Sports have had a major issue with tanking (teams intentionally losing games in order to get better draft picks) and the latest example is the Cincinnati Reds. As of this writing, Cincinnati is sitting at 3-22 this season with a -87 run differential. They are not even attempting to mask their tanking by trotting out talent that will be the future of the organization. Due to MLB’s new draft lottery, the worst team record-wise will only have a 16.5 percent chance at the number one draft pick and if they are in the bottom six teams record wise for three consecutive seasons, they are not allowed to draft inside of the top-six picks.
Sometimes watching these sports franchises attempt to win feels like you have a better shot with some game slots online. Let’s dive into the ugliness that is the Cincinnati Reds and why it is a bad look for baseball.
Admit You Are Tanking
There are still some people saying that the Reds are indeed not tanking and this is just bad luck due to underperformance and injuries. However, two things can be true at the same time. This team is loaded with COVID-19 IL players and regular injuries but remember that this team also traded away Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez to the Seattle Mariners for prospects and Sonny Gray to the Minnesota Twins for prospects as well. Typically a team trying to win is not attempting to reload their farm system and trading away solid MLB level talent during the offseason.
The pitching staff has been brutal as they are pitching to a 6.86 team ERA as of this writing as they have more than 1.80 separating them and the next closest team. They also have a league worst 1.74 strikeout to walk ratio on the mound, meaning these pitchers have absolutely no control to begin the year. The three wins as a team is currently five less than any other team as both the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers have won eight games at this point. The Reds team president Phil Castellini even publicly stated “If you want to look at what would you do with this team to have it be more profitable, make more money, compete more in the current economic system that this game exists – it wouldbe to pick it up and move it somewhere else.. And so be careful what you ask for.” When a team official is threatening its fan base for being critical, that is tough to see
What Should MLB Do About It?
Well, let’s start with what MLB did about this comment Castellini made. They did absolutely nothing and pretended it never happened as Castellini backtracked and apologized for it. No punishment or fine or press release saying that MLB is investigating these comments.
Now the bigger issue with tanking is what they should do about teams not putting competitive products on the field. This is complicated but to keep it short, I will propose something. Instead of what we have in place (aka a draft lottery for the teams with the six worst records at the end of the season) we instead award teams for doing well instead of penalizing them.
Have a full draft lottery that includes all thirty MLB teams with the same odds for every team, no matter if they won the World Series or lost 100 games. The order will be selected and will be a snake draft, meaning if you are awarded the first overall pick then you have the last pick of the second round as well as the first pick in the third round and so on. This way you are not incentivized by losing games because that seems to be the thing front offices are doing. If you want to base it off records then either have it incentivized by performance by the team or eliminate the draft completely and have players signing as free agents with a cap of how much a team can spend per year on entry players.