Before Thursday's slate of games, here are the MLB reverse standings (GA = Games Ahead):
1) San Francisco Giants: --
2) Chicago White Sox: 1.0 GA
3) Philadelphia Phillies: 1.5 GA
4) Detroit Tigers: 2.5 GA
It's not as fun as the races in the AL East, the NL Wild Card #2, or the AL Wild Card #2 but it's astonishing the shuffling that's taken place in just this week. The Phillies had the number one draft slot appeared locked down but turned their play around thanks to breakouts from Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams. Hell, they have won three straight against the Dodgers and going for the sweep tonight.
Since August 31st, the Phillies are 11-8. The competition:
- Chicago White Sox: 8-10
- San Francisco Giants: 7-10
- Detroit Tigers: 4-16; worst in MLB
Here are the team's remaining schedules in order of current standings.
San Francisco Giants: 9 games remaining (3 Home / 6 Away)
Opponents: three games at Dodgers, three games at Diamondbacks, three games home vs. Padres.
2017 record against opponents: 7-9 vs. Dodgers, 6-10 vs. Diamondbacks, 5-11 vs. Padres
Chicago White Sox: 11 games remaining (7 Home / 4 Away)
Opponents: one at Astros, three vs. Royals, four vs. Angels, three at Indians
2017 record against opponents: 3-2 vs. Astros, 8-8 vs. Royals, 0-3 vs. Angels, 5-11 vs. Indians
Philadelphia Phillies: 10 games remaining (7 Home / 3 Away)
Opponents: one vs. Dodgers, three at Braves, three vs. Nationals, three vs. Mets
2017 record against opponents: 3-3 vs. Dodgers, 12-4 vs. Braves, 6-10 vs. Nationals, 5-11 vs. Mets
Detroit Tigers: 10 games remaining (4 Home / 6 Away)
Opponents: four vs. Twins, three at Royals, three at Twins
2017 record against opponents: 7-5 vs. Twins, 7-9 vs. Royals
It's not producing the same win-loss results as the Phillies, but for recent play from prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer, and Yoan Moncada have improved the White Sox watching experience. Sprinkle in Jose Abreu's pursuit of 30 HR/100 RBI, Avisail Garica gunning for the batting crown, and Tim Anderson's resurgence you'll see many positives even though it's not translating to wins. Their play helped win a series against the Giants and split an away series against Detroit. Some may argue that technically the White Sox lost those series because they could be leading the race to the bottom. They've played Kansas City tough this season, but with series remaining against the Angels and Indians, the Sox are still a strong contender for the first pick.
However, the Giants and Tigers are terrible, and unlike the Phillies or White Sox, there is nothing uplifting to take away from their recent play. With both teams playing more games on the road, it very well may come down to the two former stalwarts this past decade to decide who gets the #1 pick.
But who will that #1 pick be? Is there someone in this upcoming draft class that could instantly change a franchise's future like Bryce Harper or Kris Bryant? No, there isn't one at this point.
What we do know is one of the stronger high school classes in recent memory will be available. You will be hearing these names quite a bit leading up to June: Brice Turang, Nader De Sadas, Xavier Edwards, Jarred Kelenic, Joe Gray Jr., Ethan Hankins, Kumar Rocker, Luke Bartnicki, Slade Cecconi, and Carter Stewart.
On the college front, there is Florida’s Brady Singer, who is the best player in this class. Then the question marks. Oregon State's Nick Madigral is great in the infield, but his size isn't (5'7", 160 lbs). Clemson's Seth Beer hits it a mile and takes a bunch of walks, but he was running 5.5 splits to first base with Team USA this Summer. As a left-hander, that's 20-grade speed, and his lack of athleticism makes him a future DH. Outfielders Travis Swaggerty and Tristan Pompey are intriguing but are not Top 10-grade players at this moment.
From a White Sox point of view, maybe tanking for the number one pick is to get as much draft pool money as possible. The Minnesota Twins had a pool of $14,156,800 for their 2017 draft picks. There is a good chance that amount could grow above $15 million for the 2018 draft.
These last ten games will have plenty of scoreboard watching around the league. Some racing for postseason glory, the bottom stumbling for a better future. For White Sox fans sake, hopefully, this is one of the last stumbling finishes to watch.