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Would the Twins be the most unlikely MLB postseason in history?

The Twins, should they hold on to their wild card spot in the American League, would be the first-ever Major League team to lose 100 games one season and then make the postseason the followering year, according to Zach Kram of The Ringer.

Kram, in a recent column, wrote that 142 teams have lost 100 or more games during the World Series era in MLB. Exactly zero of them have made the postseason the following year. The Twins, as it stands now, look like they’re going to snap that streak.

Now, this is not to diminish what they might accomplish. Let’s  just be clear about the math here.

A 2017 postseason berth wouldn’t be a 1-in-143 rarity. Yeah, it’d be improbable, but keep mind that only a handful of those 100-loss teams had the opportunity that the Twins had. The 2012 season was the first year in which MLB granted postseason access to 2 Wild Card teams in each league. And the first Wild Card wasn’t added until after the 1994 player’s strike.

So, to be fair, the Twins had a much easier path to bouncing back from triple-digit losses to cruise into the postseason. If they were required to win their division to get there, they almost certainly would not be playing meaningful games in October. It’s anybody’s guess whether or not the Indians will ever lose again.

Here’s a look at the teams that have lost 100 games since MLB started allowed four total Wild Card teams in 2012. There are only five of them, including last year’s Twins.

2016: Twins 59-103
2015. 0
2014. 0
2013. Marlins. 62-100 (next year: 77-85, +15) … Astros. 51-111 (next year: 70-92, +19)
2012. Astros. 55-107 (next year: 51-111, -4) … Cubs. 61-101 (next year: 66-96, +5)

So the Twins would need to win 78 games to top the 2014 Astros for the biggest year-to-year improvement among these teams (+19). They entered Saturday with 74 wins, so it’d be shocking if the Twins didn’t set the new high-water mark for former 100-loss teams. They’ll probably set the new record this upcoming week.

Kram points out the second Wild Card deal in the final graf of his column. And he also includes the current record holders for futility-to-postseason.

For now, data derived from the Baseball-Reference Play Index reveals that the worst teams to reach the playoffs in the subsequent season are the 1990 Braves, 1998 expansion-year Diamondbacks, and 2010 Diamondbacks, who all finished 65–97. The 2007 last-year-of-Devil Rays, at 66–96, hold the AL record.

The Twins — again if they make it — would be the new best of this bunch. “Best” should maybe be quotation marks, in this case.

Whether or not the Twins actually make the postseason, they’ll set a new recent record for biggest improvement after losing 100 games—at least in the 2 Wild Card era. I think they’ll probably make the postseason, too, but either way, the 2017 Twins are an incredible story.

  • MR

    If the Twins make it to the postseason in spite of their general management’s blunders (trading away Brandon Kintzler and Jaime Garcia), it will be even more remarkable.

    • Tim P. Mc Lellan

      If you consider those blunders. Garcia is hardly tearing the league apart with the Yankees and the bullpen right now is doing quite well. Meanwhile we have 3 more solid pitching prospects in the minors. Who knows we may resign Kinsler in the off season.

      • fritzdahmus

        Resigning Kintzler in the off-season won’t help today. This sports not the stock market.

        Garcia is mediocre-to-bad, but better than any 5th starter we have tried.

        Prospects are more apt to fail than a veteran like Garcia. Using prospects (September call-ups) are for teams who didn’t acquire any body for the playoff push. By the way…who are these 3 solid pitching prospects that you referred to?

        Tim P. Mc Lellan – it’s fans like you that allow Pohlad to get away with what he does. Getting hundred’s of millions from taxpayers to build him a stadium and then failing to spend a dime (literally….no dimes!) on a team that has spent more time in the second seat of the Wild Card race than any other team. Yet they all spent some dimes acquiring players for the playoff push.

        I hope the Wildcard game is in New York. That way, maybe Pohlad won’t profit as much from the game….as he would if it was in the ballpark we built the Scrooge.

        • Tim P. Mc Lellan

          The payroll has been over $100 million since he bought the team. The problems were 1) spending money on the wrong players 2) not modernizing to the statistical measurements and strategies, too loyal to old school thinking 3) scouting and player development 4) coaching at the major league level. 5) Having Spanish speaking coaches for the young talent. Hiring Falvey and Levine are huge steps in the right direction. This was supposed to be an evaluation year, being in the race is an unexpected bonus making the playoffs is icing. Though nothing is guaranteed in the future, the young major leaguers are improving, the players are responding to better scouting and use of analytics. The farm system is playing at a very high level, full of relievers , shortstops and power hitters who can field.

          • fritzdahmus

            This current run by the Twins is NOT completely unexpected (as you state). (and others) predicted the Twins would be in it until September than fall back. They cited the weak AL Central and the thinking the Twins pitching would be better than expected. Don’t forget, this same team was in contention the year before last..until the end. Not sure why this is such a huge surprise to the Front Office….luckily they didn’t get what they wanted for Dozier and had to keep him.

            Terry Ryan (i.e. Pohlad) spent money on the wrong players (as you say) because Pohlad was to cheap to spend the right money on the correct players. A top flight pitcher gets $20-$30 million a year. Pohlad will never pay that. You want to play in the big leagues, you have to pay the salaries. $100 million (the team salary you are so impressed by) wouldn’t buy the pitching staffs for most of the division leaders today….much less a whole team.

            Everything you said is correct….but incomplete…..and sounds like it came out of a Sid Hartman column.

          • Spaz

            Why are so anti pohlad did he/they do something to you or something? You do know, in the long run big contracts of what you speak don’t work out, because your paying for current value vs what the value is toward the latter parts of a contracts. By the way this not the same team as two years ago because get better and improve. Also from decision making stand point I don’t have much of a problem with what happened at the because if anything I would of let like that for mlb to move the deadline back. Any way they just traded free agents for talent. Not like they did nothing at all. The front office could have predicted what has happened since. Also the waver wire is such a hard way two make trades in august.

          • fritzdahmus

            Spaz, you asked: “Did Pohlad do something to me.”

            The answer is yes.

            Was that clear?

          • Tim P. Mc Lellan

            Pennant and division winners are built mainly on homegrown talent. Yes their have been a few exceptions like 01 Diamondbacks or the 97 Marlins. But mainly it is a combination of a strong homegrown core, add in some lucky waiver claims ( David Ortiz) with low level free agents and trades. THEN maybe add a “big time” free agent. Falvey and Levine have proven track records. Sportswriters, you and I do not. One that did get away was Brad Hand of the Padres.

          • fritzdahmus

            You are right, home grown talent is always a piece of any championship team (the Twins have loads of home grown talent).

            The Cubs last year had loads of home grown talent. Then they went out and bought a manager, a series MVP 2nd baseman, and 3/5 ths of a starting staff, and a closer from the Yankees. Then got fortunate enough to come back and win the series over Cleveland. Will that always happen….of course not….or they wouldn’t need to play the games.

            I am not faulting Falvey and Levine… argument is with the Pohlads (and all the other small market owners) and the excuse that this is a small market and we will never be able to land high level free agents as Dozier and others have clamored for.

            If that is true…sell the stadium and get the hell out of town. This is sports, do everything you can to win games (make money in your day job)….that is why the games are played. The Minnesota-Nice in us needs to wake up and get honest.

            The Twins and Molitor are doing everything they can….Dozier and the rest were correct to be angry no additions were made at the trade deadline (just the subtractions we all know about). Molitor supposedly had a team meeting and calmed them down.

          • Tim P. Mc Lellan

            I am no fan of the Pohlads. Carl for years was looking for a casket with pockets in them so he could take it with him. A bigger problem than being frugal was being too loyal to the wrong people for too long and not being will to change with the times. Terry Ryan, Bill Smith and Tom Brunansky needed to go. The minor leagues are being taught differently on all phases of the game. I watch how much better at the plate Polanco, Buxton and Rosario are– the whole team is taking more walks. They defense is going into shifts more. I am going to place my faith in Falvey & Levine. OBTW—I think Ziggy is a bigger crook than the Pohlad family.

    • fritzdahmus

      Blame the Pohlad family….they are the common denominator in all these different front offices.

      Bill Smith spent money and got the Twins a first round home playoff with the Yankees…..and he got fired for making a mistake with a Japanese SS. Convenient for the Pohlads to have that excuse to bring back their favorite lapdog…Terry Ryan.

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  • Starman

    I’m pretty sure we could have gotten a quality proven reliever in August if we were just willing to pay the salary for a team out of the race. That would have won us a couple games the last couple weeks.


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