Last season, the Houston Astros finished with a record of 55-107 and 40 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. They were bad (to put it kindly), but they weren’t as bad as these five Major League Baseball teams from the last 25 years.
5. 1988 Baltimore Orioles — The ’88 Orioles were shut out 14 times, including on Opening Day by the Milwaukee Brewers, 12-0. Perhaps that was a sign. The O’s started the season by losing their first 21 games (manager Cal Ripken Sr. was fired after the first six losses). Not one pitcher won nine games or more as the team finished last in the seven-team American League East with a record of 54-107. It still stands as the franchise’s worst season since moving to Baltimore from St. Louis in 1953.
4. 1998 Florida Marlins — The ’97 Marlins won the World Series, but had no chance to defend their title the next season as management traded away most of club’s key players in a fire sale. Ironically, Mike Piazza was traded from the Los Angeles Dodges to the Marlins in May, but Florida flipped him to the Mets less than two weeks later. Florida lost a franchise-high 108 games and finished 52 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. It was a 38-game turnaround from 1997.
3. 1996 Detroit Tigers — The ’96 Tigers had some decent hitters, including Travis Fryman and Bobby Higginson, but the team’s pitching was downright awful. Detroit allowed a staggering 1,113 runs, which by far is the most in franchise history (dating back to 1901). Under first-year manager Buddy Bell, the Tigers went 54-109 to finish 39 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East. It would another be 10 seasons before the Tigers enjoyed a winning record. They reached the World Series in 2006.
2. 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks — The 2004 Diamondbacks, only three seasons removed from a World Series title, lost a franchise-high 111 games despite having Randy Johnson, who in my opinion is one of the top pitchers of the last 25 years. The flame-throwing lefty somehow managed to compile a winning (16-14), even as not one batter on the team finished the season with more than 80 RBI. Arizona finished 42 games back of the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.
1. 2003 Detroit Tigers — The Tigers have endured six 100-loss seasons in their storied history, but none was as futile as the one in 2003. They had the second-worst team ERA and scored the second-fewest runs in the Major Leagues that year. As a result, the Tigers went 43-119 under first-year manager Alan Trammell. Only the 1962 expansion New York Mets (42-120) lost more games than them in the modern era of baseball. Three years later, the Tigers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who roots for the New York Mets (and any team that is playing the New York Yankees). An avid fantasy baseball player and fan of Major League Baseball, his games of choice growing up were Strat-O-Matic and MicroLeague Baseball.