While fans often focus on the greatest players in MLB history or the best teams in baseball history, what about the worst MLB franchises?
Which teams have traditionally been the worst supported in the MLB? The teams that aren’t on the World Series winning list and the ones that suffer long dry spells between playoff appearances or even winning seasons.
The Worst MLB Franchises of All Time
Instead of just focusing on the best of the best, we wanted to spend a little time with the worst of the worst. We took a look back through baseball history to find the least successful MLB teams and the worst MLB franchises.
It wasn’t as easy to separate the worst from the worst as you might think. However, here is our list of the five worst MLB franchises in baseball history.
5. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have had some serious fractures over the years, as MLB forced the franchise to change divisions on multiple occasions, even moving 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 reached the World Series only once, losing in 1982 to the Cardinals, who are now their division rivals. Other than that, the Brewers haven’t come close to a championship except for two trips to the NLCS.
Whatever the case, the Brewers haven’t exactly been cellar dwellers throughout their history, with Milwaukee only having one 100+ loss season. But until things picked up in the late 2010s, the Brewers rarely made the playoffs or had to be taken seriously within their division.
Because the Brewers are among the teams missing a World Series title, they edge out teams like the Marlins and Nationals, who also have subpar histories for the No. 1 seed. #5 on our list of the worst MLB franchises of all time.
4. Colorado Rockies
As one of baseball’s youngest franchises, it might be a little unfair to call the Rockies the worst of all time. But given its lack of success in its first 30 years, Colorado is hard to ignore.
Surprisingly, the Rockies have 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 that’s more or less where Colorado’s success ends.
Playing at Coors Field has made it difficult for the Rockies to develop pitchers and attract top free agent pitchers, and that has made it difficult to win consistently. But excuses aside, the numbers say the Rockies are among the least successful franchises anywhere. If you take away the 2007 season, Colorado only won three postseason games – not series games, but games. For nearly two-thirds of their season, the Rockies finished last or second to last in the NL West, meaning many disappointing seasons.
3. San Diego Padres
Until a few years ago, the Padres were a small club that didn’t spend much money and didn’t win many games. To be fair, San Diego made it to the World Series in 1984 and 1998. But those were isolated cases in which the Padres failed to build on that success and remain a contender in the NL West.
Even with legendary players like Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield and Trevor Hoffman in the Hall of Fame as members of the Padres, the franchise struggled to find consistent success on the field.
Consider that in their first 11 years as a franchise, the Padres lost at least 89 games and 10 times and had four seasons with at least 100 losses. Aside from back-to-back division titles in 2005 and 2006, the 21st century also saw losing seasons and multiple last-place finishes until the Padres started spending money.
Even though it seems like San Diego is trying to turn things around, this is still one of the worst MLB franchises in history.
2. Texas Rangers
The lack of a championship in the 2023 season puts the Rangers on our list of worst franchises of all time. Texas came painfully close when the Rangers reached the World Series in 2010 and 2011. In particular, the 2011 World Series was coming up for them. But because the Rangers have not been successful and have struggled to compete consistently throughout their history, they must be considered one of 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 Senators, they lost more than 100 games four times and lost more than 90 games eight times.
The franchise was founded in 1961 and did not reach its first postseason until 1996 and did not win a postseason series until 2010. Although things have changed since 2010, before that it was a half-century of futility.
1. Seattle Mariners
Oddly enough, the franchise that holds the all-time single-win record is also the worst franchise in MLB history. Seattle won 116 games in 2001 and only lost in five games in the ALCS.
The Mariners subsequently experienced a playoff drought that lasted until 2022 when the MLB playoffs were expanded. It’s difficult to reconcile such a story with such a long drought.
The Mariners’ early days didn’t go particularly well either. After their inaugural season in 1977, they lost more than 90 games in four consecutive seasons and reached the postseason for the first time in 1995. Aside from four playoff appearances between 1995 and 2001, Seattle’s history is actually one of a long playoff drought, as the Mariners did not have one outside of the 2001 season had a significant impact on the history of baseball.