Saturday, July 18, 2009
Washington’s futility: some historic perspectivePosted by Chris Jaffe
The Nats just lost to the Cubs, dropping their record to 26-64 (.289), putting them on pace for a 47-115 season. Sucks, don't it?
They should regress to the mean some, but here's one way to look at it: the Nats are the 14th team in history to have a 26-64 record at the 90-decision marker. Here are the previous contestants, their final winning percentage:
1890 BUF (PL) .273
1894 WAS (NL) .341
1909 BOS (NL) .294
1909 WAS (AL) .276
1911 STB (AL) .296
1920 PHA (AL) .312
1921 PHI (NL) .331
1929 BOS (AL) .377
1939 PHI (NL) .298
1939 STB (AL) .279
1946 PHA (AL) .318
1964 NYM (NL) .327
1997 PHI (NL) .420
Well, 10 got better. Then again, 10 also lost over two-thirds of their games. The 1997 Phillies really stick out.
If you're curious, 7 teams went 27-63 to start the year. The best of them, the 1937 A's, ended the year with a .358 winning percentage. Another 7 teams have started out 25-65 and the best record their most impressive end mark was .342. So, out of 25 teams total who began the year with 25-27 wins at this point, only two ended on the good side of .360.
Another way of looking at it, in the last 60 years, the Nationals are only the seventh team to start off with 26 or fewer wins through 90 decisions. The others:
1) 1952 Pirates 25-65. They ended the year 42-112
2) 1962 Mets 24-66. They ended the year 40-120.
3) 1964 Mets 26-44. They ended the year 53-109.
4) 1979 A's 25-65. They ended the year 54-108.
5) 1997 Phillies 26-64. They ended the year 68-94.
6) 2003 Tigers 24-66. They ended the year 43-119.
These guys played .278 up to this point in the season but were way up at .339 from Game 91-onward. Take out the Phillies, and the other five only played .309 afterwards.
The 1997 Phils actually went 42-30 down the stretch. What got into them?
No, it's nothing groundbreaking, but WOW - the Nationals sure look bad!
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.