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The Cincinnati Reds could be historically bad this year

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... if teams that had similar starts are a guide.

Welcome back to managing, Jim. You sure you wanted this gig?
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last three-plus seasons, the Cincinnati Reds have been one of the Cubs’ favorite opponents.

The Cubs are 40-18 against the Reds since the beginning of 2015.

This year, pretty much every team that’s played the Reds has defeated them at nearly the same pace. That’s true even though the Cubs are the only team that’s played them that hasn’t won against them, losing the only game they have played so far against Cincinnati.

The Reds are 7-24. They’ve been swept by the Phillies, Brewers and Cardinals (twice). The only series they’ve won (other than the single game against the Cubs, with the other game in that set rained out) was this past weekend, when they took two of three from the Twins, who are also off to a bad start at 10-16.

The 7-24 start is historic. Since 1900, only 11 other teams have been 7-24 or worse through 31 decisions. Here’s that Hall of Shame:

7-24 starts or worse through 31 games, since 1900

Team W-L after 31 games Final W-L
Team W-L after 31 games Final W-L
1988 Orioles 4-27 54-107
1932 Red Sox 5-26 43-111
1952 Pirates 5-26 42-112
1928 Phillies 6-25 43-109
2003 Tigers 6-25 43-119
1919 Athletics 7-24 36-104
1931 Reds 7-24 58-96
1934 Reds 7-24 52-99
1936 Browns 7-24 57-95
1987 Padres 7-24 65-97
2016 Braves 7-24 68-93

That’s... pretty awful baseball. Of those 11 teams, six lost 100 or more games, even the 1919 A’s, who played only 140 games in a season shortened by World War I. The “best” record among those clubs was just two years ago, when the Braves, who were on a 104-loss pace as late as August 20, went 24-14 the rest of the way.

And as you can see, previous Reds teams in 1931 and 1934 were this bad, too.

And therein lies potential hope for this year’s Reds. Jim Riggleman’s team will likely lose 100 or more games this year. But several of the teams on that list recovered quickly. The awful 1988 Orioles — who you can read more about in this wonderful article by Grant Brisbee — won 87 games the following year and were in first place much of the 1989 season. The Pirates, awful for much of the early 1950s, were contenders by 1958 and won the World Series in 1960. The 2003 Tigers improved by 29 wins the following year and were in the World Series by 2006. The Padres contended for the N.L. West title two years after that 97-loss season. The awful 1934 Reds were contenders four years later and the team appeared in back-to-back World Series in 1939 and 1940, winning in ‘40. And two years after the Braves had that awful start and 93-loss season, they look like they’re on the cusp of contention.

So maybe there’s hope for the Reds a couple of years from now. This year, though, will almost certainly be their fourth straight 90-plus loss season, and quite possibly the franchise’s first 100-loss season since 1982.

And the Cubs still have 18 games remaining against them, with the first of those coming up in a four-game series in Cincinnati beginning May 18. That ought to be fun.