Matthew Taylor: Some historical perspective on triple-digit losses

The Orioles are in the home stretch of their 14th consecutive losing season. That’s a lot of bad baseball. However, one thing the Birds have never done during that run is lose 100 games. In fact, the O’s have lost 100 games in a season only twice since the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore, going 54-100 in 1954 and 54-107 in 1988.

Here are some facts and figures about 100-loss seasons in Baltimore and beyond:

* The Orioles have more than twice as many 100-win seasons as they do 100-loss seasons. Baltimore has won 100 games five times (1969, 1970, 1971, 1979 and 1980) and lost 100 games twice.

* Just because the O’s haven’t lost 100 games during the past 14 seasons doesn’t mean they haven’t come close.

Last year’s 96-loss team posted winning months in August and September and won five of its last seven games to avoid a triple-digit loss total that seemed all but certain earlier in the year given one of the worst starts in franchise history.
Meanwhile, the 2008 Orioles lost 98 games but used a four-game win streak, including a season-ending sweep of Toronto, to avoid 100 losses. How improbable was that win streak? It followed a 13-game losing streak.

* It hasn’t always been late-season rallies that have kept the Birds from hitting the century mark in the loss column.

The Orioles closed their 2002 campaign on a 12-game losing streak that left them with 95 losses. It was the baseball version of being saved by the bell.

One year earlier, the O’s dropped five straight games to end the season, leaving them with 98 losses. The team only completed 161 games in 2001 after a 15-inning tie with the Yankees on Sept. 30 was called due to rain and never completed. It was the last game of the season series between the two teams, and the Birds headed north to Toronto the next day. Joe Girardi was not the Yankees manager at the time; if he were, we can only assume he would’ve found a way to blame the Orioles for the circumstances.

* Losing 100 games has gone hand-in-hand with extended streaks of losing seasons for some teams.

The Pirates have had two 100-loss seasons during their current run of 18 (likely 19) straight losing seasons. Pittsburgh was 62-100 in 2001 and 57-105 in 2010.

The Tigers had three 100-loss records in their run of 12 consecutive losing seasons from 1994 through 2005, including a 43-119 showing in 2003.

The Rays are currently working on their fourth consecutive winning season after the franchise started with 10 consecutive losing seasons. Tampa Bay lost 100 games three times in that initial 10-year stretch, in 2001 2002 and 2006.

* Speaking of the Rays’ early struggles, the O’s finished in last place in the division in only three of the eight seasons since 1997 when they lost 90 or more games.

* There was a lot of bad baseball being played in 2002 when four teams lost 100 games. The Rays totaled 106 losses in the American League East, the Brewers had 106 losses in the National League Central and both the Tigers (106 losses) and Royals (100 losses) reached the triple-digit futility mark in the AL Central.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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