’s draft. Houston, which went 56-106 in 2011-12, didn’t get an extra pick. Does MLB not think that the Astros need help?

While the teams for this year’s lottery—picks for the 2014 draft—have yet to be announced, it’ll be interesting to see which teams have the chance to win the first pick after the first round. The Cubs and Astros both lost more than 100 games last season. Will they be in the lottery, or are their markets too big?

Creating parity is one of the biggest goals for every major sports league in the world. Major League Baseball is going to try using the Competitive Balance Lottery for the next few years and then will decide of it's effective or not.

No matter how you feel about the lottery, the teams that are in it will be hoping to land that top pick. You never know how good that player is going to turn out to be. He could be someone who never makes it to the big leagues or a future Hall of Famer.