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World Series Winners Who Finished Last the Following Season

Posted by Neil on August 13, 2013

With San Francisco currently in the basement of the NL West, a Giants fan wrote to us this week wondering how many times a World Series win was followed with a last-place finish. I ran the query in our database:

WS Winner Following Season Last Place?
2012 San Francisco Giants 5th place out of 5 teams *
2011 St. Louis Cardinals 2nd place out of 6 teams
2010 San Francisco Giants 2nd place out of 5 teams
2009 New York Yankees 2nd place out of 5 teams
2008 Philadelphia Phillies 1st place out of 5 teams
2007 Boston Red Sox 2nd place out of 5 teams
2006 St. Louis Cardinals 3rd place out of 6 teams
2005 Chicago White Sox 3rd place out of 5 teams
2004 Boston Red Sox 2nd place out of 5 teams
2003 Florida Marlins 3rd place out of 5 teams
2002 Anaheim Angels 3rd place out of 4 teams
2001 Arizona Diamondbacks 1st place out of 5 teams
2000 New York Yankees 1st place out of 5 teams
1999 New York Yankees 1st place out of 5 teams
1998 New York Yankees 1st place out of 5 teams
1997 Florida Marlins 5th place out of 5 teams *
1996 New York Yankees 2nd place out of 5 teams
1995 Atlanta Braves 1st place out of 5 teams
1993 Toronto Blue Jays 3rd place out of 5 teams
1992 Toronto Blue Jays 1st place out of 7 teams
WS Winner Following Season Last Place?
1991 Minnesota Twins 2nd place out of 7 teams
1990 Cincinnati Reds 5th place out of 6 teams
1989 Oakland Athletics 1st place out of 7 teams
1988 Los Angeles Dodgers 4th place out of 6 teams
1987 Minnesota Twins 2nd place out of 7 teams
1986 New York Mets 2nd place out of 6 teams
1985 Kansas City Royals 3rd place out of 7 teams
1984 Detroit Tigers 3rd place out of 7 teams
1983 Baltimore Orioles 5th place out of 7 teams
1982 St. Louis Cardinals 4th place out of 6 teams
1981 Los Angeles Dodgers 2nd place out of 6 teams
1980 Philadelphia Phillies 3rd place out of 6 teams
1979 Pittsburgh Pirates 3rd place out of 6 teams
1978 New York Yankees 4th place out of 7 teams
1977 New York Yankees 1st place out of 7 teams
1976 Cincinnati Reds 2nd place out of 6 teams
1975 Cincinnati Reds 1st place out of 6 teams
1974 Oakland Athletics 1st place out of 6 teams
1973 Oakland Athletics 1st place out of 6 teams
1972 Oakland Athletics 1st place out of 6 teams
WS Winner Following Season Last Place?
1971 Pittsburgh Pirates 1st place out of 6 teams
1970 Baltimore Orioles 1st place out of 6 teams
1969 New York Mets 3rd place out of 6 teams
1968 Detroit Tigers 2nd place out of 6 teams
1967 St. Louis Cardinals 1st place out of 10 teams
1966 Baltimore Orioles 6th place out of 10 teams
1965 Los Angeles Dodgers 1st place out of 10 teams
1964 St. Louis Cardinals 7th place out of 10 teams
1963 Los Angeles Dodgers 6th place out of 10 teams
1962 New York Yankees 1st place out of 10 teams
1961 New York Yankees 1st place out of 10 teams
1960 Pittsburgh Pirates 6th place out of 8 teams
1959 Los Angeles Dodgers 4th place out of 8 teams
1958 New York Yankees 3rd place out of 8 teams
1957 Milwaukee Braves 1st place out of 8 teams
1956 New York Yankees 1st place out of 8 teams
1955 Brooklyn Dodgers 1st place out of 8 teams
1954 New York Giants 3rd place out of 8 teams
1953 New York Yankees 2nd place out of 8 teams
1952 New York Yankees 1st place out of 8 teams
WS Winner Following Season Last Place?
1951 New York Yankees 1st place out of 8 teams
1950 New York Yankees 1st place out of 8 teams
1949 New York Yankees 1st place out of 8 teams
1948 Cleveland Indians 3rd place out of 8 teams
1947 New York Yankees 3rd place out of 8 teams
1946 St. Louis Cardinals 2nd place out of 8 teams
1945 Detroit Tigers 2nd place out of 8 teams
1944 St. Louis Cardinals 2nd place out of 8 teams
1943 New York Yankees 3rd place out of 8 teams
1942 St. Louis Cardinals 1st place out of 8 teams
1941 New York Yankees 1st place out of 8 teams
1940 Cincinnati Reds 3rd place out of 8 teams
1939 New York Yankees 3rd place out of 8 teams
1938 New York Yankees 1st place out of 8 teams
1937 New York Yankees 1st place out of 8 teams
1936 New York Yankees 1st place out of 8 teams
1935 Detroit Tigers 2nd place out of 8 teams
1934 St. Louis Cardinals 2nd place out of 8 teams
1933 New York Giants 2nd place out of 8 teams
1932 New York Yankees 2nd place out of 8 teams
WS Winner Following Season Last Place?
1931 St. Louis Cardinals 6th place out of 8 teams
1930 Philadelphia Athletics 1st place out of 8 teams
1929 Philadelphia Athletics 1st place out of 8 teams
1928 New York Yankees 2nd place out of 8 teams
1927 New York Yankees 1st place out of 8 teams
1926 St. Louis Cardinals 2nd place out of 8 teams
1925 Pittsburgh Pirates 3rd place out of 8 teams
1924 Washington Senators 1st place out of 8 teams
1923 New York Yankees 2nd place out of 8 teams
1922 New York Giants 1st place out of 8 teams
1921 New York Giants 1st place out of 8 teams
1920 Cleveland Indians 2nd place out of 8 teams
1919 Cincinnati Reds 3rd place out of 8 teams
1918 Boston Red Sox 6th place out of 8 teams
1917 Chicago White Sox 6th place out of 8 teams
1916 Boston Red Sox 2nd place out of 8 teams
1915 Boston Red Sox 1st place out of 8 teams
1914 Boston Braves 2nd place out of 8 teams
1913 Philadelphia Athletics 1st place out of 8 teams
1912 Boston Red Sox 4th place out of 8 teams
WS Winner Following Season Last Place?
1911 Philadelphia Athletics 3rd place out of 8 teams
1910 Philadelphia Athletics 1st place out of 8 teams
1909 Pittsburgh Pirates 3rd place out of 8 teams
1908 Chicago Cubs 2nd place out of 8 teams
1907 Chicago Cubs 1st place out of 8 teams
1906 Chicago White Sox 3rd place out of 8 teams
1905 New York Giants 2nd place out of 8 teams
1903 Boston Americans 1st place out of 8 teams

As it turns out, if the Giants "hang on" to the bottom spot in the West, it will mark only the second time in the World Series era (1903-present) that a champion went on to finish last the following season. The only other team to do that were the 1998 Florida Marlins, who infamously jettisoned all of their talent a year after winning it all.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 at 3:00 pm and is filed under Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, History, Trivia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

8 Responses to “World Series Winners Who Finished Last the Following Season”

  1. In the SF Giants case, all of our talent appears to have jettisoned their "talent."

  2. Haha, good one there Bill. At least the Giants won a World Series first. In the case of the Pirates, the talent jettisons their talent in early August every year.

  3. I think "Last Place" is the wrong query to be looking up. Though 2 in 110 years is extremely rare & should be noted.

    They were #1.

    Not just 1/5(NLW), or 1/16 (NL), but 1/30(MLB).

    I understand for 50yrs there were only 16 teams, so we can't even compare 25th/30 vs 12th/16.
    Doing the same general query but for this, we'd analyze the data & say 2 main things...25th is way worse than 12th & 25th is 5 from last & 12th is 4 from last, which makes, 12th worse.

    While 12/16 is most likely worse than 25/30, neither are accurate assessments, of actual #1 to huge drop, neither is this post. Just think, if the Blue Jays had won it all last year, while they are 5th in the AL East this year, 22nd isn't as bad as 25th. Whereas, if the White Sox had held off the Tigers & kept it rolling & won, 1st to 28th is much worse. However, this graph, ranks 22nd equal with 28th, as they are both 5th/5 in their respective divisions. That just isn't an accurate assessment.

    How about Win %?
    Meaning, What's the lowest Win % a team has gotten the year after winning it all?
    It doesn't have as much bias for more teams, even interleague games, it allows for teams like the Angels to be assessed more accurately based on actual record as well, b/c the Astros, 30/30 were added to their division & thus they wouldn't rank last & should, b/c they are still 23rd/30.

    They still benefited from the games they played against the Astros, I'm not taking that factor out. Nor would I be accounting for the ALE being so competitive that 1st to 5th is much easier than the NLE, where even the Nats are still 2nd, b/c besides the Braves, you have to really stink to drop lower than you were in 2012.

    So, I'd like to see the list of lowest win % & where the Giants & Marlins rank among those. Particularly, those under .450. As, while, .451-.550, shouldn't get you in the playoffs, it's not a complete meltdown type collapse & thus can be excused.

    Reversely, while you are at it, what about lowest win% the season prior to a WS? That would be really awesome to see. Usually, a WS occurs from teams with about .500 or better records the prior year, & often for a few years in a row. However, if the Pirates win it this year, as an under .500 club the prior year, & way too many years b4 that, where would that rank in the All Time 1yr Miracle Season Turnarounds?

  4. I don't think Neil was going for "an accurate assessment" -- anyone knows that finishing last in one of three divisions is not the same as finishing last in a league -- I think he was just going for a fun, informative post, which he accomplished.

    BTW the 1987 Twins are the WS champ with the worst record the previous year (71-91 in 1986). Ironically they are also the worst WS champ in history, at least by W-L record, at only 85-77. The Twins made history again four years later by going from last in the AL West in 1990 at 74-88, to 95-67 and WS Champ in 1991.

  5. Thanks Kelly,

    It was a "fun informative post", in the strictest sense as, yeah only 1 in 110 yrs is rare, so a 2nd possible does make history. I just wish he would take it a step or 2 further & make it even more accurate.

    Oh those Twins that I grew up with. I didn't see the WS, but the ups & downs, mostly downs of the 90s were fun & not fun at the same time. Hey, now at least I know they made history, b4 I saw them, I was 6 in '91, but still.

    Worst record, the previous year, for a WS holder is something they can hang their hat on. 71-91, that's a pretty bad record. Hard to beat that one. But still gives teams in the cellar hope for next year.

    74-88 is another gr8 "worst" to best record. WOW.

    85 wins shouldn't get you a playoff spot, even 10/30. But hey, it was allowed so more power to them. Personally, it should be 90 wins, I could care less about division, in regards to auto berth. But that's another topic.

    Those 2 make me feel for my 90s Twins brothers & sisters more, even though they had 2 recent WS's, they also had to deal with 2 horrible years the year b4, thus conditioning them to thinking "Anything Can Happen" & then the rest of the 90s come & basically nothing else.

    So, you did give me some info that I asked for "worst record for the prior year for a WS winner, thank you.
    Pirates went 79-81 last year, so while they have a much longer drought than the Twins, they won't break that if they win.

    In fact, of the most likely playoff teams this year, most made it to the playoffs last year. Rays & Dodgers just missed it & Arizona was 81-81.

    Now, if the Indians can find a way to beat the Tigers & then get to the WS, heck even past 1 round of the playoffs, or maybe just making the playoffs, I bet, it will be historic. They were 68-94 last year, 13/14 for the AL & 26/30.

    Still would like to see where the Marlins & the possible Giants fit in to the best to worst.

  6. Jim Bouldin Says:

    The 2006 Cardinals won the WS with only 83 regular season wins if I remember correctly.

  7. Red Sox had a 69-93 record last year & def look like the favorites to make & even win the WS this year. They were also 24th/30, of all MLB Teams & 12/14 of the AL.

    They would beat the 1987 Twins, 71-91, for Worst Record the Previous Season of a WS Winner, according to Kelly's research.

  8. I really don't think there is a favorite to win the WS at this point. If forced to pick one, I imagine more people would take the Tigers than any other team. Though it would be very close. It's rather wide open and the playoffs are going to feature a lot of "coin flip" matchups.

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