There are very few, if any, positive takeaways for the Oakland Athletics to start this season. With the team gutted to its barest bones yet, the team currently sports a 5-22 record, the worst mark in MLB. That’s good for a .192 winning percentage. The distinction of the worst single-season winning percentage in the modern era (since 1900) is held by the 1962 New York Mets. That team, in the franchise’s inaugural season, put up a 40-120 record, with one tie. As bad as that is, their winning percentage was 58 points higher than where Oakland currently stands. The A’s finishing worse than the ’62 Mets would set a new gold standard, if you will, of baseball futility.
Compounding the misery in Oakland, the team recently announced plans to relocate to Las Vegas in the coming years. With attendance continuing to decline, the Oakland Coliseum practically in shambles, and the noncompetitive on-field product, the move comes as no surprise. Still, it has to be tough for the most loyal A’s fans, who were hoping for a solution that would keep the team in the Bay Area. The team’s woes on the field merely add insult to injury, but it’s still worth putting in perspective.
— Casey Pratt (@CaseyPrattABC7) April 28, 2023
The A’s Could Be Worse Than the ’62 Mets
The 1962 Mets are so infamous in the baseball world that almost any lowlight or prolonged losing streak ends up compared with them. That team, emerging from the ashes of the New York Giants‘ and Brooklyn Dodgers‘ moves to California, simply never found its legs at any point. Led (ironically) by legendary manager Casey Stengel, they lost their first nine games and 16 of their first 19. A 17-game losing streak spanning late May and early June left them at 12-36 by June 6. Several more losing stretches accompanied a long slog to the finish. When all was said and done, New York finished 60 1/2 games behind the pennant-winning Giants.
While it is still early and comparing this A’s team to the ’62 Mets may seem premature, the possibility of them finishing with a worse record can’t be ignored. The roster, as constructed, looks like they could certainly surpass 120 losses. Through 27 games, not one starting pitcher has a win so far. The A’s are extremely young, with the elder statesmen in the lineup being Jace Peterson (33), Jesus Aguilar (33), Aledmys Diaz (32), and Tony Kemp (31). Certainly not too much veteran and/or postseason experience in the clubhouse.
Oakland’s run differential sits at a staggering -117. While their offense is nothing to write home about, pitching is the main culprit behind their horrendous start. They have a major-league worst 8.01 ERA, the next highest mark being 5.75. Eight different pitchers to appear in a game for the A’s this year have an ERA over 10.00. The staff has given up double-digit runs in 12 of 28 games. When pitchers take you out of games so quickly, it’s the perfect recipe to equal or surpass the ’62 Mets.
Will It Happen?
With a lot of the season to go, it remains unclear whether the A’s will actually finish with a worse record than the ’62 Mets. But with such a bad record so far and the underlying statistics showing no end in sight, it’s becoming more possible by the day. Other teams have approached 120 losses but managed to barely avoid it by season’s end. In fact, it’s not totally fair for only the A’s to be in this conversation.
The Kansas City Royals are 6-21 (.222 winning %) and the Chicago White Sox are 7-20 (.259). One of those teams may end up challenging the notorious mark. But with the A’s off to an even worse start and their run differential almost twice as bad as those teams, they remain the most likely candidates. Add to that all the chaos surrounding their impending departure from Oakland, and you have a recipe for disaster. For the sake of the team and its loyal fans, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Managers Mentioned: Casey Stengel