Baseball Teams With the Most Catastrophic Seasons in the History of the Game

Baseball Teams With the Most Catastrophic Seasons in the History of the Game

The MLB All-Star Game is coming up in July, and it’s been an exciting season so far. At this moment, the Yankees are leading all of baseball, and the Phillies are dominating their division. The new rule changes that have been in place for the last couple of years, such as the pitcher clock and rules about the shift, are making the game faster and more engaging. There’s a lot to love about this season, but it’s important to realize that not every season is worth celebrating. Today, we’ll tell you about many of the worst seasons of baseball in MLB history.

You’ll be amazed by how bad many of these seasons have been. In many cases, the poor seasons occurred during the early history of the sport. You’ll see that teams like the Cleveland Spiders, Pittsburgh Alleghenys, Louisville Colonels, and St. Louis Browns are all on the list. However, you’ll also notice that many of the losing seasons took place in recent years, as is the case with the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles. There are also many amazing stories that are tied to these poor seasons.

To determine the worst seasons of baseball in history, 24/7 Tempo will be going by the team’s record at the end of the year. Keep in mind that baseball has been around since the 1850s, so a lot has changed over time. Some seasons were longer than others, and not all seasons had the same number of games. To find these records, we reviewed several authoritative sports websites, including ESPN, MLB.com, History.com, and others. While these seasons were not great, you can learn about some of the bright spots of the sport by reviewing this list of the most legendary baseball games of all time.

Cleveland Spiders

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The Cleveland Spiders no longer exist.
  • Year: 1899
  • Total Wins: 20 
  • Losses: 134 

Easily considered to be the worst of the worst seasons of baseball, 1899 was when the Cleveland Spiders disappointed in a big way during one of the early years of the sport. As far as winning percentages, this is the worst of all time. The Spiders no longer exist today. In fact, they only played professionally from 1887 to 1899.  The team was the third professional franchise based out of Cleveland, Ohio. They weren’t always bad. They even had seven straight winning seasons. However, this poor season is likely what they’re most known for today. 

Pittsburgh Alleghenys

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This baseball team took its name from the Allegheny River.
  • Year: 1890
  • Total Wins: 23
  • Losses: 113

One year later, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys had a dreadful season when they emerged victorious in only 23 of their 113 games. The Alleghenys played in the National League. Their odd name comes from the nearby Allegheny River. Part of the reason why the team had such a bad season is that they had a decimated roster with sick and departing players. Many of the best players jumped to the other teams in the area. 

Louisville Colonels

Baseball Couple
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1889 was a bad year for the Louisville Colonels.
  • Year: 1889
  • Total Wins: 27
  • Losses: 111

The Louisville Colonels present us with the worst record in history for a team that was a part of the now-defunct American Association league. The AA was around for only 10 years but the Colonels were a big part of it. The team did have its good points. Many of the pitchers on the team threw no-hitters. It was just that 1889 was a bad year for the team where nothing seemed to go right.

St. Louis Browns

Baseball: A dirty baseball lies on the infield on game day.
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The St. Louis Browns never really stood a chance in 1897.
  • Year: 1897
  • Total Wins: 29
  • Losses: 102

Another team that no longer exists but still made its mark on the worst seasons list is the St. Louis Browns, who spent most of their time in the National League. When the team joined the NL, they began to have poor seasons. Between 1892 and 1919, the Browns only had five winning seasons and they finished in next-to-last or very last place 16 times. The poor season was the result of a lot of players shifting in the league and the team never really stood a chance.

Washington Nationals

Connie Mack, American Baseball Manager
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Connie Mack played for the Washington Nationals before managing the Philadelphia Athletics.
  • Year: 1886
  • Total Wins: 28
  • Losses: 92

In 1886, the Washington Nationals had one of the worst seasons of baseball when they won only 28 games. This is not the same Washington Nationals that we know today. This version only existed for four years, and during that time, they had six different managers, which probably didn’t help their chances. Over the course of their existence, they had a record of 163-337, so the seasons were mostly all bad. A notable player on the team was Connie Mack, who went on to be the manager of the Philadelphia Athletics for 49 years.

Kansas City Cowboys

Cowboy boots and hat at ranch, country music festival live concert or line dancing concept
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The Kansas City Cowboys only existed for one season.
  • Year: 1886
  • Total Wins: 30
  • Losses: 91

In 1886, the Kansas City Cowboys only mustered 30 wins. The craziest part about it is that this was the only season that this team was in existence. The team was only part of the National League on a trial basis. After this terrible year, the team went out of business and the ownership had to sell all of the players back for a total cost of $6,000. Though they didn’t do well, the Kansas City Cowboys were an interesting piece of baseball history.

Philadelphia Athletics

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The Philadelphia Athletics’ fortunes changed in 1916.
  • Year: 1916
  • Total Wins: 36 
  • Losses: 117

The first team on this list from the modern era of baseball is the 35-117 losing season of the Philadelphia Athletics. During the early years, the Athletics were an incredible team. They won the AL pennant six times and the World Series three times. During many of those seasons, the team won over 100 games. However, their fortunes changed. During every season from 1916 to 1922, the team finished in last place. They eventually became the Oakland Athletics that we know today.

Indianapolis Hoosiers

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The second version of the Indianapolis Hoosiers faced losing seasons for the three years they were in the league.
  • Year: 1887
  • Total Wins: 37
  • Losses: 89

During the course of baseball history, there were two teams with the name of the Indianapolis Hoosiers. This was the second version and the team was only in the league for three years, from 1887 to 1889. All three of these years resulted in losing seasons. The worst was in 1887. After 1889, the team would fold and the owner would go on to become a part owner of the New York Giants. This would also be the team where future hall of famer Amos Rusie made his debut.

Boston Braves

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Babe Ruth played for the Boston Braves.
  • Year: 1935
  • Total Wins: 38
  • Losses: 115

After doing fairly well for their first several seasons, the Boston Braves did rather poorly for the next 19 years. Part of that history included one of the worst seasons of baseball when they only won 38 games during the 1935 season. It was during that season that they hired Babe Ruth to be an assistant manager and vice president in addition to being a player. However, while Ruth did okay, the team quickly had a losing record, and they ended up with one of the worst records in history. It was also during this year that Babe Ruth retired.

New York Mets

Florida Marlins v New York Mets
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The New York Mets are still in existence today.
  • Year: 1962
  • Total Wins: 40
  • Losses: 120

This is the first team on our list that is still in existence today. Even in recent years, the Mets have had their ups and downs, but they really made their mark during the historically bad season in 1962. When the Mets achieved this feat, it was technically the MLB record for the most losses since that first 1899 entry. After this, the team knew they needed a change. In 1964, they hired the famous Yogi Berra onto the coaching staff and began to improve. It also helped that they acquired player Tom Seaver in a lottery pick. 

Washington Senators

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After a miserable season, the Washington Senators owner changed the team name.
  • Year: 1904
  • Total Wins: 38
  • Losses: 113

The Washington Senators were around from 1901-1960. During one of their earlier seasons, they managed to have one of the worst seasons in baseball history. It was during that season that they lost 113 games. The owner was so disillusioned that the next year he changed the team name to the Nationals to try to get a fresh start. The team went on to have more success in later years. In the end, the Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins that we know today.

Detroit Tigers

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The Detroit Tigers had a terrible season in 2003.
  • Year: 2003
  • Total Wins: 43
  • Losses: 119

One of the more recent worst seasons of baseball belongs to the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have had their moments in recent years, but they’ve struggled for many seasons. In 2003, the Tigers had new manager Alan Trammell take the helm as part of a rebuilding year. It was a tough year as the pitching staff struggled, and the offense just wasn’t there. The dreadful 43-119 record was one of the worst for the American League since the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics. After that year, the team made changes to try to get better, with mixed results.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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Although the 1952 season was rough, the Pittsburgh Pirates went on to reach the World Series in 1960.
  • Year: 1952
  • Total Wins: 42
  • Losses: 112

The Pirates have struggled over the last several seasons, and this hasn’t been their only rough patch. They’ve had their ups and downs and even reached the World Series several times. However, during the 1940s and 1950s, the team struggled quite a bit. The team lost many games during those years, and in 1952, they made history with this losing season. There’s not a lot to say about this one. The pitching and hitting weren’t there so they had to rebuild. They reached the World Series in 1960.

Boston Red Sox

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The Boston Red Sox experienced their worst season ever in 1932.
  • Year: 1932
  • Total Wins: 43
  • Losses: 111

The Red Sox are one of the oldest and most well-known teams in the MLB. The team is known to have its struggles, and they really struggled in 1932. That was the year that they won only 43 games. It was so bad that this is still the worst record that the team has ever had. The next year, the team made a big change and was purchased by Tom Yawkey, a businessman who brought in new players. Yawkey owned the team for 44 years, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Baltimore Orioles

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Though the Baltimore Orioles have improved over the last few years, they had a rough 2018 season.
  • Year: 2018
  • Total Wins: 47
  • Losses: 115

Jumping ahead to more recent history, one of the worst seasons of baseball of the last 10 years belongs to the Orioles. During 2018, they hit their lowest point. However, like all rebounding teams, all it took was a good manager. In this case, it was Buck Showalter, who helped the team reach the playoffs in 2012, 2014, and 2016. The team had another dip towards the end of the decade, but since 2020, they have risen again and have continued to be a force to be reckoned with.

Detroit Tigers

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The Detroit Tigers had the worst baseball record in 2019.
  • Year: 2019
  • Total Wins: 47
  • Losses: 114

The most recent of the worst seasons of baseball belongs to the Detroit Tigers. It was during 2019 that the roster had major changes, with players leaving and becoming injured. In the end, the team had the worst baseball record for that year and the second-worst season in franchise history. The Tigers haven’t fared much better since, but only the future will tell what’s possible. (There’s a lot more to learn about this amazing league, so for more, check out this list of the 19 things you didn’t know about the MLB.) 

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