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What's In Store for a 100-Loss Team?

Over the last 25 seasons, 26 teams -- not counting the latest entrant in the group -- have lost 100 or more games in a season. And what becomes of those teams thereafter?

Well, here's the (marginally) good news. The average 100-game loser, based on the last 25 years, improves the following season by 10.8 wins. Three teams -- the 2001 Devil Rays; the 2002 Tigers; the 2004 Royals -- have rebounded from 100-loss seasons by actually getting worse. (The 119-loss Tigers of '03 got eight starts from Wil Ledezma, which probably explains all you need to know.)

Four of the 26 teams have finished the following season at or above .500, and one, the 2008 Mariners, seem on the verge of it, because this year's Seattle team is currently 80-73. The 1985 Indians went from 60-102 to 84-78; the 1985 Giants went from 62-100 to 83-79; the 2002 Royals went from 62-100 to 83-79.

The greatest jump -- by far -- belongs to the 1988 Baltimore Orioles, who went 54-107 and then improved to 87-75 the following year, the same summer where they signed No. 1 pitcher Ben McDonald. They finished in second place in the AL East. Better than I can explain with number-digging, Boswell, in this Sept. 24, 1989 piece, explains the improvement thusly:

The Orioles have a core of genuinely talented performers -- five players and four pitchers, in particular -- who are almost totally unappreciated outside the Baltimore clubhouse. Not role players or journeymen having career years. But guys who would excel for any team and should form the foundation of a reborn franchise in the 1990s. Seven of the nine weren't even on the Orioles' roster during The Streak of '88.

Read more here.


By Chico Harlan  |  September 25, 2009; 9:42 AM ET
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Next: Nats Announce 2010 Season Ticket Prices


"Four of the 26 teams have finished the following season at or above .500, and one, the 2008 Mariners, seem on the verge of it, because this year's Seattle team is currently 80-73."

Smart move on Seattle's part to get rid of an interim manager named Jim Riggleman.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 25, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

"And I gotta commend the grounds crew for taking care of the park in all those awful rainstorms we had earlier in the season--talk about hustle!"

Speaking of the grounds crew, this is a good read.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 25, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Those commenting on the attendance - there were many Dodger fans in the stands, and when you lump in Phillies, Cardinals, Mets, etc. it'll always be good for a thousands more than the norm. The Nats season ticket base will further erode during the off-season, and the interest in this team will be confined, at least in the near-term to folks like me and the other commentors who actually go to the games. That being said, there's no excuse for the Lerners to go out and get some talent - DC is a transient city - and you can take full advantage of those displaced fans of other teams to help fill your ballpark while you build something that can get your base excited by.

Posted by: bendersx6 | September 25, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I think season tickets could get a boost, depending on what off-season pickups Rizzo can reel in. If he's able to swing a big trade and get a couple name FA's, I think a lot of us who had to give up the tickets due to economic pressures, may re-up.

The winter meetings will be huge for the FO - they need to prove to us that they're serious about fielding a competitive team. I certain hope they are.

Posted by: sec307 | September 25, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

So, the takeaway from this season is a lot of good individual accomplishments and a some good player pickups and a real good blueprint on the weaknesses. I don't buy in on changing much on this team for the position players except to say 2nd base is open to the best available player to take it. With Flores injured, same goes for catcher. I also hope Rizzo contacts Greg Genske who is Adam Dunn's agent to negotiate an additional year w/ an option for Dunn to stay and not be a lame duck in 2010 as I think Dunn shows he is worth it and has a home at 1st base and Marrero won't be rushed to the Majors.

There are 27 pitchers in MLB with at least 14 decisions and ERA's below 3.50 and not one of them is on the Nationals and an additional 22 pitchers with at least 14 decisions and ERA's between 3.51 and 4.00 and not one of them is on the Nationals. So a total of 49 pitchers and many more starters with less than 14 decisions and none on the Nationals. Only John Lannan at 4.07 is close enough and he is best the Nats have right now and its not good enough. The Nationals as a team are dead last in Team ERA of the 30 teams at 5.15 which is no big surprise.

The Nats need that 1 ace starter that can give you 7 innings each start and keep the bullpen fresh and give up 3.50 runs per game and put up a lot of Curly "W's". You also want that pitcher to be a mentoring veteran for the younger guys. There are a few that will be on the Free Agent market and I think that is Priority #1 for this team to get 1 ace for the staff and then probably sign a good #2 with Lannan at #3 and #4 and #5 again there for the taking.

The bullpen can be fixed again through Free Agency, resigning who you have, and seeing if Storen can make the bullpen out of Spring Training.

So going into 2010 if Rizzo can get the ACE, I am cautiously opimistic for 70+ wins!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | September 25, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone else think it was strange to read Boswell's talk about the "muscles" of players on the Os from 1989 in light of what we now know about steroids (and the careers of some of the players mentioned)?

Posted by: jcj5y | September 25, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of the grounds crew, this is a good read.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | September 25, 2009 10:18 AM |
Thank you Eclipse!

Posted by: Section109 | September 25, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

News Media Correction of the Year (from that god-awful "I was a groundsperson for a day" Slate story):

Correction, Sept. 24, 2009: This article originally implied the Nationals lost the following night's game. The Nats beat the Phillies 8-7.

One question: How can one "imply" a loss?

Oh, never mind. If we're writing about grounds crews, I guess it's a theatre of the mind thing anyway. Who really cares about facts, eh, WashPo?

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 25, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

jcj5y, totally agree. I thought the same thing.

That article also shows that projecting who's going to turn out to be a "star" is tough business. Craig Worthington, Mike Devereaux, Jeff Ballard and Bob Milacki didn't exactly make it there, did they?

I wonder how surprised Bos is to realize the best pitcher on that team in '89 turned out to be a 22-year old kid who went 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in 5 games...Curt Schilling.

Posted by: baltova1 | September 25, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

According to Rizzo chat:
"The Lerner family has given us ample resources to improve the club in any way we see fit."

That's a bold statement - basically he is saying that he, Rizzo, is on the hook if the team doesn't spend money and improve over the offseason....

Posted by: goexpos2 | September 25, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

First I like Boswell, I don't always agree with him but he usually supports him arguments. That said Chico ask Boswell about the article he wrote in the Washington Post magazine before the 1989 baseball season. If I remember correctly Boswell's well written article stated that the 1989 O's may just be the worst baseball team ever assembled. Please research this.

Posted by: sdrappa | September 25, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

For your information ... Pat Corrales Managed the 1985 Cleveland Indians that comeback year and the best record for the Cleveland Indians in years. Way to go Pat...I think you would be a great candidate for the Nationals job!

Posted by: Coach4 | September 25, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Since my comment (oops!) managed to get attached to the wrong Journal post: I find it interesting to note that Tom Boswell's skills at evaluation (e.g., see comment on Craig Worthington) have not improved with age. And, frankly, the Post would be better served if the main focus of his writing was still the Birds ...

Posted by: mgilham | September 25, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

ESPN had stat last night, claiming 4 teams had back-to-back 100-loss seasons since WWII, and none since the mid-70s Padres. Obviously, they got that terribly wrong....

Posted by: fischy | September 25, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

ESPN wrong? Unless it has to do with their man-luv obsession with anything Farve then anything they say is usually WRONG!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | September 25, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

What, no ESPN man-luv for the Sox and Yanks? You'd best believe they have room in their hearts for those teams, NatsTown.

BTW, new post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | September 25, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

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