Major League baseball has been around since 1871 when the National Association was first formed. At times there have been two or three leagues(1884,1890,1914-15) all active at the same time. Over the 141 seasons that have been completed, only five times has the team with the lowest amount of runs scored, actually had a winning record.
The 1913 Chicago White Sox finished dead last in runs scored in baseball and they went 78-74. They were 17.5 games out of first place, but they still had a winning record. They accomplished that feat by also allowing the fewest runs in baseball that year. The Chicago Cubs pulled out a 75-65 record in 1919 by allowing the second fewest runs in baseball, just six more than the best team. They finished 21 games out of first place. In 1937, the Boston Braves went 79-73 but they were also the best team by far on the mound, allowing 46 runs less than anyone else. They finished 16 games out of first place.
We then skip ahead to the 21st century. In 2002 the Los Angeles Dodgers went 85-77 while scoring just 574 runs. They were able to pull off that trick by allowing just 511,runs, far and away the lowest total in baseball. They still missed their division title by 14 games and the wildcard spot by six games.
Then there is the curious case of the 2001 New York Mets, a team that defied all odds by going 82-80 despite scoring just 642 runs. Six teams in baseball had better pitching than they did and they were outscored by 71 runs on the season. I’m sure many Pirates fans would appreciate an 82 win season right about now. The Mets only finished six games out of first place, and the same amount of games out of the wildcard race as well.
While this proves it can happen if everything goes right, it can also be used to show that the team that scores the fewest runs in baseball has a much better chance of losing 100 games, than it does of actually finishing above .500 in the standings.
The 2012 Pirates have scored 16 runs less than the San Diego Padres this year and 28 other teams have scored more runs than the Padres. Three times in 141 years, the team with the best pitching in baseball, also had the worst hitting, yet they were able to win more often than they lost. Once a team that finished second in runs allowed pulled off the feat. The 2012 Pirates are third in pitching right now. They can look towards that one team that defied all odds, a team that should’ve finished 73-89 going by their run differential, but those pesky 2001 Mets were able to win 82 games and at the start of play on May 20,2001, eleven years ago today, their record stood at 16-26.
Just think Pirates fans, history shows that the team has a 0.71% chance of having a winning record this year, unless their stellar pitching to this point, gets even more stellar, then we are talking over a 3.5% chance of that magical 82 win mark. Just don’t look for a playoff team with a last place offense. That accomplishment would actually be a first.