A losing streak in baseball is a pattern of consecutive or straight losses in a row, either in competitions or matches.
The losing streak record can be analyzed from a team or an individual player’s perspective. In this article, however, we will be looking into the team records.
In addition, we will look back in history to rank the longest losing streaks in MLB history.
What Are the Longest Line of Losses in MLB History?
The MLB longest losing streak consisted of a succession of 26 games lost by the Louisville Colonels in 1889. And they continue to hold the record to this day.
Some might view other figures as the most extended loss, though. This is because some stats are recognized by baseball authorities, while some aren’t.
For instance, the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1875’s National Association seemed to have lost a larger number of straight games compared to the Louisville Colonels, which amounts to thirty-one (31).
But based on the context of that era, no single MLB official counting has begun yet. So although the Louisville Colonels officially hold the longest string of losses in all history, they did not surpass the Atlantics’ record.
By the turn of present-day two-league MLB games, the Philadelphia Phillies in 1961 held the longest consecutive losses of 23 games.
Meanwhile, the Orioles losing streak with 21 games is the longest in the 1988 American League, while the Minnesota Twins currently hold the longest string of postseason losses consisting of eighteen (18) games since 2004.
Here is a list of the most consecutive losses MLB records (on a regular-season basis):
- Philadelphia Phillies (1961): The Phillies were losing their footing in the NL since July that year.
- Their continuous losses started during a head-to-head with the Giants and continued until their match against the Braves on the 20th of August.
- Their longest losing streak in 1961 figured to twenty-three (23) consecutive games.
- Baltimore Orioles (1988): On April 4, 1988, the Orioles started the season with dropped shoulders. Losing 12-0 against the Brewers, the Orioles continued with their steady slump until April 29 that year.
- Their longest losing streak consisted of twenty-one (21) straight games.
- Montreal Expos (1969): On May 13, 1969, the Expos ended up with a bitter score of 3-10 and did not improve until the 8th of June.
- By the end of the season, completing 52-110 against the Phillies, the team had an MLB record for consecutive losses of twenty (20) consecutive games.
- Philadelphia Athletics (1916): Believe it or not, and whether by simple coincidence or a machination of destiny, the Philadelphia Athletics experienced the same string of twenty (20) losses twenty-seven (27) years apart, once in 1916, and another in 1943, tying itself.
- The 1916 MLB incident started on July 21 with a 2-7 against the Cleveland Indians. The losing streak went on until August 9 when the team finally gained their footing against the Detroit Tigers, earning a score of 7-1.
- Philadelphia Athletics (1943): August 7, 1943, turned out to be a harsh starter for the team, reopening the wound 27 years ago with an exact string of 20 losses. Their first defeat happened against the Yankees with a 1-3 score.
- The team was not able to recover until the 24th of that month, when they scored 8-1 against the Chicago White Sox. By the end, the team nailed a season record of 49–105.
- Baltimore Orioles (2021): The Orioles got the bitter end in a match against the New York Yankees, losing by 1-13 on August 3.
- Before they knew it, they had lost nineteen (19) straight games throughout the season, tying with the Royals.
- They finished off with a humble 52-110 season score that year.
Other teams with most MLB losses in a row include:
- Detroit Tigers
- Cleveland Spiders
- Boston Beaneaters
- Cincinnati Reds
- Washington Senators
- Louis Browns
Losing Streak: A Definition
The long MLB record losing streak, in simple explanation, is the opposite of a winning streak.
Also known as a losing skid, slide, or cold streak, the losing streak is a string of losses in any sport, done by either an individual player or the whole team.
There is no standard for determining how long a loss goes on for it to be called a streak. As long as a series of losses occur, it should be referred to as a streak.
Why Long Losing Slides Happen in Sports
No single quantitative explanation can prove why a losing streak exists in the first place, or whether a losing streak does exist.
The one thing that remains true in all these musings is that a team’s propensity for accruing the worst losing streak in MLB history relies mainly on random chance.
Of course, a simplistic answer to why a team loses for an extended period is that they did not perform well.
In addition, even with such uncertainties, certain studies in baseball administration put forward two essential solutions to bad athletic performance: good management and a focused, positive mindset.
The longest losing streaks in MLB history began with the ‘61 Phillies’ embarrassing 23 straight games, followed by the 88’s Oriole’s 21, 69 Expos’ 20 string of losses. The rest of the teams with the most consecutive losses included the Athletics, Royals, etc.
In all of baseball history, outside of the MLB, the longest series of losses amounted to 26 games lost by the Louisville Colonels in 1889.
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A powerful swing and the ball is flying across the field, just one hit, and we might never forget the thrill it brings. I do not know about you, but I never do. Every baseball game is the chance to compete with others and cooperate with your teammate. It is among my biggest passions.