The Six Best Expansion Franchises Since 1990
Nineteen teams have been added to the four major sports since 1990. Some terrible and some spectacular. Some boring and some exciting. Some having first team all-stars, and some having first overall picks. I shudder to think what life would be like without the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Sarcasm—feel free to laugh.)
#6: Carolina Panthers
After having a decent first year, Dom Capers led the Cats to the conference championship game in their second year. After that, it was all downhill. It would be six seasons before they would return to the postseason. And when they did, they were only a botched kickoff away from winning the Lombardi Trophy.
In those six years, they improved their team with a dynamic receiving duo (Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad), an all-star running back (Stephen Davis), and a defensive monster (Julius Peppers).
In all, they have made three conference championship games, and more are sure to follow.
Best Player: Steve Smith
#5: Ottawa Senators
They have made the playoffs in 11 out of 16 seasons. They have won their division four times. They have made the Stanley Cup Finals once. They are a team that has instilled fear in their opponents, and Coach Jacques Martin is a big reason for that. When he was hired, he started a nine year stint with the Senators, in which his team averaged 91 points per season.
Best Player: Dany Heatley
#4: Tampa Bay Lightning
They won in 2004. They had a four-time all star as a goalie (Nikolai Khabibulin). They had two lines filled with great players, the like of which most teams don't even get in one line. Cory Stillman-Vincent Lecavalier-Ruslan Fedotenko and Fredrik Modin-Brad Richards-Martin St. Louis. That's amazing. Their history has been rocky, but for a four season span (excluding the lockout year), they were one of the most feared teams in the league.
Best Player: Vincent Lecavlier
#3: Arizona Diamondbacks
They did the impossible.
They had their two aces win four games. Randy Johnson had three wins in one series. He pitched one and a third innings of relief on zero days rest after a 100 pitch outing.
Back to the Diamondbacks. They broke the record for quickest MLB franchise to win a World Series. They dominated. They have four division titles. In 12 years, they have five Cy Young Awards.
Best Player: Randy Johnson
#2- Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks
You know that you are going to have a good franchise when your team's existence is based off of one of the most beloved sports movies of all time. Also, when your goalie is nicknamed "Jiggy," the good times keep on rolling.
But seriously, the team started its hot streak after acquiring Teemu Selanne before the 1996-97 season. They appeared in and won their first playoff series that year. They made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003, where they lost to the NJ Devils.
It was not until they grew up and became plainly the Ducks that they won a championship. With Jean-Sébastien Giguère, Chris Pronger, and Scott Niedermayer playing on the same half of the ice, the Ducks won, not surprisingly, in 2007. They are currently riding a four season streak of going to the playoffs.
Best Player: Teemu Selanne
#1: Florida Marlins
The Florida Marlins have won more championships than any expansion team since 1990. They won two. It's not like winning two with the same team, in the same time period. It is as if they won with two totally different teams. They only had one active player on the 2003 championship roster who was in the system in 1997, Luis Castillo.
The Marlins were the first team to win the World Series as a wild card team. The Marlins are the quickest expansion team to win two World Series. The Marlins have never lost a playoff series. The Marlins have had two different managers win Manager of the Year Award (Jack Mckeon and Joe Girardi) and three Rookie of the Year Award winners (Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, and Chris Coghlan).
There are four teams to ever have more than one complete game in a postseason run. Three players have done it in the same postseason run. Josh Beckett is the only player to have two complete game shutouts in the same postseason run.
The Marlins have also never been in the top half of the league in payroll.
Best Player: Josh Beckett/ Livan Hernandez.
(I did not want to choose two, but they were the MVPs from both World Series victories for the Marlins.)