Worst Franchise in MLB? Washington Versus Pittsburgh
by Trevor Whenham - 7/28/2009
The Washington Nationals are a truly pathetic franchise. How pathetic are they? Well, their almost as pathetic as the Pittsburgh Pirates. Or maybe that should be the other way around? It's so hard to tell because both teams are so incredibly bad, and in possession of such dim futures, so it's really hard to judge which is worse. The only way to put one on top of the other is to compare them across a wide range of categories. Here is a head-to-head showdown between the two dismal teams in nine different categories to see which squad sucks slightly less than the other:
Current player management - The Pirates have exercised a unique player management strategy over the last season and a half - if a player has a pulse and even a smidgen of talent they trade him away. The team has traded away so much talent that they are on the verge of a player revolt. It's not like they were exactly an all-star team, but they did have a promising young core of players. Now most of them are gone and the rest are on the trading block. They keep getting prospects in return, but any of those players that turn into anything even remotely promising will surely be sent packing as well. Washington hasn't been nearly as likely to send a player on his way, but maybe that's because they just haven't had the talent in the first place.
Long-term player management - Neither team seems to really have a plan, and even if they did neither has shown any ability whatsoever to make a plan come to fruition. By that token, neither one should win. It all comes down to one thing, then - Stephen Strasburg is the best prospect in a generation, and he belongs to Washington, so they have a clear edge. If, that is, they can sign him. That should be a no-brainer, but it is far from a sure thing for these brain surgeons.
Pick: Washington as long as they ink Strasburg
Betting performance this season - The Pirates have been the 22nd worse bet in the league - you'd be down almost five units if you had flat bet them every game. That's bleak, but it's totally incredible compared to the Nationals. Washington is by far the worst team to bet on in the league. Flat bettors would be down almost 32 units so far this season. That's so bad that it should be impossible. The teams are evenly matched in totals - Pittsburgh has gone under 54 times, while Washington has stayed under in 53 games.
Betting performance last three seasons - Washington has been a worse bet than the Pirates in each of the last two seasons. 2007 was a different story, though. Pittsburgh was way down in the cellar as usual - 26 teams were a better bet on the season. Washington, on the other hand, was one of the pleasant stories of the season. Only three teams were more profitable on the year, and the Nats showed actually glimmers of hope. that was, of course, fleeting.
Current play - Washington has won 12 fewer games than the Pirates. They have 11 road wins compared to 17 for Pittsburgh. Washington is almost as pathetic at home, while Pittsburgh actually has a very solid winning home record - 26-19. The Pirates are just 10 games out of the lead in their division. While Washington admittedly plays in a stronger division, they are mired a pathetic 27 games out. Pittsburgh is lousy, but compared to the Nationals they are the freaking Yankees.
Five year play - The Nationals have won 335 games over the last five seasons. That's incredibly lousy, but it's better than Pittsburgh - they have won 312 over the same period. Pittsburgh has not won more than 68 over that stretch, while Washington has won 71 or more three times and actually finished at .500 in 2005. Pittsburgh hasn't finished anywhere near those lofty heights since 1992. Yes, that's true - they haven't had a record better than .488 since 1992. Words can't explain how terrible that is.
Playoff drought - Pittsburgh last made the playoffs in 1992, and last won the World Series in 1979. The Washington franchise has existed since 1969, but have just made the playoffs once - when the Expos lost to the Dodgers in the 1981 NLCS. The asterisk here is that Montreal was almost unbeatable in 1994 until the season was ended and the World Series cancelled because of the strike.
Edge: Incredibly, it's Pittsburgh
Home field - Both ballparks are new and shiny. Both are well-regarded, though Pittsburgh has an edge in view and visual pleasures. No one goes to either park - and who can really blame them - though Washington is drawing about 4,700 more per game than Pittsburgh this year. In the end, though, it all comes down to winning, and the Pirates do that with far greater regularity at home than Washington does.
Manager - Manny Acta was already fired this season from the Nationals. John Russell will be at some point in the not-so-distant future from the Pirates. It really doesn't matter who is at the helm of either team - the love child of Connie Mack and Sparky Anderson couldn't win with these bums.
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