Are the A’s, Royals and White Sox headed for record-setting MLB futility?

The 2023 Major League Baseball season is about one-quarter completed and for three teams, the Oakland A’s, Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox, and their fans, the season has not started out the way they hoped. In fact, for these three American League teams, a continuation of their current play could mean a disastrous season and a run at MLB futility.

The Oakland A’s have the worst record in the majors with a 10-34 record, a winning percentage of .227. Two more A.L. teams are just a few games ahead of the A’s: the Royals are 13-31 (.295) and the White Sox are 15-28 (.349). They are the only teams in baseball this season with winning percentages under .400. The A’s are already 17 games back in the A.L. West race.

There’s a lot of time remaining in the season for these three teams to turn things around. But in case they don’t, here’s a look at the worst winning percentages in an MLB season.

Worst season winning percentage in MLB history

1916-Philadelphia A’s, .235
1935-Boston Braves, .248
1962-New York Mets, .250
1904-Washington, .252
1919-Philadelphia A’s, .257

In the 2000s, there have been five teams that ended the season with a winning percentage of .315 or less: 2003-Detroit, .265; 2018-Baltimore, .290; 2019-Detroit, .292; 2013-Houston, .315; and 2004-Arizona, .315.

If the A’s, Royals and White Sox each ended the season under .333 (a record of 53-109 would be a .327 winning percentage), it would be the first time in MLB history that three teams finished the season under .333. Two teams have been under .333 in the same season; the last time it happened was in 2021 when the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks each finished the season at .321 (52-110). Prior to that, the last time two teams finished under .333 in the same season was in 1969.

The Oakland A’s this year would have to end the season with at least a 39-123 record (.241 winning percentage) to avoid having the worst record in a season in baseball history. A 38-124 record would give the 2023 A’s the lowest winning percentage in MLB history by percentage points over the 1916 Philadelphia A’s (.23456 to .23529). That’s not a record the A’s would be shooting for, despite disappointing their fans in other ways. It also means they have to go at least 29-89 (.246) to avoid the record.