Do the Oakland A's have one of the worst teams in MLB history?

Apr 22, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Shintaro Fujinami (11) sits
Apr 22, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Shintaro Fujinami (11) sits / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s are breaking records this year but not records anyone would want their team to break. Their historically bad start begs the question: could this team be among the worst ever?

The A’s are off to an abysmal 5-20 start and there’s very little to indicate this squad is turning it around. Many feared the A’s batting situation may not be up to par in 2023, indicating a repeat of the MLB’s worst batting in 2022, but the A’s pitching may very well be among the worst of all time. 

We at the White Cleat Beat were somewhat optimistic coming into the season. The A’s added Japanese star pitcher Shintaro Fujinami and veteran Trevor May this offseason hoping to add experience to their young roster, giving us glimmers of hope. But both pitchers have been very disappointing thus far. 

Fujinami, by far the most exciting signing this offseason, has had short bursts of sensational play only to fall apart when left in the game too long. To date, Fujinami has posted a horrendous 12.00 ERA and a disheartening -1.0 WAR. With an 0-4 record, the A’s have moved Fujinami to the bullpen hoping to get more production from him as a reliever. 

May has not fared any better. Appearing in 8 games this season so far, May has also posted a terrible 12.00 ERA. With a slightly better record of 2-3, he still a -0.7 WAR and has allowed 10 hits in only 6 IP. 

Their lacking performances are inexcusable but these two are not even close to being the primary source of the A’s pitching woes. Right-handed reliever Zach Jackson is the only A’s pitcher that has an ERA under 3.00 and only two pitchers have a WHIP under 1.3 (JP Sears and Sam Moll). 

Oakland A's early season run differential the worst ever

The A’s had the worst run differential thru 21 games in MLB history by far. The A’s -100 in 21 games far exceeded the previous worst of -85 by the 1988 Baltimore Orioles. And to top it off, Oakland’s 8.08 ERA thru 21 games also shattered the previous record. 

As of today, the A’s have the worst team ERA in the MLB with 7.97. The White Sox hold the second worst with 5.62. The A’s also have the most hits against, the most runs against, the most HRs against, the most walks, and the worst WHIP, all by a fairly substantial margin. 

And even though the A’s are performing somewhat better at the plate compared to last year, batting overall is still among the worst in the MLB. Oakland’s .225 average is the 4th worst and their meager 188 hits is tied for 5th worst. 

Though there is little to be happy about this season, the A’s do have some diamonds in their very deep rough. Outfielder Brent Rooker has been sensational at the plate, with a .315 average and a 1.118 OPS. Rookie outfielder Esteury Ruiz's 9 stolen bases is the 6th most in the MLB and is batting a decent .270 average. 

But unfortunately a few good performances cannot overcome the horrendous team that the A’s have this year. A disastrous pitching rotation combined with subpar batting leaves little hope for the rest of the 2023 season. If things continue as they are, the 2023 Oakland A’s may very well go down in history as one of the worst teams in MLB history.