Yesterday Ehsan Kassim asked a question here at Marlin Maniac that has surely been on many Marlins fan’s mind – are the Marlins going to be historically bad? Are we watching one of the worst baseball teams of all time? Was Loria’s claim that this year’s team would not be as bad as last season’s truly as laughable as it currently appears to be?
Well the Marlins record currently stands at 5-16, which means they are on pace to finish with a 39-123 record and set a new high for most losses in a season in the modern era (post-1900). That record is currently held by the 1962 New York Mets, who finished with a record of 40-120, and was more recently challenged by the 2003 Detroit Tigers, who completed the season with a record of 43-119.
But can this year’s Marlins team really be as bad as those two teams? Looking at this in the most simple of terms, the game of baseball is won by scoring more runs than you allow the other team to score. If we compare the Marlins to the other 2 teams in terms of runs scored and runs allowed maybe we can get a better sense of what we are seeing.
The Marlins are right in line with the 1962 Mets in terms of record through the first 21 games, as well as run differential where their -2.10 is just .09 better than the Mets’ -2.19. Over the full season both the Mets and Tigers finished with run differentials very close to the Marlins current pace of -2.10. Recent history tells us that the Marlins need to keep their per game run differential below 2 if they are to avoid making history, in a bad way.
Offensively is where the Marlins are lagging as the Mets were about 1.5 runs a game better after 21 games and over a run better at the end of the season. The Tigers started very slowly offensively, but again finished the season over a run better than the Marlins’ current pace. No big revelation here, the Marlins offense needs to get much better. Can they get more than a run per game better to at least match where the other 2 teams ended?
Pitching appears to be an advantage for the Marlins so far, as they have allowed less runs per game, at 4.67, than both the Mets (6.34) and Tigers (5.15) did over the first 21 games. Their current pace would also be over a run allowed per game less than the other 2 teams for a full season, but can they maintain this pace over the course of the season?
In conclusion, yes the Marlins currently appear to be a historically bad team as they are on a similar pace to the 2 losingest teams in history when it comes to run differential. The good news, however, is that it is still early in the season and there is plenty of time to turn things around and avoid history. Heck, the 1988 Orioles lost their first 21 games and still finished with only 111 losses. The other good news for Marlins fans is that the Mets won the World Series in 1969 and the Tigers have played in the World Series in 2006 and 2012, so there is hope that things will turn for the better… eventually.