Well, it finally happened.
When manager Don Baylor took the helm of the newborn Colorado Rockies in 1993 he stated with fervent accord, “People say we’re going to lose 100 games. It’s not my competitive spirit to simply accept that.” That statement held true for 30 seasons for the organization until 2023 when the Rockies finally passed the century mark in the loss column.
It’s not something particularly fun to write about, but, since it’s fresh in our minds, we might as well milk as much content as we can because it feels significant. Now that the Rockies have joined the party, each team in the National League West has had a 100-loss season in their respective histories and it got me thinking about the details of that feat for each club in the division. So, without further ado, let’s journey back through that history.
San Francisco Giants (1)
Having been around baseball since 1883, the Giants organization has had just a single 100-loss season in 140 years. In 1985, the San Francisco Giants went 62-100, effectively finishing last in the division. As was typically the case, the Giants had some strong pitching, relying heavily on that aspect while trying to get as much offense as they could out of their lineup. Unfortunately, if the pitching was elite, the offense wasn’t going to provide much relief. The best hitter on the team was 23-year-old Chris Brown who led the team with a .271 AVG to go along with 16 home runs and 61 RBI.
The organization has come close on a few other occasions, having lost at least 90 games in 11 other seasons. Their most recent 100-loss bid came in 2017 when they went 64-98 as a result of uninspired starting pitching. Since then, the Giants have been in some sort of weird purgatory where outside of a 107-win season in 2021, are a .500 type of team full of aging veterans and prospects that are mostly forgettable.
Arizona Diamondbacks (2)
Born in 1998, it didn’t take the Diamondbacks very long to suffer their first 100-loss season in 2004. In their inaugural season in 1998, the Diamondbacks lost 97 games, but they then flipped it around and won 100 games in 1999 to win the division and head to an eventual loss in the National League Division Series against the New York Mets. From 2000-2003, the Diamondbacks won at least 84 games each year, won their Division twice more, finished third two times, and even became the fastest expansion team to ever win a World Series in 2001.
Then in 2004, the team dropped 111 losses in a stinker of a season. Despite having the incredible pitching talent of 40-year-old Randy Johnson as well as Brandon Webb in his sophomore season, the Diamondbacks’ offense was fairly lackluster. Sure, each position player had some solid individual seasons, but as a group, it was fairly underwhelming.
The team would come close over the next 14 years, fluctuating in and out of contention, until 2021 when they lost 110 games. Full of struggling veterans both offensively and on the mound, the Diamondbacks began to transition to some sort of rebuild that would quickly come to fruition in 2022 and even more in 2023.
Los Angeles Dodgers (2)
Nap Rucker, Bill Maloney, Simmy Murch, and Pembroke Finlayson. These are just a few of the players of the Brooklyn Superbas in 1908, the last time the Dodgers organization lost 100 games in a season.
In their 139 years of existence as an organization, the Dodgers have lost 100 games in a season just twice. The first time came in 1905 when the Superbas lost 104 games and then the 100-loss season in 1908. Both teams in those seasons had some incredible pitching, like the 1908 team that had four starting pitchers toss at least 200 innings, and two pitchings throw over 300 innings. The abysmal landscape for offense at that time was the problem. The most home runs by a player between those two seasons was Tim Jordan’s 12 long balls in 1908.
The Superbas weren’t a great team, but under the Dodgers name, they have had some pretty good luck. The closest they have come to 100 losses since 1908 was in 1992 when the Los Angeles Dodgers lost 99 games. Since then, however, during the Rockies' entire history, the Dodgers have had 23 winning seasons including four seasons in which they have eclipsed 100 wins. In fact, in their entire history, the Dodgers have 10 seasons in which they have won 100 games.
San Diego Padres (5)
Finally, we have the San Diego Padres who have had five 100-loss seasons since their inception in 1969. Over the course of their history, they have lost 90 or more games 19 times and at least 80 games 38 times.
The early years for the Padres were tough since within their first six years of existence, they had four 100-loss seasons including a 52-110 campaign in 1969. There are very few notable names on the roster but would surely help out with your Immaculate Grid rarity score in the future. Again, the name of the game was solid starting pitching, passable bullpen, and weak offensive output.
The most recent 100-loss season came in 1993 when the Padres went 61-101. The offense featured notable names like Tony Gwynn, Gary Sheffield, and Fred McGriff, as well as a strong season from Phil Platier in which he slugged 34 home runs and drove in 100 runs. The pitching was decent overall, but the lowest ERA was the 2.39 put up by Tim Scott out of the bullpen for 24 games.
The Padres came close with 99 losses in 2008 and 96 losses in 2018 but have trended upward since 2020, but are still trying to find a sustainable and constant solution to their woes instead of just throwing money at the problem.
It happens to everyone
What matters most with the Rockies losing 100 games is not so much the fact that they finally did it, but rather how they respond to it. Each team in the division has approached winning in different ways with some being more successful than others. The coming offseason is going to be of critical importance to the Rockies as they try to figure out how to right the ship.
Brenton Doyle has shown some promising growth this month and part of these moments helps him gain confidence moving forward. Despite his incredible defensive season, his offensive has been, for lack of a better term, atrocious. His adjustments have been paying off and it leaves hope that he can be a big league contributor on both sides of the ball.
Kyle Newman undertook the task of scoping how the journey the Rockies took that led them to their first 100-loss season. It’s a good, albeit frustrating, read that chronicles the significant moments along the way that ultimately resulted in Tuesday night’s beatdown by the Dodgers for the 100th loss.
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