Pittsburgh Pirates: Final Lottery Position for 2023 MLB Draft
By Jeffrey Cupp
The 2023 MLB Draft will feature for the first time a lottery-draft system. With the 2022 season wrapped up, here is a look at where the Pittsburgh Pirates ended up
The Pittsburgh Pirates have drafted within the top 5 each of the last two seasons in the MLB draft after finishing with the league’s worst record in 2020 and the 4th worst record in 2021. This season is no different as far as the Pirate record goes, however, a top-5 pick will not be as easily given to the team in the 2023 draft.
Due to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) the 2023 MLB draft will feature the league’s first lottery draft system. This will give all 18 non-playoff teams up for a chance at the first overall pick, rather than based on reverse order of records. You can learn more about the new CBA’s lottery system, including odds for the first overall pick here.
Before the season officially ended it was looking like the Pirates would finish with the third-worst record in baseball, clinching another last-place finish in the NL Central. After finishing with a home series victory, the Pirates ended up tying the Cincinnati Reds for last place in the division with records of 62-100, creating a tie-breaker scenario for not only the division, but also the lottery.
When it comes to the division the new CBA created a new tie-breaking system so that teams would not have to play a 163rd game to decide division winners or wild card teams. The first tiebreaker under the new CBA is head-to-head record. This season the Pirates went 12-7 against the Reds, including winning 7-game winning streak to close the season series, placing the Bucs in 4th place, rather than last.
So, does this same tie-breaker apply to the lottery? No, it actually doesn’t.
The new lottery system’s tie-breaker is based on last year’s record. In 2021 the Pirates went 61-101, whereas the Reds had a winning record at 83-79. This means that not only do the Pirates technically finish ahead of the Reds in the division, securing their first finish outside of last since 2018, but also that they retain the 3rd spot in the lottery.
This makes a marginal difference in the lottery, as spots 1-3 have an equal 16.5% chance at the first overall pick and spot 4 has a 13.25% chance. While its likely the Pirates could end up with a 7th round selection rather than top-5, the increased odds for the first overall pick give the Pirates a little bit more certainty at a higher draft pick.
What does this mean for Pirate fans? Well, bragging rights, I suppose. Despite the Reds’ efforts at the end of the season, or lack thereof, the Pirates retained the 3rd spot in the lottery, while at the same time finishing above them in the division. With the results of the lottery not to be revealed until December 6th during the Winter Meetings, this feels like a small win for Pirates fans.