MLB’s worst teams in the last 20 years: What happened the following season?
Back in 2004, the Arizona Diamondbacks had an MLB-low 51 wins. Statistically speaking, it was the worst season in franchise history and came just three years after the team won the World Series in 2001.
Fast forward to 2014. Last year the D’Backs won only 64 games and for the second time in their franchise history they had the worst record in the majors in the team’s 17-year history.
The year following their 2004 disaster, Arizona was able to win 77 games, an increase of 26 wins over the previous season. This year’s squad is certainly hoping for a 26-win increase in 2015; in fact, a 26-win increase over last season would put them at 90 wins and a likely post-season berth.
So what can the D’Backs expect with regards to wins in the 2015 season? Let’s take a look at the teams with the worst records in the majors over the past 20 seasons (since 1995). Of the 23 teams that had the fewest wins (or tied for the fewest wins) in a season since ’95, 18 increased their win total the following year, one had the same numbers of wins, and four had fewer wins than the previous season. Of the 18 that increased their win totals, they did so by an average of 16.3 wins. That would put the Diamondbacks at 80 wins for the 2015 season. Only three teams since 1995 have gone from having the fewest number of wins in a season to winning 80 or more games the next year.
Here’s a look at the seven teams since 1995 that had the fewest wins (or tied for) in the league one season and then increased their win total by 20 or more the following season.
Team, increase (years)
Tampa Bay, +31 (66 wins in 2007, 97 wins in 2008)
Detroit, +29 (43 wins in 2003, 72 wins in 2004)
Detroit, +26 (53 wins in 1996, 79 wins in 1997)
Arizona, +26 (51 wins in 2004, 77 wins in 2005)
Chicago Cubs, +23 (65 wins in 2000, 88 wins in 2001)
Minnesota, +22 (56 wins in 1995, 78 wins in 1996)
Philadelphia, +21 (65 wins in 2000, 86 wins in 2001)
The four teams that saw their win totals go down after leading the league with the fewest wins one season: Detroit (55 wins in 2002, 43 wins in 2003); Tampa Bay (62 wins in 2001, 55 wins in 2002); Houston (55 wins in 2012, 51 wins in 2013); Houston (56 wins in 2011; 55 wins in 2012).
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Lack of success within own division hasn’t stopped Dodgers
Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.
With 32 games left in the season and a 10-game lead in the National League West, it looks like the Los Angeles Dodgers, barring a major collapse, will be playing in the post-season.
What’s interesting about the Dodgers run to the playoffs this season is that the team has shot to the top of their division without playing well within their division. The Dodgers are 23-27 (a .460 winning percentage) against division foes this year. What has helped has been solid performances against those teams outside their division; they are 22-11 against NL East teams, 19-8 against NL Central opponents, and 12-8 in interleague play.
Usually, teams that win divisional title don’t play under .500 within their division. In fact, since 1969 when baseball went from playing with no divisions within each league to two divisions per league (and eventually three divisions in each league which is the current format), only a handful of teams have won a division title after playing under .500 within their own division.
Here’s a look at those teams;
1974 Pittsburgh Pirates: Won the N.L. East with a 44-46 record versus division foes. Were 44-28 against N.L. West opponents.
1994 Texas Rangers: Won the A.L. West with an 8-22 record versus division foes. Were 21-20 against A.L. East opponents and 23-20 against A.L, Central teams. (Note: This was a strike-shortened season.)
1996 Texas Rangers: Won the A.L. West with an 18-21 record versus division foes. Were 42-20 against A.L. East opponents and 30-31 against A.L. Central teams.
2006 St. Louis Cardinals: Won the N.L. Central with a 39-42 record versus division foes. Were 16-15 against N.L. East opponents and 23-11 against N.L. West teams.
In addition, three teams played exactly .500 within their division and won division titles. The three: the 1972 Detroit Tigers (won the A.L. East with a 42-42 record against division teams and were 44-28 against the A.L. West); the 1983 Los Angeles Dodgers (won the N.L. West with a 45-45 record against N.L. West teams and were 46-26 against N.L. East teams); and the 2007 Arizona Diamondbacks (won the N.L. West with a 36-36 record against division teams and were 24-9 against the N.L. East and 22-20 against the N.L. Central).
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Gibson & D’Backs make a little history
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With apologies to Milwaukee Brewers fans, Arizona’s Kirk Gibson will likely be selected the National League Manager of the Year when awards are handed out. Milwaukee’s Ron Roenicke did a fabulous job in his first season with the Brew Crew leading them to a N.L. Central Division title, but Gibson’s D’Backs made significant strides in his first full year at the helm. Consider:
* The D’Backs became the fifth team in major league history to make the playoffs after multiple 90-loss seasons (Arizona lost 92 in 2009 and 97 in 2010). The last team prior to Arizona to accomplish this feat were the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008; they made the playoffs after ten straight seasons of 90 losses or more, the major league record. The other three teams: Detroit in 2006 after five straight 90-loss seasons; Atlanta in 1991 after four straight 90-loss season; and the first team to accomplish this feat, the 1967 Boston Red Sox, who had three straight 90 or more loss seasons before making the playoffs in ’67. Four current teams are hoping they can replicate Arizona’s turnaround from this year… Pittsburgh has now had seven straight 90-loss seasons; Baltimore has had six, Kansas City has had three; Seattle had their second straight 90-loss season in 2011.
* Arizona made the largest win gain of the 30 big league teams from 2010 to 2011. The D’Backs won 94 games in 2011, 29 more than the 65 they won in 2010. Here’s a look at the biggest gainers and the biggest losers in terms of wins from 2010 to 2011:
Biggest gainers in wins: Arizona +29; Milwaukee +19; Pittsburgh +15; Detroit +14; Cleveland +11; Washington +11
Biggest drops in wins: Minnesota -31; Houston -20; San Diego -19; Cincinnati -12; Colorado -10
WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A TRIVIA QUESTION: The Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series in 2001. Who was their manager that season? Answer at the end of the blog.
Did you know? The Philadelphia Phillies not only won 102 games this season (the only team with 100+ wins) but they also increased their win total for the fifth straight season. In 2006 the Phils had 85 wins; they have increased their win total each year to 89, 92, 93, 97, and 102 this past season. This is the longest active win increase streak in baseball. Texas has increased their win total in four straight seasons (75, 79, 87, 90 and 96 in 2011). On the down side are the Chicago Cubs; they have gone from 97 wins in 2008 to 83, 75 and 71 (in 2011).
TRIVA ANSWER: Bob Brenly was the Arizona skipper in their 2001 World Series winning season.