Last night, I presented a list of the most recent 20-game winners for all MLB teams. That got me thinking: what are the longest droughts of all-time for a franchise to go wihtout someone winning 20 games? Having checked, here are the ten longest stretches ever:
33 years: 1975-2007 Indians
32 years: 1918-1949 Phillies
30 years: 1975-2004 Angels
30 years: 1979-2008 Padres
30 years: 1979-2008 Expos/Nationals
27 years: 1983-2008 Phillies
24 years: 1985-2008 Orioles
22 years: 1987-2008 Brewers
20 years: 1977-1996 Mariners
20 years: 1989-2008 Reds
Honorable mention: the Royals have 19 straight years (1990-2008) and certainly will reach a twentieth this year.
As a keen observer, or even not so keen an observer, will note – current teams dominate this. That makes sense: pitchers throw less innings now than ever before, leading to fewer decisions. Simply put, there are fewer 20-win seasons per team now than ever before. The overall dominance is still striking, though.
That makes the 1918-49 Phillies that much more impressive. They were just that terrible. My favorite fact about those Phillies: they never finished higher than seventh the entire time FDR served as president. They went from Pete Alexander to Robin Roberts without one. Only two men even won 19 in that stretch: Curt Davis in 1934 and Jumbo Elliot in 1931.
No other team broke 20 years until the expansion Mariners. I might have missed someone, but I think the longest non-Phillies drought before the Mariners were the 1953-70 A’s at 18 years closely followed by the 1946-62 Cubs, both at 17 straight seasons.