Baseball’s draft is a strange thing. Stranger than casual fans, or fans more familiar with the draft process in other sports, may realize. And, in fact, when you start to look under the hood, it’s quite a bit stranger than even a lot of fervent baseball fans probably realize.
On its surface, the draft concept is pretty basic: teams get to claim the rights to the best (American, Canadian, and Puerto Rican) amateur players, selecting them in (more or less) the reverse order of the previous season’s standings. In theory, the worst team takes the best player available with the first selection, then the next worst team takes the next best player, and so on.
In practice, it simply doesn’t work that way.
Before we get to some strangeness about the Blue Jays’ latest draft, let’s take a moment to think about why that is.