erik lundegaard

Who's Most Due After the Cubs?

The baseball season is about to begin and the Chicago Cubs of all teams are among the favorites. Joe Posnanski makes his case for the hapless wonders in a piece called “This Is the Year,” which includes this anecdote:

 “We came out of the dugout for opening day,” Cubs pitcher Moe Drabowsky remembered, and this was way back in the 1950s. “And we saw a fan holding a sign: ‘Wait ‘Til Next Year.'”

Chicago CubsMade me laugh out loud. Also made me think of lthe Seattle Mariners today. Which raises the question: If the Cubs make it to the World Series for the first time since 1945, or god forbid win the World Series for the first time since 1908, who will take on the mantle of Hapless Wonders? Who is most due after the Chicago Cubs?

Let me make the argument for the Ms:

  • We are the team with the longest current postseason-less streak in baseball: We last saw October in 2001.
  • We are one of eight teams that has never won a World Series.
  • We are one of two teams that has never even been to the World Series.
  • This despite the Hall of Fame talent on the team in the 1990s: Griffey, A-Rod, Randy Johnson, Edgar, Jay Buhner, Tino, etc. We had Omar Vizquel for a time. We had Ichiro. Has any team had that much talent with so little to show for it?

All telling points. But some part of me wanted to chart it. I wanted to figure out with data points which team was most due. 

I started out with “Years Since Post-Season,” then quickly added “Years Since Pennant” and “Years Since World Series,“ since that’s what it’s all about, Alfie.

But previous pennants and World Series championships should count against you, right? How can the Yankees or Cardinals be ”most due"? They can't. At first I just took away one point for every pennant and two for a championship, but that didn't seem enough; so I bumped it up to 2 and 4, respectively. I gave extra points for the teams that never won a title (+5), or never even went (another +5).

Oh, and I counted current cities rather than franchises. In the chart below, the Nats only go back to 2005, when they moved to Washington, rather than to 1969, when they were born as the Montreal Expos. It's a judgment call. I asked myself: Did the years in Montreal matter to Nats fans? Did the year as the Seattle Pilots matter to Brewers fans? This goes for pennants and trophies, too. Those Philly A’s pennants didn’t wind up in the Oakland column. Ditto Boston/Milwaukee Braves for Atlantans. There's no right answer here. It just felt like it made more sense going with the city. 

But it still didn’t seem right.

It took me a while to figure it out, but it really came down to the Pirates. They were skewed. They’d made the postseason the past few years, so lost points there; but they’d hardly gone anywhere in those postseasons. One and out twice, and the LDS. They had the longest dry run for the LCS, 24 years, since Sid slid, and that should be reflected in some way. So I added another column for LCS, which also bumped the numbers of the Reds, Padres, and Braves. And the M's. Yay.

The result?

TEAMS  Y/Post Y/LCS Y/Penn. Y/WSC Xtra Penn. (-2) WS titles (-4) TOTAL
Chicago Cubs 1 1 71 108   -20 -8 153
Seattle Mariners 15 15 39 39 10     118
San Diego Padres 10 18 18 47 5 -4   94
Milwaukee Brewers 5 5 34 46 5 -2   93
Cleveland Indians 3 9 19 68   -10 -8 81
Houston Astros 1 11 11 54 5 -2   80
Pittsburgh Pirates 1 24 37 37   -14 -20 65
Texas Rangers 1 5 5 44 5 -4   56
Minnesota Twins 6 14 25 25   -6 -8 56
Colorado Rockies 7 9 9 21 5 -2   49
Baltimore Orioles 2 2 33 33   -12 -12 46
Washington Nationals 2 11 11 11 10     45
Atlanta Braves 3 15 17 21   -10 -4 42
Tampa Bay Rays 3 8 8 18 5 -2   40
Miami Marlins 13 13 13 13   -4 -8 40
Cincinnati Reds 3 21 26 26   -18 -20 38
Arizona Diamondbacks 5 9 15 15   -2 -4 38
Toronto Blue Jays 1 1 24 24   -4 -8 38
Oakland Athletics 2 10 26 27   -12 -16 37
Los Angeles Angels 2 7 14 14   -2 -4 31
Los Angeles Dodgers 1 3 28 28   -18 -20 22
Chicago White Sox 8 11 11 11   -12 -12 17
New York Mets 1 1 1 30   -10 -8 15
Detroit Tigers 2 3 10 32   -22 -16 9
Philadelphia Phillies 5 7 7 8   -14 -8 5
Kansas City Royals 1 1 1 1   -8 -8 -12
San Francisco Giants 2 2 2 2   -12 -12 -16
Boston Red Sox 3 3 3 3   -26 -32 -46
St. Louis Cardinals 1 2 3 5   -38 -44 -71
New York Yankees 1 4 7 7   -80 -108 -169

So Cubs on top, followed by the Mariners. Padres and Brewers are neck and neck. Then the Cleveland Indians, who, after the Cubs, have the longest championship dry run. They haven’t won it all since 1948.

Some would put the Indians ahead of the Pads, Brewers and Ms in hapless points, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree: 68 years, boy. On the other hand, they did make it to the World Series when they had all that talent in the mid-90s, even if they lost to the Braves in ’95 and the Marlins in heartbreaking fashion in ’97. The M's never went. 

Which raises another question: Do you get extra points for coming so heartbreakingly close like the '97 Indians, who were a decent Jose Mesa half-inning from a championship? Do you lose points for being a heartbreaker? How do you quantify heartbreak?

The chart's a work in progress; it can definitely be tinkered with. Suggestions welcome. Think of it as a conversation starter rather than stopper. 

One thing we can all agree on: the team least due. By my calculations, the New York Yankees need a half century of utter backbreaking futility, of not even touching the post-season, just to break even; just to be where the Tigers are right now. May they get there. 

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Posted at 06:16 AM on Wed. Mar 30, 2016 in category Baseball  

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