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The Orioles and Royals are having historically bad seasons

We’ve seen seasons this bad only once in the last 55 years.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Just because I know you’ll bring this up, I wrote that the Reds were going to have an historically bad season at the beginning of May, when they were 7-24. I mean... it sure looked that way, but Jim Riggleman somehow got the Reds playing good ball, and since that 7-24 start they’re 36-29, which is tied for the third-best record in the National League over that span, and just three games worse than the Cubs.

If you look at the table I posted in that article, they’re going to likely wind up with a far better record than any team that started 7-24 or worse over 31 games. No such team has ever lost fewer than 93 games, and the Reds look like they’re going to do better than that. So — good for Rigs and the Reds.

Not so good, or lucky, will be this year’s Royals and Orioles, who bring up the rear of the American League (and all of MLB) at 41 games under .500 each. The Royals, having played two fewer games, have a slightly lower winning percentage (.284, 27-68) than the Orioles (.289, 28-69). That puts the Orioles on a pace for 47 wins, the Royals 46. Big whoop of a difference. Only one team since the 1962 Mets (40-120) has failed to win 50 games — the 2003 Tigers, who finished 43-119. The potential good news for the Royals and Orioles is that the Tigers improved by 29 wins the next season and two years after that were in the World Series.

For now, though? If you think it’s bad for the O’s and Royals, here are the sad numbers.

  • Baltimore hasn’t won more than nine games in any calendar month. They’re 5-10 in July and would have to go 5-5 in their remaining July games to win 10 games this month. Considering they’ve won just five times in their last 22 games, that doesn’t seem likely.
  • The Orioles have had eight different losing streaks of at least five games, with the longest being nine games.
  • The O’s have failed to defeat the Astros, Athletics, Phillies and Mariners, going 0-14 against those four teams. That means they’re 28-55 against everyone else — that alone is a pace for a 55-107 season.
  • Baltimore is 39½ games out of first place and their mathematical elimination numbers are currently: 26 for the A.L. East title, 36 for the second wild-card spot. Both of those should be achieved by mid-August. In fact, the Orioles currently stand 16 games out of fourth place, which is the biggest current deficit between two teams adjacent in the standings — by 5½ games (next biggest such gap: Padres 10½ games behind the Giants).
  • Since they are in the same division with the team with MLB’s best record, the Orioles have a good chance of finishing 60 games out of first place. No team has done that since the 1962 Mets.
  • The Royals got off to a bad 13-25 start, but because the A.L. Central leading Indians did, too, K.C. was only 5½ games out of first place at that point.
  • In late May the Royals had a run where they won six of 10. Since then they are 6-31. That includes a losing streak of nine games and another one of 10 games.
  • The Royals have a run differential of -193, or -2.03 runs per game. Extrapolated over an entire season that would be -329, the worst since the 2003 Tigers were -337. They have allowed 10 or more runs 14 times, and gone 5-22 in blowouts (losses by five or more runs).

Which team would you say will wind up worse? The Royals appear to be worse right now, but the Orioles have, at this writing, almost completed a trade sending away their best player and might trade other useful players. Plus, the Orioles still have 18 games remaining against the Yankees and Red Sox. They’re 1-9 against Boston, but surprisingly, 5-5 vs. New York.

The Royals play the Yankees four times, but otherwise have a lot of games against the weak teams in their own division, the Twins, White Sox and Tigers, who they’ll face a total of 34 more times, so they might have a chance to avoid the worst record. They’re only six games behind the White Sox, who also have a chance at a record year — a franchise record, anyway, as they’re on pace to lose 106 games, which would tie their club record set in 1970.

If I were betting on this I’d say the Orioles are going to run away with the “worst team in baseball” tag and the Royals will just be “bad,” although K.C., too, could eclipse their franchise record for defeats, also 106, set in 2005.

The Cubs will get their chance to help the Royals along to a record year for defeats early next month, as they visit Kansas City August 6, 7 and 8. In the meantime, we could be looking at a year with three 100-loss teams in the same league, which would be a first.


Which team will finish with the worse record?

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