Not that long ago, if you told any baseball fan that the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox would win World Series in consecutive years, or that the Chicago Cubs would hoist the Commissioner's Trophy in front of a packed Wrigley Field, you would've probably been laughed at or labeled criminally insane.

After all, Boston hadn’t seen a championship in 85 years until 2004, since the Curse of the Bambino seemed to be as eternal as Babe Ruth’s legacy. The White Sox, who last won in 1917 in a baseball park that no longer exists and in the midst of World War I, put an end to their suffering in 2005. And then the Cubs, who had to wait over 105 years to finally be crowned world champions in 2016. 

Out of the 30 current MLB franchises, 24 already know what it’s like to win and be recognized as the best, with the only six teams to never reach the height of baseball being part of the expansion that first started in 1961. The San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners are yet to take home a World Series title, but every team except Seattle has at least reached the Fall Classic. 13 MLB sides have missed out on the decisive phase for at least one year, and there is one with an unbelievable near 20 years without a single playoff game. 

Droughts in sports are meant to be broken, and the Red Sox, White Sox and Cubs serve as proof. But in order to even be in the running for a championship, you first need to make the playoffs, which is easier said than done.

Four years without MLB playoffs

As of the 2021 season, the four teams with the shortest playoff drought are the Washington Nationals (last played in the 2019 World Series), the Red Sox (last played in the 2018 World Series), the Colorado Rockies (last played in the 2018 National League Division Series) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (last played in the 2017 NLDS). After them, there are three teams with an ongoing four year playoff absence. 

The Baltimore Orioles’ last playoff game was in 2016, when they faced the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card game. That year, the Orioles finished with an 89-73 record and only just made it to the ALWD on the last day of the regular season. Fans might remember that Baltimore team being led offensively by Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo. Machado led the team with a .294 batting average, had the most hits with 188 and the most runs with 105, and was selected as The Most Valuable Oriole. Trumbo hit the most home runs, with 47, recorded the most runs batted in (RBI) with 108 and won the Silver Slugger award for the AL as the best designated hitter. Since then, the ‘O’s’ have finished fifth in the AL East three times and fourth once. 

The New York Mets, another team with a four-year absence from the playoffs, last participated by playing in the 2016 National League Wild Card game against the San Francisco Giants, which they lost 3-0. The Mets couldn’t take advantage of home field advantage, after finishing the season with an 87-75 record. One year after losing in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, some of the most memorable players of that New York team include Yoenis Céspedes, Curtis Granderson and Bartolo Colón. Céspedes led the team in home runs with 31 and won the Silver Slugger award for an outfielder. Granderson took home the Roberto Clemente and had his side’s most runs with 88. Three fourth place NL East finishes and one third place finish later, the Mets are yet to make it back to the playoffs. 

The last team with a four-year playoff drought are the Texas Rangers, who fell 3-0 to the Blue Jays in the 2016 American League Divisional Series. The ‘Lone Stars’ won the AL West with a 96-57 record, and had Rougned Odor and Adrián Beltré as their main hitting leaders, since Odor finished with 33 home runs and Beltre amassed 32. Both Beltré and Mitch Moreland won the Gold Glove award. Cole Hammels (200.2 innings pitched) and Martín Pérez (198.2 IP) mainly shared the spoils on the mound. Ever since, the Rangers have changed managers three times, and have finished fourth, fifth, third and fifth place in the AL West. 

Five years without MLB playoffs

The first of two teams to sadly hold the record of a five-year drought are the Pittsburgh Pirates, whose last playoff appearance was back in 2015, when they crashed out of the National League Wild Card game by losing 4-0 to the Cubs. That season, Pittsburgh finished second in the NL Central with a 98-64 record, and made the postseason for the third consecutive year. On the home run aspect, Pedro Álvarez with 27 and Andrew McCutchen with 23 led the team, followed by Starling Marte and Neil Walker. Mark Melancon took home the Trevor Hoffman award for best relief pitcher in the NL, McCutchen did so with the Silver Slugger, and Marte was chosen as the Defensive Player of the Year. In the five full seasons following the harsh defeat to the Cubs, the Pirates finished third in the NL Central once, fourth twice and fifth another two times. 

The other organization without setting foot in the playoffs since 2015 are the Kansas City Royals. The ‘Crowns’ reached a glorious second-ever World Series triumph by beating the Mets 4-1, with Game 5 ending with a definitive 7-2 win in Citi Field. Kansas City proved to be one of baseball’s finest organizations by recovering from the 2014 World Series defeat to the San Francisco Giants to come back and win the whole thing. The Royals led the AL Central with a 95-67 record, impulsed by World Series MVP Salvador Pérez, who hit 21 home runs and won the Gold Glove award alongside teammates Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar. The accolade-filled season also included the Silver Slugger and the Edgar Martínez awards for designated hitter and first baseman Kendrys Morales. Things have fallen off since for the Royals, finishing third in the AL Central two years in a row, fifth once, and fourth twice.

Six years without MLB playoffs

The last time the Detroit Tigers enjoyed playoff baseball was back in 2014, when they lost 3-0 in the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles. Looking for their first World Series win since 1984 and their third straight ALCS appearance, the Tigers topped the AL Central with a 90-72 record. Detroit’s pitching unit was splendid, boasting the talents of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello. On the hitting side, designated hitter Víctor Martínez led the team with 32 home runs, followed by Miguel Cabrera’s 25 and J.D. Martinez’s 23. Martínez took home the Silver Slugger and the Edgar Martínez awards, and was also elected as Tiger of the Year. The harsh loss against the O’s started a negative streak of results that also cost them three different general managers since then. Starting in 2014, Detroit has finished bottom of the AL Central four times, and third and second once. 

The second team with a six-year playoff absence are the Los Angeles Angels. 12 years after their first-ever World Series championship, the team managed by Mike Scioscia won the AL West with a 98-64 record, a wide margin above the second-placed Oakland Athletics. Then came the Royals in the ALDS, a series the Angels lost in just three games, 2-3, 1-4 and 3-8. In spite of the disheartening end to the season, not all was bad in Anaheim. Current Angels historic home run hitter Mike Trout led the team's hitting charts with 36 homers, followed by Albert Pujols’ 28. Trout’s outstanding year meant he was elected the league’s Most Valuable Player, won the third of his seven Silver Slugger awards, leading the MLB in total runs and RBIs. Ever since 2014, the ‘Halos’ have finished fourth of the AL West on three occasions, third twice and second once. 

Nine years without MLB playoffs

The Philadelphia Phillies, 2011. Three years after their World Series triumph in 2008, Philadelphia entered the postseason on a roll, having just won the NL East for the fifth time in a row. That year, the Phillies finished with an impressive 102-60 record. Ryan Howard led the team with 33 home runs, with Raúl Ibáñez following suit with 20, and Shane Victorino with 17, while Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels mainly shared the mound. The spectacular NLDS series against eventual champion St. Louis Cardinals had to be decided in five games, after both teams shared the spoils in the first four face-offs. The Phillies were sent home after losing 5-3 in the last game, played in Busch Stadium, and haven’t been able to make it back to the playoffs. Philadelphia hasn't ended a season with a winning record since, finishing bottom of the NL East three times, and second-bottom thrice as well. 

19 years without MLB playoffs

The longest current streak of a team without MLB postseason baseball belongs to the Seattle Mariners. The last time they were in the playoffs was a highly emotional one, since the 2001 ALCS against the New York Yankees took place immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks. Played in October due to MLB suspending operations momentarily because of the tragic events in New York, the Mariners entered the series with high spirits, after winning the AL West with 116 wins and only 46 losses, tying the 1906 Chicago Cubs historical record of most wins ever in a single season. Back then, Seattle graced its ranks with the hitters such as Brett Boone, Mike Cameron and Edgar Martínez. Freddy García, Aaron Sele and Jamie Moyer took charge of pitching, establishing a dominant force, but the team’s true star was Ichiro Suzuki. In only his maiden season, the now-legendary outfielder won the AL MVP award, the AL Rookie of the Year, was the AL batting champion and the stolen bases leader. The good times in Seattle are now just a distant memory, and even though the Mariners have only finished bottom of the AL west once, fans have only been able to enjoy seven seasons with a winning record since 2001.