Champs Were Chumps: Looking Back at the Worst Slumps of Recent World Series Winners
Image courtesy of © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsRight now, Minnesota has a 7-8 record in July (.467) and a 22-20 record (.523) since the start of June. This could be explained, among many other things, by the toughening of the schedule. Four of the five teams the Twins faced this month are above .500, but still, they are 7-6 in those games (.538). So, even though they aren’t playing as well as before, they are doing their homework against contenders.
But, have other great teams gone through similar storms? Yes, they have. The 2018 Red Sox, who won 108 games during the regular season, had their worst monthly record in September, when they had a 15-11 record (.577). Besides, they had four three-game losing streaks, three of them in August and September. So far this year, the Twins have only had one of those and in spite of the terrible month they’re having, they are still on pace to win 99 games on the season, which would be a record 5% worse than the 2018 Boston’s.
July isn’t over yet and the Twins have a season worst .467 record. But the 2017 Astros had a nightmarish month of August that was even worse than that. In that month, they had an 11-17 record (.393) that was very difficult to explain. The pitching staff who had the MLB’s 10th-best ERA (4.18) had an even better ERA during that month (4.00), which also ranked 10th in the majors.
Their offense, which until that point had been the most run-producing one in the majors, scored the fourth least runs during that month. What’s odd here is that four of the position players who played at least 25 games during that month had at least .290 AVG and .719 OPS. That didn’t stop them from getting swept by struggling the Chicago White Sox and going 2-4 against division rival Texas Rangers, who ended the season below the .500 mark.
Similarly, the 2016 Cubs faced a major drop in production during the regular season. Exactly like this year’s Twins, they struggled in the two middle months of the season. During the month of June, they had a 16-12 record (.571), only slightly better than the Twins last month (15-12, .556). On the following month, Chicago had an even worse result, as they had a record of 12-14 (.462), even worse than the current July for the Twins. Those Cubs offense scored the third most runs in the majors until June to 12 in July and went from an MLB-best ERA until June to the league’s seventh worst in July during 2016.
All three former World Series champions made critical moves before the deadlines (non-waivers and waivers). Last year the Red Sox brought in Steve Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi and Ian Kinsler. The Astros in 2017 got superstar starter Justin Verlander in the end of August through waivers and also brought in Francisco Liriano earlier. Chicago strengthened their pitching staff before their 2016 post-season run by bringing in relievers Aroldis Chapman and Mike Montgomery.
The Twins are facing their most critical stretch of the season and there’s no doubt that the outcome of their season will be decided now. So far, most fans are frustrated with how long it’s taking for the front office to make moves to improve the team. But just like the aforementioned teams, the simple fact that they’ve had bad stretches doesn’t mean much. Make the right moves now, take advantage of the easier schedule during the final two months of the season and you have yourself a shot.
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