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Sports Misery Index: How miserable is each MLB fan base?

You have to have an unlimited sense of humor to support the Padres. Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

Which MLB fan bases have it the worst right now? It's a question that the Sports Misery Index tackled when it originally came out last September. As we get set to enter the 2019 playoffs, we're taking a look at which MLB fan bases currently have it the worst and which don't.

The Index takes into account five factors: championships, playoff berths, playoff wins, heartbreaks and rival comparison, with recent events being weighted more than events that took place decades ago. We've also added a misery bonus for teams that have gone 25-plus seasons without a championship, so this list might look a bit different than it did when the Index was last released in April. You can read more on the categories in the cross-sport story, but we'll identify how each MLB team rates in each category.


1. San Diego Padres

Total score: 27.26
All-sport rank: 2
Ranking by category: championships, 3; playoff berths, 2; playoff wins, 2; heartbreaks, 22; rival comparison, 1

Where they're especially miserable: The Padres will spend October at home yet again, as they're set to miss the playoffs for the 13th consecutive year and finish below .500 for the ninth straight season. Being a Padres fan doesn't involve much celebration, as San Diego hasn't won a playoff series since 1998 and has won only three postseason series in 51 seasons. The Padres have only made the playoffs five times since they started in 1969. In contrast, the rival Dodgers are about to make their seventh straight postseason appearance.

Reasons for hope: While the Padres are set to miss the postseason again, they did show considerable improvement this season, flirting with .500 for much of it and staying ahead of the Rockies in the NL West. They've done a good job of building their farm system and could be in line for another jump next season.

Trend: The Padres are starting to see some return on their investments, via both the farm system (Fernando Tatis Jr.) and free agency (Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer). Another year of jelling could put San Diego in the midst of the playoff hunt in 2020, something that hasn't happened in a while.


2. Cincinnati Reds

Total score: 21.42
All-sport rank: 9
Ranking by category: championships, 9; playoff berths, 5; playoff wins, 3; heartbreaks, 13; rival comparison, 8

Where they're especially miserable: It's been nearly a quarter-century since the Reds won a playoff series, much less gone to and won a World Series. It's been rough for Cincinnati fans since the Reds' 1995 National League Division Series victory, as they've made the playoffs only three times since (all coming between 2010-13). Yes, that means that the Reds have gone five years without making the postseason, which is soon to be a sixth. The 1990 upset championship over the Bash Brothers is nothing but a grainy memory at this point.

Reasons for hope: Besides the 1990 title, the Reds had a dominating stretch during the 1970s, winning back-to-back titles thanks to the Big Red Machine. And the Reds have recently become more aggressive in their team-building, with the deadline deal for Trevor Bauer being the latest move.

Trend: Cincy is going to be a playoff spectator yet again, but the Reds made considerable improvement this season and stayed in the periphery of the wild-card hunt for a while. Another aggressive offseason, plus further development of the young core, could make the Reds quite interesting next season.

3. Chicago White Sox

Total score: 20.66
All-sport rank: 11
Ranking by category: championships, 18; playoff berths, 1; playoff wins, 8; heartbreaks, 29; rival comparison, 5

Where they're miserable: There have been 116 seasons in Major League Baseball in the World Series era. The White Sox have played in all of them, yet have made the playoffs only nine times. For comparison's sake, the crosstown rival Cubs have made nearly half that many since 2015. For more contemporary problems, the Pale Hose are about to miss the postseason for the 11th consecutive year and have won only one championship in the past 100 years. To add insult to injury, they had to watch the hated Cubs win the World Series three years ago.

Reasons for hope: While titles have been hard to come by on the South Side, the most recent one wasn't that long ago, as the White Sox swept the Astros to win the 2005 World Series. Therefore, the White Sox weren't subject to the misery bonus that has afflicted many of the teams below them. It's better than nothing.

Trend: Like the Reds, the White Sox were a bit more aggressive prior to this season than usual, as they hoped their rebuild would begin to bear fruit. It didn't, as Chicago suffered its seventh straight losing season, but the Sox made some progress this season and could be a sleeper in 2020.


4. Seattle Mariners

Total score: 19.75
All-sport rank: 13
Ranking by category: championships, 6; playoff berths, 3; playoff wins, 6; heartbreaks, 27; rival comparison, 11

Where they're especially miserable: A torrid 13-2 start turned into another disappointing season, as the Mariners fell to the bottom of the AL West and will miss the playoffs again. That will give Seattle 18 consecutive seasons without a postseason appearance, the longest current streak in the four major professional sports. The M's are also one of two MLB franchises to never advance to the World Series (the Expos/Nationals are the other). Not even a 116-win season in 2001 (their last playoff appearance) was enough to get them there.

Reasons for hope: While the Mariners haven't had much team success, their fans have seen some of the most iconic players of the last 20 years. Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Randy Johnson cut their teeth with the M's, as did future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki and Alex Rodriguez.

Trend: The Mariners made a concerted effort to tear things down and rebuild last offseason after several promising campaigns fell short. Due to this, there's going to be more painful moments in the short term. Whether that pain continues long-term depends on how well the M's hit on their young talent.


5. Milwaukee Brewers

Total score: 18.41
All-sport rank: 15
Ranking by category: championships, 4; playoff berths, 7; playoff wins, 15; heartbreaks, 16; rival comparison, 7

Where they're especially miserable: Being a Brewers fan has been a mostly thankless experience over the past half-century. Milwaukee has made the playoffs only five times entering this season and has won only three postseason series during that time. It has been 37 years since the Brewers made their only World Series appearance, a seven-game loss to the rival Cardinals. Milwaukee had a great chance at Series No. 2 last year but was toppled at home by the Dodgers in Game 7 of the NLCS in front of the Miller Park faithful.

Reasons for hope: The Brewers are fresh off arguably their second-best season in franchise history, winning the 2018 NL Central title in a one-game playoff over the rival Cubs, and are in the thick of the hunt again this year. Milwaukee fans also get the delight of watching probable MVP Christian Yelich.

Trend: The Brewers' torrid September run gives them back-to-back playoff berths for the second time in franchise history (the other came in 1981-82). Between that and the joy of watching Yelich, it's about as good to be a Brewers fans as it has ever been.

6. Baltimore Orioles

Total score: 17.82
All-sport rank: 19
Ranking by category: championships, 12; playoff berths, 14; playoff wins, 14; heartbreaks, 14; rival comparison, 6

Why they're especially miserable: Not only will the Orioles drop 100-plus games for the second straight season, they're rivals with the Red Sox (who won the World Series last year) and the Yankees (who could win the Series this season). Having to deal with those two franchises compounds the misery that Baltimore fans already face, which is ample. A couple of the misery "highlights" include not winning a playoff series since 2014 and not going to (or winning) the World Series since 1983. And there's also that Jeffrey Maier kid.

Reasons for hope: Even though they've been awful the past two seasons, the Orioles aren't far removed from making the playoffs three times in five seasons between 2012 and 2016. The O's won two playoff series this decade, including advancing to the ALCS in 2014. So while it's bad now, it wasn't too terrible recently.

Trend: It's going to be rough for at least a few more seasons, as the Orioles went into complete veteran purge mode in 2018 after losing 115 games. While 2019 hasn't been much better in Baltimore, they broke the 50-win mark this season. Progress is progress, I guess.


7. Texas Rangers

Total score: 17.23
All-sport rank: 21
Ranking by category: championships, 5; playoff berths, 18; playoff wins, 17; heartbreaks, 3; rival comparison, 13

Where they're especially miserable: It's been a heartbreaking decade for the Rangers. It started early, as Texas lost back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011, the latter in seven games to the Cardinals after the Rangers had St. Louis down to its last strike multiple times in Game 6. The Rangers have lost three playoff series since the World Series debacle, including blowing a 2-0 lead to the Blue Jays in the 2015 ALDS, which ended with Jose Bautista cranking homers and flipping bats in Game 5. It's been rough, to say the least.

Reasons for hope: Even though most of the postseason runs ended in gut-punch fashion, the Rangers made the playoffs five times in seven seasons from 2010-16, and all four of their series wins came during the 2010-11 World Series runs. For reference, the Rangers made the postseason only three times pre-2010.

Trend: While they weren't able to make the playoffs, 2019 had positives. Joey Gallo broke out and the pitching was as good as it's been since the World Series years. Texas also has a flashy new park opening next year, which will have a retractable roof to keep out the oppressive summer heat.


8. Pittsburgh Pirates

Total score: 17.04
All-sport rank: 24
Ranking by category: championships, 7 (tie); playoff berths, 9; playoff wins, 7; heartbreaks, 8; rival comparison, 17

Where they're especially miserable: It was heartbreaking enough when Sid Bream eliminated the Pirates in walk-off fashion in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, but the years following it have been even more painful. First, Barry Bonds left in free agency as he was entering his prime. Then Pittsburgh set a major league record with 20 consecutive losing seasons from 1993-2012. Now the Pirates have missed the playoffs the past four seasons and will have their 23rd below-.500 season in 27 years. And we haven't mentioned a World Series drought that just turned 40.

Reasons for hope: It's been generally miserable since Bonds hightailed it to San Francisco, but the three Pittsburgh playoff berths since are relatively recent, as the Pirates made the playoffs three consecutive seasons from 2013-15, winning a series in '13. And PNC Park might be the best stadium in the majors.

Trend: The Pirates were in good position at the All-Star break for the NL Central and wild card, but a massive tailspin left them in the bottom of the division standings. With the increasing difficulty of the NL Central, it could be a while before the Pirates are in contention again.


9. Tampa Bay Rays

Total score: 16.83
All-sport rank: 25
Ranking by category: championships, 14 (tie); playoff berths, 11; playoff wins, 10; heartbreaks, 23; rival comparison, 4

Where they're especially miserable: Like the Orioles above them, the Rays have a Yankees-Red Sox problem, which is why they weren't a serious contender for the playoffs in 2018 despite winning 90 games. Besides the Evil Empire(s) issue, the Rays haven't qualified for the playoffs in five years prior to this season and have made it past the ALDS only once in their 22-year history. Tampa Bay also has spotty fan support and a visually unpleasing stadium, which is why the Rays might have to split time in Montreal in the near future.

Reasons for hope: While fan enthusiasm is iffy and the budget is tight, the Rays have had a good eye for talent in the past dozen years. That's why the Rays made it to the playoffs four times between 2008 and 2013, including a run to the World Series in 2008. Also, the Rays are too young to get the misery bonus.

Trend: The Rays have rebuilt on the fly quite nicely and are in the mix to make the playoffs this season. There are few teams better at identifying and cultivating young talent than Tampa, so perhaps that talent will jell and lead the Rays past the divisional round for the second time ever.


10. Toronto Blue Jays

Total score: 15.51
All-sport rank: 27
Ranking by category: championships, 16; playoff berths, 12; playoff wins, 22; heartbreaks, 28; rival comparison, 2

Where they're especially miserable: It's been a mostly frustrating existence for the Blue Jays since Joe Carter's walk-off home run against Mitch Williams won them the 1993 World Series. Toronto went 20 completed seasons without making the playoffs right after and now are about to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season. The Blue Jays have gotten progressively worse since making the 2016 ALCS, having parted with their stars of that era, and were in danger of losing 100 games this season.

Reasons for hope: The Blue Jays avoided the overall top 25 thanks to their two-year run in 2015 and 2016, as they won three playoff series and advanced to the ALCS both years. While Rangers fans curse it, Jose Bautista's homer and bat flip in the 2015 ALDS is the best Toronto memory since the back-to-back titles in 1992-93.

Trend: Like many teams in baseball, Toronto is in the midst of a complete teardown and makeover. But unlike those teams, it has Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Guerrero's prodigious power will make the Blue Jays watchable despite the likelihood of them accumulating a bunch of losses over the next few seasons.

11. New York Mets

Total score: 15.07
All-sport rank: 30
Ranking by category: championships, 11; playoff berths, 15; playoff wins, 21; heartbreaks, 7; rival comparison, 12

Where they're especially miserable: The Mets have never been able to maintain momentum for very long for a variety of reasons. Recently, it's an inexplicable inability to stay healthy. New York looked to be set up for a long run of success after losing to the Royals in the 2015 World Series, but injuries have tampered with a starting rotation of flamethrowers, causing the Mets to drop the wild-card game in 2016 and miss the postseason the next two years (about to be three). That's the main reason they haven't won a title since 1986.

Reasons for hope: Older Mets fans have the memories of 1986, one of the most iconic teams in baseball lore. They also have a Cy Young candidate in Jacob deGrom and the home run derby winner in Pete Alonso. But more important than that was the franchise's impact in some of the best "Seinfeld" episodes ever.

Trend: This looked like yet another lost season, as the Mets were well below .500 and had a starting pitcher and manager threaten reporters after a game. But a late-season run provides hope for the future, even though it won't result in a playoff appearance. Can New York finally build on momentum?


12. Miami Marlins

Total score: 15.04
All-sport rank: 31
Ranking by category: championships, 23; playoff berths, 4; playoff wins, 9; heartbreaks, 30; rival comparison, 15

Where they're especially miserable: MLB highlight shows are cathartic for Marlins fans, as they get to watch players such as Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna -- who each were in Miami a mere two years ago -- tearing it up for other teams. Instead of watching these stars jelling in Marlins Park for a potential World Series team, Marlins fans have to watch yet another last-place unit. Miami is currently last in the National League, rebuilding again and is about to miss the playoffs for the 16th straight season.

Reasons for hope: How does a franchise that has made the playoffs only twice in its history rank so low? By winning the World Series in both of those playoff seasons. The Marlins profited from Jose Mesa and Steve Bartman to win titles in 1997 and 2003. Every team ranked above would love to have that fortune.

Trend: While simply making the postseason has been a championship guarantee for the Marlins, it seems like Miami is a ways away from getting to the playoffs. It'll likely be several more seasons of losing until the Marlins sniff the postseason -- if they are patient enough to stay the course this time.


13. Los Angeles Angels

Total score: 14.79
All-sport rank: 32
Ranking by category: championships, 20; playoff berths, 13; playoff wins, 12; heartbreaks, 20; rival comparison, 9

Where they're especially miserable: After a successful run in the 2000s the Angels have hit a rut this decade, as they've made the playoffs only once in the 2010s and haven't won a playoff game, much less a playoff series, since 2009. The Angels' struggles have come despite having the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, as they've never really been able to build around him. While the Angels have scuffled (this season is the fifth straight without the playoffs), the crosstown rival Dodgers have become postseason staples.

Reasons for hope: While the Dodgers have dominated Southern California baseball this decade, the Angels still have bragging rights when it comes to having a more recent championship. The Rally Monkey/Thunderstick title run in 2002 gives most of their fans a good memory. Plus, it's fun to watch Trout.

Trend: A new manager couldn't prevent the same old result, as the Angels fell below .500 again and couldn't put together a serious run at a playoff spot. They have two cornerstones in Trout and Shohei Ohtani, but they're going to need a boost in the rotation and position player talent around them.


14. Oakland Athletics

Total score: 14.28
All-sport rank: 34
Ranking by category: championships, 17; playoff berths, 25; playoff wins, 5; heartbreaks, 4; rival comparison, 14

Where they're especially miserable: When a playoff series ends up going to a deciding game, the A's almost always end up going home, as Oakland has lost eight consecutive series-deciding games dating to 2000. In that time the A's have lost three times to the Yankees (including last year's wild-card game and in 2001 after Derek Jeter's Game 3 flip helped New York erase a 2-0 deficit) and three times to the Tigers -- twice in an ALDS Game 5 and in a 2006 sweep when Oakland actually advanced to the ALCS. Lots of good teams, not much postseason payoff.

Reasons for hope: Despite being in a small market, the A's frequently outperform expectations, as GM Billy Beane has built nine playoff teams since 2000 and has the A's in the mix again this season. They've also been represented nicely in Hollywood, with "Moneyball" and Netflix's "Bash Brothers" being smash hits.

Trend: While the financial situation makes it hard for Oakland to be a contender year in and year out, the A's are currently experiencing another uptick. If they make the playoffs again and actually get a postseason series win or two, then spirits will be super high in the East Bay.


15. Minnesota Twins

Total score: 14.27
All-sport rank: 35

Ranking by category: championships, 10; playoff berths, 16; playoff wins, 4; heartbreaks, 18; rival comparison, 16

Where they're especially miserable: Like the A's, the Twins haven't gotten much bang for their postseason buck during the past two decades, as they've dropped seven consecutive playoff series dating to the 2002 ALCS, the most recent coming in the 2017 wild-card game against the Yankees. Unlike the A's, the Twins have rarely been competitive in their playoff series losses, as they've been swept three times in a row in best-of-five series and have dropped 13 consecutive postseason games dating to Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS.

Reasons for hope: The Twins are about to make it two playoff berths in three years. That will give Minnesota eight playoff appearances since 2002. Twins fans in their late 30s and older also have the two World Series championships in 1987 and 1991 led by Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett.

Trend: The Twins started hot and never really cooled off, as they've led the AL Central nearly wire-to-wire thanks to a power-packed lineup led by Nelson Cruz and Max Kepler. If they can continue that regular-season success and get that elusive playoff series win, the misery will quickly diminish.


16. Cleveland Indians

Total score: 13.98
All-sport rank: 38
Ranking by category: championships, 1; playoff berths, 21; playoff wins, 19; heartbreaks, 1; rival comparison, 24

Where they're especially miserable: It has been more than 70 years since the Indians last won the World Series in 1948, the longest drought in Major League Baseball and the second-longest drought in professional sports (the NFL's Arizona Cardinals haven't won since 1947, when they were in Chicago). Cleveland has had some painful near misses, from blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cubs and losing in extra innings in Game 7 of the 2016 Series to Jose Mesa blowing a save in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series to lose to the Marlins. So close, yet unfulfilled.

Reasons for hope: The Indians certainly don't lack for chances to break that drought, as they're in contention make their fourth consecutive playoff appearance and 12th since 1995. For comparison's sake, the rival White Sox have only nine in their entire history. Also, "Major League" is one outstanding movie.

Trend: After a quiet offseason and a slow start to 2019, it looked like the Indians might wave the white flag. But Cleveland surged, thanks to some clutch help from their farm system and a second-half revival by Jose Ramirez. The Tribe could be a dark horse if they make the playoffs, and their eye for talent will keep them competitive.


17. Arizona Diamondbacks

Total score: 13.95
All-sport rank: 39
Ranking by category: championships, 22; playoff berths, 17; playoff wins, 16; heartbreaks, 25; rival comparison, 3

Where they're especially miserable: The Diamondbacks have hit a bit of a rut after an extremely successful first decade of operation, as Arizona has made the playoffs only twice since 2008 after going four times in their first 10 seasons of existence. The D-backs are set to miss the postseason for the second straight year and the seventh time in eight years. They've also had a tough time retaining their stars, as they traded away All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and ace pitcher Zack Greinke over the past year.

Reasons for hope: Diamondbacks fans were pretty fortunate and spoiled right away, as they made the playoffs in their second year of existence and a won a World Series in their fourth, a seven-game thriller over the three-time defending champion Yankees in 2001. And Arizona is only two years removed from its last playoff series victory.

Trend: The Diamondbacks have remained competitive despite reducing their payroll and looking to get younger and seem to have found their next star in Ketel Marte. While it might be a few years until they return to the playoffs, the D-backs don't seem like they'll completely bottom out like other franchises.

18. Colorado Rockies

Total score: 13.55
All-sport rank: 41
Ranking by category: championships, 13; playoff berths, 19; playoff wins, 13; heartbreaks, 19; rival comparison, 10

Where they're especially miserable: It's hard to believe, but the Rockies have never won a division title in their 27 seasons, one of two teams to have never accomplished that (their 1993 expansion buddies, the Marlins, are the other). The closest Colorado has come to breaking the division-title jinx was last season, when they lost to the Dodgers in a one-game tiebreaker. The Rockies don't have the World Series championships the Marlins do either, as their only World Series appearance resulted in a sweep to the Red Sox in 2007.

Reasons for hope: The Rockies came into this season coming off back-to-back postseason appearances, a first for the franchise. Colorado also was able to get a series win last year, as it went into Wrigley Field and defeated the Cubs in 13 innings in the wild-card round, their third-ever playoff series victory.

Trend: The momentum the Rockies built over the past two years was stunted this season, as their young pitching completely imploded after being a pleasant surprise in 2018. However, hitters such as Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story give the Rockies a good base if the pitching recovers.


19. Detroit Tigers

Total score: 12.37
All-sport rank: 47
Ranking by category: championships, 2; playoff berths, 8; playoff wins, 20; heartbreaks, 17; rival comparison, 21

Where they're especially miserable: This year's awful performance now makes it five years without a playoff berth for the Tigers. Not only is Detroit in a massive rebuild, but its struggles now reinforce the missed opportunity the Tigers had prior to 2015, as they made the World Series twice in 2006 and 2012, only to get swept in the latter and win one game as heavy favorites in the former. The 1984 championship team still has legendary status in the Motor City, but no one younger than their early 40s can remember their greatness.

Reasons for hope: While the Tigers weren't able to finish the job, 2006-2014 was enjoyable. Detroit made five postseason appearances, making it to the ALCS four times and winning the two American League pennants. Plus, watching Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera in their primes was a nice touch.

Trend: This year's cellar-dwelling campaign wasn't as bad as the 43-119 season of 2003, but it gave Tigers fans bad flashbacks of that team. The Tigers made the World Series three years after losing 119 games, a turnaround that Detroit fans need to hope is replicated as they witness the Tigers' complete makeover.


20. Philadelphia Phillies

Total score: 11.84
All-sport rank: 50
Ranking by category: championships, 19; playoff berths, 6; playoff wins, 18; heartbreaks, 21; rival comparison, 19

Where they're especially miserable: Signing Bryce Harper in free agency didn't bring the expected immediate dividends, as the Phillies were shackled by a rash of injuries and missed the playoffs again. That makes it eight consecutive seasons without a postseason berth for Philadelphia. The Phillies have won only two World Series in a history that spans well over a century, with near-misses that include a brutal walk-off loss to the Blue Jays in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series when Joe Carter homered off Mitch Williams.

Reasons for hope: The Phillies had a nice five-year run before their current drought, as they made the playoffs each season. That stretch was highlighted by a World Series championship in 2008, as Chase Utley & Co. whipped the Rays in five games. If Philly finishes above .500, it would mark its first winning campaign since 2011.

Trend: Philadelphia fans were hoping for more this year with the signing of Harper, but they'll have plenty of chances to win some games with the long-term contract they gave the 26-year-old star. Perhaps a more fortunate health profile next season can get the Phillies off to a fast start in the 2020s.


21. Washington Nationals

Total score: 9.24
All-sport rank: 60
Ranking by category: championships, 21; playoff berths, 26; playoff wins, 1; heartbreaks, 9; rival comparison, 18

Where they're especially miserable: Prior to this season, the Nationals had never won a playoff series since moving to Washington in 2005. The postseason has been tortuous to the Nats, who have lost in the NLDS four times since 2012, often in painful fashion. The Washington faithful have seen the Nationals lose three Game 5s at home in the previous seven seasons, providing a relatively young fan base with heartbreak that many older franchises would shudder at. They also saw star outfielder Bryce Harper leave for the rival Phillies last offseason.

Reasons for hope: One of the causes of heartbreak is hope, and Nationals fans have been provided that in the 15 seasons the Nats have been in the nation's capital. Washington hasn't had a losing season since 2011, as the Nationals overcame a brutal first six weeks to start this season to contend yet again.

Trend: Life post-Harper hasn't been too bad in Washington, as the Nationals surged during the second half of the season to earn another playoff berth. With Max Scherzer doing his normal thing and Stephen Strasburg having a career season, will the Nats finally get that long-awaited postseason series win?

22. Atlanta Braves

Total score: 8.34
All-sport rank: 63
Ranking by category: championships, 7 (tie); playoff berths, 24; playoff wins, 11; heartbreaks, 12; rival comparison, 20

Where they're especially miserable: Last year's NLDS loss to the Dodgers made it nine consecutive postseason series losses for the Braves dating to 2001. To compound that misery, Atlanta has lost four "win or go home" games during that run. Older Braves fans were heartbroken by four World Series losses in the 1990s, including consecutive walk-off, extra-inning losses to the Twins in Games 6 and 7 in 1991 and blowing a 2-0 lead to the Yankees in 1996.

Reasons for hope: The Braves pulled off the longest run of division success in major league history, winning 14 consecutive division crowns from 1991-2005. They also were able to avoid Buffalo Bills status by upsetting the Indians in the 1995 World Series. The recent past has been quite good too, as Atlanta built a talented young team that broke through with an NL East title last year and won another this season.

Trend: The Braves arrived ahead of schedule last year and seem set to be a contender for years to come. With Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman pacing a young, powerful lineup, it's just a matter of time until Atlanta breaks its postseason series losing streak, and potentially achieves much more.


23. Kansas City Royals

Total score: 0.23
All-sport rank: 83
Ranking by category: championships, 27; playoff berths, 10; playoff wins, 24; heartbreaks, 10 (tie); rival comparison, 23

Where they're especially miserable: The Royals have been a very infrequent playoff participant since winning the 1985 World Series, as the Royals have made the postseason only twice in the past 33 completed seasons. They're in the midst of another one of their rebuilding projects, as Kansas City will miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and will lose more than 100 games for the second straight year.

Reasons for hope: Considering how rare a Royals playoff appearance is, how can they be this low? Well, it's because the two years they made it were pretty recent (2014 and 2015) and saw Kansas City make it to the World Series both times. After losing to the Giants in a tight, seven-game affair in 2014, the Royals won their second championship in franchise history by whipping the Mets in 2015. That other World Series title was pretty nice too, as the Royals toppled the in-state rival Cardinals.

Trend: The Royals certainly made the most of their brief trip to the top of MLB, but those days aren't coming back anytime soon. Kansas City is among the worst teams in baseball and is likely to be there for a while. So while the title is still fresh, it'll lose its luster soon.


24. Los Angeles Dodgers

Total score: -3.79
All-sport rank: 93
Ranking by category: championships, 14 (tie); playoff berths, 29; playoff wins, 27; heartbreaks, 5; rival comparison, 27

Where they're especially miserable: The Dodgers have climbed near the summit two years in a row, only to lose in the World Series both times. L.A. experienced both extremes of championship defeat, losing to the Astros in Game 7 at home in 2017 and being dominated by the Red Sox in five games last year. Either way, it's been 31 years since the Dodgers have won a World Series, a drought that's vexing to Los Angeles fans.

Reasons for hope: No one has been better lately at getting to the playoffs than the Dodgers. This year marks the seventh straight season that the Dodgers will win the NL West and their seventh consecutive postseason appearance, with both streaks currently the longest in MLB. L.A. has won five postseason series in the past three seasons, and while that last championship was a while ago, Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit, limping home run off Dennis Eckersley is forever etched in baseball lore.

Trend: After getting extremely close the past two years, it's World Series championship or bust right now for the Dodgers. They have the team to do it, as Cody Bellinger leads a deep and powerful lineup and the Dodgers are loaded both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. They'll certainly get their chance to bring home the hardware.


25. St. Louis Cardinals

Total score: -3.97
All-sport rank: 94
Ranking by category: championships, 24; playoff berths, 27; playoff wins, 26; heartbreaks, 10 (tie); rival comparison, 22

Where they're especially miserable: There's not that much to be despondent about as a Cardinals fan, but St. Louis missed the playoffs the past three seasons before earning a berth this season. The Cardinals also have had their Red Sox issues, as they were the team Boston broke its "curse" against in 2004 and also fell to the Red Sox in 2013. And older fans are still angry at Don Denkinger for missing the Jorge Orta call late in Game 6 of the 1985 Series.

Reasons for hope: The Cardinals have the most World Series titles of anyone not named the New York Yankees, as St. Louis has won a National League-high 11 championships. More importantly, two of those were relatively recent, as the Cardinals upset the Tigers in 2006 and beat the Rangers in thrilling fashion in 2011, defeating Texas in seven games despite being down to their last out multiple times in Game 6. The Cards also are about to have their 12th consecutive winning season.

Trend: It hasn't been easy at times, but St. Louis finds itself atop the NL Central and is back in the postseason. If Paul Goldschmidt's second-half improvement expands to the playoffs, the Cardinals could be a spoiler in the National League.


26. Chicago Cubs

Total score: -4.43
All-sport rank: 95
Ranking by category: championships, 25; playoff berths, 23; playoff wins, 25; heartbreaks, 6; rival comparison, 26

Where they're especially miserable: The Cubs got a double-dip of their old heartbreak in last year's playoffs. First, the Cubs lost the NL Central tiebreaker to the rival Brewers at home late, then lost to the Rockies in the wild-card in extra innings at Wrigley the next day. While neither of those losses holds a candle to the Steve Bartman and Leon Durham fiascos of lore, it was a refresher course the North Siders didn't want.

Reasons for hope: The Cubs exorcised 108 years of frustration in the 2016 World Series, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Indians in extra innings in Game 7. That title is a signature moment not only for the Cubs' franchise, but for the Windy City as a whole. But Chicago's transition from the "Lovable Losers" to a baseball power goes beyond that Series breakthrough, as the Cubbies made the playoffs four seasons in a row.

Trend: The transition from sympathetic underdog to Evil Empire-type favorite is complete, as the Cubs have gone from the team neutral fans root for to win to a team that those fans are now sick of due to their victorious ways. Those ways suffered a hiccup this season, though, as the Cubs faltered down the stretch and will miss the playoffs for the first time in five years.

27. Houston Astros

Total score: -7.69
All-sport rank: 105
Ranking by category: championships, 26; playoff berths, 22; playoff wins, 23; heartbreaks, 15; rival comparison, 29

Where they're especially miserable: Last year's five-game loss to the Red Sox in the ALCS was much closer than the 4-1 series tally would indicate, as Andrew Benintendi's diving catch of an Alex Bregman line drive in the bottom of the ninth in Game 4 allowed Boston to escape with an 8-6 victory. If that falls, then the series could have been different. Also, it took 54 years for Houston to win a title.

Reasons for hope: The Astros have built an absolute juggernaut, as they've made the playoffs for the third straight season and for the fourth time in five years. This team is so good that it completely eradicated the Sports Illustrated cover jinx, as Houston made SI -- which predicted in 2014 that the then-struggling Astros would win the 2017 World Series -- look like prophets with their seven-game victory over the Dodgers in 2017. George Springer will be a hero in H-town for life after that series.

Trend: The Astros are right alongside the Dodgers and the Yankees as favorites to hoist the World Series trophy, as Houston has an ideal mix of power hitters to go with possibly the best trio of starting pitchers in Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Gerrit Cole. It could be a fun fall at Minute Maid Park.


28. New York Yankees

Total score: -14.64
All-sport rank: 112
Ranking by category: championships, 28; playoff berths, 30; playoff wins, 29; heartbreaks, 2; rival comparison, 30

Where they're especially miserable: It's been 10 years since the Yankees have won a World Series. While most fan bases would scoff at such "misery," a decade is a long time for a Yankees fan. What's worse is that the Red Sox have won the Series twice since the Yanks won it in 2009 and have won four championships to New York's one since the Yankees became the first (and only) MLB team to blow a 3-0 lead in a seven-game series by losing the 2004 ALCS to those same Red Sox.

Reasons for hope: I mean, really? The Bronx Bombers have won 27 championships, more than double the total of any other major league team and more than any other franchise in the four major North American professional sports leagues. Yankees fans who are 30 or older have seen five of those titles, as New York won four in five years from 1996-2000 to go along with their 2009 title over the Phillies. And after some aimlessness this decade, the Yanks have put together another potent team that's capable of winning it all.

Trend: Despite having a rash of early-season injuries that would hamstring almost every other team, the Yankees started this season hot and surged even more when they became healthy. With their potent lineup of power bats (Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, etc.) and a deep bullpen, ring No. 28 might be a reality very soon.


29. San Francisco Giants

Total score: -15.75
All-sport rank: 113
Ranking by category: championships, 29; playoff berths, 20; playoff wins, 30; heartbreaks, 26; rival comparison, 28

Where they're especially miserable: The Giants' even-year karma has wound down a bit as this decade comes to a close, as the Giants are about to miss the playoffs for the third straight season. San Francisco isn't quite sure where it's going from here, as its attempts to prolong its success with veterans haven't panned out and the Giants weren't quite ready to pull the plug and rebuild from scratch.

Reasons for hope: The Giants didn't have their anticipated fire sale at the trade deadline was because San Francisco unexpectedly rose up and became a contender in the wild-card race. But the main reason Giants fans are still mostly content is their three recent World Series titles. They won titles in 2010 over the Rangers, 2012 over the Tigers and 2014 over the Royals (hence the even-year karma). The last World Series saw Madison Bumgarner play the hero, carrying San Francisco to a seven-game win.

Trend: The unexpected competitiveness from the Giants this year sent retiring manager Bruce Bochy out properly. While that was a nice touch, it delayed the inevitable teardown and rebuilding of this franchise. Expect the Giants to get much younger pretty soon, and the usual growing pains are sure to follow.


30. Boston Red Sox

Total score: -17.19
All-sport rank: 115
Ranking by category: championships, 30; playoff berths, 28; playoff wins, 28; heartbreaks, 24; rival comparison, 25

Where they're especially miserable: They aren't, but this year's World Series title defense never got off the ground, as the Red Sox struggled early and fell into a hole that they weren't able to work their way out of. And perhaps older fans still have bad memories of Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner and Grady Little while clinging to horror stories about some guy named Babe Ruth who was sold to the Yankees and made it big.

Reasons for hope: All of those tortured Red Sox fan tropes were made irrelevant in 2004, when they slayed the Yankee demons with the 3-0 ALCS comeback and then won the World Series for the first time since 1918. Boston has run up the score even more since, following up with titles in 2007, 2013 and last season. The Red Sox were completely dominant last year, winning 108 games in the regular season and wiping out the rival Yankees and the then-defending champion Astros before sending the Dodgers to a second straight Series loss.

Trend: This year didn't go according to plan, but there's still plenty of talent. Players such as Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez can rake. If the Red Sox can get their slumping, big-name starting pitchers to pitch closer to their historical norms next season, they'll be in the mix again.