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Who will be on the bottom ?

Who will be on the bottom ?

Who will be on the bottom ?
By: Chance Harper

Anyone can pick the New York Yankees or New York Mets to win the most games in their respective leagues.  But what about picking the team to lose the most games this season?  Which teams have the best shot at 100 losses in 2007?  Who will go down as the worst team this year and earn their rightful place in the Hall of Shame? 

The general consensus is that one of the New York teams - - either the Yankees or the Mets - -  will earn the most wins in baseball this season. But if you had to wager on the team to earn the least number of wins this season, who would you pick?

Here’s a look at the top contenders for that (non-) honor, accompanied by their recent victory totals.

Kansas City Royals
2006 Wins: 62
2005 Wins: 56
The Royals are getting quite adept at losing 100-plus games in a season; they’ve done it four times in the past five years, and three years in a row. Kansas City does have some promising young players in Alex Gordon and Ryan Shealy (pictured), and Gil Meche gives them at least one solid starter, but unless the team pulls a Damn Yankees they’re going to be near the bottom of the league again in 2007. It’s not a great time to be a Royals fan, and we’re wondering how many people have jumped ship to the champion Cards.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays
2006 Wins: 61
2005 Wins: 67
The ineptitude of the Devil Rays’ franchise is legendary, and doesn’t need to be outlined ad nauseum in this space. Tampa Bay has one of the best pitchers in the league in Scott Kazmir, and a budding superstar in outfielder Delmon Young, but with no-name players most other places on the roster and a tough schedule of powerful AL East opponents, the D-Rays can’t expect to reach even a .500 record for many more seasons.

Pittsburgh Pirates
2006 Wins: 67
2005 Wins: 67
The Pirates haven’t had a winning record since 1992, and they’ve managed to win only 67 games in each of the last two seasons. There is some hope in Pittsburgh though. Zach Duke and Ian Snell are expected to develop into dependable starters at the top of the rotation, while the addition of Adam LaRoche gives star outfielder Jason Bay some help in the middle of the lineup. At the very least the Pirates should be able to get some more soft NL Central wins this season and boost their total up over the 70-victory mark.

Washington Nationals

2006 Wins: 71
2005 Wins: 81
When your third and fourth starter jobs are won by guys named Simontacchi and Chico you know your team is going to be in for a long season. The Nationals also will have Nick Johnson sidelined to start the season, leaving much of the offense in the hands of Ryan Zimmerman, Austin Kearns, and Felipe Lopez. And Washington’s pitching might be Triple-A quality this season, or worse if John Patterson gets hurt again. The Nationals dropped 10 wins from 2005 to 2006, and another drop of 10 looks possible.

Baltimore Orioles
2006 Wins: 70
2005 Wins: 74
Baltimore fans would rather see their team mentioned with the likes of the Yankees and the Red Sox, but here they are again in an article that prominently features the Devil Rays. The Orioles have been able to hold off the D-Rays for fourth place in years past, and should have the talent to accomplish that task again in 2007 (for whatever that’s worth). Still, with up-and-comers like Erik Bedard and Nick Markakis, and dependable veterans like Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts, it’s unlikely that they’ll fall under 70 wins.

Colorado Rockies
2006 Wins: 76
2005 Wins: 67
Actually improved to 76 wins last season, after getting a franchise-worst 67 victories back in 2005. And although they’ve been far more competitive than the Devil Rays over the past decade and a half, they haven’t been able to top the .500 mark since 2000. There’s no reason they should be worse in 2007 than they were in 2006, but this has been a hard team to read over their history; don’t count them out of this competition yet.

Chicago Cubs
2006 Wins: 66
2005 Wins: 79
Sorry Cubs fans, but your team had to be included on this list even though they added Alfonso Soriano, Mark DeRosa, Ted Lilly, and Jason Marquis in the offseason. If Mark Prior and Kerry Wood can return to health and make real contributions (either in the rotation or in the bullpen), the Cubs might even be a playoff contender this year. However, they still won only 66 games in 2006, and every season has a disaster team.

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