The current iteration of the Oakland Athletics, a wreck of a once-proud franchise that many see as the worst team in modern MLB history, are being given a surprising run for that crown by the Kansas City Royals, who at 22-58 sit just a few percentage points ahead of Oakland for the bottom of the standings. The A’s 21-61 marks is more by design, as ownership looks to make the next move (after, ironically, leaving Kansas City for greener-and-golder pastures in 1967), while the Royals are just plain bad.
Adding to the embarrassment was last night’s perfect game by the Yankees’ Domingo Germán, the team’s 11th loss in the last 13 games and further proof that we may be witnessing team history we haven’t seen in at least two decades and probably more.
And while it’s pretty historic to have two of the worst teams in memory competing in the same year, let alone the same league, fans have wondered where these two squads stack up against some of the well-known disaster clubs in the post-expansion era.
While there are a few other teams that merit consideration, probably the two that most baseball historians would select are the 2003 Tigers (43-119) and the famed 1962 Mets (40-120), the standard bearers of execrable baseball over that span.
The baseball wizards at Strat-O-Matic simulated a seven-game series between those Tigers and Mets, with the loser taking on the A’s-Royals loser. And… drumroll, please… Oakland adds “Worst Team Ever” to its litany of shame this week and this year.
In the “semifinal” sets, the 1962 Mets were swept by the 2003 Tigers in four straight and this year’s A’s lost in five to the Royals to “advance” to the “finals.” Oakland then won the first two against the Mets, 10-6 and 2-1, but amazingly dropped the next three before winning game six to set up a “loser take all” game seven. There, Oakland fell in embarrassing fashion, 13-0, managing just four hits against Al Jackson, a 20-game loser in the actual inaugural Mets season.
To conduct the simulation, this year’s teams were constructed using rosters from the current “Strat-O-Matic Baseball Daily 2023,” which recalculates player cards each day throughout the current season, while the Detroit and New York squads are part of the standard Strat-O-Matic historical baseball seasons, which date back to 1871.
“Fans are always asking about the greatest teams ever, so we thought it would be fun to pit two of the worst ever against two truly bad teams in this year’s Oakland and Kansas City,” said Adam Richman, CEO, Strat-O-Matic Media. “Most think of the ‘62 Mets and ‘03 Tigers as the worst teams, and this simulation shows that they may have company with these two clubs.”
What would an all-time Worst Team matchups look like? And can we get our friends at Strat-O-Matic to simulate that one? If we want to take these four teams and add four from pre-expansion, I’d add the following: (1) the ancient 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134), who literally had their best players moved mid-season to another team owned by the same magnate; (2) the 1916 Philadelphia A’s, who took a little longer in dismantling a perennial champion but were reduced to a 37-117 shell by then; (3) 1935 Boston Braves who boasted Hall of Famers in Babe Ruth (for his final 92 trips to the plate at age 40) and Rabbit Maranville, for the final 23 regrettable games of his career at 43 but mixed in a 15-game losing streak and separate run of 2-28 in August and September; and (4) the 1939 St. Louis Browns, who finished a whopping 64 ½ games out of first at 43-111.