The Kansas City Royals are in the midst of a historically bad season that could very well go down as the franchise’s worst.
Somehow, the Oakland Athletics are even worse.
The A’s entered the All-Star break at 25-67, 1½ games “ahead” of the Royals (26-65) for the worst record in baseball. The next-worst team is the Colorado Rockies, who at 34-57 are nearly 10 games clear of Oakland.
The A’s are also 20½ games behind the Los Angeles Angels for fourth place in the American League West, 27½ games behind division-leading Texas.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for what is on track to be one of the worst seasons in baseball history, one that comes as the team is pursuing relocation to Las Vegas.
The Legislature has approved providing up to $380 million in public financing for a proposed retractable roof ballpark on the Tropicana hotel site. The A’s will look to play outside of Oakland for the 2025-2027 seasons before potentially moving into their proposed $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat ballpark on the Strip in 2028.
Oakland is last in the league in batting average, but also worst in ERA and WHIP, having already given up 577 runs this season. The A’s surrendered just 572 in the entire 2014 season.
The defense isn’t doing the team any favors, either.
According to Fieldingbible.com, the A’s are far and away the worst defensive team in baseball, with a minus-57 in defensive runs saved. Only 10 teams are in the red in the category, and the Chicago White Sox are the next-worst at minus-37.
All of that has the A’s in the unenviable position of trying to avoid a dubious spot in history. Fortunately for the organization, the A’s were able to put together a stunning seven-game winning streak in June that greatly decreased their odds of setting some very ugly records.
Of course, it was followed by an eight-game losing streak.
The A’s were the first team ever to lose 62 games before July 1 and are on pace to finish 44-118. They would need to finish with at least 38 wins to avoid the worst winning percentage in the game’s modern era, which was set by the Philadelphia A’s in 1916, and at least 42 wins to surpass the league’s 61-year-old record for most losses in a season.
The 1962 New York Mets finished at 40-120, but they were an expansion team. Detroit holds the American League record for losses in a season with 119 in 2003.
While none of that is encouraging, The true depths to which a team that was in the postseason three straight seasons from 2018 and 2020 has sunk are best described by run differential. It’s simply a measure of how many runs are scored compared to how many are allowed and generally serves as a fairly good indicator of relative team strength.
If that’s the case, the A’s are truly awful.
Oakland is dead last in runs per game at 3.58, a number that drops all the way to 3.25 at home. Cleveland is next-worst at home at 3.63, nearly four-tenths of a run better per game.
The A’s are also last in runs per game allowed, surrendering 6.27 per contest. No other team is above 6.0.
All of that equates to a run differential of minus-248 entering the All-Star break. Remember how bad the Royals have been? They are next-worst at minus-155.
The A’s are being outscored by a whopping 2.7 runs per game, putting them on track to finish the season at minus-437. That would shatter the record of minus-349, set by the 1932 Boston Red Sox.
Those looking for a silver lining can turn their attention back to the 19th century. While these records of futility involve the modern era of the game, which is generally considered to have started in 1900, there were some very bad teams before that time.
The 1889 Louisville Colonels went 27-111 in 1889, followed by a 23-113 campaign for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys the next season.
Worst of all were the Cleveland Spiders, who went 20-134 in 1899 with a run differential of minus-723.
They folded immediately after the season.