Why would we want to write an article Every World Series Champion Ranked?
Why try to rank every World Series-winning team since 1903? Are we crazy?
Call us crazy. Call us verbose. Heck, call us Ishmael. Mostly, call us ambitious.
Sports fans love lists, That’s why we decided to rank every World Series champion in Major League Baseball history, from 1903 through 2022.
The modern World Series began in 1903, when the champions of the National League, an established circuit of professional clubs, agreed to meet the champions of the fledgling American League.
It was a begrudging decision, sort of like the older brother agreeing to play checkers with his much younger brother. It was assumed triumph would be a certainty. But when the New York Giants lost the first World Series to the Boston Americans, the following autumn, they refused to play the series. Take that, little brother!
With only two interruptions, the World Series has been played every year since 1903.
With the crowning of the Houston Astros as champions in 2022, we’ve now had 118 World Series winners in Major League Baseball history.
In this exclusive Baseball Egg List we rank every World Series champion from #118 to #1. Let the arguments begin.
The only team to score fewer runs than they gave up to win the World Series. Was there something funny going on in that hideous Humphrey Dome? The Twinkies were 56-25 at home and a miserable 29-52 on the road. In the post-season they were 6-0 at home and 2-4 away from the comfortable aerodynamics in Minnesota.
Hall of Famers: Bert Blyleven, Kirby Puckett, and Steve Carlton.
This rather bland team went 35-39 after the All-Star Game and barely held on to win a very weak division. The Cardinals were 34-47 on the road, and after May 31 they were a .453 team. They survived the NLCS against the Mets by the skin of their beaks thanks to a kid reliever named Adam Wainwright. Then in the World Series, the Cards faced a cold Detroit team that had waited a week to play after clinching the pennant early. If St. Louis plays Detroit 100 times, they might win 35…but they had everything going their way in this real-world Fall Classic where the lesser team won.
Hall of Famers: Phat Albert someday, and maybe Yadier Molina.
The first team to win the modern “World’s Series” between the pubescent American League and the superior but snobby National League.
The Americans were a few years away from getting the Sox nickname. They were not a great team, they simply had the best two pitchers in the league (Cy Young and Big Bill Dinneen), and the fortune to have more legit professional ballplayers on the roster than the other new teams in the circuit.
This group won the pennant in 1904 too. Tragedy fell upon the club less than four years later, when star outfielder Chick Stahl (by then player/manager) killed himself in spring training.
Hall of Famers: Cy Young and Jimmy Collins, who was the first third baseman elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The quality of play was pretty damn weak this season, with many of the best players off in the war. Detroit had the best pitcher in baseball who wasn’t in olive drab (Hal Newhouser), and the lefty won 25 games. Then, in late summer after the war was over, Detroit got Hank Greenberg back, but they still took seven games to defeat the lowly Cubs in the World Series.
Hall of Famers: Newhouser and Greenberg
The first World Series champion in a full season who failed to win at least 90 games. The Cardinals were an excellent offensive team fronted by first-year player/manager Rogers Hornsby. They led the NL in runs with Hornsby, Jim Bottomley, and a .300-hitting outfield doing much of the damage.
The pitching staff was just ok, and if it hadn’t been for the superb performances of Pete Alexander and Jesse Haines (combined to pitch 37 of their team’s 63 innings in the WS, while allowing five earned runs), the Redbirds would never have slipped past the Yankees and Babe Ruth in seven games.
Hall of Famers: Hornsby, Bottomley, Chick Hafey, Pop Haines, and Ol’ Pete Alexander
Won 90 games and finished six games behind the Brewers in the NL Central. The Cardinals had the league’s best offense, but a mediocre pitching staff. Luckily, pitcher Chris Carpenter got hot in the postseason, and the Redbirds pounded out a few wins to get past a vastly superior Phillies team in the NLDS. Down to their final strike, they rallied to win Game 6 of the World Series because Texas skipper Ron Washington somehow thought Nelson Cruz could play right field.
Hall of Famers: Albert Pujols eventually, and maybe Yadier Molina
Good pitching staff helped by huge Griffith Park, which featured a 388-foot left field fence that brought a smile to Senator pitchers.
Walter Johnson pitched four shutout innings in relief to win Game 7, but the Senators really got a break from the terrible defense played by the Giants.
Hall of Famers: The greatest pitcher of all-time, Goose Goslin, and player-manager Bucky Harris.
Somehow the Braves failed to win the pennant, despite having a better pitching staff and hitting almost 30 more homers than LA.
Even so, the Dodgers had to win a two-of-three playoff series to capture the pennant, and still only won 88 games.
Fortunately, the Dodgers squared off against an even more average pennant-winner in the World Series: the White Sox.
The ’59 Dodgers were the first west coast world champion.
Hall of Famers: manager Walt Alston, Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider, Don Drysdale, and Gil Hodges
Another WWII team, this one benefitting from having two of MLB’s best players who happened to not be off fighting: slugger Charlie “King Kong” Keller, and marvelous second baseman Joe “Flash” Gordon.
How bad was the league that season? Catcher Bill Dickey was an old 36, and he batted .351, and pitcher Spud Chandler, who was an old 35, spun a 1.43 ERA and won 20 games for the Yanks.
Hall of Famers: Gordon and Dickey
After you get past George Brett and ace Bret Saberhagen, this roster is pretty unimpressive. The starting outfield averaged nine homers and 29 walks! But the Royals slipped past the Jays after falling behind 3-1, and did the same against a much better St. Louis team. If not for a terrible missed call by first base umpire Don Denkinger, the Royals would have lost in six games.
Had KC not gotten lucky on that bad call, the Cardinals would be on this list, and ranked much higher. The ’85 Redbirds were one of the two or three best teams of the 1979-1992 era.
Hall of Famer: George Brett, in one of his best seasons.
The best team in baseball from 1956 to 1960 was the Milwaukee Braves. That team won 455 games and two pennants, and lost a playoff for another. In 1957 they beat the Yankees, and in ’58 the Braves won three of the first four games of the World Series.
But the Yankees, maybe due to familiarity, beat Lew Burdette and Warren Spahn in Games 5-7. Because of that collapse, the Milwaukee Braves of Henry Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Spahn etc. are overlooked.
This Yankees team wasn’t especially great, they were simply the best team in a weak American League (no other club won as many as 83 games).
Hall of Famers: Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Enos Slaughter
On May 16, the Braves were 3-16. On July 4th, after losing an Independence Day doubleheader, the Braves were in last place and 15 games out of first. Starting July 5th, Boston went 68-19. They didn’t just come from behind to win the pennant, the team soared past the rest of the league and finished 10.5 games up.
How did that happen? It’s the most amazing mid-season turnaround in baseball history.
The biggest reason for the great second half was the pitching duo of Dick Rudolph and Bill James, who combined for 52 wins.
There were only two players on the roster who had long, productive careers, the double play combination. Otherwise the Braves had fairly anonymous ballplayers, lost to history.
The Braves completed the last-to-first narrative when they swept the Philadelphia A’s, easily the best team in the sport, in the World Series.
Hall of Famers: Second baseman Johnny Evers, and his young protégé, shortstop Rabbit Maranville.
Had the Phillies not squandered a 6 1/2 game lead with two weeks left, the Cardinals would be a forgotten team. Instead, Bob Gibson became THE BOB GIBSON in the World Series, striking out 31 Yankees in 27 innings in three complete games.
Hall of Famers: Bob Gibson and Lou Brock
A forgettable winner that emerged from a thrilling postseason tournament as the champs. Unlike the other Fish team that won the series, six years earlier, this Florida team had several players before they were superstars: Dontrelle Willis, Josh Beckett (who manhandled the Yanks to win Game 6 in a complete game effort), and skinny Miguel Cabrera, all of 20 years old, who launched an epic homer off Roger Clemens in Game 4.
Future Hall of Famer: Miguel Cabrera
A team that deserves to be better remembered. As it is, the ’81 Dodgers are best known for being a short-season champion. That summer, the knuckleheads that run baseball and the players were at loggerheads and the game went on about a two month hiatus due to a strike. When baseball game back, the Dodgers and the other three teams in first place were named “first-half” division champs. That meant they had little to play for after the strike. But the Dodgers were good enough to know when they needed to turn it back on.
These Dodgers were really the first 21st century champion, about two decades early. It took two series wins just to snatch the pennant in ’81, and the Dodgers had to battle the Expos in five games in the NL Championship Series. It was a lot like the anything-goes tournament scenario we have in baseball in modern times.
The Dodgers had many, many excellent players. By my count, LA had five players who are on-the-bubble Hall of Fame candidates: Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Fernando Valenzuela, and Dave Stewart. The roster was littered with others who had lengthy, valuable careers: Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith, Rick Monday, Pedro Guerrero, Mike Scioscia, Jerry Reuss, Burt Hooton, Bob Welch, a young Rick Sutcliffe, and an even younger Steve Sax.
Of all the World Series champions, the ’81 Dodgers have the most players on their roster who rank in our Top 100 lists here at Baseball Egg.
Hall of Famers: Only the mouthy manager. But Garvey and possibly even Cey deserve it. The Hall of Fame wouldn’t be ruined if Fernando was elected either.
They called them “The Hitless Wonders,” because the Sox hit .230 with a .286 SLG and 7(!) home runs for the entire season.
Their foes in the World Series were the crosstown Cubs, who won 116 games. Mismatch, right?
Nope, the Sox jumped on the back of pitcher Ed Walsh, who used his spitball to confound the Cubs lineup and win two games in the Fall Classic. Still ranks as one of the biggest upsets in baseball history.
Hall of Famers: Ed Walsh, and shortstop George Davis
It’s highly likely that the Cubs threw the World Series in 1918. Just like the more infamous White Sox did a year later. Those were the days of scoundrels, gamblers, and hard drinkers hanging about the ballparks, tempting low-paid ballplayers.
But, the 1918 Red Sox probably would have beaten the Cubs anyway. Boston had the Shohei Ohtani of the 1910s, a man named George “Babe” Ruth, and the best pitching staff in the league.
The season by the way, was halted at Labor Day due to The Great War, which would later earn the name World War I, after people were silly enough to have a sequel. So this was a short-season title in a sense.
Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth and Harry Hooper.
The first team to finish in second place to win the World Series. The Marlins were a tough postseason team: defeating two very good clubs, the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. But they were more opportunistic than great.
A year later, their roster emptied of most talent, the Fish lost 108 games, the most defeats by a defending champion.
Hall of Famers: Perhaps manager Jim Leyland will get a plaque some day, but there’s not a player on this roster who has a chance. The best careers were had by Gary Sheffield and Kevin Brown.
Not a great team, but gutsy. The Nationals finished four games behind the Braves in the NL East, and were nearly eliminated in the wild card game. They had to score three runs in the eighth to survive.
In the NLCS, the Nats rallied to win Games 4 and 5 and sneak past the Dodgers. After sweeping a pretty mediocre Cardinals team (for a playoff opponent at least), they found a way to defeat the heavily favored Houston Astros.
How did Washington win the title? Well, 20-year old Juan Soto got crazy hot at the plate, Mad Max Scherzer gave a few brilliant performances, and Stephen Strasburg had his shining moments in the Fall Classic.
It was a phenomenal October for the Nationals, but this team would probably not have won the NL East if they played 300 games. They were good, even very good at times, but not a great team.
Hall of Famers: Scherzer, eventually.
A famous team that wasn’t quite as great as history gives it credit for. Dubbed “The Gashouse Gang,” the Cardinals had a collection of whacky characters led by the pitching brothers Dizzy and Daffy Dean (who combined for 49 wins).
Hall of Famers: Dizzy Dean, Dazzy Vance, Joe Medwick, Pop Haines, Frankie Frisch
The Yankees won five straight pennants from 1960 to 1964, in what was the last breath of their extended dynasty that began in the 1920s.
The 1962 team was the last Yankee champion for 15 years, and they won the pennant because after them, the other AL teams were in transition. The Yankees really coached their team to swing for home runs sooner than the other teams in the league, and at this time, other than the Tigers, no one else could really compete in run scoring.
Hall of Famers: Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford
A very good hitting team that had enough pitching to win 97 games, and easily be the class of the National League.
The lineup was paced by Willie Stargell, who should have won the MVP Award instead of Joe Torre, and Roberto Clemente.
But the pitching staff wasn’t elite: Steve Blass and Nelson Briles stepped up in the World Series to spark an upset of the heavily favored Orioles.
Hall of Famers: Clemente and Stargell
Unfair as it may be, the fact remains that the Reds won the World Series only because eight players on the White Sox were paid to lose by gamblers.
The Redlegs finished second in runs and runs allowed, but it was a shortened season due to restrictions from the aftermath of the First World War.
For years, Cincinnati third baseman Heinie Groh insisted that the Reds were the better team in that controversial World Series.
“We had a great lineup, and or pitchers could match with [the White Sox],” Groh said in 1959, on the 40th anniversary of the “Black Sox Scandal.”
Hall of Famers: Edd Roush
Only won 88 regular season games. One of only two teams in history required to win 12 games to win the World Series, by virtue of being a wild card.
The 2014 Giants had to defeat the Pirates on the road in the Wild Card Game, then dispatched the Nationals in the NL Division Series in four games thanks to superior pitching. All three of their wins in that series came by one run. Then Madison Bumgarner got on one of the great stretches a pitcher has ever had in PS history, and the Giants defeated the Royals, a pretty mediocre pennant-winning team, in seven games in the World Series.
The Red Sox 91 wins were the lowest total for a champion in the first 22 years of the modern World Series (not counting the shortened 1918 season).
Boston ranked 6th (among eight teams) in the AL in runs. They could have used a Babe Ruth in their lineup, but he was still a pitcher at this time. Babe won 23 games and led a staff that ranked 2nd in ERA.
The Sox faced a fairly weak NL flag winner: the Brooklyn Superbas. Yes, Superbas.
Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth, Herb Pennock, Harry Hooper
A pitching first pennant-winner led by first-year manager Bill Terry, who batted .322 and played first base.
The trio of Carl Hubbell, Hal Schumacher, and Fat Freddie Fitzsimmons (that was his nickname, no shaming…) led the staff. They were helped by the terrific defensive play of shortstop Blondy Ryan and second baseman Hughie Critz. Basically, if you hit the ball on the ground against the Giants, you were out.
Hall of Famers: Bill Terry, Mel Ott, Travis Jackson, Carl Hubbell
It wasn’t that the wartime Cardinals didn’t lose players to the military, it’s that they didn’t lose as many as other teams. The Redbirds were missing their right fielder (Enos Slaughter), center fielder (Terry Moore), second baseman (Lou Klein), and a former 20-game winner (Johnny Beazley).
But they still had Walker Cooper behind the plate, Marty Marion scooping up baseballs at short, third baseman Whitey Kurowski, and 1943 batting champ Stan Musial.
Still, the opposition in the NL was weak, and their opponent in the Fall Classic, the Browns, were probably the worst pennant-winner the American League ever produced.
Hall of Famers: Musial, and manager Billy Southworth.
The Pirates had a +141 run differential, fueled by the best offense in the league. They did it without much aid from the home run (Pittsburgh ranked 6th in HR). No, the Bucs were a high average team (.276 was 11 points better than the next team in the NL), and had the fewest strikeouts in the league.
If they played the 1960 Yankees 50 times, the Pirates might have won 15 times. But in the World Series, despite being outscored 55-27 by the Yanks, Pittsburgh found a way to win. Ironically, it was a homer that won the title.
Hall of Famers: Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski
Here’s the lineup Tommy Lasorda used in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series:
Steve Sax, 2B
Mickey Hatcher, 1B
Kirk Gibson, LF
Mike Marshall, RF
John Shelby, CF
Mike Scioscia, C
Jeff Hamilton, 3B
Alfredo Griffin, SS
Orel Hershiser, P
That’s right: John “T-Bone” Shelby was hitting fifth, Mickey Hatcher was at first base and hitting second, and Mike Marshall, a statue, was playing right field. And if you don’t know who the hell Jeff Hamilton is, you’re not alone.
That lineup basically has six players who should be hitting 8th or 9th. It looks like a lineup you’d use in spring training for a split squad game. But, that was the group Lasorda chose for a crucial playoff game.
The ’88 Dodgers are famous for being a bad World Series champion. They defeated an overwhelming favorite, the Oakland A’s, after somehow beating a much, much (and we mean MUCH) more talented Mets team in the NL Playoffs.
Whatever deal Lasorda made with the devil, it worked to get him this title. The team’s best position player had one plate appearance in the World Series, and still beat the Mighty A’s in five games.
Hall of Famers: Tommy Lasorda, Don Sutton (released in August and never pitched again).
Ran away with a weak division, paced by a very good pitching staff. The Royals bullpen was fantastic, and it was that strength, with defense and baserunning, that allowed them to get past the Astros and Blue Jays in the playoffs. By the time the World Series came along, KC was far better prepared to win than a weak NL Champion, the Mets.
The greatest Royals team of all-time didn’t even win the pennant. In 1977, KC won 102 games, had the best pitching staff in the AL, and benefitted from an excellent defense, especially on the infield. But with a one-run lead in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the AL Playoffs, manager Whitey Herzog panicked and used not one, but two starting pitchers in relief on short rest. The Yankees scored twice and KC was sunk. That team was very good, and remains the best Royals team ever, championship or not.
Hall of Famers: It’s almost certain that this team will be among the very few World Champions to never have a HOF player or manager. Only catcher Salvador Perez has an outside chance.
The last great teams of the John McGraw Era, the 1922-23 Giants were back-to-back champs, and this group won four straight pennants from 1921-24.
The Giants had a .305 team batting average, led the league in OBP, and were aggressive on the base paths. As was usually the case, the G-Men under McGraw would do anything to win: they were hit by 48 pitches in 1922, for example, by far the most in baseball.
Second baseman Frankie Frisch was the heart of the team, which also included five other future Hall of Famers, including outfielder Casey Stengel, who went on to earn fame as the pixie who managed the Yankees to a slew of titles.
Hall of Famers: manager McGraw, Frisch, George Kelly, Dave Bancroft, Casey Stengel, Ross Youngs, and Travis Jackson.
The second of three straight titles for the Swingin’ A’s. This was the last season with Dick Williams at the helm. The cagey manager eventually grew weary of working for the insufferable Charlie Finley, and quit only hours after Oakland won Game 7 of the World Series over the Mets.
Hall of Famers: Dick Williams, Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter.
This was the first team to win consecutive World Series titles, and also the first to win three straight pennants.
The Cubs of this era were known for their double play trio of shortstop Joe Tinker, second baseman Johnny Evers, and first baseman Frank Chance, who was also the manager.
Folks back in 1908 loved defense and as a result the importance of defense was overstated. Still, Tinker, Evers, and Chance were a superlative threesome, even if in retrospect their numbers are rather unimpressive.
The same group won the 1910 NL pennant, but lost the Fall Classic to the Philadelphia A’s. That made four pennants in five seasons for Chance and his boys.
Hall of Famers: Tinker, Evers, Chance, and ace pitcher Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown
The last of the three straight titles for Charlie Finley and his gang. They went into first place on May 20 and never looked back. Though the team was still pretty young (Vida Blue was 24, Reggie Jackson, Catfush Hunter, and Ken Holtzman were 28, Bill North was 26, Joe Rudi was 27, the same as Gene Tenace), they were seasoned after five postseason series in the previous three years.
The A’s only lost two games in the postseason, but they weren’t blowing teams out: three of Oakland’s wins in the World Series over the Dodgers were by the score of 3-2. Five of their seven PS wins were by one run.
Hall of Famers: Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers
The Yankees won the World Series every year from 1949 to 1953. This championship team was the least impressive of that quintet.
This was the first post-DiMaggio era team, and the first full season for 20-year old Mickey Mantle. There were other young players too: Gil McDougald and Billy Martin, but the strength of the ’52 team was the pitching staff, which led the league in ERA, paced by old timers Allie Reynolds, Vic Raschi, and Eddie Lopat.
Hall of Famers: Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Johnny Mize
A number of very good players were on this overachieving team, that won perhaps the most exciting World Series in history.
Led by the underrated Tom Kelly, the Twins erased a six-game deficit to win the AL West, rolled over the Blue Jays, and upset the Braves, who were a worst-to-first representative of the National League.
Hall of Famers: Jack Morris and Kirby Puckett
A better team than the 1922 champions, this version didn’t take over first place until September 9, pulling ahead of the Pirates.
The ’22 team got a better season from their pitching staff, but this squad led the league in runs scored, and their run differential was +204.
How different was baseball in 1921? The Giants stole 137 bases and were thrown out 114 times.
Hall of Famers: John McGraw, Frankie Frisch, George Kelly, Dave Bancroft, Ross Youngs.
The Cardinals won pennants in 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1946: the first four full seasons of Stan Musial’s career. Like Derek Jeter in the 1990s, when Musial arrived, his team started to win.
The 1942 season was not yet impacted much by the loss of players to the war. That’s why this team rates ahead of the 1944 team.
This team was 18-11 in May, 22-9 in July, and 25-8 in August, yet they couldn’t catch the Dodgers. But the Cardinals won 26 of their last 30, including five of six against Brooklyn, and clinched the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season. They won 106 games.
Hall of Famers: Musial, Enos Slaughter, and manager Billy Southworth.
Clinched a playoff spot on the final day of the season, then got past the Braves in the NLDS, and upset the Phillies in the NLCS. In the Series, the Giants allowed just 12 runs to Texas in five games, led by the pitching trio of Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Matt Cain.
Future Hall of Famers: Probably Buster Posey, maybe Madison Bumgarner. For sure, Bruce Bochy.
It’s forgotten now mostly, but the 2000 Yankees nearly blew it. A two-time defending champion, the Yanks lost 15 of their last 18 games and backed into the playoffs.
But much like the 1970s A’s (the last team to win three straight WS), the ’00 Yankees could turn it on when they needed it. They scraped past the long-haired A’s, overcame the Mariners, and outclassed the wannabe Mets in the Fall Classic.
That’s the sign of an unyielding champion.
Hall of Famers: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera
People expected the Orioles to be easily dispatched by the Dodgers in the Fall Classic. The Dodgers were defending champs, and had Koufax and Drysdale.
Instead, Baltimore’s pitching stole the show, allowing two runs(!) in a sweep.
This team had Frank Robinson at the height of his powers, winning the triple crown a year after the Reds traded him in the stupidest transaction since Boston sold George Herman Ruth.
Hall of Famers: Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Luis Aparicio.
An archetype of the Superstar-led championship team. The Phillies were held up by the three sturdy tent poles of Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, and Pete Rose.
Those three: Schmidt in the prime of the greatest career ever by a third baseman; the masterful Cy Young winner Carlton with his 4% body fat; and the irascible Rose, who led by the force of his indomitable spirit from beneath his terrible haircut, were the triple-threat for this superteam.
The Phillies fended off a great Expos team to win the NL East, beat the pesky Astros in the playoffs, and brushed aside the Royals in six games in the Series. It was the first-ever Phillies championship club.
Hall of Famers: Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt.
The Yanks shattered the franchise record with 190 homers, led by Mickey Mantle with 52, and three others with at least 20.
The pitching staff was pretty deep, with Whitey Ford leading a cadre of 20-somethings who had great seasons.
Hall of Famers: Mantle, Ford, catcher Yogi Berra, manager Casey Stengel, and fading shortstop Phil Rizzuto. 40-year old outfielder Enos Slaughter was acquired for the stretch run, and he had a fantastic World Series, hitting .350 against Brooklyn.
The Senators did everything they could to boot the World Series, making six errors and handing the title to the Pirates, otherwise the Bucs would be lost to history.
As was usually the case for Pittsburgh, the offense was terrific: they scored 912 runs and hit .307 as a team.
They got a lot of guys on base, and they excelled at running the bases. Pittsburgh led the NL in doubles, triples, walks, and stolen bases. The pitching staff threw strikes, and though you’d be hard-pressed to remember the names of their key hurlers, they got the job done.
Hall of Famers: Kiki Cuyler, the grossly underrated Max Carey, Pie Traynor, and genius manager Bill McKechnie.
Even without their best player (Ronald Acuna Jr.) the undermanned Braves somehow beat three 95+ win teams in the post-season.
Hall of Famer: Maybe Acuna? Possibly Freddie Freeman if he stays healthy in LaLa Land.
Probably the most famous Cinderella team in MLB history, the Mets were better than most fans probably realize.
A compelling argument can be made that Tom Seaver is the greatest pitcher ever, and 1969 was the year he emerged as a superstar. He won 25 games, and was practically unhittable: he tossed a one-hitter, two three-hitters, and three four-hitters.
The pitching staff was young but brilliant, with Seaver joined by Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Tug McGraw, and Nolan Ryan. None of those arms had reached the age of 27.
Gil Hodges was the perfect manager for a young team that had never experienced a pennant race, and he guided the Mets to 100 wins, a 27-game improvement.
On the offensive side, the Mets ranked ninth out of 12 teams.
Hall of Fame: Seaver and Ryan.
The fun Yankees, before they got self-important in the late 1990s. This team had Cecil Fielder and beer-pounding Wade Boggs. The later 1990s Yanks had meathead Jose Canseco and intense Chuck Knoblauch. The 1996 Yankees were “Joe Torre Finally Wins It All,” while later iterations were smug and unlovable.
This team was more interesting than prime Jeter teams, because they didn’t act like they should win every game. They felt human. In the ensuing years, the clubhouse felt like a group of automatons designed to march in step under the mythic “Yankee Way.”
Hall of Famers: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Wade Boggs, and Joe Torre sitting on his hands in the dugout.
Won the pennant by 17 games, but there was only one other team in the AL with a winning record.
The Yankee Clipper, the great Joe DiMaggio was at his best, putting together his 56-game hitting streak and batting .357 with 30 homers and only 13 strikeouts. Yes, really.
Hall of Famers: DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Bill Dickey, Red Ruffing, Lefty Gomez, and manager Joe McCarthy.
The post-war Yankees were the class of baseball, and from 1949-53 they won the title every fall.
Hall of Famers: Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Mize, and a young Whitey Ford.
Christy Mathewson won 31 games and captured the pitching triple crown. What did he do for an encore in the World Series? He tossed three shutouts.
Hall of Famers: Matthewson, manager John McGraw, catcher Roger Bresnahan, and Iron Joe McGinnity, who won 21 games.
The best of the teams that won three consecutive championships in the early 1970s.
This was the second deadball era, but that 2.58 team ERA still looks pretty damn good. The staff featured 21-game winner Catfish Hunter, 19-game winner Ken Holtzman, and Blue Moon Odom, who won 15 games. They didn’t really miss Vida Blue, who missed several weeks due to a contract dispute and won just six games.
The A’s, in 1972, 1973, and 1974, always seemed to do just what they needed. In ’72 they held off the White Sox to win the AL West, scraped past the Tigers in five extremely close games in the AL Playoffs, and defeated a very good Cincinnati team in the World Series in seven games (nearly blowing a 3-1 lead).
Hall of Famers: Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, and manager Dick Williams.
The first Yankees team to win the World Series. They were basically built on the big bat of Babe Ruth, who launched 41 homers and hit a career-high .393 with 170 walks.
Hall of Famers: Ruth, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, manager Miller Huggins.
The best franchises in the AL in the 1930s were the Yankees, Tigers, and Red Sox, who spent a ton of money on their roster and were dubbed the “Gold Sox” as a result.
Detroit and Boston had flaws, mostly with their pitching, which paved the way for the Yanks to dominate the league in the mid-to-late 1930s.
The ’36 Yankees won the title because they were well-balanced, with Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio swinging their booming bats, and Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing on the hill. They won the pennant by 19 1/2 games.
Hall of Famers: manager Joe McCarthy, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri, Ruffing, Gomez.
Won the AL flag by 14 1/2 games, and rolled over the Cubs in the World Series.
Hall of Famers: Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, Chief Bender, and Eddie Plank. Also manager-owner Connie Mack, who was known as “The Tall Tactician.”
The 2002 Angels will never have a Hall of Fame representative. As far as World Series champs go, they didn’t even have that many players with multiple All-Star appearances.
The Angels strength was T-E-A-M, sparked by the expert leadership of manager Mike Scioscia. The Angels never gave up, including when they were six outs away from elimination in Game 6.
Hall of Famers: None
Lightning in a bottle, that’s how some teams win the World Series. Never more so than this season when the Reds climbed on the back of a phenomenal bullpen and one great starting pitcher to steamroll to the title.
The Reds win over the A’s in four straight might be the most outrageous upset in postseason history. Oakland was the defending champs, and their roster was better than the previous season. But Billy Hatcher got hot with the stick, Jose Rijo pitched like Bob Gibson, and Cincy’s “Nasty Boys” pen of Randy Myers, Rob Dibble, and Norm Charlton shut down the opposition.
Hall of Famers: Barry Larkin, who hit .353 in the Fall Classic
Among the three SF teams that won titles from 2010-2014, this club was the best.
This group was known more for moxie than dominance: they won 94 games and took the NL West by eight games, and ranked sixth in runs scored and fifth in ERA. Then in the playoffs, they just won every game they had to.
The World Series was a breeze, a four-game sweep of the rusty Tigers. But the Giants wouldn’t have even been there if they hadn’t come back from an 0-2 hole in the NLDS, and a 1-3 hole in the NLCS. The 2012 Giants are the only team to do that.
Hall of Famers: manager Bruce Bochy will be someday, and possibly catcher Buster Posey.
One of the most entertaining teams to ever play in or win the World Series. The Pirates and their cast of characters are one of the few teams to rebound from a 3 games to 1 deficit in the Fall Classic.
But this wasn’t just a fun team, they had a lot of talent: Dave Parker was the best all-around player in his league; Old Man Willie Stargell drank from the fountain of youth and won MVP honors in the regular season, NLCS, and World Series; and Kent Tekulve was the most unusual and unhittable reliever in the game. Add “Scrap Iron” (second baseman Phil Garner) and “Mad Dog” (third baseman Bill Madlock), and you had a fun “Family” that rolled to a disco-dancing title.
Hall of Famers: Willie Stargell is the only one, but Parker and manager Chuck Tanner should probably be in Cooperstown.
Not a deep pitching staff (the Sox ranked sixth in the AL in ERA), but they outscored teams with a potent offense.
These were the Petey/Big Papi/Ellsbury Red Sox, marking a transition away from the 2002/2007 champs. They seemed like they would win many more flags, but five years later it was a new cast of Sox that reappeared in the Fall Classic.
Hall of Famers: David Ortiz
The last champions of the Deadball Era A’s Dynasty. This club was built on two Hall of Famers in the infield (Eddie “Cocky” Collins and Frank “Home Run” Baker), and a deep, talented pitching staff fronted by Charles “Chief” Bender and “Gettysburg Eddie” Plank. Those were the days of great nicknames.
Hall of Famers: Collins, Baker, Plank, Bender, Herb Pennock
Knocked off a two-time defending champion in the World Series (the Philadelphia A’s).
The Redbirds were very good: they were second in runs and fewest runs allowed, and ran away with the NL pennant by 13 games.
Hall of Famers: Jim Bottomley, Frankie Frisch, Chick Hafey, Burleigh Grimes.
Essentially won the pennant in a one-game playoff. That’s because the Yankees were tied with the Red Sox on the final day of the season, and the two teams were finishing the regular season at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees won the deciding game 5-3, and it was that contest that an aging Yogi Berra referenced when he spoke with the Yankees before Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series.
“We’ve been beating these guys forever,” Yogi told the 2003 Yankees.
The ’49 Yankees brushed aside the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series in five games. It was the first of five straight titles for the Bronx Bombers.
Hall of Famers: Berra, Joe DiMaggio, and Phil Rizzuto.
It’s hard to place them higher on this list when 2020 was a short season.
The pandemic made the season about 60 games, and the postseason was played at neutral sites. The Dodgers were superb: their 43-17 record translates to 116 wins over a full season. But it still comes with an asterisk.
Future Hall of Famers: Clayton Kershaw for sure, and Mookie Betts is already a top 20 right fielder.
A star-driven team that also benefitted from very good supporting players. The core was led by second baseman Charlie Gehringer (.330 with 201 hits and 19 HR), Hank Greenberg (.328 with 46 doubles, 16 triples, 36 homers, and 168 RBI), and player/manager Mickey Cochrane (.319 with a .452 OBP).
Add in Goose Goslin (whose single in Game 6 proved to be the World Series winner), and you had four future HOFers in the lineup. The Tigers led the AL with 918 runs scored, and also paced the league in walks and slugging.
The Tigers committed the fewest errors in the league, which helped the pitching staff, which was second in ERA.
Hall of Famers: Cochrane, Gehringer, Greenberg, Goslin.
Did you know the spelling of Pittsburgh on the Pirates uniform is incorrect?
In 1891, the United States Board of Geographic Names ruled that cities with a “burgh” suffix should remove the trailing “H.” That’s why for about 30 years, the newspapers and maps and lettering on wool baseball uniforms spelled it “Pittsburg.”
But about the time Honus Wagner and his teammates were winning the 1909 World Series over the Tigers, many Pittsburghers were choosing to add the H, because well, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
No one ever formally changed the city name, and “Pittsburg” is still technically correct. But the Pirates don’t give a damn.
Thus ends our city name lesson.
Hall of Famers: Honus Wagner, and player/manager Fred “Cap” Clarke.
The sequel to the famed 1927 Yankees, this was almost exactly the same team except pitcher Urban Shocker was not in uniform.
Shocker, who was a great pitcher known for his spitball, won 187 games, and four times won 20-games. He won 18 games for the Yankees in 1927, but was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition prior to the 1928 season and appeared in just one game, He died in September.
The ’28 team led the league in runs and HR, just like the ’27 version. But Lou Gehrig hit 20 fewer homers, and Bob Meusel and Earle Combs had lesser seasons.
Hall of Famers: manager Miller Huggins, Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Combs, pitchers Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt, and 38-year old Stan Coveleski, who was signed to sort of replace Shocker.
The first integrated team to win the World Series, the Indians had 24-year old African American center fielder Larry Doby in a lineup that led the league in home runs, and batting.
Shortstop/manager Lou Boudreau had one of the greatest seasons ever, when you take into consideration everything he was responsible for. In a one-game playoff to determine the pennant, Boudreau hit two home runs against Boston.
The two Hall of Fame Bob’s: Feller and Lemon, paced a staff that led the AL in ERA and shutouts with an amazing 23.
Hall of Famers: Lou Boudreau, Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Larry Doby
Without their twin aces, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, Arizona never could have traversed to the Fall Classic and toppled the Yankees, who came within three outs of winning their fourth consecutive title.
Between them, Johnson and Schilling claimed nine of Arizona’s 11 postseason victories. But the team also had several position players who had very good careers: Matt Williams, Mark Grace, Reggie Sanders, Steve Finley, Jay Bell, and Luis Gonzalez, whose bloop single won Game 7.
Hall of Famers: Randy Johnson
The leftovers of the great 1970s Orioles married with the young stars of the 1980s. Not a memorable team, even with Cal Ripken Jr. at the center of the roster. The O’s were the least flawed team in a very good AL East, with the best pitching staff. Plucky performances by World Series MVP Rick Dempsey and John Lowenstein easily defeated a mediocre NL champion, the aging Phillies.
Hall of Famers: Cal Ripken Jr., Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray
The only Yankee team (and champion) that had both Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle in uniform together.
It’s important to note that DiMag was only 36 years old, and while he appeared weathered compared to the muscled, fleet 19-year old Mantle, “The Yankee Clipper” was still a young man. He would go on to win Marilyn Monroe, for goodness sake.
Hall of Famers: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto.
Scored 966 runs, and also led the league in pitching. They went 48-13 in July and August to take control of the pennant race. The World Series was a ho-hum sweep of the Cubs.
Seven months after winning the Fall Classic, in 1939, first baseman Lou Gehrig removed himself from the lineup because of lackluster play. A few weeks after that, he was diagnosed with ALS, which killed him two years later.
Hall of Famers; Bill Dickey, Lou Gehrig, Joe Gordon, Joe DiMaggio, Red Ruffing, Lefty Gomez, and manager Joe McCarthy.
Ranks lower than the 1963 Dodgers because the offense wasn’t as productive. A big part of that was the absence of outfielder Tommy Davis, who was hurt most of the ’65 season. He was replaced by Lou Johnson, who was about as unexciting as his name. Center fielder Willie Davis had an off-year, and the only position player who had an OPS+ above 120 was the criminally underrated Junior Gilliam.
But LA had such great pitching that an average offense didn’t impede them, and they rebounded from an 0-2 hole in the Fall Classic to beat the Twins in seven games.
Hall of Famers: Smoky Alston, Sandy Koufax, and Don Drysdale.
The Sox allowed 111 runs less than the 2004 Boston team, which ranks higher on this list. This team was better balanced, but scored fewer runs and hit far fewer home runs.
In the postseason they were dominant twice: sweeps in the ALDS and World Series; and showed perseverance by coming back against Cleveland from a 3-1 hole in the ALCS.
Hall of Famers: David Ortiz
A singularly unique team that ushered in the “Whitey Ball” era. The Cardinals hit only 67 home runs, were eighth in the NL in slugging, and finished last in pitcher strikeouts.
The St. Louis philosophy was “death by a thousand cuts” in the form of singles, stolen bases, and rally-killing double plays with the glove.
Herzog let his runners loose: the team swiped 200 bases, with six players copping 19 or more. And he had baseball’s best relief specialist in Bruce Sutter.
Hall of Famers: Bruce Sutter, Ozzie Smith, Jim Kaat, and manager Whitey Herzog.
A 98-win team that sort of coasted after moving into first place in early June. The Yankees actually lost 8 of 12 against the Red Sox, but brushed aside their rivals in five games in the first-ever postseason meeting between the two franchises.
Went 11-1 in the PS, with a second consecutive sweep in the World Series. It was their second Series win over the Braves in the decade.
This was when George Steinbrenner was collecting superstars. A list of the players who rank in the Top 100 at their position all-time on the ’99 club: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Chuck Knoblauch, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Chili Davis, Darryl Strawberry, David Cone, and Roger Clemens.
Hall of Famers: manager Joe Torre, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera,
The eventual world champs were five games out of first as late as June 24, and three games back at the All-Star break. Under The Other Joe (Girardi), they charged to win 103 games and surpass the Red Sox.
The Yankees hit a franchise record 244 homers, a mark that has since been surpassed. They had seven players with at least 20 HR, led by Mark Teixeira with 39, and Alex Rodriguez with 30.
The lineup was remarkably durable: there were seven players who appeared in at least 140 games. Basically, Girardi used 10 position players for the bulk of playing time.
First-year Yankee CC Sabathia earned his pinstripes by winning 19, plus three more in the postseason.
Hall of Famers: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera.
Maybe the best team to pull off an upset in the World Series. The Tigers were a legit great team, but they were underdogs against the Cardinals, the defending champions. Detroit fell behind 3 games to 1, and were overmatched against Bob Gibson in his first two starts.
If we’re honest: St. Louis was overconfident after getting the 3-1 lead.
The Tigers were no slouches: they won 103 games, and had a slew of players who were at one time or another All-Stars, including highly-ranked catcher Bill Freehan, Norm Cash, Series hero Mickey Lolich, 31-game winner Denny McLain, Dick McAuliffe, Willie Horton, and superstar Al Kaline. Six of those players rate in the Top 100 at their positions, and so does outfielder Jim Northrup.
Hall of Famers: Kaline, Eddie Mathews (in a cameo role)
The only team Billy Martin The Angst-Riddled Manager ever led to a World Series title, this team had talent dotted all over the roster, and withstood drama in the clubhouse to win. The pitching staff wasn’t as good as you may remember, but led by crafty Catfish Hunter, the Yanks repeated as AL pennant winners, at a time when the Orioles and Red Sox were very good teams (97 W’s each).
The core of this team, which repeated in 1978, was unshaven roly poly catcher Thurman Munson, mega star and egomaniac Reggie Jackson, third baseman Graig Nettles, and a seemingly endless cast of professional hitters like Lou Piniella, Mickey Rivers, Cliff Johnson, Roy White, and Chris Chambliss.
Hall of Famers: Oakland castoffs Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter
If you’re in the Top 40 on this list, you were a great team.
The White Sox led the AL in runs and fewest runs allowed. They had stars: Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Collins, Buck Weaver, emerging catcher Ray Schalk, and pitchers Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, and Red Faber. The Sox won 100 games and took control of the pennant race from the other great team of that era, the Red Sox, in August.
They had some trouble with the Giants in the Series, but Faber won three games, including Game 6 in relief and Game 7 in a complete game, to seal the championship.
Hall of Famers: Eddie Collins, Ray Schalk, Red Faber. Two years later, this team threw the World Series, bringing shame on the franchise and resulting in eight players being banned forever. Otherwise. Shoeless Joe, Cicotte, and probably Buck Weaver, would also have plaques in Cooperstown.
Ranks below the 1915 club because this version had a lesser pitching staff, without Babe Ruth. But this was still a fantastic team, and unlike the 1915-16, and 1918 Red Sox champions, they had a younger and more vibrant Tris Speaker, who hit .383 with 222 hits, 53 doubles, and a 1031 OPS.
Hall of Famers: Tris Speaker and Harry Hooper, who played next to each other in the Boston outfield, but absolutely despised each other.
Not many people remain in Cincinnati to remember this excellent team. The Reds won the pennant in 1939 too, but fell to the Yankees in the World Series.
The 1940 Reds were built on the foundation of a great infield and an unmatched 1-2 punch on the mound.
The infield called themselves “The Jungle Cats,” and consisted on third baseman Billy Werber, shortstop Billy Myers, second baseman Lonny Frey, and first baseman Frank McCormick. They were a lively, airtight defensive unit.
The staff was led by the tireless arms of Bucky Walters (a converted infielder), and Paul Derringer. Those two won 42 games, completed 54 starts, and pitched 42% of the Reds’ innings.
Hall of Famers: Big-boned, slow-footed catcher Ernie Lombardi, and manager Bill McKechnie.
Probably the most inspirational world champions in baseball history. The Indians overcame the death of their young star shortstop in August (from a baseball to the head), and rallied to win the pennant. They rode great pitching from Stan Coveleski and Jim Bagby to win the WS over Brooklyn.
Hall of Famers: Coveleski, Tris Speaker, and Joe Sewell, who replaced shortstop Ray Chapman, who was killed when he was hit in the temple by a pitch in midseason.
These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon[a] bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double[b] –
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
From “Baseball’s Sad Lexicon,” an ode to the Cubs famed infielders Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance.
Hall of Famers: Tinker, Evers, Chance, pitcher Mordecai Brown.
Trash cans a bangin’ or not, the Astros were a great team. They won 101 games, and defeated two excellent teams in the postseason, the Yankees and Dodgers.
LA fans who love to hate on the “Trashstros” don’t want to hear this, but Houston won two games away from their home ballpark in the World Series, including Game 7.
Future Hall of Famers: Jose Altuve, Justin Verlander
Led in both runs scored and fewest runs allowed, and were the best defensive team in the league too.
See the 1936 team, which ranked 66th, for more.
A great example of a good team that got great pitching at the right time and played those cards all the way to the Series, where the Sox produced a convincing sweep.
If the 2005 Red Sox and White Sox met 50 times, the bloodier sox would probably have won 42 times. But Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, and Freddy Garcia, all in their mid-20s, pitched brilliantly and Chicago upset Boston in the ALDS. From there, Ozzie Guillen‘s team won eight of nine and hoisted the trophy.
Hall of Famers: Frank Thomas, who made the mistake of being 37, had an injury-plagued season and missed the playoffs.
The first of back-to-back titles for Toronto. This version was not quite as good as the next year’s team.
In 1992 they had Dave Winfield, Jimmy Key, a healthy Jack Morris, and David Cone came along at the trade deadline to give them a sharpshooter for the stretch run.
They defeated a fading dynasty in the playoffs (the La Russa Era Athletics), and an emerging dynasty in the Fall Classic (Bobby Cox’s Braves).
Hall of Famers: Winfield, Morris, and Roberto Alomar
The Phillies of this era should have won another title or maybe two. They were that good. But winning in the Wild Card era is difficult, as witnessed by champions like the 2015 Royals and 2019 Nats.
The Phils double play duo of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley rates among the five best of all-time. Ryan Howard was still smacking home runs like he was Jimmie Foxx, and the pitching staff was led by the underrated Cole Hamels and a bullpen that led the NL in ERA.
Hall of Famers: It’s possible Rollins and Utley might earn election, but it’s an uphill battle.
Ranks ahead of the 1992 champions because (1) the pitching staff had a better year, and (2) the presence of Paul Molitor.
36-year old Molitor had 211 hits, 37 doubles, 22 homers, 111 RBI, 22 steals, and went 332/402/559 on his slash line.
John Olerud had 200 hits and won the batting title, and Robbie Alomar had 192 hits and gave the Jays a third player who batted over .325 for the season.
This team was so good and the roster so deep that young players Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green couldn’t break the lineup.
Hall of Famers: Alomar, Molitor, Jack Morris, and Rickey Henderson (acquired midseason).
Everyone was back from WWII, and the Yankees rolled to a 12-game win in the American League.
Another team that pulled “the double,” leading their league in run scoring and run prevention. It was Joe DiMaggio’s third and final MVP season.
Hall of Famers: DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, and manager Bucky Harris.
Upset the 111-win Indians in the World Series in a big way (a sweep). But the Giants were also a very good club in their own right: they had the best pitching staff top to bottom in baseball, led by Johnny Antonelli and Hoyt Wilhelm.
Hall of Famers: Willie Mays (winning his only title), Monte Irvin, Hoyt Wilhelm, and manager Leo Durocher.
You could make a very good case that the 1929-31 A’s are the best team before World War II.
They had a Hall of Fame catcher who acted basically like a manager on the field, Mickey Cochrane. First baseman Jimmie Foxx was a righthanded Lou Gehrig. And Lefty Grove is among the ten greatest pitchers ever. All of those players, and left fielder Al Simmons, were in their primes.
Hall of Famers: Connie Mack, Grove, Cochrane, Foxx, and Simmons.
The late 1950s Braves were very, very good. Imagine Henry Aaron and Eddie Mathews in the middle of the lineup, and Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette at the head of the pitching staff.
The Braves were saddled with having to get past a second great team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, otherwise they would have won even more flags.
Hall of Famers: Aaron, Mathews, Red Schoendienst, Spahn.
The best of the three Dodgers teams that won the pennant in the 1960s. They had 11 players on the team who are ranked in the Top 100 at their position all-time.
The offense was led by the stolen base (LA had 32 more than any other team), and good seasons by Tommy Davis, Big Frank Howard, the every-steady Junior Gilliam, and the underrated Ron Fairly.
But the strength was the pitching staff (league-best 2.85 ERA), with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale teaming for 44 wins and 557 K’s.
The Dodgers swept the overmatched Yankees in the World Series.
Hall of Famers: Manager Walter Alston, Koufax and Drysdale.
The Cubs Curse Breakers had a +252 run differential, which is one of the best figures in the playoff era.
Like the 2004 Red Sox, the Cubs had to come from behind to keep their hopes alive, coming back from a 3-1 hole against Cleveland in the World Series.
Future Hall of Famers: Unlikely, unless Kris Bryant gets his act together.
The last championship team for Ruth and Gehrig. They won the pennant by 13 games and cruised to 107 wins and a sweep of the Cubs in the World Series.
Hall of Famers: manager Joe McCarthy, Gehrig, Ruth, Tony Lazzeri, Joe Sewell, Earle Combs, Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, and Herb Pennock.
This was the year when the Steinbrenner-fueled drama-meter tipped into the red. In mid-season, with his team lagging far behind the Red Sox, the Yankee owner fired manager Billy Martin after the little mouth made big cracks about his boss and star player, Reggie Jackson.
In came Bob Lemon, a no-nonsense motherfucker who simply asked his team to show up on time and play hard. The Yankees ran down Boston, erasing a 14-game deficit to win the AL East and the pennant.
The best player was Ron Guidry, who went 25-3, won special game #163 to get the Yanks into the postseason, and possibly had the most important season by a pitcher for a world championship team since World War II.
Hall of Famers: Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage, and Catfish Hunter
The A’s won the World Series in 1910, 1911, and 1913, and the pennant again in 1914. They were the class of the American League, the first of two dynasties built by owner/manager Connie Mack.
The strength of the 1911 team (which won the pennant easily by 13 1/2 games), was the offense, which scored 5.6 runs per game. The lineup was led by Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, and right fielder Danny Murphy. All three were over 140 in OPS+.
Hall of Famers: Mack, infielders Collins and Baker, and pitchers Chief Bender and Eddie Plank.
The team that finally slayed the Yankees and ended The Curse of the Bambino.
A second-place team ranked 20th all-time? Hey, we get it, we’ll get some criticism for that. But this is a list of the greatest World Series Champions, and the 2004 Red Sox were champions and a great team.
Boston scored 52 more runs than any other team in the AL, and had a fearless pitching staff led by Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. The lineup had no easy outs, and even though they could puzzle their fans and manager with odd behavior and erratic play at times, the Sox made history.
Bunch of Idiots, indeed.
Hall of Famers: Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz.
Won 108 games, had a +254 run differential. You can swap this team with the 1976 version, if you want. Sure, Johnny Bench had a better season in ’75 than ’76, and the outfield was more productive, but the 1976 Reds had superior pitching, which is why they appear higher in these rankings.
In the 11th inning of Game 6 of the World Series, Pete Rose led off for the Reds, and as he dug his cleats into the batters’ box, he said to Boston catcher Carlton Fisk: “Some game, huh?”
It was some game. And so was Game 7. The ’75 Series remains one of the greatest in history, and this great team came out on top, scoring four runs in the last four innings at Fenway Park in Game 7. It was the first championship for Cincinnati in 35 years, and erased the Fall Classic disappointments by The Big Red Machine in 1970 and 1972.
Hall of Famers: Sparky Anderson, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan.
The best of the Stan Musial WWII-era Cardinals. Like most of the teams in this section of the rankings, the Redbirds led the league almost everything. They had a +245 run differential.
Worth noting the amazing season by Musial: .365 with 228 hits, 50 doubles, 20 triples, 16 home runs, 124 runs, 103 RBI, only 31 strikeouts. He won his second MVP Award, obviously. If someone had a year like that today, they would be rewarded with a $500 million contract. And Musial had about six seasons that were like that.
Hall of Famers: Stan The Man, Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst.
The first modern World Series champion. Two years before baseball split their leagues into divisions, and only a few years before the designated hitter, the Cardinals were ahead of their time. They were a type of “big red machine” before the squares in Cincinnati.
The Cards were really the best team in baseball from 1963 to 1968, but they only won two World Series. The roster was packed with strong-willed, talented players of all colors. For the first time, white players, Latinos, and African-Americans were all pulling in the same direction with leadership from all groups.
Hall of Famers: Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, Lou Brock, and Steve Carlton. Roger Maris was in the outfield, and a lot of people think Maris deserves Hall of Fame consideration.
Because it happened more than 100 years ago, and the Red Sox embarked on an 86-year championship drought subsequently, the 1910s Boston teams are overlooked.
The 1915 team was loaded with talent and attitude. The pitching staff had an embarrassment of hard-throwers: Smoky Joe Wood, Ernie Shore, Babe Ruth, and Carl Mays.
The lineup was led by the fabulous outfield of Tris Speaker, Duffy Lewis, and Harry Hooper.
The Sox won 101 games and withstood a challenge from Detroit, who won 100. Then easily outplayed the Phillies in the Fall Classic.
Minus Speaker and Wood, basically the same team won the whole thing in 1916. That club is ranked 94th here.
Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper, and Herb Pennock.
A +318 run differential is very impressive, even in an eight-team league that wasn’t fully integrated yet (the Yankees didn’t welcome their first black player for two more years).
The staff was remarkably old, except 24-year old Whitey Ford, who had his first great season. The other stalwarts were junkballer Eddie Lopat, the ornery Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds, and Johnny Sain. All of those pitchers were 34-36 years old, which was ancient in the 1950s.
This is the only team in MLB history to win a fifth straight title.
Hall of Famers: Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, and manager Casey Stengel.
Similar to the 1969-71 Orioles. Both the A’s and O’s won three straight pennants and were clearly the class of their leagues. Both had a powerful offense, a good defense, and relied on excellent pitching. Both teams had managers with large personalities who made an impact on how the game was played in their time.
Both teams, the 1969-71 O’s and the 1988-1990 A’s, managed to win only one World Series, despite being favored each fall.
The 1989 A’s had Rickey Henderson back after his hiatus as a Yankee, which made their lineup even more potent.
Only an earthquake in the Bay Area that stalled the World Series for 10 days, could slow the A’s, who swept the Giants.
Hall of Famers: Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, and Tony La Russa.
Years later this club was nicknamed “The Boys of Summer.” The Dodgers had a star-studded roster led by Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Carl Furillo, and pitching ace Don Newcombe.
This is the only team to win the title while the franchise was in Brooklyn. They won the NL by 13 1/2 games, and finally vanquished the rival Yankees in the Fall Classic, in a seven-game struggle.
Hall of Famers: Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, and 19-year old Sandy Koufax, who pitched in 12 games but was not much of a contributor as of yet.
How great did you have to be to topple the Ruth/Gehrig Yankees? That’s what the Philadelphia A’s did, and they won three straight pennants, with titles in ’29 and ’30.
The 1929 team is the best of those three-time pennant-winning teams. They won 104 games to bury the Yankees by 18 games. This was due to their tremendous edge in pitching, led by Lefty Grove, George Earnshaw, Rube Walberg, and Eddie Rommel.
They outclassed the Cubs in the Fall Classic, slamming six homers in five games.
Hall of Famers: Grove, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, Eddie Collins, and manager/owner Connie Mack.
They set an MLB record for home runs, led by Roger Maris (record 61), and Mickey Mantle (54). The team was helped by Johnny Sain, one of the greatest pitching coaches ever, and was second in the AL in ERA.
This was the first of three teams managed by Ralph Houk that won the pennant as the last acts of the long Yankee dynasty that began in the 1920s. The ’62 team is the only other one to win the Series, and they rank 98th on our list.
Hall of Famers: Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra.
Of all the great Braves teams that went to the postseason 14 straight times from 1991 to 2005, this is the only one that won their last game of the season.
Any team with three of the Top 50 pitchers of all-time (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz), and a HR-fueled offense, is going to rank high.
The Braves were 11-3 in the postseason, and held a very good Cleveland offense to eight runs in their four WS victories.
Hall of Famers: Chipper Jones, Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, and manager Bobby Cox.
If this list was written before 1994, you couldn’t get away with ranking any team but the 1927 Yankees first. For so long, from the Roaring Twenties and the Great Era of Poetic Sportswriting, through the late 1960s when Macmillan first published the Baseball Encyclopedia and helped spark the subsequent revival of baseball in the 1970s and 1980s, the ’27 Yankees were the mythic gold standard.
The greatness of this team is overstated, but they were still a great team. Here was Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at their best, establishing what it meant to be bookend sluggers. Here was a good pitching staff and a group of hardnosed but fun ballplayers who went out and almost nonchalantly destroyed the competition.
Sure, the competition didn’t include minorities, and the level of play wasn’t what it would be 15 years later, but the ’27 Yanks did win 110 games, set a record for runs, home runs, and slugging. They also had the best pitching in their league and posted a +375 run differential, which is astounding.
Hall of Famers: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Earle Combs, Waite Hoyt, and Herb Pennock.
The greatest team Earl Weaver ever had, but almost indistinguishable from the 1969 and 1971 teams, which also won the pennant.
The Orioles challenge the 1990s Braves and 1950s Indians (never won a title) for best starting rotation in history.
Baltimore boasted Jim Palmer, and lefties Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar, a trio that combined for 64 wins in 1970. Two of those pitchers rank among the five best Orioles hurlers ever.
The O’s were in first place for all but seven days of the season, and won the division by 15 games on the strength of 108 victories.
Baltimore led the league in runs, had the lowest ERA, were the best fielding team (by far), and drew the most walks, while turning the most double plays per DP opportunity.
Of all the WS champs, these Orioles probably had the best defense, led by third baseman Brooks Robinson, second baseman Davey Johnson, shortstop Mark Belanger, first baseman Boog Powell, the tandem of Andy Etchebarren and Ellie Hendricks behind the plate, and the amazing center fielder, Paul Blair.
The O’s dispatched a very good 102-win Cincinnati team in the World Series in five games.
Hall of Famers: Brooks and Frank Robinson, manager Earl Weaver, and sex symbol Jim Palmer.
11-2 in the postseason (including a no-hit win in the World Series) after winning 107 games in the regular season.
An argument could be made that the 2022 Astros have the greatest bullpen (for one season) in MLB history. The pen led the league in ERA, struck out more than 10 batters per nine, and were nearly perfect in the postseason.
This feels like a team that might end up with many MVPs, with Altuve and Verlander already winning one, and Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman, and Jeremy Pena good candidates to do so in the future. By the time this group finishes, you might have 7-8 Top 100 players at their positions.
Future Hall of Famers: almost certainly Jose Altuve; and definitely Justin Verlander and manager Dusty Baker.
For one season, the 1984 Detroit Tigers were as dominant as any team in history. The team started the season 35-5, won 69 of their first 100 (the most in AL history in the first 100 games of a season at that time), and won all but one of their eight games in the postseason. Their manager, Sparky Anderson, became the first man to lead a team to a World Series title in both leagues. The team was well balanced with several players with long, productive careers.
Top 100 players all-time at their positions: shortstop Alan Trammell (#7), second baseman Lou Whitaker (#11), center fielder Chet Lemon (#25), third baseman Darrell Evans (#22), catcher Lance Parrish (#25), third baseman Howard Johnson (#84), and right fielder Kirk Gibson (#40). That’s five ranked in the Top 25, and six in the Top 40.
The ’84 Tigers rank below the teams in front of them because their starting pitching wasn’t very deep.
Hall of Famers: Sparky Anderson, Alan Trammell, and Jack Morris
The first team to win four straight World Series, and the second consecutive sweep for New York in the Fall Classic.
The Yankees had transitioned into Joe DiMaggio’s team: in May, Lou Gehrig took himself out of the lineup due to an unknown illness that would leave him dead within 25 months. It was a transitionary time for the franchise.
These Yankees teams are often overlooked when discussions arise about the greatest teams of all-time. Then again, this was not a particularly competitive era in segregated MLB baseball. Between 1921 and 1943, the Yanks won 14 pennants, and only three other AL teams where good for stretches of time (Detroit, Philly, and Washington each won three pennants). It was a top-heavy league, which helped the Yankees dominate.
This was an aging team: the pitchers averaged more than 30 years of age. The team had a youthful core in the lineup: 24-year old DiMaggio, 22-year old Charlie Keller (grossly underrated still), and 24-year old Joe Gordan.
Hall of Famers: Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Bill Dickey, Lou Gehrig (until May), and pitchers Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing.
There were three truly great teams in the 1980s: the 1984 Tigers (ranked #6); 1989 A’s (#14); and ’86 Mets. Only the A’s won multiple pennants, but all three only won the World Series once. It’s close, but the Mets were the better of the three, because of the depth of their pitching.
Manager Davey Johnson had Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda, Sid Fernandez, Rick Aguilera, Roger McDowell, and Jesse Orosco on his staff.
The Mets run differential was +205.
Somehow the Mets found it difficult to navigate the postseason, but that doesn’t detract from the 108 regular season wins and the oodles of talent on the roster.
Hall of Famers: Just one fella, Gary Carter. At the time, most people would have assumed Gooden, right fielder Darryl Strawberry, and Keith Hernandez would get plaques someday.
Seems like every 20 years there’s a truly great team for the ages. This is that team for the 2000-2020 era.
The Sox won 108 games, which sort of seems like that threshold where great teams live. They had a +229 run differential, and batted nearly 20 points above league average. The pitching staff ranked third in the AL in ERA and had 14 shutouts, the second most.
It doesn’t stand out and not a lot of people notice these things, but the 2018 Red Sox probably had the best defensive outfield of the last 40 years, with Mookie Betts in right, Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, and Andrew Benintendi in left. Maybe the 2010s Royals could match them.
The Sox went 11-3 in the PS under manager Alex Cora, scoring at least seven runs in six games. They blew every other team out of the water.
Future Hall of Famers: Mookie Betts is an elite right fielder all-time. Maybe Xander Bogaerts does what it takes in his 30s (he’s nearly half way to 3,000 hits through 2022).
Holds the record for most wins by a World Series champ, with 114.
The Yanks had a +309 run differential.
The lineup was basically set, except for DH, where old-timey stars Tim Raines and Darryl Strawberry were platooned.
Eight players had 19+ HR, and five had 15+ stolen bases. This was a well-balanced team, and the best defensive team Torre ever had in the Bronx.
The starting rotation contained three pitchers who rank in our Top 100 all-time: the wacky David (Cone), and the crazy David (Wells), in addition to the greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera.
This team only lost two of their 13 PS games, one in extras, and the other when Andy Pettitte had a bad outing against Cleveland.
Hall of Famers: Tim Raines, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and skipper Joe Torre
Why are the ’76 Reds the greatest team ever?
They repeated as champions in the modern playoff era, post-integration. That means they faced the best players regardless of race, in a modern form of the game and won not once, but did it again.
The Reds dominated, winning a competitive NL West by 10 games and easily brushing aside the Phillies in the NL Playoffs
Cincinnati swept the postseason, going 7-0 in dominant fashion. They outscored their postseason competition 42-19.
The Reds had superstars in their prime. The lineup featured the greatest catcher and second baseman of all-time. They had a future Hall of Fame first baseman. They had MLB’s all-time hit king (Pete Rose). They had a top 20 left fielder (George Foster) and the 72nd greatest right fielder (Ken Griffey Sr.), both of whom went on to have more than 2,000 hits. Their shortstop (48th ranked Dave Concepcion) was acclaimed as one of the finest defenders at his position ever.
The Reds had four MVPs or future MVPs in the starting lineup: Bench (2x), Rose, Morgan (2x), and Foster.
Every starting position player was an All-Star at least once, and the group combined for 26 Gold Gloves.
The 1976 Reds led the NL in runs, walks, doubles, triples, homers, stolen bases, batting, OBP, slugging, and fielding.
The pitching staff was fifth in the NL overall, but the bullpen was second in ERA and led in K’s per inning. That’s the reason the Reds had just 33 complete games: Sparky Anderson trusted his relief corps.
No team since the 1976 Reds has led the league in both home runs and stolen bases, and only two teams have done it since 1935. The Reds were better at practically everything than any other team in baseball.
We’re confident that if the ’76 Reds faced the 1927 Yanks, 1970 Orioles, 1998 Yankees, 1986 Mets, or 2018 Red Sox, they would win a seven-game series. If it was a longer series, the gap would widen.
There you have it: The Big Red Machine is the greatest World Series champion ever.
Enjoy a pint of Rhinegeist’s IPA in celebration, Cincy!