Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

You are here > Home > Primate Studies > Discussion
Primate Studies
— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Loser Scores 2017

The fine print:

Bill James came up with Loser Scores after the 2010 season, in an effort to measure how the Pirates’ string of losing seasons compared to other lengthy stretches of bad baseball. I’ve updated the totals every year since then.

You compute Loser Scores in this fashion:

1. A team that has a losing season adds to its Loser Score the total of games under .500, plus the number of consecutive seasons that the team has been under .500.
2. A team that has a .500 or better season takes its previous Loser Score and multiplies it by (1-number of consecutive non-losing seasons/10) - so .9 for the first .500+ season, .8 for the second, and so on - rounds that to the nearest whole number, and then subtracts the number of games over .500.
3. A Loser Score cannot go below zero.
4. Winning the World Series is an automatic reset to zero.

The 2017 results:

Team               W   L Games Under  Streak  Loser Score
Pittsburgh        75  87          12       2          280
Colorado          87  75         -12       1          200
San Diego         71  91          20       7          186
Cincinnati        68  94          26       4          162
Miami             77  85           8       8          160
Seattle           78  84           6       1          146
Milwaukee         86  76         -10       1          133
Philadelphia      66  96          30       5          133
Minnesota         85  77          -8       1          132
Chicago WS        67  95          28       5          111
Atlanta           72  90          18       4           85
Arizona           93  69         -24       1           70
Oakland           75  87          12       3           68
New York Mets     70  92          22       1           59
Tampa Bay         80  82           2       4           48
Baltimore         75  87          12       1           42
Detroit           64  98          34       1           37
San Francisco     64  98          34       1           35
LAA of Anaheim    80  82           2       2           19
Toronto           76  86          10       1           11
Texas             78  84           6       1            7
Kansas City       80  82           2       1            3
New York Yankees  91  71         -20      25            0
St. Louis         83  79          -4      10            0
LA Dodgers       104  58         -46       7            0
Washington        97  65         -32       6            0
Cleveland        102  60         -42       5            0
Chicago Cubs      92  70         -22       3            0
Houston (WS)     101  61         -40       3            0
Boston            93  69         -24       2            0

The top 2 are the same as a year ago. However, there was quite a bit of shuffling in the rest of the top 10 thanks to the unexpectedly good seasons from Milwaukee and Minnesota and less-than stellar seasons from Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

Some other items of note:

  • Houston was sixth a year ago with a Loser Score of 154. By winning the World Series the Astros dropped to zero. It is not the largest such decrease - the 1914 Miracle Braves, 1969 Mets and the 2015 Royals, among others, top them - but it does make the top 10 among teams that went to zero by virtue of a World Series win. Had they not won the WS they would have been at 67.
  • The Yankees posted their 23rd consecutive season with a Loser Score of zero. Since winning their first pennant in 1921 (and hitting zero the first time) the Yankees have had only 17 seasons with non-zero Loser Scores.
  • The Pirates remain atop the list for the 11th consecutive season. They came very close to dropping off two years ago but two consecutive below-.500 seasons have kept them on top while other teams (the Royals and Rockies) have seen some success. It is now fairly likely that even if the Pirates have a winning season in 2018 that they will stay on top for at least one more year.
  • The Blue Jays finally made it to zero in 2016 after not having made it there since 1993 despite five different single-digit seasons in that span, They took a step back in 2017.
  • Detroit had made it all the way back to zero in 2014 after not having been there since 1988. A losing season in 2015 followed by a winning season in 2016 put them at 2, but the 64-98 disaster dropped them to 37.
  • San Diego and Colorado remain the only franchises that have never been at zero. The Rockies were as low as 9 back in 1997 but they jumped back over 100 in 2004 and have been over 100 every year since then except for 2010. The Padres had their low-water mark at 25 in 2007; they haven’t been higher than their current 186 since 1983, the year before their first division title. They got back to 50 in 2010 but seven consecutive losing seasons have pushed them back up the chart.
  • If I had to guess which team was likely to push the Pirates off the top I’d pick the Reds; I can’t see them having a random good season any time soon.


    Mike Emeigh Posted: December 12, 2017 at 10:41 PM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
      Related News:

    Reader Comments and Retorts

    Go to end of page

    Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

       1. villageidiom Posted: December 13, 2017 at 12:38 PM (#5591778)
    If I had to guess which team was likely to push the Pirates off the top I’d pick the Reds; I can’t see them having a random good season any time soon.
    Well it certainly won't be the Pirates that get the Pirates off the top. ;-)

    If I look at Miami and figure they've got a few years adding 30 to their total per year, it would take 4 years for them to catch where the Pirates are today. Same, roughly, for Cincinnati. I think the challenge here is that the Pirates aren't going to make it that easy, while these teams will eventually improve.
       2. Mr Dashwood Posted: December 13, 2017 at 02:58 PM (#5591975)
    Miami is going to make a serious run at toppling the Pirates, mark my words, having embarked on a drive to 95 (losses).
       3. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 13, 2017 at 04:55 PM (#5592068)
    If the Pirates have two .500 seasons in a row (as in 81-81) they will drop back to 200.

    I suppose the Marlins could make a push. They have eight straight below-.500 records so 66-96 will get them to 199 and they could easily be worse than that. I don't see the Reds, outside of Votto, as having significantly better talent, and they could very well move the non-Votto talent they do have (I know they're trying to deal Cozart).

    -- MWE
       4. Buck Coats Posted: December 13, 2017 at 05:22 PM (#5592089)
    Always love this list, thanks!
       5. Mr Dashwood Posted: December 14, 2017 at 10:48 AM (#5592414)
    I was thinking about this some more and it is very apparent from the list that the NL is 'broken' in terms of turn-of-the-century 'hope and faith' standards. The wrong end of the list is dominated by the NL's smaller markets, and the bigger NL markets feature prominently at the opposite end.

    The AL picture is more even, thanks in part to the recent success of the Royals and Indians, and the White Sox' perennial inability to capitalise on their market. Even plucky little Tampa Bay has mid-table respectability.
       6. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 15, 2017 at 08:57 AM (#5593101)
    The top 5 teams - all NL as fra paolo notes - have 12 winning seasons between them in the last 10 years. 8 of the 15 AL teams (including Houston as an AL team) have more than 5 winning seasons over that period, only 6 of 15 NL teams fall into that category. Part of this is due to the AL's recent advantage in interleague play, of course.

    -- MWE
       7. Mr Dashwood Posted: December 22, 2017 at 11:24 AM (#5596836)
    I was playing around with Loser Scores from the past, having calculated them for a couple of franchises. It's staggering just how bad teams of the past could be for so long. Think of the Pirates, currently leading the list with 280.

    In 1952, the Phillies were at 875. (The Phillies would peak in 1974 with a score of 1,034. It's just unimaginable, if I hadn't been alive then.)

    In 1952, the Browns were at 759.

    Despite having played through the era of loss of 'hope and faith', during which huge subsidies were handed out to the owners of teams in form of publicly funded ballparks in order to prevent the creation of a new generation of Sad-Sacks, the Pirates still have a lot of ground to make up on those two.

    If the Pirates lost 100 games for twelve years in a row, that would start them at (81-62=19)*12=228, plus 1 through 12 for 78 equals 306, taking them to 586. (I did that in my head so it might be wrong.)

    They are still another 10 100-loss seasons off the kind of scores the Browns and Phillies had in 1952. That's just unimaginable in an era of the draft and free agency.

    You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.



    << Back to main

    BBTF Partner

    Dynasty League Baseball

    Support BBTF


    Thanks to
    Downtown Bookie
    for his generous support.


    You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.


    Page rendered in 0.2453 seconds
    58 querie(s) executed