With their defeat on Monday, the Orioles now sit 60 games out of first place in the American League East. If 60 sounds like an absurd number of games to be out of first, that’s because it is: no team in the Wild Card era has ever finished 60 games out of first place before. In fact, no team in the Divisional era has finished 60 games out of first, either. You have to go all the way back to the 1962 Mets — losers of 120, famous for how inept their debut campaign was — for the last team to finish at least 60 back (the Mets were 60.5 behind the first-place Giants).
The Mets finishing 60 games out was a rarity by the time they did it, too. The last team before them had been the 1942 Phillies, who sat 62.5 behind the Cardinals. The St. Louis Browns finished 64.5 back in 1939, and the Boston Braves were 61.5 behind the Cubs in 1935. Then there were the Red Sox, at the nadir of their post-Ruth embarassment, finishing 64 games behind Ruth’s Yankees in 1932.
The first instances of 60-plus games behind came by way of the proto-Braves — yes, of the seven teams to finish at least 60 games back, three of them were Braves’ teams. The Boston Doves finished 65.5 out with a.294 winning percentage in 1909, and the Boston Beaneaters trailed the 116-win Cubs by 66.5 games in 1906. No wonder that organization went through four names in seven years.
That 66.5 figure is the worst, and recent history suggested it might never be challenged. The worst finish of one of the Astros teams we all joked about earlier this decade was 42 games. The 2003 Tigers, who narrowly avoided the most losses in MLB history, finished 47 games out: they had a little help from the AL Central-leading Twins, as they won just 90 games, but still. The largest deficits of the Wild Card era both come in 1998, when the expansion Devil Rays were 51 games behind the 114-win Yankees, while the firesale Marlins sat 52 back of the Braves.
And yet, here are the Orioles, a team that already has 107 losses, in the same division as the Red Sox, winners of 103. They’re 60 games back, with 12 games left on the schedule. Two of those games are against the Blue Jays, but the rest of 2018 is brutal: three against the Yankees, who have the third-best record in baseball, then three against the Red Sox, and then the season wraps with four against the Astros, who have the second-best record in the game.
Like the 2003 Tigers, maybe the O’s will manage to win just enough as the season winds down to keep ignominy at arm’s length. Or, you know, they’ll keep playing like they have and add another disgrace to their season of horrific disappointment. It could go either way!
- And hey, as bad as the Orioles are and could still get, Orioles Park at Camden Yards is still a lovely place to see a game. And the O’s will be playing some great teams!
- The Red Sox and Yankees were set to play at 1 p.m. ET today on Facebook, with the Red Sox having the chance to clinch the AL East, but rain is pushing that back to 7 tonight.
- Christian Yelich managed to notch his second cycle of 2018.
- Viva El Birdos is wondering how the Cardinals will assemble their rotation for the stretch run.
- The Dodgers and Rockies opened up a series on Monday, and a Los Angeles win saw them leapfrog Colorado in the NL East.
- Pinstripe Alley writes about the Yankes’ secret weapon that could give them an advantage in the postseason.
- Should the MLB postseason have reseeding? The Hardball Times takes a look given this year’s weird seeding.
- Clayton Kershaw’s fastball isn’t what it used to be, but he’s Clayton Kershaw, and he’s figured out a workaround.