The Detroit Tigers lost Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox. It was an 8-1 blowout that saw the Tigers use a position player to pitch the ninth inning. The result shouldn’t be too surprising, given the Tigers almost always lose. Entering Thursday, the Tigers had the worst record in baseball by two losses — the next worst team, the Baltimore Orioles, had played three more games. What’s more is the Tigers have been abysmal for months now. They’re 5-20 since the All-Star Game, 6-24 in their past 30, and 11-45 since June 1 — that’s a 32-win pace over an entire season.
When a team performs as poorly for as long as these Tigers have, it’s fair to wonder if we’re witnessing something historic in progress. As such, let’s view Detroit’s season in a greater context.
The Tigers have won 30 percent of their games to date, putting them on pace to finish with 49 victories. Since the last round of expansion in 1998, only two teams have won so few games: the 2003 Tigers ( ) and the 2018 Orioles. There have been countless other bad teams, but they all found a way to win at least 50 games, be it the 2013 Houston Astros, the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks or the 2002 Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Even if you expand the parameters to stretch back to 1950, Detroit’s current winning percentage would be the fifth-worst — behind the 1962 expansion New York Mets, the ’03 Tigers, the 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates and last year’s Orioles.
The Tigers don’t stack up much better using run differential, either. They’ve been outscored by 211 runs, or 1.9 per game. That puts them on pace to finish with a run differential around minus-311. Only 11 teams since 1950 have been outscored by more than 310 runs in a season, and just one (again, those 2003 Tigers) has accomplished the feat since 1998.
Just how bad is this Tigers team? Based on the record and run differential, there’s a case to be made that they’re going to finish as one of the five worst teams to suit up since the 1950s. The bright side, if there is one, is that the Tigers can take solace in one fact — they probably won’t be remembered as being worse than the franchise’s 2003 squad.
With how the Tigers are playing right now, though, they might come close.