40 games under .500

As a Cubs fan, I have a fascination with horrible baseball teams.

As such, I find myself drawn to the ’09 Nationals. Last night, they fell 40 games below .500 (which means they have to play better than .500 from here out to go 62-100).

Question: what is the earliest a team has fallen so far under .500?

Answer: a tie between the 1876 Cincinnati Reds (not to be confused with the current franchise—this one collapsed in 1880), and the 1884 Kansas City Cowboys of the ill-fated Union Association (which was only nominally a major league anyway). Both squads began the year 7-47. Cincy ended at 9-56 and KC at 16-63. Well, both leagues were hardly real ones. The NL was just establishing itself and the UA never really did establish itself.

Among real leagues, the fastest to 40 below was the 1889 Louisville Colonels, who began the year 10-50, en route to a 27-111 record.

In the 20th century, the record goes to another Washington team: the 1904 Senators, who started out 11-51 and finished 38-113).

In the live ball era, the title holder is the 1932 Red Sox, who were 12-52 (and ended 43-111).

Since WWII, the “honor” naturally goes to the 2003 Tigers: 18-58 before finished 43-119.

Here’s when other famously futiles fell 40 under (season-ending record in paratheses):
1899 Spiders 12-52 (20-134)
1890 Pittsburgh 17-57 (23-113)
1916 Athletics 18-58 (36-117)
1935 Braves 21-61 (38-115)
1952 Pittsburgh 23-63 (52-110)
1962 Mets 24-64 (40-120)
1939 Browns 24-64 (43-111)
1979 A’s 24-64 (54-108)
1909 Senators 26-66 (42-110)
1996 Tigers 28-68 (53-109)
1979 Blue Jays 29-59 (53-109)
1964 Mets 30-70 (53-109)
1963 Mets 32-72 (51-111)
2004 Diamondbacks 33-73 (51-111)
1969 Expos 33-73 (52-110)
1969 Padres 34-74 (52-110)
1965 Mets 34-74 (50-112)
1998 Marlins 45-85 (54-108)

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Comments

  1. khaos said...

    And those 98 Marlins are the team that followed the 97 World Series winners.  The damn bought for and dismantled team that beat the Indians in game 7.  Not that I’m an embittered tribe fan or anything.

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