Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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Of all the underachieving teams, the Phillies are the underachievingest

Taking into consideration their payroll, 2012-14 Phillies are on pace for the worst three year run of any baseball team.

Of all the underachieving teams, the Phillies are the underachievingest

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

If you haven't had the chance, read my column in today's Daily News, which examines the Phillies' loss of a marketplace they owned in the not-so-distant past.

Just how bad have they been?

According to the numbers -- or, at least, according to my interpretation of the numbers, the Phillies are on pace to finish off the most underachieving three years of any baseball team since the first full season after the strike. I looked at the Opening Day payrolls of every team between 1996 and 2013. I isolated the teams that had the largest payrolls with respect to the average payroll for that season. To do that, I calculated the standard deviation of the set of payrolls from each year, and then calculated the number of deviations each team's payroll was above or below the mean (average). 

Since 1996, the first full season after the strike, 79 teams entered a season with an Opening Day payroll that was more than one standard deviation above the average MLB payroll for that season. So, on average, we are talking about the top four or five payrolls in the majors for each of those 18 seasons.

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Of those 79 teams, only 16 failed to finish with a winning record. The 2014 Phillies would be the 17th such team to do so. They are on pace for 71 wins. 

Of those 79 teams. . .

. . .60 won at least 85 games

. . .43 won at least 90 games

. . .34 won at least 95 games

. . .11 won at least 100 games

The table below is our ranking of the most underachieving teams of all time, drawn from those who failed to finish with a winning record despite a payroll at least one standard deviation above the average MLB payroll for that season. You can certainly quibble with the order. 

Rank Year Team Wins DevMean General manager (Yr)
1 2012 Red Sox 69 2.041 Cherington (1)
2 2003 Mets 66 1.648 Duquette (1)
3 2009 Mets 70 1.788 Minaya (9)
4 2002 Rangers 72 1.546 Hart (2)
5 2014 Phillies 71* 1.522 Amaro (6)
6 2010 Cubs 75 1.465 Hendry (last)
7 2013 Phillies 73 1.341 Amaro (5)
8 1998 Orioles 79 1.989 Wren (last)
9 2012 Phillies 81 2.078 Amaro (4)
10 2008 Tigers 74 1.269 Dombrowski (7)
11 2000 Orioles 74 1.244 Thrift (2)
12 1997 White Sox 80 1.284 Schueler (7)
13 2003 Rangers 71 1.160 Hart (3)
14 2010 Mets 79 1.146 Minaya (last)
15 2002 Mets 75 1.098 Phillips (last)
16 1999 Dodgers 77 1.061 Malone (2)
17 1999 Orioles 78 1.056 Thrift (2)

As you can see, Ruben Amaro Jr. would be the only general manager to preside over three of our Most Underachieving. John Hart, Omar Minaya and Syd Thrift all presided over two.  

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David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
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