Teams that lost WS and returned the next year

November 6th, 2022

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

That saying has applied to many teams throughout Major League history, when it comes to the World Series. The 2022 Astros were the latest, as they became the 29th club to lose a World Series but return the next year. (That list includes three that lost two in a row before qualifying for a third). Houston is now the 16th of those 29 to succeed where it had failed a season earlier and claim a championship.

The task of returning has grown significantly more difficult in recent years, however, since the beginning of the Divisional Era in 1969, when the postseason expanded to include the League Championship Series. Houston was only the ninth team in that time to have made it back to the World Series following a loss the year before -- and just the fourth since the Division Series entered the picture in '95.

Here is a look at each of those returning teams and how they fared.

Astros: 2021-22
2021: Lost to Braves in 6
2022: Beat Phillies in 6

The 2020 Astros nearly pulled off this feat, making it to the seventh game of the ALCS against the Rays, a year after dropping a seven-game World Series to the Nationals. Then the ‘21 club did make it back to the Fall Classic, only to fall to Atlanta. But the sequel was sweeter for Houston and manager Dusty Baker, who finally claimed his first ring in 25 seasons as a manager when his club rallied from a 2-1 deficit against Philadelphia, clinching the franchise's second championship in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park.

Dodgers: 2017-18
2017: Lost to Astros in 7
2018: Lost to Red Sox in 5

Back-to-back National League pennants are nothing to sneeze at. But the Dodgers twice in a row came up empty-handed in their quest for the franchise's first World Series title since 1988. Even worse, they had to see both opponents clinch the World Series on their own field, at Dodger Stadium. However, the team's time would come in 2020, when L.A. won its third pennant in four years and this time finished the job by beating the Rays in six games.

Royals: 2014-15
2014: Lost to Giants in 7
2015: Beat Mets in 5

In their first postseason appearance since winning the 1985 World Series, the 2014 Royals went all the way to Game 7 of the Fall Classic. They had the tying run 90 feet away in the bottom of the ninth, but Madison Bumgarner retired Salvador Perez after Alex Gordon was held at third on the previous play. Kansas City finished the job the next year, however, rallying for two runs to tie Game 5 in the top of the ninth at Citi Field and claiming its rings with a five-run 12th.

Rangers: 2010-11
2010: Lost to Giants in 5
2011: Lost to Cardinals in 7

Texas' only two trips to the World Series came in back-to-back seasons. While the Giants outscored the Rangers, 29-12, in 2010, the next October brought a far more agonizing conclusion. Texas led the series, 3-2, and had St. Louis down to its last out in both the ninth and 10th innings before losing on David Freese's walk-off homer in the 11th. Chris Carpenter pitched the Cardinals to victory in Game 7.

Braves: 1991-92
1991: Lost to Twins in 7
1992: Lost to Blue Jays in 6

Before dominating the NL in the 1990s, the Braves hadn't made it to the World Series since '57, when they still resided in Milwaukee. The '91 Series was a classic, with Minnesota's Jack Morris famously dueling John Smoltz en route to a 10-inning, 1-0 shutout in Game 7. The next season brought another close call, as Atlanta endured four one-run losses, including an 11-inning affair in Game 6. However, the Braves got their championship three years later.

Athletics: 1988-89
1988: Lost to Dodgers in 5
1989: Beat Giants in 4

The 1988 A's won 104 games and swept the Red Sox in the ALCS. But in the World Series, the Dodgers took Game 1 on Kirk Gibson's iconic walk-off homer off of Dennis Eckersley, and they rolled from there behind two dominant complete games from Orel Hershiser. The '89 A's swept their crosstown foes, although the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake that struck the Bay Area just before Game 3 postponed the conclusion of the Series. Oakland returned for a third straight year in '90, but it was swept by Cincinnati.

Dodgers: 1977-78
1977: Lost to Yankees in 6
1978: Lost to Yankees in 6

The Dodgers' old New York rival bested them two years in row, in the most recent instance of the same two clubs meeting in back-to-back Fall Classics. Reggie Jackson's three home runs in Game 6 sealed the deal in 1977. The '78 Dodgers took a 2-0 lead before dropping four straight, including a heartbreaking Game 4 loss in the Bronx in which the Yankees erased a 3-0 deficit before Lou Piniella's walk-off single in the 10th. However, the Dodgers got their revenge by beating the Yanks in the 1981 World Series.

Yankees: 1976-77
1976: Lost to Reds in 4
1977: Beat Dodgers in 6

The Yankees snapped what was, for them, an interminable drought in 1976, making the World Series for the first time since '64. Their stay didn't last long, however, as the Big Red Machine romped to a sweep in which it outscored New York, 22-8. A year later, the Yanks won 100 games for the second straight season, before Jackson's heroics helped take down the Dodgers.

Orioles: 1969-70
1969: Lost to Mets in 5
1970: Beat Reds in 5

Baltimore won the World Series over the Dodgers in 1966 and made it back three years later, only to run into the "Miracle Mets." The Orioles, who went 109-53 in the regular season and swept through the ALCS, scored just nine runs over five games against New York's pitching. They had far more luck against Cincinnati in '70, scoring 33 runs and blasting 10 homers, including two apiece from Boog Powell, Frank Robinson and World Series MVP Brooks Robinson. Baltimore made the Fall Classic for a third straight year in '71, but fell to Pittsburgh in seven games.


Yankees: 1963-64
1963: Lost to Dodgers in 4
1964: Lost to Cardinals in 7

St. Louis' Bob Gibson notched his second complete-game victory of the 1964 Series in Game 7, withstanding a late Yankees rally.

Yankees: 1960-61
1960: Lost to Pirates in 7
1961: Beat Reds in 5

Recovering from Bill Mazeroski's walk-off homer in Game 7 in 1960, the Yankees won the next two World Series, also beating the Giants in seven games in '62.

Yankees: 1957-58
1957: Lost to Braves in 7
1958: Beat Braves in 7

It looked like the Braves would get the better of the Yankees for the second year in a row when they took a 3-1 lead in 1958, but New York stormed back with three straight victories.

Yankees: 1955-56
1955: Lost to Dodgers in 7
1956: Beat Dodgers in 7
The Yankees tormented the Dodgers in this era, beating them in five of their six World Series matchups between 1947-56, with '55 the lone exception.

Dodgers: 1952-53
1952: Lost to Yankees in 7
1953: Lost to Yankees in 6

The Dodgers had a 3-2 lead in 1952 before losing the final two games in Brooklyn and couldn't take advantage of a rematch in '53.

Cardinals: 1943-44
1943: Lost to Yankees in 5
1944: Beat Browns in 6

The Cardinals beat the Yankees in 1942, lost the rematch in '43, but then captured another championship in '44 in an all-St. Louis World Series.

Yankees: 1942-43
1942: Lost to Cardinals in 5
1943: Beat Cardinals in 5

The Yankees allowed a total of three runs over three straight wins to finish the 1943 Series, capped by Spud Chandler's Game 5 shutout.

Reds: 1939-40
1939: Lost to Yankees in 4
1940: Beat Tigers in 7

The Reds nearly fell short again in 1940, but won Games 6 and 7 in Cincinnati behind Bucky Walters' shutout and Paul Derringer's one-run complete game, respectively.

Giants: 1936-37
1936: Lost to Yankees in 6
1937: Lost to Yankees in 5

The Giants couldn't hold down the Yankees' potent offense in either matchup, allowing roughly 6.5 runs per game over the two Series.

Tigers: 1934-35
1934: Lost to Cardinals in 7
1935: Beat Cubs in 6

After falling just short against St. Louis' "Gashouse Gang" in 1934, Detroit claimed a championship on Goose Goslin's Game 6 walk-off single a year later.

Cardinals: 1930-31
1930: Lost to Athletics in 6
1931: Beat Athletics in 7

St. Louis won a rematch in 1931 behind Pepper Martin's 12 hits and two victories apiece from Burleigh Grimes and Bill Hallahan.

Yankees: 1926-27
1926: Lost to Cardinals in 7
1927: Beat Pirates in 4

A thrilling 1926 Series ended with Babe Ruth -- representing the tying run -- getting caught stealing. But Ruth had two homers and seven RBIs to help spur a sweep in '27.

Giants: 1923-24
1923: Lost to Yankees in 6
1924: Lost to Senators in 7

The Giants won championships in both 1921-22 before losing two in a row, with the '24 Series coming down to Earl McNeely's walk-off double in the 12th inning of Game 7.

Yankees: 1921-23
1921: Lost to Giants in 8
1922: Lost to Giants in 5 (including a tie)
1923: Beat Giants in 6

These were the Yankees' first three trips to the Fall Classic, and they finally triumphed in 1923, the debut season of the original Yankee Stadium.

Giants: 1911-13
1911: Lost to Athletics in 6
1912: Lost to Red Sox in 8 (including a tie)
1913: Lost to Athletics in 5

The Giants' loss in 1912 was particularly hard fought, coming down to a winner-take-all Game 8, when they took the lead in the top of the 10th only to see Boston walk off against Christy Mathewson in the bottom of the inning.

Tigers: 1907-09
1907: Lost to Cubs in 5 (including a tie)
1908: Lost to Cubs in 5
1909: Lost to Pirates in 7

Ty Cobb's Tigers couldn't quite break through, with Pittsburgh rookie pitcher Babe Adams twirling three complete-game victories in 1909, including a Game 7 shutout.

Cubs: 1906-07
1906: Lost to White Sox in 6
1907: Beat Tigers in 5 (including a tie)

After losing an all-Chicago Series in 1906, the Cubs beat the Tigers in both of the next two years, holding Detroit to six runs in five games in '07.