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MLB: From Worst to First and First to Worst

Posted by Andrew McKillop on September 24, 2011

Post Highlights

  • The Arizona Diamondbacks have accounted for 27% of all worst to first occurrences in major professional baseball history.
  • The San Diego Padres are the only team that went from first to worst (1996 to 1997) and worst to first (1997 to 1998) back to back.
  • None of the seven teams that went from first to worst changed managers the previous off-season; only one team changed managers after the season (1987 California Angels).

 

The Arizona Diamondbacks completed a special feat this season.  For the third time in their franchises history, they have gone from last place in the NL West to first place the next season.  It’s only the 11th time in major professional baseball history that a team went from worst to first in their respective division/or league.

On the flipside the Minnesota Twins had a season to forget.  After winning the AL Central title last year, they will finish this season in last place.  It’s only the 7th time in major professional baseball history that a team went from first to worst in their respective division/or league.

 

Worst to First in Pro Baseball

First Worst Team Lge/Div W Dif Playoffs Next Season
1890 1889 Louisville Colonels AA +61 - 1891: 8th
1991 1990 Atlanta Braves NL West +29 Lost WS 1992: 1st
1991 1990 Minnesota Twins AL West +21 Won WS 1992: 2nd
1993 1992 Philadelphia Phillies NL East +27 Lost WS 1994: 4th
1997 1996 San Francisco Giants NL West +22 Lost LDS 1998: 2nd
1998 1997 San Diego Padres NL West +22 Lost WS 1999: 4th
1999 1998 Arizona D-backs NL West +35 Lost LDS 2000: 3rd
2007 2006 Arizona D-backs NL West +14 Lost NLCS 2008: 2nd
2007 2006 Chicago Cubs NL Central +19 Lost LDS 2008: 1st
2008 2007 Tampa Bay Rays AL East +31 Lost WS 2009: 3rd
2011 2010 Arizona D-backs NL West +26 ? ? ?

 

The Arizona Diamondbacks have accounted for 27% of all worst to first occurrences in major professional baseball history.

Current and past teams from the NL West, have accounted for 55% of all worst to first occurrences in major professional baseball history.

Only three of teams that went from worst to first changed managers the previous off-season; 1991 Braves, 2007 Cubs, and 2011 D-backs.


First to Worst in Pro Baseball

Worst First Team Lge/Div W Dif Next Season
1915 1914 Philadelphia Athletics AL -56 1916: 8th (Last)
1987 1986 California Angels AL West -17 1988: 4th
1993 1992 Oakland Athletics AL West -28 1994: 2nd
1995 1994 Montreal Expos ¹ NL East -8 1996: 2nd
1997 1996 San Diego Padres NL West -15 1998: 1st
2000 1999 Texas Rangers AL West -24 2001: 4th (Last)
2011 2010 Minnesota Twins AL Central -34 ? ?

¹ Strike-shortened season; no official division titles were given.

 

The San Diego Padres are the only team that went from first to worst (1996 to 1997) and worst to first (1997 to 1998) back to back.

None of the seven teams that went from first to worst changed managers the previous off-season; only one team changed managers after the season (1987 California Angels).

The Cincinnati Reds finished the 1981 season with the most overall wins in the NL West. However due to a split-season format, they didn’t win the division title, because they finished in second place in both halves of the season.  In the following season, the Reds had the worst record in the NL West.

 

Reference: Baseball-Reference.com

 

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4 Responses to “MLB: From Worst to First and First to Worst”

  1. Brad said

    The Expos dropped 23 games from 1994 to 1995, not 8.

    • Andrew McKillop said

      The Expos were 74-40 in 1994, and 66-78 in 1995. That’s an eight game drop in their W-L total.

      • Joe Eisenski said

        no, that’s an 8-game loss in their win total. not their W-L total. different total amount because of strike.

      • Andrew McKillop said

        Your right. A mistake in my wording. Thanks for pointing it out.

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