List of Worst MLB Playoff Teams in Modern Era Includes 2007 Cubs

List of Worst MLB Playoff Teams in Modern Era Includes 2007 Cubs
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

As sports fans know, baseball’s long season tests a team’s mettle daily. Generally, the most consistently productive clubs find their way through that 162-game grind and into the playoffs.

However, in baseball as in life, there are exceptions to most rules. That’s something to keep in mind for customers at Illinois sports betting apps.

Because of MLB’s playoff arrangement that sends division winners to the postseason regardless of regular-season record, some run-of-the-mill outfits have won their respective divisions. In other words, some teams with mediocre records had a shot at winning a world championship.

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Both Central Divisions Sluggish

Look no further than the current American League Central standings. Going into play on July 3, the division leaders were tied at a game under .500. Minnesota was 42-43 and Cleveland was 41-42. 

The co-leaders in the National League Central were only slightly better. Entering Monday, Milwaukee and Cincinnati were both 45-39.

However, some team has to win those divisions and regardless of the W-L record. Those teams will be fighting for a pennant and maybe, ultimately, be in the World Series.

All of which had continuing our Illinois sports betting analysis by looking back at the worst regular-season teams (86 or fewer wins) to reach the postseason since MLB expanded to three divisions in 1994. We also looked at how deep those teams went in the playoffs.

Worst MLB Playoff Teams Since 1995

Year Team Record Postseason Result
2005 Padres 82-80 (Won NL West) Lost NLDS to Cardinals, 3-0
2006 Cardinals 83-78 (Won NL Central) Won World Series over Tigers, 4-1
1997 Astros 84-78 (Won NL Central) Lost NLDS to Braves, 3-0
2008 Dodgers 84-78 (Won NL West) Lost NLCS to Phillies, 4-1
2007 Cubs 85-77 (Won NL Central) Lost NLDS to Diamondbacks, 3-0
2017 Twins 85-77 (Second AL Wild Card) Lost AL Wild Card Game to Yankees
1997 Indians 86-76 (Won AL Central) Lost World Series to Marlins, 4-3
2015 Astros 86-76 (Second AL Wild Card) Lost ALDS to Royals, 3-2
2022 Rays 86-76 (Third AL Wild Card) Lost AL WC Series to Guardians, 2-0

Where 2007 Cubs Stand on Our List

This year, the Cubs are 38-44 going into Monday’s games, fourth place in the NL Central but only six games out of first. The Cubs have +500 odds at Caesars Sportsbook Illinois to win the division.

Perhaps this year’s team can surge just enough to join the 2007 Cubs, who got to the finish line at 85-77 to earn a postseason spot, and a place on our list of worst playoff teams. 

In 2007, the Cubs finished two games in front of the Milwaukee Brewers for first in the National League Central. Chicago was tied for the fourth-worst regular-season record (with the 2017 Minnesota Twins) for a postseason team since 1994. That was the year MLB went to three divisions in each league – though of course there were no playoffs in the abbreviated 1994 season, so the list really starts in 1995.

Those ’07 Cubbies got off to a slow start but warmed up in June, winning 17 games. The division race was a two-team struggle between Chicago and Milwaukee. Neither team could really put in a final sprint in the last week, but Chicago’s lead held up.

For the postseason, the Cubs ran into the Diamondbacks and were swept 3-0 in a best-of-five series. Perhaps surprisingly, according to (which often uses BetMGM odds such as those available at the BetMGM Illinois Sportsbook), the Cubs were -125 moneyline favorites heading into that series against Arizona.

One Team Went on Unexpected Playoff Run

In the seasons examined, the 2005 San Diego Padres, at 82-80, had the dubious distinction of owning the worst regular-season record for a playoff team. Despite that ho-hum record, the Padres won the NL West by an amazing distance of five games but, fittingly, were swept by St. Louis in the division series.

Perhaps to the chagrin of Cubs fans, of the nine teams with the worst regular-season records to make the playoffs since 1995, the archrival St. Louis Cardinals made the most of a mediocre season.

Winning the NL Central in 2006 with an 83-78 record, the underdog Cardinals marched through the postseason and beat the Detroit Tigers, 4-1, in the World Series.

Check out the best Illinois sportsbook promotions as well as more coverage with IllinoisBet as the All-Star break approaches.



Bill Ordine covers state gambling issues for He was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years.

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