With last night’s 8-4 win over the Rays the Jays are now 10-19. While they have a greatly improved record compared to where they were after ten games when they were 1-9, they have the worst record in baseball. So, if you haven’t been paying attention to any division but the AL East you may be curious about the five last place teams in each of the other divisions. Who are they? Some of them might surprise you.
The Kansas City Royals are 10-18, putting them 5.5 games behind the division leading Minnesota Twins, who have a 15-12 record. While the they were a .500 team last year, they went to the World Series in 2014 and 2015, winning it in 2015. Jays fans probably remember the Royals beating the Jays 4-2 in the ALCS in 2015.
The Oakland Athletics are 12-17, putting them 7.5 games behind the division leading Astros who are 20-10. While Oakland was a pretty unspectacular team over the past two full seasons (68-94 in 2015, and 69-93 in 2016 finishing 20 and 26 games back of first respectively each year) from 2012-2014 they played post-season ball for three consecutive years. They didn’t go to the World Series during this period though: in 2012 and 2013 they lost the ALDS, and in 2014 they lost a Wild Card game.
With an 11-16 record the Atlanta Braves are 8 games behind the division leading Washington Nationals, who have a league leading 20-9 record.
The Braves have had a sub-.500 record for the past three full years, finishing 79-83 in 2014, 67-95 in 2015 and 68-93 in 2016, finishing respectively 2nd, 4th and 5th in their division. They played in the post season in 2012 and 2013, as they won 94 and 96 games respectively; they lost a wild card game in 2012 and the league division series in 2013.
At 13-16 the Pittsburgh Pirates have the best record of any of the last place teams in baseball. That coupled with the first place Cubs having a 5-5 record in their past 10 games to take them to 16-13 means that despite being in last the Pirates are only 3 games out of first.
In 2016 the Pirates finished 25 games back of first, with 78 wins over the course of the season. From 2013-2015 though the Pirates were a different team, averaging 93 wins per year during this timeframe and going to the post-season play each year. In 2013 they lost the NLDS 3-2, and in both 2014 and 2015 they lost a wild card game.
The San Francisco Giants are in last place in the NL West, and at 11-19 are 7 games behind the 18-12 Colorado Rockies. Their current record is just slightly better than the Blue Jays (if the two teams were in the same division the Giants would be a half-game up on the Jays).
This is probably the biggest surprise of all 6 last place teams. With the exception of 2013 when they went 76-86 and finished 16 games out of first, the Giants have been remarkably consistent and made the post-season 4 times since 2010, winning the World Series on 3 of those occasions in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
Obviously the season is not a forgone conclusion at this point, as we are just barely into May there is a lot of baseball still to be played over the course of the year. Some of these 6 teams may still end up with winning records and 1 or more may even end up going to the post-season, it’s impossible to say at this point. All 6 teams have one thing in common, they’ve played post-season ball at least once in the past five years.
Also, for Jays fans wondering what is going on this year, keep in mind you’re not alone. Giants fans are probably scratching their heads as well. Before the season opened my favourite polling prediction site fivethirtyeight.com predicted the Giants would have an 88-74 season, likely not enough to win the division but certainly respectable and perhaps enough for a wildcard berth. Today their revised prediction reflecting the current season’s performance is 77-85, pretty much identical to the site’s 76-86 prediction for the Jays.
Winning and going to the post-season is great for any team and certainly its fans, but it can be transitory even from one season to the next.