The Ten Worst Baseball Teams of All Time
With a 7-6 win this past Sunday over the Boston Red Sox, the 2010 Baltimore Orioles vaulted their record to 3-16, for a sizzling .158 winning percentage. If the current Orioles kept up this record pace, this losing percentage would be the second worst of all time.
However, there is no way they continue this pace, not with good, young hitters Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis in their lineup.
In addition, young pitchers David Hernandez and Brad Bergeson are better than what they have shown so far, while veterans Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie have pitched well but have yet to record a victory.
In fact, the only starting pitcher to record a victory is Brian Matusz, who is 2-0 with the Orioles bullpen blowing leads in his two other starts.
It is the hitting which has cost the wins. They have a team line of .239/.302/.377/.679 OPS, all near the bottom in the American League.
With the exception of Wieters, all the young hitters have struggled, hitting well below their short career numbers. Veterans Garret Atkins and Miguel Tejada were brought in for their bats, but have provided little support in the lineup.
Finally, the team has sorely missed leadoff hitter Brian Roberts.
They have the worst record in baseball, but do have the pieces to play better baseball.
Their horrid start had us thinking about the worst teams of all time, those teams not only had the worst record or winning percentages, but teams which also are recognized for bouts of futility.
While it is possible these 2010 Orioles could eventually make this list in future seasons, I do not anticipate them being there.
They have played an incredibly tough schedule thus far, including six games against the Tampa Bay Rays, three against an early, tough Toronto team, plus a long 10 game West Coast and back East road trip.
With Toronto, a team thought to end up in the cellar of the American League East, the Orioles caught them at a bad time. In all sports, it does not matter who you play, it matters when you play them.
It does not get any easier with their next 13 games are against the New York Yankees, Boston and Central Division-leading Minnesota.
But things get better after that and they get a chance to beat up on the other Central Division "powerhouses."
These Orioles have played badly, but will get better. Let's just hope it does not start this week against the New York Yankees.
What the teams on this list have in common are bad players, bad managers, but especially bad ownership. These owners were usually in deep financial situations and did not pay to retain their best ballplayers, mostly selling players off to better run teams.
Some things never change.
#10 - 1988 Baltimore Orioles
At 54-107 (.335) the 1988 Baltimore Orioles did not have one of the top ten worst winning percentages of all time, but their season was chronicled for one bout of futility.
This team began the season 0-21, the most losses to begin a season in major league history.
If you look at their team, it really wasn't a collection of bad players. They had Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr., and Eddie Murray plus Fred Lynn, Mickey Tettleton and Joe Orsulak, a pretty good young hitting outfielder.
But these O's hitters were last in the American League in runs, hits, doubles, batting avearge, slugging eprcentage and OPS. They were second to last in triples, OBP and stolen bases (If you can't get on base, you can steal bases).
They did hit home runs, though, with 137, good for 7th in the league.
Their pitching staff, lead by MIke Boddicker, Jeff Ballard and Jose Bautista, were last in ERA, and last or second to last in almost every other pitching category.
Maybe they should have brought up young hurlers Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch, Gregg Olsen and John Habyan much earlier than September.
Their manager, Cal Ripken, Sr. was fired after six games, and his replacement, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was only better in that he actually recorded all the wins.
#9 - 1939 St. Louis Browns
How can you have a worst team list and not have a St. Louis Browns team involved?
The Browns franchise was so bad, they won their only American League title in 1944, when all the other teams best players were off serving their country.
The 1939 Browns had the worst pitching (a team ERA just over 6.00!) and the lowest team batting average and OPS.
Cool thing about the Browns were their uniforms. The image above shows the zippered front heavy flannel jersey with the 1939 Centennial patch on the right sleeve.
It must be noted that this is actually another Orioles team as after the 1953 season, the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles.
This spot on the list was a toss up between these Browns and the 1932 Boston Red Sox, a team with the same exact record of 43-111, and both teams well out of first place behind a juggernaut New York Yankees squad.
#8 - 1942 Philadelphia Phillies
Despite the futility of the St. Louis Browns franchise, there might not be a worse overall franchise than the Philadelphia Phillies.
Even though the current squad is looking forward to a third straight World Series appearance, there was a time when this franchise was floundering.
Actually it was almost always floundering.
During the period from 1933 through 1945, the Phillies finished last (11 times) or second to last (twice). They were particularly bad from 1938 to 1942 when their overall wining percentage was under .300!
It was tough to pick their worst season during this reign, but 1942 gets the nod with a 42-109 (.278) record and a whopping 62.5 games out of first place.
During this period, the Phillies ownership was in financial straights, and they were always selling off their best players to make payroll.
They basically gave the 1941 pennant to the Brooklyn Dodgers by trading them their best pitcher, Kirby Higbe. Their second best pitcher was the first ever player drafted into World War II.
The epitome of bad ownership ruining a team.
#7 - 2003 Detroit Tigers
The biggest question regarding this squad was whether they would "beat" the 1962 New York Mets for modern futility.
These Tigers did not, actually winning three more games (43), losing one fewer (119) and having a slightly better winning pewrcentage (.265).
Only designated hitter Dmitri Young had a good season with the bat as this team (which had current Tampa Bay first baseman Carlos Pena on the team), were last in the American League in every batting category.
Their pitching was slightly better being only near the bottom in every category, but having the last 20 game loser over the last 30 years in Mike Moroth.
Ironically, Maroth led the 2003 Tigers starters in wins (9) and winning percentage (.300)!
The most losses by any American League team ever.
#6 - 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates
Above is the 1952 Bowman baseball card for Ralph Kiner, the only player worth remembering about the 1952 Bucs.
Kiner again led the National League in home runs with 37 and walks with 110. Many times Kiner, the only decent bat in the Pittsburgh lineup, would have more walks than hits in a season as most teams pitched around him.
These Pirates were 42-112 (.273), finished out of first place by 54.5 games had as their General Manager the great Branch Rickey. The Bucs players were continually being underpaid by the notoriously frugal Rickey.
You get what you pay for in regards to baseball talent.
Oh, one more positive thing for the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise in 1952—their great outfielder Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.
#5 - 1904 Washington Senators
The Washington Senators franchise was usually bad, but did have some good seasons in the 1920's, even winning the World Series in 1924.
Early on in the American League, they were really bad. The second season of the AL saw this terrible team rack up 38 wins, the second fewest amount ever for an American League team.
The team was managed by two players, including Patsy Donovan (above). and was so bad, it was virtually impossible to find an image for the slideshow.
The franchise would not improve at all until Walter Johnson joined the team in 1907.
#4 - 1962 New York Mets
It was not the worst team of all time, but they were bad. They were also fun as Casey Stengel was the colorful manager and many of the players were bumbling fools.
Stengel said of his team: "I've been in this game a hundred years, but I see new ways to lose I never knew existed before." On his three catchers: "I got one that can throw but can't catch, one that can catch but can't throw, and one who can hit but can't do either."
We know what Casey meant.
They did have some good players such as Gil Hodges, Richie Ashburn, Roger Craig (who was the opening day starter but lost 24 games), Gene Woodling and Don Zimmer, but they were all past their prime.
They are the only team in modern era to lose 120 games, but did notch 40 wins for a .250 percentage.
I guess this team was done from their first draft pick, selecting left handed hitting catcher Hobie Landrith first overall in the 1961 expansion draft. Landrith only had 45 at bats for this squad, before being traded to Baltimore for "Marvelous" Marv Throneberry, the united symbol of the 1962 Mets futility.
That is some real talent.
#3 - 1935 Boston Braves
It is almost unbelievable that one of the worst teams in baseball history had the great Babe Ruth on the team.
Ruth was a side show for the Boston Braves owner Emil Fuchs, who traded for and signed Ruth to a contract with the promise of Ruth becoming manager, the Babe's ultimate dream.
On May 25, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Ruth went 4-for-4, hit three homers with six RBI in an 11–7 loss to the Pirates.
He should have retired right then, but Fuchs was in need of money, wanted to parade Ruth around the National League and the Braves had yet visited Cincinnati or Philadelphia.
Ruth ended up with six home runs, saw the writing on the wall about not being manager, and retired a few weeks later.
This bad Braves team did have a real slugger in Wally Berger, who had a great season, clubbing 39 home runs, driving in 130 runs.
But Berger and a 40-year-old Ruth were the only attractions on a team which went 38-115 (.248) and finished 61.5 games behind the league leader.
They were last in every offensive category and most pitching categories and Fuchs was forced to sell the team near the end of the season.
#2 - 1916 Philadelphia Athletics
Owner/manager Connie Mack had led his Philadelphia A's teams to World Series appearances in 1910, 1911, 1913 and 1914, wining three times.
But after that last season, as financial times hit hard, he began selling off his best players. Unlike other owners, Mack had no other income source other than the team.
The result was dramatic with the 1915-1921 A's finishing dead last every season.
None of those teams were worse than the 1916 squad which saw a 36-115 record for a .248 winning percentage. As with the other teams on this list, these A's were last (or near last) in every possible offensive and pitching category that season.
But once again, lack of financial support for their team hurt the most.
#1 - 1899 Cleveland Spiders
This Cleveland franchise was in the original 12-team National League and won the Temple Cup (equivalent to the World Series) in 1895.
This same franchise then went a putrid 20-134 (.130) in 1899.
At the time, owners were allowed to own more than one franchise and the Cleveland owner also had recently purchased the St. Louis team.
Because of the rough economy of the day, owner Frank Robison thought a team in St. Louis would draw better than in Cleveland. He then sold or traded all his best players from the Cleveland squad to St. Louis, including HOF'ers Cy Young, Bobby Wallace and Jesse Burkett.
They did keep the first ever Native American basball player, Chief Sockalexis.
Robison basically used the Cleveland squad as a minor league team. If a Cleveland player performed well, he was sent to St. Louis, and poorly performing Superbas (Robison changed the team name) were shipped off to Siberia...I mean Cleveland.
This team lost 30 of their first 38 games, and the Spiders won only 12 of their remaining 116 games. They played the entire second half on the road, as the Cleveland fans were angry with the team, but especially ownership.
They were last in every distinct statistical category, their best pitcher sported a 4-22 record. The Spiders also finished 35 games out of 11th place!
They were, and always will be, the worst team in baseball history.