Over the next few weeks, there will be a very important race going on that has nothing to do with the playoffs or the pennant race. Quite the contrary, actually. The worst teams in baseball will be competing to land teenage phenom Bryce Harper, who Sports illustrated dubbed as "The Chosen One" and is one of the most talented players in decades. Harper, who is a catcher, has the potential to be a franchise changer and is almost guaranteed at this point to be the No. 1 pick in 2010.
So the race is on. Whatever team finishes with the worst record in baseball will wind up with the No. 1 pick and probably Bryce Harper. So what teams have a realistic chance to land Harper? Let's take a look at the five worst teams in baseball, all of whom should be salivating over Harper, and how many games back they are from the coveted worst record in baseball.
The Race for Bryce Harper, Week One
A few weeks back, I figured that the Nationals had the first pick all wrapped up. But since the calendar hit August, the Nationals are 11-4 and have played themselves out of '62 Mets territory. It would be great for D.C. if the Nationals keep playing well, but if they lose out on the first pick, then 2009 would be even more of a waste.
2. Kansas City Royals, 3.5 GB
Since starting off the season at 12-10, the Royals played absolutely miserable baseball. The Royals record since May 1 sits at a pathetic 34-61, even with the amazing Zack Greinke. If the Royals continue to play this badly, then it's not inconceivable to think that they could land the top pick...probably at the expense of GM Dayton Moore and manager Trey Hillman.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates, 4 GB
For the first three months of the season, the Pirates were actually playing decent baseball. However, management decided to purge the organization to acquire young talent, so most of the Pirates talented players with experience were dealt elsewhere. As a result, the Pirates will play out the rest of the season with lots of young players, which could put them in a great position to land the top pick. Young players, no matter how talented they are, will go through ups and downs in the majors, especially in the beginning. This could bode well for the Pirates' chances to land Harper.
4. Baltimore Orioles, 5.5 GB
Orioles fans will tell you that the 2009 season has been vital for the Orioles rebuilding process. Adam Jones has established himself as a future star, Nolan Reimold has been productive, and Matt Wieters, David Hernandez, Chris Tillman, and Brian Matusz have all reached the majors. But could you imagine how excited Baltimore would be if they landed the 2010 top pick? I think the O's have too much talent here to land the top spot, but their struggles of late have put them in position to at least think about it.
5. San Diego Padres, 5.5 GB
If the Padres want to land the No. 1 overall pick, they need to start playing like they did in June and July. Outside of those two months, the Padres are just one game under .500. However, during June and July, the Padres were a staggering 20 games under .500. If the Padres can play that badly over the remainder of the season, then they have a very realistic chance to land Harper.
What team do you think will land Harper?