It had been 32 years since the Los Angeles Dodgers were able to stand victorious at the end of October when they broke their franchise World Series drought in October of 2020. After losing two straight World Series,’ the Dodgers beat Tampa Bay and finally brought the trophy back to Los Angeles. Excluding teams who have not won a World Series title yet and only focusing on teams with a title, 32 years ranked around the sixth-longest dry spell. We wanted to take a deeper look at which other teams at the top of that list, with longest droughts, might have a chance of breaking it soon.
The Cleveland Indians have the longest drought of any active team in the MLB without a World Series title. It has been 72 years since their last Championship, which came in 1948. The Indians won two World Series Championships. The first was in 1920 when they beat the Brooklyn Robins (later known as the Brooklyn Dodgers) 5-2 in a best-of-nine series and then again in 1948 by beating the Boston Braves 4-2 in a best-of-seven series.
Since 1948, the Indians have made it to the World Series four times, losing all four times. First in 1954, getting swept by the New York Giants 4-0. The next opportunity was not for forty years, when Cleveland finally made it back, playing the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and losing in six games 4-2. Two years later, the Tribe got back to the October Special and lost in seven games to the upstart Florida Marlins (now the Miami Marlins). They would make the postseason three more times in the next four years but lose to the New York Yankees in the 1998 ALCS, the Boston Red Sox in the 1999 ALDS, and the Seattle Mariners in the 2001 ALDS.
Their next proper shot came in 2016 when they met the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, who were also looking to end a World Series drought, albeit a much more drastic 107 seasons. As many of you know, the Cubs did just that, beating the Indians in a dramatic seven games and handing the Tribe the title for the longest dry spell without a ring.
Determined, the Indians made the postseason three of the next four seasons. Losing to the Yankees 3-2 in the 2017 ALDS, the Houston Astros 3-0 in the 2018 ALDS, and the Yankees again 2-0 in the 2020 ALWC.
The 2021 Indians are currently still in second place in the AL Central at 34-28, making them 5½ back of first place and 1½ back in the wild card race. The Tribe is an interesting team; despite only losing pitching talent (Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, etc.) over the years, their starting staff has not suffered as much as you would think. Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, and Zach Plesac could go up against almost any other first-three starting pitchers.
Cleveland just doesn’t have consistent offensive production they can rely on. As a team, their OPS+ is 85, the lowest in the American League and the team batting average is .225, third-worst in the American League. There may just be some value in looking at their playoff odds in the MLB Sportsbook, where they are +4000 in their odds to win the World Series but +375 in odds to win the AL Central.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have five World Series titles in their franchise history. After winning the World Series in 1979, their fifth, it has been 41 years and counting since they lifted the biggest trophy in baseball. Despite dismal results in the modern era, the Pirates franchise remains above .500 in their total record with 10,240 games won and 10,016 games lost, but their total record in the postseason is sub .500 at 43 wins and 53 losses.
Interestingly, the Pirates were in the first-ever World Series in 1903, but they were defeated by the Boston Americans 5-3 in a best-of-nine series. Their first World Series Championship came in 1909, beating the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in a best-of-seven series. Their next title came in 1925, beating the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins) 4-3 in seven games. The third was in 1960, beating the New York Yankees 4-3 in seven games. The fourth was in 1971 when Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente got his 3000th hit and was named the World Series MVP. Their final World Series was 1979 when they beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 in seven games.
It has been more than 40 years since that 1979 World Series victory. Since the 1980 season, they have not made it back to the October Special, making the playoffs just six times and losing to the Atlanta Braves three of those six times in the 1990 NLCS, 1991 NLCS, and the 1992 NLCS. After the Bucs lost Barry Bonds in free agency, they have only made it to the postseason three times. Pittsburgh lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 NLDS, the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 NLWC, and the Chicago Cubs in the 2015 NLWC.
Since then, late October has been the off-season in Pittsburgh, and their outlook in 2021 does not seem much better. As of this writing, the Pirates are 23-41; they have lost seven straight baseball games and are firmly in last place in the NL Central. They have the third-worst record in the majors, behind only the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Baltimore Orioles.
Pittsburgh’s -90 run differential is the worst in the big leagues. For now, bet against the Pirates in pretty much everything. If you are a Pirates fan, be excited about Ke’Bryan Hayes and hope that future draft picks by the franchise will turn into productive pieces.
The Baltimore Orioles, as we know them today, formed in 1901 as the Milwaukee Brewers and played in the American League (no connection to current-day Milwaukee Brewers). Then one year, they moved to St. Louis and were renamed the Browns, which lasted until 1953, when they moved to Baltimore and renamed themselves the Baltimore Orioles.
Since its inception, including those early years under different names, the Orioles have won just three World Series titles. Conquering the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 in 1966, the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 in 1970, and the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 in 1983. Meaning it has been over 37 seasons since the O’s have won a World Series.
The Orioles’ only made the playoffs three times in all of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.’s immaculate career. Although he was part of the 1983 team that won the MLB World Series, he only played in two playoffs in his 21 seasons in Baltimore. In 1991, the year Ripken won his second AL MVP (hitting .323 with 34 home runs, five triples, and 114 RBI), the O’s won only 67 games and finished in last place in the AL East.
From 1984 to 2011, the O’s made the playoffs only twice, losing in the 1996 ALCS 4-1 to the New York Yankees and then again in the 1997 ALCS losing 4-2 to the Cleveland Indians. Ever since the 1998 season, the one following two-straight collapses in the ALCS, Baltimore has only been to the postseason three times. That’s 3 of 22. In 2012, the O’s lost 3-2 in the ALDS to the Yankees. In the 2014 ALCS, they lost 4-0 to the Kansas City Royals, and then in 2016, their last postseason appearance, they lost the ALWC to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Sadly, the odds on Baltimore’s future are trending in the wrong direction; Baltimore currently sits in last place 22-42 with a run differential of -68. FanGraphs has the O’s projected win total at 64 games this season, meaning they would end the season with the worst team in the American League.
To illustrate just how bad the chances are that Baltimore will break their World Series dry spell this season, they have better odds to win the World Series at +75,000 than they do to win the AL East at +125,000. Aside from a few John Means games, the O’s pitching staff has just been getting pushed around, and they have the worst team-ERA in the American League. Baltimore pitchers are tied with the Minnesota Twins in most home runs allowed with 98 so far in 2021.
It is their offense, too, aside from absolute stud Cedric Mullens, who is hitting .321, the O’s are below league average in team-average (.237), in team OPS+ (92), and average runs scored per game (4.03). Things are ugly in Baltimore in their race to the bottom of the major leagues.