Have the three worst teams in baseball ever been in the same division for a single season?

I keep seeing this bit of speculation on this sub, but it really doesn't hold up to the teams' performances this year. The top 3 NL teams rely on matchups with the bottom 6 teams in their league only as much at the top 3 AL teams rely on their own bottom 6.

See the comparisons in the tables below.

Against the bottom 6 NL teams:

Team W L Win %
St. Louis 32 15 .681
Pittsburgh 27 21 .562
Chicago 31 17 .646
Total 90 53 .629

Compare this to these three teams' combined win percentage overall (not much lower at .611) and the teams' winning percentage against all other Major League teams (still better than all but one team in the AL at .600).

But that one team, Kansas City, also plays better against the bottom six teams in its own league than it does overall. Like the Cardinals, it plays about 4% better. Here's an AL chart:

Team W L Win %
Kansas City 30 16 .652
Toronto 28 22 .560
New York 31 17 .646
Total 89 55 .618

Compare this to these three teams' overall win percentage (.581, more than twice the discrepancy of the NL teams) and their records against every team except the bottom six in their league (.559, roughly equal to the Yankees' or Dodgers' overall records).

Interestingly, in both leagues there is one top-tier team that plays better against good opponents than bad: Toronto in the AL and Pittsburgh in the NL.

There is also one top team in each league that is especially reliant on their performance against poorer teams. The Yankees are 41-40 against all Major League teams not in the bottom six of the American League—a game over .500. The Cubs are only a few games better, at 43-38 (.530).

These numbers likely align quite well with recent the numbers of recent years, when parity between teams tends to be high—no matter the occasional 100-loss seasons.

TL;DR: The top NL teams (except for the Pirates) benefit from the worst teams in the NL, surely. But to an even greater extent, the best AL teams (except for the Jays) benefit from games against the bottom six AL teams, no matter the fact that worst AL teams is still seventh-worst in the Majors. But that's how winning teams win; competition is tightest near the top of the tables.

/r/baseball Thread Parent