MICHAEL: Although our selections for You Stink! are not based on any specific algorithm, we do include detailed statistics for each and every team that is featured. This can include season schedules with results, batting, pitching, and fielding statistics, player rosters and individual stats, box scores (where applicable), and division and/or league standings. By providing these numbers, we invite the reader to make his/her own judgments as to THE worst team of all-time.
Several teams who did not make our cut are certainly worth a mention. In no particular order they include the: 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys (23-113), 1972 Texas Rangers (54-100), 1996 Detroit Tigers (53-109), 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (36-117), 1973 Texas Rangers (57-105), 1938 Philadelphia Phillies (45-105), and the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks (51-111).
FORBES magazine once attempted to assemble a list of the all-time terrible teams, but they were warned by experts not to judge franchises based upon today’s standards. Each team must be weighed against its own competitors within the confines of its own era. Columnist Tom Van Riper wrote:
To select our best and worst teams of all time, we opted for a more mathematical approach. To equalize the measurement of team performance across eras, we’ve created the G-score (as in “greatness”), basically a zippy name for what statistical connoisseurs call standard deviation. The score measures how teams stack up against their peers in a given year. Standard deviation also adjusts for periodic changes in scheduling balance over the years, such as the breakdown of each league into two (and then three) divisions, and interleague play. It covers the modern era of 1901 to 2005; omitting the World War II years of 1942 to 1945, when many star players served in the military, as well as the strike years of 1981 and 1994. For example, two of eight American League clubs in 1927 posted winning percentages below .400, leading to a league-wide standard deviation of .123 percentage points above and below the average .500 record. The Yankees’ .714 winning percentage that year was .214 above the average, while a “standard” club was no more than .123 over. In other words, the Yankees were 1.74 times better than a “typical club,” or a little less than twice as good (hence a 1.74 G-score). The concept also works in reverse. As bad as the 1962 Mets were, the team’s G-score of -2.014 places them just 18th on the all-time futility list. That’s mainly due to a trio of National League clubs (San Francisco, Los Angeles and Cincinnati) winning 98 or more games that year, making for a widely unbalanced league. The Mets weren’t even the worst team of 1962; that honor belongs to the American League’s Washington Senators, who compiled a -2.033 G-score by losing 101 times in a season when no AL team won more than 96 games.
FORBES’ rankings for the 10 worst teams were as follows: 1973 San Diego Padres (G-score: -2.948), 1996 Detroit Tigers (G-score: -2.442), 1991 Cleveland Indians (G-score: -2.442), 2003 Detroit Tigers (G-score: -2.396), 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (G-score: -2.345), 1972 Texas Rangers (G-score: -2.230), 1988 Baltimore Orioles (G-score: -2.169), 1973 Texas Rangers (G-score: -2.160), 1938 Philadelphia Phillies (G-score: -2.160), 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks (G-score: -2.158).
The following tables present the all-time “statistically worst” in MLB history…
*Data courtesy of Baseball-Almanac.com.