First, some teams that could be considered but probably aren't. The Nationals are back below .500, but are getting closer and have big time talents coming in Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. The Mets and Dodgers have certainly been embarrassing off-the-field, but both teams have recently been playoff teams. Finally, Moneyball haters would love to say the Athletics, but they've been more consistently mediocre than consistently bad.
Without further ado, the nominees...
Seattle MarinersCurrent Record: 43-59
Last Winning Season: 2009
Last Playoff Appearance: 2001
Last Place Finishes Since 2000: 5
The Mariners weren't the first team to come to mind, that is, until they went on a 16 game losing streak. The M's have two great pitchers in King Felix and Michael Pineda, but the big problem here is the offense. Last year they scored a putrid 3.17 runs per game, one of the worst offensive performs since the advent of the DH. This year the M's have improved...to 3.28 runs a game. The future doesn't look much better. Their current roster has exactly two guys with potential: Justin Smoak (who hasn't really shown it) and Dustin Ackley (who has, but it's still very early for him). Ichiro is clearly in decline and the Chone Figgins deal with a disaster. What's amazing is the M's haven't made the playoffs since their 116 win 2001. While they have two stud pitchers and Ackley, the farm system is thin, and there's definitely a concern this is just the start, continuation really, of a long, hard road.
Kansas City RoyalsCurrent Record: 43-59
Last Winning Season: 2003
Last Playoff Appearance: 1985
Last Place Finishes Since 2000: 7
Anyone that's read Joe Posnanski or Rany Jazayerli knows the embarrassing 25+ years of the Royals. This encapsulates the history well (in musical form!). That 2003 fluke season is actually the only above .500 for the Royals since 1993. Really, if this were solely based on past results, the Royals would win easily. However, the Royals have a trump card the other teams on this list don't have: a great farm system. Will all their great prospects pan out? Of course not. In fact, the left handed pitchers (Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Danny Duffy) have struggled with injury and ineffectiveness. Two of the big-time hitters, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, are already up in the bigs, and there's more coming, including yet more pitching. Given that I'm thinking more future than present or past, the farm system keeps Kansas City from "winning" this battle for now, as the prospects give them some kind of hope. If they fail though, look out...