Memorial Stadium, home of the 1986 Baltimore Orioles (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
When looking up “This Date in Baseball History,” I saw the following entry for October 3: “1986 – Baltimore loses to Detroit 6-3, assuring the Orioles of their first last-place finish since moving from St. Louis in 1954.”
That got me wondering, how many last-place finishes have we had since moving from St. Louis? Further, how bad (or good) have the Orioles actually been throughout their history – particularly in light of this past horrific season?
For starters, the 2018 season was the absolute worst season the Orioles have ever had in their 65 years in Baltimore: the O’s won only 47 games and lost 115 (a win percentage of .290). The 1986 team — the historic first last-place season team since moving to Baltimore — was far better, winning 73 games and losing 89. In fact, in the franchise’s entire history, only the 1939 St. Louis Browns have a worse record with a .279 win percentage. Nonetheless, this year the Orioles still managed to lose more games than the 1939 Browns (the Browns lost 43 and won 111 in 1939; the 2018 winning percentage is higher only because they played fewer games in 1939).
The 2018 Orioles finished 61 games out of first place. Only the 1954 Orioles come anywhere close to that, finishing 57 games out. The St. Louis Browns finished more than 50 games out of first place four times (in 1910, 1911, 1927, and 1939). Again, only the 1939 Browns finished even worse than the 2018 Orioles, finishing their season 64.5 games out of first place.
Adam Jones, 2011 (photo by Keith Alison, via Wikipedia)
If it’s any consolation, when you look at the decade-by-decade breakdown (see table below), the Orioles were actually worse from 2000 to 2009, when they won only 698 games. With one year left to go in this decade, we’ve already improved upon that record. (Sure, a decade is an artificial breakdown, especially when comparing team performance, but at least it gives us a sense of how we are trending.)
Of course, worse than the number of games lost or the number of games we ended up out of first place is the number of favorite players traded and the number of favorite players likely to not be offered new contracts this off season.
Baltimore Orioles Record: 1954-2018
||No. of Times in 1st Place*
||No. of Times in Last Place
*Refers to place in the division after 1969; divisions were created in 1969.