Jonny Spurr: Which baseball team has had the worst luck in recorded history?
So, there are a few different ways you can look at this. You mentioned “recorded history,” which could easily lead me to say the Chicago Cubs. After all, the Cubs went more than a century without winning a World Series, but I think many people would agree that the World Series title in 2016 and the way they won it coming back from being down 3-1 in the series to defeat the Cleveland Indians (now Guardians) in extra innings in game seven kind of wipes all that bad luck away.
So, you can also look at which team has the longest drought in baseball without winning the World Series. And it’s actually the team the Cubs beat in 2016 – Cleveland. The Guardians franchise hasn’t won a World Series since 1948 and has been to four World Series since without winning: 1954, 1995, 1997 and the previously mentioned dramatic game seven loss to the Cubs in ’16. Seventy-five years without a World Series is pretty tough luck. Most Guardians fans have never seen their favorite team win the title and some haven’t gotten over the name change from a few years ago – though it was for the best.
Then there are teams that have never won the World Series and one of those teams just got taken off that very list last night when the Texas Rangers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks in five games to win the title. The Rangers had been in existence for 62 years without a title before this season.
That leaves five franchises of the 30 in Major League Baseball without a title now: San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Padres and Brewers have been in existence since 1969 and with the Rangers now having won the title are the oldest franchises in MLB without a championship. The Padres are 0-2 in World Series having lost to the Detroit Tigers in 1984 and the New York Yankees in 1998. The Brewers lost the only World Series they have competed in in 1982 to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Rockies began playing in MLB in 1993. Their only World Series appearance came in 2007, in which they were swept by the Boston Red Sox. So, the Rockies are the only team in MLB history to compete in a World Series without ever having won at least one World Series game.
The Rays have been playing in MLB since 1997 and are 0-2 in World Series having lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020.
The Mariners have been around since 1977 and have never even been to the World Series, despite having the single-best season record in baseball history when they went 116-46 in 2001. The Mariners are the only organization in MLB history to never play in a single World Series. That could make them a worthy option for this “worst luck” title.
However, I’m going to take a different route to this question. I’m not going with a team with a three-quarters-of-a-century drought or a team that’s never won the title or even a team that’s never been to the World Series. To me “luck” doesn’t necessarily mean has never been to the promised land of the game. In fact, the team I’m picking for this “worst luck” title actually has barely gone more than two decades without winning the World Series.
I think the Los Angeles Angels have the worst luck in baseball. I understand some of you just rolled your eyes because, after all, the Angels won the World Series in 2002 – meaning nearly every one of you reading this likely remembers that happening.
But for the last decade-plus, the Angels have had the player in baseball whom most would consider the greatest player of his era: Mike Trout.
Trout is an 11-time All-Star and a three-time American League Most Valuable Player and has played in exactly one postseason series in his tenure with the Angels and that was a three-game sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals nearly a decade ago.
Over the last half-decade-plus, the Angels have also had a freakin’ baseball unicorn on the roster in Shohei Ohtani, the single greatest two-way player the game has ever seen in that he’s both an All-Star hitter and pitcher. Ohtani is more than likely going to win his second A.L. M.V.P. honor in the last three seasons.
Trout and Ohtani have arguably been the two best players in baseball over the last few seasons and the Angels haven’t even sniffed the postseason.
That’s because they are the most poorly run team in baseball, starting at the top with owner Arte Moreno and trickling down to the front office with general manager Perry Minasian, who somehow still holds his job he’s held since 2020 despite wasting all this talent in the lineup and constantly failing to get the kind of players (mostly pitching) to place around Trout and Ohtani to make the team successful. This is most likely going to lead to Ohtani, the most one-of-a-kind player in baseball history, to leave this offseason via free agency. Oh, by the way, the team could’ve traded Ohtani at the trade deadline this past season (before he injured his arm that will see him unable to pitch in 2024) when he was at the peak of his powers and gotten something in return for him, instead of him walking in free agency for no return. Trout seems to be held hostage by the franchise when he should be demanding the first trade out of Anaheim.
I realize much of the Angels' troubles have been self-inflicted, but I’ve always heard that sometimes you have to make your own luck and this franchise seems inept at doing so.
- Julian Spivey