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Race to the Bottom: Phillies holding on, but “lead” narrows

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The kids are all here, so it's hard to root against the team. But if you are, the Phils are hanging on to last place by mere threads right now.

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

J.P. Crawford. Rhys Hoskins. Nick Williams. Jorge Alfaro. If you're not excited about watching these guys and other youngsters on the Phils play right now, then you're doing something wrong. This is the start of the future of the franchise unfolding before our eyes. Hoping for each of them to succeed each night is what being a fan is about.

But at the same time, because of how poorly this season has gone overall, the Phillies have the chance to get the #1 draft pick in next year's amateur draft. They've been "leading" in the standings to have the worst record in baseball for a while now. However, the gap has been narrowing.

When we last checked, the Phils were leading a three-way race with San Francisco and Chicago (AL). They had a 2.5 game lead over the White Sox and a 4 game lead over the Giants. Since then, all three teams have continued losing, but the Phils have been losing at a slightly slower pace than the others.

With just over three weeks remaining in the season, here's where the Race to the Bottom currently stands:

The Giants have narrowed the gap the most, going from 4 games to 1 game behind the Phils over the last three weeks. The White Sox have gone from 2.5 to 1.5.

From here on out, it's going to be tough for the Phils. Not only do they have better talent on the team now than they did in early August, but they have a harder schedule than the other two teams. Here's what they are each facing:

Phillies: The Phils have 22 more games. Those games are against the Nationals (6), Marlins (3), A's (3), Dodgers (4), Braves (3), and Mets (3). Ten of those games are against division leaders, but the other 12 are against sub-.500 teams, with 9 of those games against teams on the chart above.

Giants: The Giants have 20 games remaining. Unfortunately for the Phillies' chances in the Race to the Bottom, three of those games, starting tonight, are against the White Sox. That means there is a guaranteed loss for one of those teams each night. Other than those three games, the Giants face the Dodgers (6), Diamondbacks (6), Rockies (2), and Padres (3). In other words, they have a very tough schedule. It would be easy to see the Giants split the three games against the White Sox this weekend, split the three against the Padres on the last weekend of the season, and lose everything in between.

White Sox: The Sox have the most remaining games at 23. After their three against the Giants this weekend, they play the Royals (6), Tigers (4), Astros (3), Angels (4), and Indians (3). Ten of those games are against teams over .500, 6 are against a team right around .500 (the Royals are 1 game under) and only 4 against a team on the worst-in-baseball list above.

In other words, the Phillies have the easiest schedule of these three teams. With better (though less experienced) talent on the field now than earlier in the season, this easier schedule means it's going to be hard for them to stay "on top" of the Giants and White Sox, especially since these two teams play 3 games against each other.

If I had to put money on it, I'd say the Phillies "fall" to third place on this list and get the #3 pick next year. There's no doubt #1 is in reach, but it's just hard to see that happening in the remaining weeks.