Some more about really bad teams

Al Yellon published a front-page post a few days ago, asking whether the 2023 Oakland Athletics will end the season up as the worst team in Major League history.

After their loss Friday, the A's are 10-36, on pace to finish 35-127.

In that post, Al mentioned the 1962 Mets (40-120) and a number of other woeful teams, including the infamous 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134).

Since 1876, first year of the National League, there have been 55 teams in the NL, American League American Association -- the 3 leagues that lasted more than 2 years -- which finished seasons with a winning percentage below .300.

31 were in the NL, 14 in the AL (1901-present) and 10 in the AA (1882-91).



A couple of the teams were so bad, they disbanded before completing their schedules.

The 1884 Washington Nationals of the AA were 12-51, .190, when they threw in the towel on Aug. 2.

3 days later, much of the team was reconstituted as the Richmond Virginians. They went 12-30, .286.

The 1890 Brooklyn Gladiators, another AA club, were 26-59 after a victory at St. Louis on Aug. 9. They lost each of their next 14 games, then called it quits, at 26-73, .263.

A team from Baltimore, inevitably called the Orioles, was hastily added to the league. They managed to go 15-19.



The much-maligned Spiders had the worst percentage of all time, .130.

Their owners also owned the St. Louis Perfectos, who would be renamed the Cardinals the next year. The dual owners shipped every decent player from Cleveland to St. Louis, leading to the Spiders' utter wretchedness.

The team attracted so few fans that other NL clubs eventually refused to come to Cleveland, saying it cost more to do so than they received as their share of the gate.

After a loss at home to Boston on Aug. 30 that made their record 19-99, the Spiders played their final 36 games on the road. (They were treated as the home team in a 3-team doubleheader at St. Louis.)

They wound up playing only 42 games at home, going 9-33, .214. On the road, they went 11-101, .098.

They were 0-14 for the season against Brooklyn and Cincinnati; 1-13 against the Cubs (then the Colts), New York and St. Louis.



Until the Spiders came along, the worst winning percentage had belonged to the 1876 Cincinnati Reds: .138 (9-56).

These were not the famous Reds who had been undefeated in 1869, then conquered by the Cubs (as the White Stockings) the following year.

These Reds lasted 4 years, compiling a record of 104-158, .397.

The current Reds began play as a charter member of the AA in 1882.



Today's Pittsburgh Pirates also were first-year members of the AA, nicknamed the Alleghenys.

They finished at .500 in their inaugural season, then at .316 and .278 in the next 2. But they had winning records in 1885 and 1886, then jumped to the NL.

Their percentage in their first 3 NL campaigns ranged from .444 to .493.

But in 1890, it plummeted to .169 (23-113-2).

By the start of 1891, they had changed their name to Pirates.



Only 3 more teams before the Modern Era failed to win 20 percent of their games.

The Philadelphia Quakers (today's Phillies) were .17 (17-81-1) in 1883, first year of the franchise.

The Washington Nationals, as noted above, were .190 in 1884.

The Louisville Colonels of the AA were .196 (27-111-2) in 1889.

The next season, with only 4 returning position players, the Colonels went 84-44-4 and won the pennant by 10 games.

Pitcher Scott Stratton, 3-13 in 1889, was 34-14. Red Ehret improved from 10-29 to 25-14.


.200 TO .250

7 other teams prior to 1901, all in the NL, had percentages no higher than .250:

.214: 1882 Worcester Ruby Legs (18-66)

.221: 1897 St. Louis Browns (today's Cardinals) (29-102-2)

.233: 1886 Washington Nationals (28-92-5)

.237: 1876 Philadelphia Athletics (14-45-1)

.248: 1886 Kansas City Cowboys (30-91-5)

.250: 1878 Milwaukee Grays (15-45)

.250: 1884 Detroit Wolverines (28-84)

It was the last season for Worcester, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Milwaukee.


Just 3 teams have finished at .250 or lower in the Modern Era:

.235: 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (36-117-1)

.248: 1935 Braves (38-115)

.250: 1962 Mets (40-120)

The 1904 Washington Senators wound up at .252 (38-113-6).

A total of 24 modern teams have ended the year below .300, including the 1939 Phillies (.298, 45-106-1), the 1937 St. Louis Browns (.299, 46-108-2) and the 1945 Phillies (.299, 46-108).

Only 3 have done so since the 1962 Mets: the 2003 Tigers (.265, 43-119), 2018 Orioles (.290, 47-115) and 2019 Tigers (.292, 47-114).



The Cubs' worst percentage ever is .364. They were 59-103 in 1962 and in 1966.

They have had 6 other seasons below .400, most recently in 2012: .377 (61-101).

They were at .369 (38-65-3) during 1981, which was interrupted by a strike for 6 weeks.



150 other teams have had a percentage as low as .364.

The only teams that have not had at least 1 such season are the Angels, whose low was .406, in 1980; and the Rockies, who were .388 in the short 2020 season and .390 in 1993, their first year.


The Giants, Guardians, Reds and Yankees have had just 2 seasons at .364 or worse, the same as the Cubs. Both of the Giants' came when they were in New York.

The Dodgers have had none since moving to Los Angeles in 1958. They had 6 in Brooklyn.

Among expansion teams, the Brewers, Padres and Rays have had only 1 such season. The Brewers and Padres both did it in 1969, their first year; the Brewers did it as the Seattle Pilots.


The Athletics have finished at .364 or worse 20 times: 15 in Philadelphia, 3 in Kansas City and 1 in Oakland.

The Phillies have done it 17 times; the Orioles, 16, including 11 in St. Louis; and the Braves, 14, of which 13 came in Boston and 1 in Atlanta.

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