Here are the team's records for every season since the Diamondbacks entered the major-leagues in 1998. We also include their Pythagorean record (projected W% based on runs scored and allowed), the number of runs scored and allowed and the average age that season of their hitters (Bat) and pitchers (Pit).,
2016 has certainly been bad - one more loss and they'll be below the 2014 squad in win percentage (they're already there, by pyth%). However, there is no realistic way this can be considered as bad as the 2004 campaign. The mists of time have likely dimmed just how - and you'll know I don't say this lightly - FUCKING AWFUL the 2004 D-backs were. The worst losing streak in 2016 is six. In 2004, they lost nine in a row. They lost eleven in a row. They lost fourteen in a row. They never won more than three straight (this year., the D-backs already have three five-game winning streaks). No National League team in the past FIFTY YEARS lost as many games as the 2004 D-backs.
The Diamondbacks would have to go 8-46 the rest of the way to match that feeble season. Horrible though they have played of late, that's still only 7-25. 2004's starting rotation included Elmer Dessens, Casey Daigle, and Steve Sparks. Casey Fossum made 27 starts, going 4-15 with a 6.65 ERA. The sum worth of every pitcher on the roster bar Randy Johnson (and that includes Brandon Webb) was -2.6 bWAR. The offense was possibly worse still, since the sum worth of every hitter on the roster was -0.2 bWAR. They were walked-off four times in five games at one point. So, no: do not attempt to tell me that this year is the worst team in franchise history.
A couple of other points to note. With one exception, every time the D-backs have had a winning percentage below .450, they've changed their manager in mid-season. The sole person to escape being fired was Buck Showalter in Arizona's first campaign, back in 1998, and that seems fair enough - expansion teams are expected to suck. Since then, 2004 saw the departure of Bob Brenly, followed in 2009 by Bob Melvin, then 2010 got A.J. Hinch quickly fired, and finally, 2014 resulted in Kirk Gibson getting his cards. The historical odds seem stacked against Chip Hale making it to the finish line this year.
It is perhaps worth noting that this is a young team. Indeed, it's the youngest pitching staff ever put together in Arizona, coming in a couple of ticks lower than last season. There is a case to be made that this lack of experience is part of the reason for their struggles. To me, however, that's more an indictment of pitching coach Mike Butcher, whose role would seem magnified in importance due to this. The hitters don't have that excuse, being 0.3 years older than last year's model. However, the runs scored by Arizona per game have dropped, going from 4.44 in 2015, to 4.39 this year, despite an sharp increase league-wide (from 4.11 to 4.38).
We've been told to Join The Evolution, and watched as fans nationwide tore the team a new orifice, both for the new uniforms and as the slow-motion car-crash unfolded, which was Shelby Miller in 2016. We also had the rumblings over the future of Chase Field, with the team muttering about finding an alternative home if money is not forthcoming to get Chase up to their standards. But these all seem relatively minor compared to the problems which unfolded for the team a decade ago. Here are a few of the things which took place outside the lines in 2006:
- Russ Ortiz. A bad 2005 (6.89 ERA) was followed by relentless denial, Ortiz saying, "I don't need to tweak anything or improve or modify." Improve he certainly didn't, making six starts and going 0-5 with a 7.54 ERA, before the team eventually bit the bullet and decided to DFA Ortiz, biting the bullet of the $20+ million due to him. At the time, this was the largest amount a team had ever paid to a released player.
- The season saw a federal raid on reliever Jason Grimsley's house, in connection with a probe into steroids, amphetamines and human growth hormone (HGH). Among those whom Grimsley subsequently pointed fingers at as having used PEDs were Jose Canseco, Lenny Dykstra, Glenallen Hill, Geronimo Berroa, Chuck Knoblauch, David Segui, Allen Watson and Pete Incaviglia.
- Ken Kendrick caused no small storm, when he discussed PEDs with the Arizona Republic, "I'll be blunt with you and say there have been certainly whispers about Luis Gonzalez. Because he's such a high-profile guy and you can make a case of his numbers five years ago versus his numbers today and therefore he must have been doing something." Gonzo was not happy, and this likely helped lead to the departure of the team's iconic position player at the end of the season.
I guess the equivalent would be, a) the team releasing Shelby Miller, b) Josh Collmenter's pad getting a visit from the DEA, and c) Kendrick accusing Paul Golschmidt of juicing. There's still time left, but I'm thinking social media mockery over the new unis is trivial in comparison.
The disappointment department may be the area where the 2016 Diamondbacks have most to offer. Not that the projected drop in year-on-year-performance is particularly brutal. At the current point, we're on pace to finish with 64.5 wins, 14.5 below the total last season. That would be a smaller drop than in 2000 (15 wins fewer), 2004 (33) and 2014 (17). But it's safe to say, on Opening Day thus year, we were all hoping for a great deal more than the 79-win team Arizona were last season. That had added two All-Stars in Miller and Zack Greinke, plus a solid set-up man in Tyler Clippard, so safe to say, this should have been a better roster.
Still, this certainly hasn't been the first time the team has failed to live up to expectation. In 1999, the D-backs won 100 games, and lost nobody more important than Andy Benes to free-agency that winter. The next year, they were four games in front at the end of May, and still on top come the trade-deadline, at which point they added Curt Schilling to the rotation. But the team fell apart thereafter, finishing a distant third, 12 games behind the Giants. See also 2008, where as defending champions, they beefed up the rotation with Dan Haren, and roared out to a six-game lead by April 22, on their way to a 20-8 start, How did those expectations end uo? Oh, yeah: at 82-80.
Indeed, another big drop, in 2004 could be another such case. After a respectable 84-win campaign, the team opted to put all its offensive eggs in the basket marked Richie Sexson [though they also signed 12-time All-Star Roberto Alomar]. Initially, it didn't suck: They went into the game on April 28, two games below .500 at 9-11. But Sexson destroyed his shoulder on a checked swing, managed only two starts the rest of the season, and the D-backs went 42-100 from then on. Finally, before 2014, the team traded for Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed, while signing Bronson Arroyo, Oliver Perez and Eric Chavez. This led to the worst record in baseball.
Overall, there has been no shortage of potential "worst seasons," depending on what factors you choose to take into consideration. The poll below lists most of those mentioned above, so have at it, and let us know which was the very nadir of the Diamondbacks' existence so far.