Another loss — a 4-2 setback to the Washington Nationals on Tuesday — has put the San Francisco Giants on an historic path.
A historic path of the worst kind.
The loss dropped the Giants to a .441 winning percentage on the season. That prorates to a record of 71-91 on the season. It would match the Giants’ worst season since going 71-91 in 2007, Barry Bonds’ final season with the Giants.
If the Giants lose 92 games this season, it would be their worst season since going 68-94 in 1996.
But when put into context of defending World Series champions, it gets really bad.
When it comes to follow-up seasons for World Series champions, the 1998 Florida Marlins set the gold standard with their 54-108 season. The Giants only need to win three more games to surpass that season.
After winning the 1997 championship, the Marlins traded away players like Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Moises Alou, Devon White, Jeff Conine, Robb Nen, Ed Vosberg and Dennis Cook in the offseason. They would trade away Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich and Felix Heredia during the 1998 season.
In the Nen trade with the Giants, the Marlins received in return Mike Villano, Joe Fontenot, Mick Pageler. So it’s no wonder they lost 100-plus games in 1998.
By contrast, the Giants kept the bulk of their 2012 championship trophy together for 2013. So they won’t challenge the 1998 Marlins. But they are right on course for the second-worst record by a defending World Series champion.
Presently, that honor goes to the 1991 Cincinnati Reds, who went 74-88 (.457). To finish ahead of the Reds, the Giants only would have to go 23-21 the rest of the way. If the Giants finish 75-87, they would also surpass the third-worst mark by a defending champ, the .460 mark of the 1918 Chicago White Sox (57-67).
On more win would put them ahead of the 1932 St. Louis Cardinals. Another win and they slide past the 1986 Kansas City Royals and 1967 Baltimore Orioles.
In all, 15 defending World Series champions have failed to post a winning record in their encore season. For the Giants to avoid becoming the 16th team, they would have to finish the season 30-14.
The most likely scenario is somewhere in between. So here is the list of the worst records of defending World Series champions, along with (in parenthesis) the record the Giants would require in their final 44 games to surpass that mark.
- 1998 Florida Marlins 54-108 .333 (3-41)
- 1991 Cincinnati Reds 74-88 .457 (23-21)
- 1918 Chicago White Sox 57-67 .460 (23-21)
- 1932 St. Louis Cardinals 72-82 .468 (24-20)
- 1986 Kansas City Royals 76-86 .469 (25-19)
- 1967 Baltimore Orioles 76-85 .472 (25-19)
- 2003 Anaheim Angels 77-85 .475 (26-18)
- 1994 Toronto Blue Jays 55-60 .478 (26-18)
- 1989 Los Angeles Dodgers 77-83 .481 (27-17)
- 2007 St. Louis Cardinals 78-84 .481 (27-17)
- 1919 Boston Red Sox 66-71 .482 (27-17)
- 1961 Pittsburgh Pirates 75-79 .487 (27-17)
- 1983 St. Louis Cardinals 79-83 .488 (28-16)
- 1964 Los Angeles Dodgers 80-82 .494 (29-15)
- 1965 St. Louis Cardinals 80-81 .497 (29-15)