Did You Know? – The Red Sox and Losing Seasons

The 2012 Boston Red Sox season is likely one that the organization and fans alike will want to soon forget.  In celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, the team finished 69-93, which broke a stretch of 14 straight winning seasons.  Before that, the last Red Sox team to suffer through a losing season was in 1997, when first-year manager Jimy Williams and rookie Nomar Garciaparra ended the season with a disappointing 78-84 record.  The team also finished in last place for the first time since 1992, when another first-year manager, Butch Hobson, and pitcher Roger Clemens finished in seventh place in the American League East.

As a team, the Red Sox have finished under .500 only 38 times in 112 seasons.  The worst team ever in terms of both winning percentage and number of defeats was the forgettable 1932 squad, led by former Boston outfielder Shano Collins for the first 55 contests before getting fired and replaced by former utility infielder Marty McManus.  The team finished a dismal 43-111 and dead last in the eight-team American League, 7.5 games behind the seventh place Chicago White Sox and 64 games behind the first place New York Yankees, who finished 107-47, a near-mirror record compared with Boston.

The Sox were actually in the midst of a 15-year stretch between 1919 and 1933 in which they finished under .500 every season.  Eight times, the team finished under the .400 mark, including six straight seasons between 1925 and 1930.  Another particularly bad stretch of seasons happened between 1959 and 1966, when the team went eight straight years under .500, including an abyssmal 62-100 in 1965 with a team that include manager Billy Herman and outfielder Carl Yastrzemski.

Speaking of 100-loss seasons, seven teams in franchise history have earned this mark of shame, including the 1932 and 1965 teams.  Also in the mix are teams from 1926 (46-107), 1925 (47-105), 1906 (49-105), 1927 (51-103), and 1930 (52-102).  12 teams in franchise history have finished last in the league or division.  Surprising, this does not include the 1965 team, which finished three games ahead of the Kansas City Athletics for ninth place in a ten-team league.

It should also be noted that the last time the Red Sox suffered back-to-back losing seasons was a stretch of three sub-.500 seasons between 1992 and 1994.  All three teams were managed by Hobson and the best finish was an 80-82 mark in 1993.  Surprisingly, a three-year stretch between 1906 and 1908 in the only other time, beyond the aforementioned streaks of bad luck, that the franchise team suffered back-to-back losing seasons.  Of note, the 1907 team, which finished 59-90, was managed by four different people that season, including player-manager Cy Young.