Much was made of the Kansas City Royals’ long postseason drought as KC made it to the playoffs — in 2014 — for the first time since 1985. This franchise clearly knew how to lose. And yet, at least the Royals won the Series in 1985. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for every organization in Major League Baseball.
For eight different MLB clubs — more than a quarter of the league — World Series glory has been nothing but a pipe dream. To put that into perspective, even the Cubs managed to recently overcome a miserable 108-year curse. These eight franchises, well, they’d give anything for that sort of luck.
With that, here’s a look at each of the eight MLB ball clubs that have never won it all, in order from newest team to oldest. Which one will finally break through first, and how many more years will it take?
1. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays can almost be forgiven for not earning a championship yet, since the team didn’t begin play until 1998. The franchise didn’t make the postseason once in its first decade of existence, but since changing its name from Devil Rays to Rays, the team has qualified for the playoffs four times in nine years. (Coincidence? You be the judge.) The highlight of the Rays’ existence to date was a 2008 trip to the World Series. Sadly, Tampa Bay fell short, losing in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies.
2. Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies are also one of the newer additions to Major League Baseball, joining the league in 1993. However, they’ll always be compared to the Marlins, who started play in the same year and have two rings to show for their troubles. Colorado has only made the playoffs three times in 24 seasons, most notably winning the National League pennant in 2007. The Rockies’ success ended abruptly there, though, as Boston made quick work of them in a World Series sweep.
3. Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners began play in 1977 and have, by and large, been underwhelming in their 40 seasons of existence. Seattle has only made the playoffs four times in that span, and is still looking for the first World Series appearance in franchise history. The Ms won a whopping 116 games in 2001, tying an MLB record. However, Ichiro Suzuki, Bret Boone, and company couldn’t get past the Yankees in the ALCS, bowing out in five games. The Mariners haven’t returned to the postseason since.
4. Washington Nationals
Besides Seattle, only one other franchise has never even made the World Series, and it’s the Washington Nationals. The team, which began as the Montreal Expos in 1969, struggled mightily from the outset, only qualifying for the playoffs once in 36 years during its time in Canada. Since moving to Washington, D.C. in 2005, the Nats have been slightly more respectable, making it to the postseason three times in the last five years (2012–16). Of course, not only have they failed to win the big one, but they haven’t even managed to advance past the Division Series.
5. San Diego Padres
The Padres have won the pennant twice in five postseason appearances since starting play in 1969, advancing to the World Series both in 1984 and 1998. The Tigers beat the ’84 Padres team in five games, and the Yankees swept the ’98 club out of the playoffs. That means San Diego is still looking for world championship No. 1 — and it doesn’t look like it’s coming anytime soon. The Padres haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006.
6. Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers — or Seattle Pilots, as they were known in the team’s 1969 inaugural season — have played in both the American League and National League, but still haven’t won a World Series. The highlight of Milwaukee’s four trips to the playoffs was in 1982, when the Brewers represented the AL in the Fall Classic. The St. Louis Cardinals edged Milwaukee in seven games to keep the Brew Crew title-less. The Brewers played 25 more seasons before even getting a sniff of the playoffs again (in 2008).
7. Houston Astros
The Houston Astros, which came into existence as the Houston Colt .45s in 1962, have made the World Series just one time in 55 years. That happened in 2005, when a rotation of Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, and Roger Clemens lifted the ‘Stros to the National League pennant, capping off a run of six playoff appearances in nine years. Ultimately, the Astros couldn’t get past the White Sox that season (or even win a single game in the World Series). Houston fans will hope for better things in the future now that the team has found a new home in the American League.
8. Texas Rangers
The oldest MLB ball club to never win a championship is the Texas Rangers. The Rangers, who began play in 1961 as the then-Washington Senators, just completed their 56th season of ring-less existence. The club went 35 years without making the playoffs at all, but they’ve been to the postseason eight times since 1996. That includes two consecutive American League pennants, as the Rangers made it to the World Series both in 2010 and 2011. The second of those trips is by far the most painful, since Texas came within a single strike of eliminating the Cardinals in six games but couldn’t close the deal.
Tim Cary also contributed to this piece.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.