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Here’s how the MLB draft tiebreaker rules work

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Spoiler: it’s not head-to-head record.

Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins - Game Two
The Tigers have a good shot at the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With just a few games remaining in the 2017 MLB regular season and several teams neck-and-neck in the standings, we have an exciting race that should come down to the final weekend of the year.

No, I’m not talking about the playoffs, which are almost entirely set. I’m talking about the MLB draft, and the race for next year’s No. 1 overall pick.

As Detroit Tigers fans, we have been following the bottom of the MLB standings very closely over the past few weeks. The Tigers were originally looking at picking somewhere in the No. 5-7 range, but a 4-20 record in September has seen them fall to just 62-94 on the year. This is the worst record in the American League and third-worst in baseball; if the season ended today, they would have the No. 3 pick in next year’s draft.

The Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants are currently “ahead” of Detroit in the MLB draft standings. Both teams have a 62-95 record, and are in last place in their respective divisions. If the season ended today, the Phillies would get the No. 1 pick over the Giants based on a tiebreaker: win-loss record from the year prior.

Thanks to their 71-91 record last year, the Phillies own a tiebreaker over both the Tigers and Giants should they finish with identical records in 2017. They would also beat out the Chicago White Sox, who are currently two games “behind” Detroit at 64-92 this year. The White Sox went 78-84 last year, and would own a tiebreaker over Detroit and San Francisco.

The Tigers, meanwhile, might benefit from a game they didn’t play. Thanks to a rainout with the Cleveland Indians that was never made up, the Tigers finished with an 86-75 record last year. Their win percentage was ever so slightly worse than the Giants, who finished 87-75. For this reason, the Tigers would win a tiebreaker over San Francisco if the teams finish with identical records this year.

Here are the current MLB draft order standings, as of Tuesday morning.

Philadelphia: 62-95
San Francisco: 62-95
Detroit: 62-94
Chicago: 64-92
Cincinnati: 66-90*
New York Mets: 67-90
San Diego: 70-87