Reverse MLB standings and the Mets' shot at a protected draft pick in 2014

The Mets chose Dominic Smith with their first-round pick in 2013. - Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With eleven games left in the season, the Mets are on the cusp of a protected pick in the 2014 MLB Draft.

Through 151 games, the Mets have a 68-83 record, the eighth-worst mark in baseball. Ideally, they'd have the inverse record, and this piece would be replaced by something about a potential playoff push.

Looking ahead, however, the Mets will likely need to spend some money in the free agent market to acquire better players. With David Wright and Jon Niese the only Mets guaranteed a contract next year, it seems like the 2013-14 offseason is as good a time as any for the Mets to start spending money on free agents again. But Major League Baseball's current draft pick compensation system could present a bit of a problem.

A team that signs a free agent who was given a qualifying offer—a one-year contract for the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball from the previous season—loses its first-round pick in next year's amateur draft and the draft pool money associated with that slot.

There's one other wrinkle, too, which cost the Mets their protected pick status last year: if a team fails to sign its first-round pick, it receives an extra first-round pick one slot below the original pick the following year. Luckily, none of the players selected with the top nine picks in 2013 went unsigned. The Blue Jays failed to sign their first-round pick, the tenth overall, and have the eleventh pick in the upcoming draft.

Here, then, are the reverse standings, which include a "GB" column indicative of the number of games a team is "behind" the Astros, who have all but locked up the first pick. Ties are broken by 2012 record, which is why, for instance, the Giants are below the Blue Jays here.

1 Houston Astros 50 101 .331 --
2 Miami Marlins 56 96 .368 5.5
3 Chicago White Sox 59 92 .391 9.0
4 Chicago Cubs 63 89 .414 12.5
5 Minnesota Twins 65 86 .430 15.0
6 Seattle Mariners 67 84 .444 17.0
7 New York Mets 68 83 .450 18.0
8 Milwaukee Brewers 68 83 .450 18.0
9 Colorado Rockies 69 84 .451 18.0
10 Toronto Blue Jays 69 82 .457 19.0
** Unprotected Picks Below ** ** *** **
11 San Francisco Giants 69 82 .457 19.0
12 Philadelphia Phillies 71 81 .467 20.5
13 San Diego Padres 71 80 .470 21.0
14 Los Angeles Angels 74 78 .487 23.5
15 Arizona Diamondbacks 77 73 .513 27.5
16 Kansas City Royals 80 72 .526 29.5
17 New York Yankees 80 72 .526 29.5
18 Washington Nationals 81 71 .533 30.5
19 Baltimore Orioles 81 70 .536 31.0
20 Cleveland Indians 82 70 .539 31.5
21 Texas Rangers 82 68 .547 32.5
22 Tampa Bay Rays 83 68 .550 33.0
23 Pittsburgh Pirates 87 66 .569 36.0
24 Los Angeles Dodgers 86 65 .570 36.0
25 Cincinnati Reds 86 65 .570 36.0
26 Detroit Tigers 88 63 .583 38.0
27 St. Louis Cardinals 89 63 .586 38.5
28 Oakland Athletics 89 63 .586 38.5
29 Atlanta Braves 90 62 .592 39.5
30 Boston Red Sox 92 61 .601 41.0

Reverse standings through September 18, 2013.

If the Mets spend money on free agents this winter—which is certainly no guarantee—they'll be in a more flexible position if they stay within the bottom ten. If they have a protected pick and sign a free agent who was given a qualifying offer, they will still lose a draft pick next year, but the first pick they would lose would be a second-round pick, which isn't nearly as significant as a first-rounder. That doesn't mean you should root against the Mets on a game-by-game basis, but if and when they do lose, there's at least some consolation involved.

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