PHILADELPHIA -- Though their club's recent struggles have been no laughing matter, Braves officials have no choice but to chuckle at suggestions that they are doing anything they can to get the top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.
"If we end up with 100 losses and the first pick in the Draft, it will be like having a scarlet 'L' that is on our chest," Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella said. "It will be a badge of dishonor for us. [Braves CEO] Terry McGuirk, [team president[ John Schuerholz, [president of baseball operations] John Hart and I are winners. We don't want to wear that scarlet 'L'."
The Braves entered Wednesday's series finale in Philadelphia one-game ahead of the Phillies in the battle to avoid being saddled with the distinction of having baseball's worst record. Atlanta has not been in this position since the 97 losses suffered during the 1989 season provided it the chance to take Chipper Jones with the top pick in the 1990 Draft.
"Make no mistake, we're not going for the number one pick," Coppolella said. "There's no Bryce Harper or Chipper Jones in this Draft. There's some really good players, but you could easily get the same guy at pick number one that you do at pick number eight."
There are certainly some financial benefits to having the top pick, as it would provide a larger slot bonus pool and more financial flexibility. But recent history has continued to prove that there is no guarantee that the first overall selection will prove more valuable than other early selectees.
Evaluating the Baseball-Reference WAR numbers produced by players drafted from 2001-05 provides verification. Those players selected second within this span have produced a 116.7 WAR. The next three most valuable slots within this span have been seventh (99.4), fifth (93.4) and first (74.1).
Those players selected seventh (67.6) and third (67.3) from 2006-10 have also combined to produce a higher WAR than those taken first (63.3).
"It's nice to pick first and it's a cool story and you get more money and that's great," Coppolella said. "But we're also very cognizant of Braves fans and they don't deserve to see a team with the worst record in baseball and 100 losses. We're fighting like crazy every day to avoid that."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.