We’re Going Streaking: The Longest Winning and Losing Streaks in Major League History
This is a time of polarization in Major League Baseball.
With the divide between the elite and bottom-feeders appearing to be as large as ever, teams loaded with All-Stars have been able to put together streaks of the impressive variety while other small-market or rebuilding clubs have suffered the more depressing kind.
With a 162-game schedule, every extreme run or collapse seems like it is the best or worst in baseball history. But how many this season have actually been historic? And what are truly the greatest and worse streaks of all time?
Let’s look at some of the more dramatic, longest streaks that have occurred during the regular season in the modern era:
Longest Winning Streak: 26 New York Giants (1916)
The longest win streak since 1901 was established early in MLB history. The 1916 Giants won 26 games in a row despite only going 60-66 the rest of the season. The 2017 Cleveland Indians own the American League mark with 22 consecutive wins en route to 102 victories, but the Indians lost to the New York Yankees in five games in the ALDS. Rounding out the top five are the 1935 Chicago Cubs (21 straight wins), the 2002 Oakland Athletics of Moneyball fame (20) and the 1906 World Series champion Chicago White Sox (19).
Longest Losing Streak: 23 Philadelphia Phillies (1961)
The owners of this unfortunate streak are the 1961 Phillies, who lost 23 straight games in a season in which they finished 47-107. They finally beat the Milwaukee Braves 7-4 on Aug. 20, 1961 for their first win in nearly a month. The Cubs finished second-to-last in the National League standings that season, but still finished 17 games ahead of the Phillies. The 1988 Baltimore Orioles lost 21 straight games to start the season and are the only other team since 1901 to lose more than 20 in a row. The 1969 Expos, 1943 Philadelphia Athletics, 1916 Athletics and 1906 Boston Americans all lost 20 straight – a mark this year’s Orioles narrowly avoided by ending their losing streak at 19.
Longest Winning Streak at Home: 26 New York Giants (1916)
The San Diego Padres lived up to the hype early in the 2021 season. They were seemingly a lock for an eventual postseason berth after running off a 12-game home win streak from May 5-June 4. That streak is well short of the record of 26 consecutive home wins, set by the 1916 Giants, and it’s been a long time since any team came close to challenging that record. In fact, of the 10 teams with a home winning streak of at least 18 games, only the 2004 Houston Astros has come since the turn of the century, and six of the 10 longest home winning streaks came before 1950.
Longest Losing Streak at Home: 20 St. Louis Browns (1953)
The 1953 Browns had such a bad time at home, they decided to pack up and move the next season. That year, the Browns lost a record 20 straight games at home, beating the Washington Senators on June 2 and not winning again until July 8 against Cleveland. At the end of the season, the team relocated to Baltimore and became the Orioles. The Browns broke the record of 19 straight home losses by the 1906 Boston Americans, whose home losing streak coincided with their overall losing streak of 20 games in a row. The 1913 Yankees and 1996 Tigers both lost 17 in a row at home, and the 1926 Red Sox have the fifth-worst streak at home with 16 straight losses.
Longest Losing Streak on the Road: 24 Arizona Diamondbacks (2021)
The Orioles are probably grateful that the Diamondbacks managed to set the record for most consecutive losses on the road during the exact same month that Baltimore couldn’t win a game away from home. The two streaks ended within one day of each other, as Baltimore ended its 20-game slide away from Camden Yards with a 6-5 win in 10 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 25 and the Diamondbacks snapped their 24-game road skid that began May 4 at the Miami Marlins in less dramatic fashion on June 26, blowing out the Padres 10-1. Along the way, they lost four each to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants. The 1985 Pittsburgh Pirates were the most recent team to lose at least 18 games on the road (19), while nine teams did it before 1964.
Most Consecutive Games with a Homer: 31 New York Yankees (2019)
Unsurprisingly, one of the best home run-hitting teams of all time tops this list. The 2019 Yankees have the second-most home runs of all time, behind just the Minnesota Twins from the same year. The Twins finished one homer ahead (307-306). But the Yankees homered in 31 consecutive contests, starting the streak against the Kansas City Royals and hitting seven homers in five meetings with the rival Boston Red Sox along the way. New York, which reached the ALCS in the playoffs, broke the previous mark of 27 by the 2002 Texas Rangers, who finished 27 games out of a wild-card spot. The 2019 AL pennant-winning Houston Astros also rank in the top 10 all time with 25 straight before the season came to an end.
Research support provided by Tim Abel and Emory Brinkman. Design by Matt Sisneros.
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