The 2013 Marlins are the worst offensive team since ...

Al Messerschmidt

It takes a lot to lose 100 games with an above-average pitching staff. The Marlins, bless their cold, piscine hearts, are making a run at it. With 13 games left in the season, they're on pace to score 521 runs. Here's a list of the worst run-scoring teams since the advent of the 162-game schedule, excluding strike seasons:

Rk Year R
1 CHW 1968 463
2 HOU 1963 464
3 SDP 1969 468
4 LAD 1968 470
5 NYM 1968 473
6 SDP 1971 486
7 HOU 1964 495
8 NYM 1965 495
9 NYM 1967 498
10 CAL 1968 498
11 NYM 1963 501
12 HOU 1968 510
13 CAL 1971 511
14 SEA 2010 513
15 ATL 1968 514
16 CLE 1968 516
17 LAD 1967 519
18 NYY 1967 522
19 WSA 1968 524
20 CAL 1965 527


Oh, the late '60s. When everyone could score except for dozens of baseball teams.

The Marlins are pretty much a below-average 1968 team, which is incredible. The Marlins just might get to 100 home runs on the year, though, so they're more like a slugging team from 1968. Big cheers for small victories.

A list of teams ranked by raw runs isn't super helpful, though. Those teams from '68 near the bottom of the list were a lot closer to the 2013 Rangers of their league than the 2013 Marlins. Instead, let's take a look at teams' OPS relative to their league's OPS. There isn't a team from '68 that can crack the 25-worst teams using this method, for example.

Rk Year OPS sOPS+
1 HOU 1963 .584 72
2 HOU 1964 .599 74
3 TEX 1972 .581 75
4 SEA 2010 .637 76
5 NYM 1965 .604 77
6 NYM 1963 .600 77
7 LAD 2003 .671 78
8 SEA 2011 .640 78
9 STL 1986 .636 78
10 SDP 1969 .614 78
11 DET 2003 .675 79
12 OAK 1979 .648 79
13 TOR 1981 .617 79
14 FLA 1993 .660 80
15 CAL 1969 .618 80
16 OAK 1977 .660 81
17 NYM 1977 .658 81
18 NYM 1983 .644 81
19 DET 2002 .679 82
20 HOU 1979 .659 82

The 2013 Marlins are currently at 76, which ties them with the 2011 Mariners and 2003 Dodgers as one of the worst offenses since the start of the 162-game season. If you open up the search for teams since 1916, the Marlins still rank in the top 10, jockeying with pre-war and pre-live-ball teams.

It would seem like the 2010 Mariners would have the title of "Worst-hitting team of the last five decades" locked up, except sOPS+ doesn't account for ballpark. Just league. So while the '10 Mariners were the worst offensive team in baseball that season, you still have to account for Safeco being extraordinarily tough on hitters. Their OPS+ was 79 -- well ahead of the Marlins' 71 this season.

The 2003 Dodgers are a similar story, with the exact OPS+ as the '10 Mariners. Plus, the '03 Dodgers hit 124 home runs, so they were even bigger thumpers than the Marlins. The '03 Tigers -- they of 119 losses -- had the 79 OPS+, too, but they had 153 home runs. That's the early '00s for you.

When you eliminate teams with higher OPS+ marks than the 2013 Marlins should finish with, you find yourself 20 years ago. The year was 1993. A strike hadn't ruined everything yet. Two new expansion teams were flopping around in their inaugural seasons. And the Florida Marlins were just awful at scoring runs.

The expansion Marlins finished with 94 home runs (which the '13 Marlins should top) and a 74 OPS+. The difference between the '93 and '13 Marlins is negligible, at best. What's a few points of OPS+ between friends? The '13 Marlins should score about 60 fewer runs than their first incarnation, but when you account for league, that difference is quickly wiped out.

The difference? The 1993 Marlins had to build a team using the expansion draft and CompuServe bulletin boards. The 2013 Marlins got to pick their players. With a full four levels of minor-league development in place and the ability to sign free agents, trade existing players for lineup help, and draft/sign/develop prospects and have them ready for the 2013 season, the Marlins haven't done any better than in their debut season.

The 2014 Marlins shouldn't be so bleak. Christian Yelich looks like a star, Giancarlo Stanton will (hopefully) be healthier, and the veteran detritus should be replaced with players of varying promise. Looking at their progression of batting orders throughout the season, the recent Marlins lineups have made a lot more sense than those earlier in the season.

But this season? Woof. The Marlins haven't just been bad, they've been once-in-a-decade bad. Possibly once-every-two-decades bad. They might be even worse than that. The pitching was much, much better than expected, and that's the only thing keeping them from '03 Tigersdom. Pay your respects to the 2013 Marlins. They might be the worst-hitting team you'll see for a couple of decades.

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