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A Newcomers Guide
Steve Hirdt
April 12, 1993
Back in the spring of 1962, an 11-year-old boy who was a bit of a statistical smart aleck looked at the roster of the first-year New York Mets and let himself dream. After all, Richie Ashburn, Roger Craig and Gil Hodges had each produced some impressive seasons. Why couldn't this team be a winner right out of the box?
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April 12, 1993

A Newcomers Guide

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THE BEST OF THE WORST
On average, expansion teams have not reached a break-even season until the 10th year (figures prorated for 162 games).

AVG. WINS

AVG. LOSSES

AVG. PCT.

1st Year

59.2

102.8

.366

2nd Year

64.5

97.5

.398

3rd Year

65.3

96.7

.403

4th Year

66.7

95.3

.411

5th Year

70.6

91.4

.436

6th Year

72.0

89.1

.450

7th Year

76.0

86.0

.469

8th Year

76.1

85.9

.470

9th Year

80.6

81.4

.497

10th Year

81.6

80.4

.504

11th Year

83.4

78.6

.515

12th Year

80.1

81.9

.495

13th Year

77.1

84.9

.476

14th Year

81.5

80.5

.503

15th Year

82.0

80.0

.506

16th Year

77.9

82.1

.481

Back in the spring of 1962, an 11-year-old boy who was a bit of a statistical smart aleck looked at the roster of the first-year New York Mets and let himself dream. After all, Richie Ashburn, Roger Craig and Gil Hodges had each produced some impressive seasons. Why couldn't this team be a winner right out of the box?

The boy's father, looking at the same collection of players, was unimpressed. "That's a .250 team," he announced. "Nothing more, nothing less."

Troubled by his father's assessment, the boy figured out that over 162 games a team couldn't finish at .250:40 wins and 122 losses would be .247; 41 wins and 121 losses, .253. He said to his dad, "I'll bet you the Mets aren't a .250 team." His father, standing by his instinct, took the bet.

The Mets went on to win 40 and lose 120. One game was canceled by rain, one ended in a tie. Final winning percentage: .250.

Forewarned is forearmed: Expansion seasons are unpredictable. By their mere presence the Colorado Rockies and the Florida Marlins, the two new National League teams, will change some things.

Getting Even

If the 1962 New York Mets, with their 40-120 record, reside in the expansionists' basement, the Los Angeles Angels live in the penthouse. The '61 Angels had the best first-year record ever, 70-91 (.435), and their 86-76 mark in '62 is still the best by any of the 10 expansion teams in any of their first four years of operation.

A look at the collective record of the 10 expansion teams suggests that fans of the Rockies or the Marlins best be prepared to wait until the next millennium for their team to win more games than it loses; the average expansion team has taken 10 years to reach the .500 mark. Even so, improvement has been steady (left). And while only the Angels and the Royals finished with a winning record in any of their first six seasons, just three of the 10 teams went a full decade without finishing above .500 once. Two of those three (the Astros and the Expos) surpassed .500 in their 11th season; the Mariners didn't make it until their 15th.

More Hits For Most

Expansion has usually been associated with an increase in offense (chart, above). That connection began in 1961, when the New York Yankees' Roger Maris (above, left) hit 61 home runs in the first 162-game season.

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