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The Houston Astros Have a Really Good Shot at a Really Dubious Record

The Houston Astros are the worst team in baseball. Their record currently stands at 41-93, a distant last in the NL Central. In fact, they’d be in last place in any division in baseball, albeit in slightly less embarrassing fashion.

It just so happens that the Cincinnati Reds, owners of baseball’s best record at 82-53, are also in the NL Central. As such, the Astros find themselves a whopping 40.5 games out of first place. If the Reds continue to play well and the Astros continue to play like they just learned the rules last week, we could see one of the largest discrepancies between first and last place teams in history.

In 2003, the Detroit Tigers finished 43-119, 47 games out of first. Though it would take quite a show of ineptitude for the ‘Stros to equal that final record, the Tigers had the benefit of trailing the second-worst first-place team in baseball. The Twins finished with just 90 wins in 2003, winning the AL Central by four over the White Sox.

Considering that the 2012 Reds already have 82 wins and have 27 games to play, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll finish above 90 wins this year. (By the way, as we re-tweeted earlier this week, the Reds have more wins in Houston since the All-Star Break than the Astros do.) If the Astros continue to be as bad as they’ve been–they went 8-46 in July and August–breaking the 47 GB threshold is a distinct possibility.

Before the 2003 Tigers, you have to go all the way back to the 1962 Mets to find another team with a final deficit so particularly pathetic. The Mets were an expansion team and lost 120 games, a record to this day. They finished 60.5 games out of first. Even the Astros will have a tough time doing that, as it’ll take an 0-27 run.

Since World War II, the only team to finish as far back as the Astros are now was the 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates, who ended the year 54.5 games out.

A major note, however, is that divisional play didn’t start until the 1969 season. Before that, teams were lumped into the two leagues and left alone. This means that the ’62 Mets and ’52 Pirates didn’t have the luxury of drawing an intra-divisional powerhouse team to achieve their record-setting futility; every team counted. Even the Tigers, as I mentioned, managed to fall as far back as they did with0ut the help of a great team in first.

The 2012 Astros are the first team in the divisional era to couple historical ineptitude with a league-pacing first place team. This perfect storm may help the Astros break the Tigers 47 GB record and establish a new standard for losing fans and alienating people–and becoming a league laughing stock in the proccess.

The tough thing for Houston is that they move to the toughest division in baseball next season.  The AL West currently sports a +241 run differential. The best for any division by alot.

-Max Frankel

Stat of the Day: The Chicago Cubs are 51-82, and still lead the Astros by 10.5 games.

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