Worst Teams in the History of Every Sport

October 9, 2019 by John Harrington

Source: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
“Can’t anybody here play this game?” That was the question Manager Casey Stengel was said to have asked during the New York Mets inaugural season in 1962. It wasn’t a rhetorical question; the Mets would lose 120 games that year, the most by any team since 1900.

While that Mets team became synonymous with athletic ineptitude, they are hardly alone. Two teams in the NFL have lost all 16 regular-season games; and a handful of NBA and NHL teams have won fewer than 10 games in a season.

24/7 Wall St. used data from the Sports Reference family of sites on teams from the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL to find the worst teams in sports history. We created an index based on each team’s regular season records and point, run, or goal differential for each season. To control for the differences in each league, we scored each team within their league, then combined each score across all four sports. Teams in competitor leagues like the ABA and AFL were not considered, nor were MLB teams from before 1903 and the start of, the World Series era.

Many factors can conspire to produce a historically bad season for a team. A group of players can age rapidly and their skills diminish. Injuries can devastate a lineup. The front office and scouts can make mistakes in evaluating talent. Strategies and game plans devised by coaches may not align with the players’ abilities. Expansion teams comprised of aging stars and castoffs can struggle in their maiden season. Crafting the right strategy and motivating players are two characteristics that separates the greatest coaches from all others. These are the greatest coaches of all time.

Just as winning builds its own momentum during a season, so does losing, which challenges coaches to keep their players focused. Teams obviously hope to avoid creating a culture of losing and shedding their fanbases. These are the sports teams running out of fans.

Click here to see the 25 worst teams in sports history.

Source: St. Louis Browns / Wikimedia Commons

25. 1939 St. Louis Browns
> League: MLB
> Record: 43-111-2
> Run differential: -1.9 runs per game

The Browns finished 64.5 games behind the New York Yankees and never won more than two games in a row.

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Source: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

24. 1991 Indianapolis Colts
> League: NFL
> Record: 1-15
> Point differential: -14.9 points per game

Despite having Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson in their backfield, the pre-Peyton Manning-era Colts managed one victory in 1991 — a one-point win over the New York Jets.

Source: Library of Congress

23. 1911 Boston Rustlers
> League: MLB
> Record: 44-107-5
> Run differential: -2.1 runs per game

The team that eventually changed its name to the Braves spent exactly one day — April 12 — in first place in 1911 after winning their first game of the season.

Source: Bob Verlin/Getty Images

22. 1967 Atlanta Falcons
> League: NFL
> Record: 1-12-1
> Point differential: -17.6 points per game

The Falcons avoided a winless season only by defeating the Minnesota Vikings by one point and tying the Washington Redskins.

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Source: Tim Culek/Getty Images

21. 1973 Houston Oilers
> League: NFL
> Record: 1-13
> Point differential: -17.7 points per game

Quarterback Dan Pastorini committed 17 fumbles and threw 17 interceptions during the Oilers woeful campaign.

Source: Bettmann/ Getty Images

20. 1942 Philadelphia Phillies
> League: MLB
> Record: 42-109
> Run differential: -2.1 runs per game

The 1942 Phillies featured five pitchers with 14 losses or more, led by Rube Melton who had a record of 9-20.

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Source: Elsa / Getty Images

19. 2019 Detroit Tigers
> League: MLB
> Record: 47-114
> Run differential: -2.1 runs per game

The Tigers posted the second-most losses in their history this past season.

Source: PhotoQuest/Getty Images

18. 1919 Philadelphia Athletics
> League: MLB
> Record: 36-104
> Run differential: -2.0 runs per game

After winning three world titles in the early part of the 20th century, the Athletics tumbled to last place. The A’s would finish last every season from 1915 through 1921.

Source: FPG / Getty Images

17. 1935 Boston Braves
> League: MLB
> Record: 38-115
> Run differential: -1.8 runs per game

Outside of the offense supplied by center fielder Wally Berger (34 homers and 130 runs batted in), Braves fans had little to cheer about, winning only 17 games in the second half of the season. Pitcher Ben Cantwell lost 25 games and won just four.

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Source: Bettmann/ Getty Images

16. 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers
> League: NBA
> Record: 9-73
> Point differential: -12.1 points per game

Three years before Julius Erving would join the Sixers and eventually lead them to an NBA title, Philadelphia staggered to its worst regular season as Hall of Fame guard Hal Greer closed out his career on a losing note.

Source: one_stop_photo_shop / eBay

15. 1944 Chicago-Pittsburgh Cardinals-Steelers
> League: NFL
> Record: 0-10
> Point differential: -22.0 points per game

The team was the result of a temporary merger of the Chicago Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers because of player shortages due to World War II. Only twice during the season did the hodgepodge club ever have a lead.

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Source: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images

14. 2009 St. Louis Rams
> League: NFL
> Record: 1-15
> Point differential: -16.3 points per game

Running back Steven Jackson’s Pro Bowl season in which he gained 1,416 yards could only yield one victory for the Rams, long past the “Greatest Show on Turf” era. Four quarterbacks combined for 12 touchdown passes and the team averaged just 10.9 points per game.

Source: Milwaukee Sentinel

13. 1942 Detroit Lions
> League: NFL
> Record: 0-11
> Point differential: -20.5 points per game

This forgettable edition of the Lions was shut out five times and never scored more than seven points in a game. Fullback Elmer Hackney was the only player who scored two touchdowns during the season.

Source: Focus on Sport/Getty Images

12. 1990 New England Patriots
> League: NFL
> Record: 1-15
> Point differential: -16.6 points per game

In the pre-Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era, the 1990 Patriots scored just 181 points in 16 games and gave up more than 33 points or more seven times.

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Source: Bain News Service/Library of Congress

11. 1915 Philadelphia Athletics
> League: MLB
> Record: 43-109-2
> Run differential: -2.2 runs per game

A year after the A’s were swept in four games in the 1914 World Series by the heavy underdog Boston Braves, Manager Connie Mack broke up the club because of sinking finances. The A’s won 43 games after winning 99 the previous season.

Source: Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/ Getty Images

10. 1904 Washington Senators
> League: MLB
> Record: 38-113-6
> Run differential: -1.9 runs per game

Three years before Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson joined them, the Senators posted a winning percentage of just .252, with three pitchers losing at least 23 games. The hapless Senators were the butt of the joke at the time: Washington was first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.

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Source: Bettmann/ Getty Images

9. 1932 Boston Red Sox
> League: MLB
> Record: 43-111
> Run differential: -2.3 runs per game

The 1932 Red Sox lost the most games in team history. They only won 15 games in the first half of the season and trailed the pennant-winning New York Yankees by as many as 65 games.

Source: Tom Pidgeon / Getty Images

8. 2003 Detroit Tigers
> League: MLB
> Record: 43-119
> Run differential: -2.1 runs per game

The Tigers fell one game short of tying the 1962 New York Mets for the most losses in Major League Baseball since 1900. Pitchers Mike Maroth and Jeremy Bonderman combined for 40 losses and the team’s earned run average was 5.30. The Tigers were shut out 17 times.

Source: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

7. 2008 Detroit Lions
> League: NFL
> Record: 0-16-0
> Point differential: -15.6 points per game

The 2008 Detroit Lions were the first NFL team to go winless in all 16 games. The Lions defense gave up 517 points or more than 32 points per game..

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Source: Authenticated News / Getty Images

6. 1962 New York Mets
> League: MLB
> Record: 40-120-1
> Run differential: -2.1 runs per game

The Mets brought in aging baseball stars Richie Ashburn and Gil Hodges in their first season. However, they posted the most losses by a Major League Baseball team in the league’s modern era.

Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

5. 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats
> League: NBA
> Record: 7-59
> Point differential: -13.9 points per game

Even a season that was abbreviated by a lockout could not spare the Charlotte Bobcats from recording the NBA’s worst winning percentage ever. They closed out the campaign with a 23-game losing streak.

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Source: Tim DeFrisco / Getty Images

4. 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks
> League: NBA
> Record: 11-71
> Point differential: -15.2 points per game

Long before Dirk Nowitzki would lead the Mavericks to an NBA championship, the Dallas club suffered through an 11-win season in which the team gave up more than 100 points in all but six games. The Mavericks lost 19 games in a row at one point.

Source: Bain News Service / Library of Congress

3. 1916 Philadelphia Athletics
> League: MLB
> Record: 36-117-1
> Run differential: -2.1 runs per game

The A’s were in the midst of a stretch in which the once-dominant Philadelphia club would finish last for seven straight seasons. Three pitchers — Elmer Myers, Bullet Joe Bush, and Jack Nabors — all lost at least 20 games. The team slugged just 19 home runs and scored only 447 runs. Its winning percentage of .235 was the lowest in franchise history.

Source: Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

2. 1974-75 Washington Capitals
> League: NHL
> Record: 8-67-5
> Goal differential: -3.3 goals per game

The expansion NHL team managed to score just 181 goals in 80 games, while Capitals goaltenders posted a goals against average of 5.54. Goaltender Michel Belhumeur was winless in 24 games.

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Source: Focus on Sport/Getty Images

1. 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
> League: NFL
> Record: 0-14
> Point differential: -20.5 points per game

The Tampa Buccaneers went winless in their first season in the NFL, and lost by an average of almost three touchdowns a game. The Bucs were shut out five times in their maiden season