10 Longest Current World Series Championship Droughts

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Congratulations to the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros on their first title in 56 seasons. Many long-suffering fans in Major League Baseball have seen their teams snap ridiculously long championship droughts in recent years. The Red Sox broke through first, ending 75 seasons of futility with their 2004 World Series win. The White Sox followed up the next season with their first championship since 1917. Then the Cubs ended their 108-year streak of misery by winning the 2016 World Series. Now Houston joins the club. That leaves the Cleveland Indians atop the current misery index; Cleveland has not won a championship since 1948. Here are the 10 longest championship droughts in baseball.

The Indians have not won a World Series since 1948, but the team’s talented nucleus is primed for another run at the title in 2018. © Keith Allison

10. New York Mets

Seasons Since Last Championship: 31 (1986)
Why They Haven’t Won: A couple of years ago the Mets seemed on the verge of being a dynasty with some of the best young arms in baseball. But injuries have taken a toll.
Why They Might Win Soon: Seven of the 11 Mets position players with the most plate appearances in 2017 are over 30. This looks more like a team that could have won it all in 2015, not 2018.

 

9. Detroit Tigers

Seasons Since Last Championship: 33 (1984)
Why They Haven’t Won: You can’t blame the ownership; the late Mike Ilitch, who passed away in early 2017, was one of the most respected owners in pro sports. Face it — winning a championship takes many things beyond talent, and it’s not easy. Even model franchises can go decades between championships or even appearances in the World Series.
Why They Might Win Soon: Sorry Tigers fans, but that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. The trade of staff ace Justin Verlander in 2017 signified that the Tigers are rebuilding from the ground up, which looks to be a long, painful process.

 

8. Baltimore Orioles

Seasons Since Last Championship: 34 (1983)
Why They Haven’t Won: Many Orioles fans blame the thrifty ways of majority owner Peter Angelos, who purchased the team in 1993, but it’s hard to stick all the blame on one person. Recall that in the past 20 years, the Orioles have usually had to contend with very strong Yankees and Red Sox teams in their own division.
Why They Might Win Soon: After making the postseason three times in five seasons from 2012-2016, the Orioles regressed to 75-87 in 2017. And with some of the O’s biggest stars (Manny Machado, Adam Jones, etc.) eligible for free agency after the 2018 season, the team’s future hangs in the balance.

 

7. Pittsburgh Pirates

Seasons Since Last Championship (Year): 38 (1979)
Why They Haven’t Won: Yes, it has been that long since Willie Stargell and the Pirates’ “We are Family” world championship season. Inept and/or indifferent ownership and their location in a small market turned the Pirates into a glorified farm team for 20 straight losing seasons (1993-2012) the longest streak in U.S. sports history.
Why They Might Win Soon: Josh Bell looked great in his rookie season and there are some lively young arms on the staff. If Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte live up to their potential and Andrew McCutchen hits the way he did the second half of 2017, they could be a factor in 2018.

 

6. Seattle Mariners

Seasons Since Last Championship: 41 seasons with no championships
Why They Haven’t Won: Hard to believe a team that has featured superstars such as Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Ichiro Suzuki and Randy Johnson has never made it to the World Series, let alone won one. They Mariners have not even qualified for the postseason since 2001, the longest streak in baseball.
Why They Might Win Soon: Injuries, especially to the pitching staff, doomed the Mariners in 2017. While the team has several stars, such as Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, under long-term deals, Felix Hernandez is older and isn’t the stud he was a couple of years ago, and the team’s budget is too tight to bring in much help. The Mariners could either be much better in 2018 … or much worse. There are too many question marks.

 

3 (tie). Washington Nationals

Seasons Since Last Championship: 49 seasons with no championship
Why They Haven’t Won: The Montreal Expos (the forerunners of the Nationals) were widely regarded as the team to beat in 1994, the year the series was cancelled by the strike. The team always had trouble attracting stars to relocate north of the border, but that’s changed since the move to Washington.
Why They Might Win Soon: Despite averaging 96 wins the past two seasons, the Nationals haven’t gotten past the National League Divisional Series. That cost Dusty Baker his job after the 2017 season. The expectations really are that high in D.C. now. With a loaded lineup and deep starting rotation, the Nationals will be expected to at least make the NLCS next season.

 

3 (tie). San Diego Padres

Seasons Since Last Championship: 49 seasons with no championship
Why They Haven’t Won: Apologies for the cliché, but sometimes you have to be “in it to win it.” Frankly, with only five postseason appearances since beginning play in 1969, the Padres have had very few opportunities to get hot and win it all.
Why They Might Win Soon: Don’t let the 71-91 record in 2017 fool you. The Padres probably exceeded expectations in a rebuilding year. There is some talent in the farm system, notably pitchers Mackenzie Gore and Cal Quantrill and middle infielders Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias. Jumping into contention in 2018 is probably a bit much, but who knows after that.

 

3 (tie). Milwaukee Brewers

Seasons Since Last Championship: 49 seasons with no championship
Why They Haven’t Won: Think about all the great players from Brewers history — Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Ryan Braun, Cecil Cooper, etc. How many pitchers did you name, not counting Teddy Higuera or Rollie Fingers? We thought so.
Why They Might Win Soon: That 2011 NLCS appearance seems eons ago. The Brewers looked like legit contenders in 2017 before the Cubs came on to win the NL Central. The Brewers led MLB in strikeouts in 2017, but several of those whiff-prone players (Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton) bring big power and/or speed to the offense.

 

2. Texas Rangers

Seasons Since Last Championship: 57 seasons with no championship
Why They Haven’t Won: Through the years, some wondered if the lack of a baseball tradition in the Lone Star State, where football is king from middle school through the pro ranks, created a blasé atmosphere where fans, media, players and management alike came to accept mediocrity. If that were the case for the first few decades since the old Washington Senators moved to Arlington in 1972, the mood certainly has changed in recent years.
Why They Might Win Soon: After two straight playoff appearances, the Rangers slumped to 78-84 in 2017. The bullpen was a proverbial dumpster fire, and the loss of Yu Darvish didn’t help the starting rotation. At the plate, the Rangers were a classic boom-or-bust team, hitting the third-most home runs in baseball, but ranking fourth in strikeouts. There are probably too many issues here to resolve overnight.

 

1. Cleveland Indians

Seasons Since Last Championship: 69 (1948)
Why They Haven’t Won: Those mid-to-late 1990s teams were very good, but lost two World Series. Yet you have to really feel bad for those squads from 1949-1956, which played close to .600 ball year after year (111 wins in 1954!), only to be beaten out for the AL pennant seven of those eight years by the New York Yankees dynasty.
Why They Might Win Soon: 2016 looked like the Indians’ year, especially when they went up 3-1 in the World Series. Everyone thought the same thing late in 2017 when the Indians won 22 straight. This team is too good not to at least make the ALDS next season.

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The author is a longtime professional journalist who has interviewed everyone from presidential contenders to hall of fame athletes to rock ‘n’ roll legends while covering politics, sports, and other topics for both local and national publications and websites. His latest passions are history, geography and travel. He’s traveled extensively around the United States seeking out the hidden wonders of the country.