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2024 MLB draft: Why the Nationals fell to No. 10 pick despite winning lottery, leaving Guardians at No. 1

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USATSI

The Cleveland Guardians won Major League Baseball’s second-ever draft lottery on Tuesday night, claiming the first No. 1 pick in franchise history. (The Guardians have selected as high as No. 2 in four different drafts.) As it turns out, Cleveland’s win was the sweetest kind of them all: by technicality. 

According to Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, the Washington Nationals won the first drawing of the lottery on Tuesday. The Nationals, however, were ineligible to pick higher than 10th because of rules installed in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that prohibit revenue sharing payee from being selected in the lottery in consecutive years. As such, the Nationals were not allowed to pick higher than 10th — a fact that came into play again on the third drawing of the day, when the Nationals “won” the No. 2 pick.

Here’s more, courtesy of Cooper’s report:

MLB had looked at removing the Nationals’ ping pong ball combinations from the draw, but discovered that it would reshape the odds. So instead, the Nationals’ 100 combinations remained, with the provision that if any of them were selected, it would result in a null draw.

That’s exactly what happened with the first drawing. 3-9-11-13 was a Nationals’ combination. A null drawing was called.

So the Guardians won the first pick. With the third drawing of the afternoon, the Nationals won again with a 13-7-5-4 combo.

That’s a rough break for the Nationals, who selected LSU outfielder Dylan Crews with the No. 2 pick last summer. (The Nationals also had a top-five pick in 2021, which they used on prep outfielder Elijah Green.) It’s also a fortunate development for the Guardians. Cleveland came into the lottery with just a 2% chance of winning the top pick in the draft. Turns out the odds just didn’t matter that much on Tuesday.

Here’s the rest of the lottery results, along with the teams’ respective chances of landing the No. 1 pick:

1. Cleveland Guardians (2% odds)
2. Cincinnati Reds (0.9% odds)
3. Colorado Rockies (18.3% odds)
4. Oakland Athletics (18.3% odds)
5. Chicago White Sox (14.7% odds)
6. Kansas City Royals (18.3% odds)  

You can read more about this year’s draft lottery by clicking here.

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