Traditionally, what have been the worst teams to support in MLB? The teams that aren’t going to be found on the World Series winners list and the ones that suffer long droughts between playoff appearances or even winning seasons.
Worst MLB franchises of all-time
Rather than only focusing on the best of the best, we wanted to spend a little time on the worst of the worst. We looked back through baseball history to find the least successful MLB teams and the worst MLB franchises.
It wasn’t as easy to distinguish the worst of the worst as you might think. That said, here is our list of the five worst MLB franchises in baseball history.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have had a few tough breaks over the years, as MLB has forced the franchise to switch divisions on multiple occasions and even move from the American League to the National League. But that doesn’t excuse the team’s lack of success.
The Brew Crew has been around since 1969 and has only reached the World Series one time, losing to the Cardinals, who are now their division rivals, in 1982. Other than that, the Brewers haven’t come close to a championship other than two trips to the NLCS.
For what it’s worth, the Brewers haven’t exactly been a basement dweller throughout their history, Milwaukee has only one season with 100-plus losses. But until things picked up in the late 2010s, the Brewers rarely made the playoffs or had to be taken seriously inside their division.
With the Brewers being among the teams lacking a World Series title, they edge out teams like the Marlins and Nationals that have also had a subpar history for the no. 5 spot on our list of the worst MLB franchises of all time.
4. Colorado Rockies
As one of the youngest franchises in baseball, it might be a little unfair to consider the Rockies among the worst of all time. But with so little success in their first 30 years, it’s hard to omit Colorado.
Surprisingly, the Rockies made the postseason in just their third season of existence, far better than most expansion franchises. They also had a miraculous run to the 2007 World Series. But Colorado’s success more or less ends there.
Playing in Coors Field has made it hard for the Rockies to develop pitchers and attract top free-agent pitchers, and that has made it hard to win consistently. But excuses aside, the numbers say that the Rockies are among the least successful franchises ever. If you take away the 2007 season, Colorado has won just three postseason games – not series, games. In nearly two-thirds of their seasons, the Rockies have finished either last or second-to-last in the NL West, which equates to a lot of disappointing seasons.
3. San Diego Padres
Until the last few years, the Padres were a small-market club that didn’t spend a lot of money and didn’t win a lot of games. To be fair, San Diego made it to the World Series in 1984 and 1998. But those were isolated incidents with the Padres failing to build off that success and continue to be a contender in the NL West.
Keep in mind that during their first 11 years as a franchise, the Padres lost at least 89 games 10 times and had four seasons with at least 100 losses. Outside of back-to-back division titles in 2005 and 2006, the 21st century has also been filled with losing seasons and several last-place finishes until the Padres started spending money.
While it looks like San Diego is trying to turn things around, this is still one of the worst MLB franchises historically.
2. Texas Rangers
A lack of a championship heading into the 2023 season puts the Rangers on our list of the worst franchises ever. Texas was painfully close when the Rangers reached the World Series in both 2010 and 2011. The 2011 World Series, in particular, was theirs for the taking. But because the Rangers fell short and have struggled to compete consistently throughout their history, they have to be considered among the least successful teams.
The early part of the franchise’s history when they were the Washington Senators also counts against the Rangers. In 11 seasons as the Senators, they lost 100-plus games four times and 90-plus games eight times.
The franchise was born in 1961 and didn’t reach its first postseason until 1996 and didn’t win a postseason series until 2010. Even if things have turned around since 2010, it was half a century of futility before that.
1. Seattle Mariners
Oddly enough, the franchise that is tied for the all-time single-season wins record is also the worst franchise in MLB history. Seattle won 116 games in 2001, only to lose in the ALCS in just five games.
The Mariners then proceeded to have a playoff drought that lasted until 2022 when the MLB playoffs expanded. It’s tough to reconcile that type of history and that long of a drought.
The early days of the Mariners weren’t particularly good either. They lost 90-plus games in four straight seasons after their inaugural season in 1977 and didn’t reach the postseason for the first time until 1995. In fact, outside of four playoff appearances between 1995 and 2001, Seattle’s history has been one long playoff drought with the Mariners failing to make a meaningful impact on baseball history outside of the 2001 season.