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At What Point Are the Royals Hurting Themselves Long-Term by Winning in September?

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Thanks to their late season 10-3 spurt, the Royals have risen/fallen (its impossible to ever use the right phrase in these situations) from the second overall pick in next season's MLB Amateur Draft into a tie with Cleveland for the fourth pick. (Thanks to 306008 for posting the standings so diligently.) 

Getting back to the second overall pick now looks extremely unlikely, though third could still easily be reached. Just eyeballing it, I'd say the odds are at least 80% that the Royals end up in the 3-4-5 range, although ending up somewhere around the eighth pick isn't inconceivable.

Let's clear up something right away however: there is no such thing as year to year momentum. There's too much noise in these guy's lives over the off-season (you know, their actual lives, to say nothing of winter ball, FA comings and goings, whether or not they had a good September, etc.) to think that some emotional feeling, even if that did mean something, would be sustained from October to March. Momentum is having good players. If this hot September is a product of having good players, that's one thing, but it has little to do with "finishing strong".

When thinking about the Royals and the 2010 Draft, there's a few ways of looking at it:

  • Yes, the baseball draft is unique, and on the whole everything is a big guess and you hope to get lucky. That being said, all picks are not equal. Most years, there's a few prospects that rate out way higher than everyone else, and after that, it's pretty much up to individual preference. I'd hate to see the Royals sitting at 5 next year, and have everyone excited about the top four guys. Maybe it will work out like this, maybe it won't. Draftniks?
  • A possible positive for the Royals is that if they fall/rise from #2 to #5 in the draft, they may end up saving a nice amount of bonus money, which hopefully could be spread around to an overslot choice for someone awesome later on. The contracts signed with top picks are getting increasingly complicated however, and the Royals might not gain any real financial savings at all, their reward might be something like an extra year at a lower salary or less guaranteed money, or somesuch.
  • As a fan, do these wins mean less to you than they might have had they had been randomly distributed earlier in the season? For me, the answer is yes. There was a point in the season when, on a game by game basis, I more or less checked out emotionally. Other than Greinke starts, I don't really care about the wins and losses anymore. Even if it meant going 0-17 or something this month, this 10-3 run, had it come in mid-May, would have been insanely fun. The Royals are back in the hunt!
  • Hillman and Moore were already secure, so this hot streak has done little in that regard. The Royals were also already setup for another suicide run at contention in 2010 as well, because Dayton Moore has been in win-now mode for three years. These things are all annoying, but we can't blame them on Fool's Gold in September.

Had the Mets or Diamondbacks just been a little bit worse, this would be much more interesting. The Royals are 3.5 games ahead/behind from those two teams, and five off from Toronto. From where I sit, falling from the second pick to the eighth thanks to a hot streak when no one cared anymore would suck. Second to fifth or fourth however... meh.