50 Greatest MLB Teams That Couldn't Win the World Series
The 2011 World Series will be the 107th in MLB history, and with the playoffs fast approaching, I can't help but wonder whether the Philadelphia Phillies will find themselves on this list in the near future.
The first World Series took place in 1903, and the Boston Americans defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates to be immortalized as champions. In the 108 years since, there have been 22 different teams who have won a championship while 28 teams have played in the Fall Classic.
Now, I may not be the brightest man alive, but I know with a surety that luck doesn't always bounce the right way, and the best team most certainly doesn't always win. That's part of what makes baseball so exciting.
After extensively digging up the past 100 years of baseball, I now present to you the 50 Greatest MLB Teams That Couldn't Win the World Series.
50. 1999 Texas Rangers
Season Record: 95-67
Notable Players: Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro
The 1999 Texas Rangers were built on one thing and one thing only—offense.
The Rangers had six players hit 20 HR or more while five players had at least 98 RBI. They were led by a 47-HR, 147-RBI season from Rafael Palmeiro and an AL MVP season from Ivan Rodriguez.
The Yankees easily swept the Rangers in the ALDS, allowing Texas to score only one run total in the three games. Showing once again that offense will win you games, but pitching will win you championships.
49. 1919 Chicago Black Sox
Season Record: 88-62
Notable Players: Joe Jackson, Eddie Collins, Eddie Cicotte
The 1919 Chicago White Sox could have gone down as one of the best teams in MLB history. Instead, they set the franchise back years after it was discovered that some of the players intentionally threw the World Series.
The 1919 team—who scored the most runs in MLB—became known as the "Black Sox" from that point on, and the eight players involved were banned from playing in MLB ever again.
48. 1979 Montreal Expos
Season Record: 95-65
Notable Players: Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Larry Parrish
The late '70s and early '80s were the glory days for the Montreal Expos, with Andre "The Hawk" Dawson and Gary "Kid" Carter leading the way.
While Dawson was the team's best player, Larry Parrish led the Expos in both home runs and batting average.
Even though the Expos missed the playoffs in 1979, this was still the best season in the franchise's history. Their only playoff appearance was during the shortened 1981 season, and even that team didn't have as much talent as the 1979 squad.
47. 2000 San Francisco Giants
Season Record: 97-65
Notable Players: Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, Ellis Burks
The 2000 San Francisco Giants squad may have been Barry Bonds' best shot at a World Series ring.
Every position player on the team had double-digit home run totals, with Bonds leading the way with 59 long balls. Jeff Kent won the NL MVP that season by batting .334 with 33 home runs, while Ellis Burks hit .344 along with 24 dingers.
The Giants lost to the Mets in the NLDS, losing two of the three games in extra innings.
46. 1924 New York Giants
Season Record: 93-60
Notable Players: Hack Wilson, Jack Bentley, Frankie Frisch
The 1924 New York Giants were a model of consistency as they reached their fourth consecutive World Series. There they would meet the upstart Washington Senators, who were playing in their first-ever Fall Classic.
The Giants were the clear favorites to capture another World Series title, and they would have if not for a couple late-game collapses by pitcher Jack Bentley.
Bentley blew a 3-3 tie in Game 2 to help the Senators knot the series at 1-1, and then he did the same in the 12th inning of Game 7 to hand the title to Washington.
45. 1933 Washington Senators
Season Record: 99-53
Notable Players: Goose Goslin, Joe Cronin, Alvin Crowder
The Washington Senators were the class of the AL in 1933, as they won the third and final pennant of their existence after outlasting the Yankees by seven games.
The Senators didn't have much power in their lineup but—led by future Hall of Famer Joe Cronin—they played stellar defense and could manufacture runs better than anyone.
Luck wasn't on their side in the World Series, as the New York Giants took two games with late-inning heroics while taking the series in five games.
44. 1987 Toronto Blue Jays
Season Record: 96-66
Notable Players: George Bell, Fred McGriff, Tony Fernandez
The Toronto Blue Jays held a 3.5-game lead in the AL East with seven games to play, having been in solid control of the division the entire season. Out of nowhere, the Jays lost their final seven games to lose the division and miss out on the playoffs.
George Bell secured his place as AL MVP with a 47-home run, 134-RBI campaign, while eight other players on the team had double-digit home run totals. The Jays' Tom Henke also led the AL with 34 saves while Jimmy Key's 2.76 ERA was the lowest in the league.
Not very often does a team as talented as the 1987 Blue Jays miss out on the playoffs.
43. 1939 Cincinnati Reds
Season Record: 97-57
Notable Players: Buck Walters, Paul Derringer, Ernie Lombardi
Pitching was the main component of the 1939 Cincinnati Reds' pennant run, ending the season 4.5 games up on the Cardinals with a chance to take down Joe DiMaggio and the Yankees in the World Series.
Bucky Walters and Paul Derringer each won 25 or more games and combined to go 52-18 on the season. They are the last Reds' pitchers to accomplish the feat.
While the duo pitched fairly well in the World Series, their anemic offense was never able to get anything going, and they were quickly swept in four games.
42. 2008 Chicago Cubs
Season Record: 97-64
Notable Players: Derek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster
Of all the times we heard, "This is the season" over the last 10 years regarding the Chicago Cubs' World Series drought, 2008 was really supposed to be the season.
The Cubs had a powerful offense, with five players slugging more than 20 home runs. This was their prime, with guys like Alfonso Soriano, Ramirez and Lee all in their early 30s.
Their rotation boasted Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly, and the team eventually ended up with the best record in the NL.
As soon as the, "This really IS the season" chatter began, the Cubs were outscored 20-6 while being swept by the Dodgers in the NLDS.
41. 1927 Pittsburgh Pirates
Season Record: 94-60
Notable Players: Paul Waner, Pie Traynor, Kiki Cuyler
After winning their second NL pennant in three years, the 1927 Pittsburgh Pirates were swept out of the World Series by the New York Yankees.
Paul Waner ran away with the NL MVP Award that season, where he batted a league-high .380 with 131 RBI, while two of his teammates finished in the top five in the batting race with him.
The Pirates had five future Hall of Famers on their 1927 squad, with Waner's younger brother Lloyd and Joe Cronin joining the three listed above.
40. 1959 Chicago White Sox
Season Record: 94-60
Notable Players: Nellie Fox, Early Wynn, Luis Aparicio
The 1959 Chicago White Sox were much more dominant than their record might indicate, getting through a very balanced American League to win the pennant.
Early Wynn won the Cy Young award—which at the time wasn't given to a pitcher in both leagues—and Nellie Fox won the AL MVP, with teammate Luis Aparicio finishing second in the voting.
Facing the Dodgers in the World Series, the White Sox looked every bit as good as advertised after winning 11-0 in Game 1. They would go on to lose four of the next five games while scoring only 12 runs the rest of the series.
39. 1984 Chicago Cubs
Season Record: 96-65
Notable Players: Ryne Sandberg, Rick Sutcliffe, Gary Matthews
For a while, it appeared as if 1984 was the season the Chicago Cubs would be able to break the "Curse of the Billy Goat."
Ryne Sandberg won the NL MVP and Rick Sutcliffe went 16-1 to win the NL Cy Young as the Cubbies were en route to their first postseason appearance since 1945.
The Cubs quickly took a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five NLCS over the San Diego Padres. In typical Cubs' fashion, they would lose the final three games and their chance at a World Series.
38. 1985 New York Yankees
Season Record: 97-64
Notable Players: Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson
It's unfortunate that Don Mattingly was never able to win a World Series during his career. The Yankees 97 wins in 1985 weren't even enough to win the AL East and go to the playoffs.
Mattingly won the AL MVP after hitting 35 long balls with 145 RBI. The Yanks had a very powerful lineup that season, as Winfield, Henderson and Don Baylor each hit 23-plus homers as well.
They may have lacked star-studded pitching, but they would have been a threat in the postseason regardless.
37. 1990 Pittsburgh Pirates
Season Record: 95-67
Notable Players: Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Doug Drabek
The Pittsburgh Pirates were the class of the NL in 1990, yet they were taken out in six games by eventual World Series champion' Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS.
Bonds won the NL MVP with 33 homers and 114 RBI while Bonilla added 32 long balls and 120 RBI to lead a potent Pirates' offense.
The Pirates also had the NL Cy Young winner in Doug Drabek, who went 22-6 with a 2.76 ERA.
36. 1982 California Angels
Season Record: 93-69
Notable Players: Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Fred Lynn
Fresh off of signing Reggie Jackson as a free agent—who would lead the league in home runs in 1982—the Angels had an absolutely dominant lineup.
The Angels had six players hit at least 19 home runs, including Brian Downing and Doug DeCinces combining for 58.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the ALCS over the Milwaukee Brewers, the Angels pitching fell apart, and they lost the next three games to end their season prematurely.
35. 1965 Minnesota Twins
Season Record: 102-60
Notable Players: Zoilo Versalles, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva
Led by a steady group of players on both sides of the ball, the 1962 Twins won their first pennant since moving to Minnesota.
The swift-gloved Zoilo Versalles won the AL MVP after tallying 126 runs and 20 long balls, while Mudcat Grant became the first black pitcher in AL history to win 20 games in a season.
The Twins faced the Dodgers in the World Series, beating Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax to win the first two games of the series. The series came down to Game 7, where Koufax came back to shutout the Twins 2-0.
34. 2005 St. Louis Cardinals
Season Record: 100-62
Notable Players: Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Jim Edmonds
A season after losing to the Red Sox in the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals came out firing on all cylinders in 2005 en route to winning the NL Central by 11 games over the NL Wild Card-winning Houston Astros.
Albert Pujols won the NL MVP Award, Chris Carpenter won the NL Cy Young Award and life was good for St. Louis Cardinals' fans.
The Cards swept the San Diego Padres in the NLDS to set up an NLCS matchup with the same Astros team they had dominated the entire season. The Wild Card struck again, as the Astros knocked out the Cards in six games.
33. 1963 New York Yankees
Season Record: 104-58
Notable Players: Elston Howard, Roger Maris, Jim Bouton
The 1963 New York Yankees ran through their opponents en route to securing their 28th AL pennant, finishing 10.5 games ahead of the second place White Sox.
Elston Howard became the leader of the Yankees in 1963 after hitting 28 home runs and becoming the first black player in MLB history to win the AL MVP award.
In a much familiar matchup with the Dodgers in the World Series, the Yankees were swept for the first time in team history.
32. 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers
Season Record: 97-60
Notable Players: Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella
The 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers held a 13-game lead over their rival New York Giants in late-August, and they appeared well on their way to another World Series.
Roy Campanella won the NL MVP, and Preacher Poe won Pitcher of the Year as the Dodgers appeared unbeatable until the seasons' final month.
By the end of the season, their 13-game lead had evaporated, and they were forced into a three-game playoff with the Giants, with the winner advancing to the World Series.
This set the stage for one of the most dramatic moments in MLB history, as Bobby Thomson hit the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" in Game 3 to give the Giants the NL pennant.
31. 1982 Milwaukee Brewers
Season Record: 95-67
Notable Players: Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Rollie Fingers
The 1982 Milwaukee Brewers made it to their first and only World Series in the franchise's history.
Robin Yount was named the AL MVP after slugging 29 HR and becoming the first shortstop in MLB history to lead the league in slugging percentage. Three other players slugged 30-plus HR for the Brewers, who earned the nickname "Harvey's Wallbanger's" (named after manager Harvey Kuenn).
The Brewers climbed out of an 0-2 deficit to beat the California Angels in the ALCS before falling in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
30. 2004 New York Yankees
Season Record: 101-61
Notable Players: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera
We all know the story here.
The Yankees won the AL East by a three-game margin over the Red Sox, who ended up as the AL Wild Card.
The two teams would meet in the ALCS, where the Yankees quickly took a commanding 3-0 series lead after a 19-8 Game 3 victory.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz had walk-off hits the next two games, and the Yankees later became the first team in MLB history to lose a playoff series after winning the first three games.
29. 1955 New York Yankees
Season Record: 96-58
Notable Players: Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford
After winning five straight World Series titles from 1949-53, the New York Yankees took a year off to regroup in 1954 before claiming the AL pennant again in 1955.
Yogi Berra won the AL MVP after hitting 27 home runs with 108 RBI, while Mickey Mantle added 37 long balls of his own. Whitey Ford had a superb season in the Bronx as well, going 18-7 with a 2.63 ERA while leading the AL in complete games.
The Yanks once again met the Dodgers in the World Series, but unlike the previous four meetings, the Dodgers were able to come away with the championship. New York was up 2-0 in the series before the Dodgers won in seven games.
28. 1978 Boston Red Sox
Season Record: 99-64
Notable Players: Jim Rice, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk
The Boston Red Sox had a stellar lineup during the 1978 season, at one point holding a 14-game lead over their rival Yankees.
Then came the "Boston Massacre"—infamous for when the Yankees swept a four-game series at Fenway late in the season—and soon the two teams sat tied atop the AL East.
Light-hitting Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent would hit an iconic home run in the one-game playoff to send Red Sox Nation back into disbelief.
27. 1998 Houston Astros
Season Record: 102-60
Notable Players: Randy Johnson, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio
The Houston Astros set their club-record for wins in 1998 while capturing their second straight NL Central division crown.
The Astros were bolstered by the addition of Randy Johnson—acquired from the Seattle Mariners at the trade deadline—who went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA down the stretch.
Jeff Bagwell and Moises Alou combined for 72 HR while Craig Biggio and Derek Bell each garnered 20-plus of their own.
26. 1993 Atlanta Braves
Season Record: 104-58
Notable Players: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, David Justice
The 1993 Atlanta Braves were the beginning of a long stretch of great, yet underachieving, Braves' teams.
They boasted a four-deep rotation with Maddux, Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery. Maddux claimed the Cy Young award that season, going 20-10 with a 2.36 ERA.
David Justice slugged 40 home runs while Ron Gant added 36 of his own, and Chipper Jones made his MLB debut in September.
Ironically, it was their pitching that fell apart in the NLCS, as the Phillies downed them in six games to go to the World Series.
25. 1904 New York Giants
Season Record: 106-47
Notable Players: Christy Mathewson, Joe McGinnity, Bill Dahlen
The 1904 New York Giants were one of the greatest teams in MLB history. They scored the most runs in the league while allowing the fewest against, and their one-two punch of Mathewson and McGinnity combined to go 68-20 as the Giants took the NL Pennant by 13 games over the Chicago Cubs.
The first World Series had been played the previous season in 1903, but Giants manager John McGraw hadn't warmed to the idea, so they elected to pass on the opportunity to take on the Boston Americans.
Although McGraw would change his stance the following year, the Giants still lost out on the opportunity to be World Series champions.
24. 1915 Detroit Tigers
Season Record: 100-54
Notable Players: Ty Cobb, Bobby Veach, Sam Crawford
The 1915 Detroit Tigers missed out on the AL pennant after falling one win short of Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox.
The Tigers outfield that season was arguably the greatest of all time, with the trio of Cobb (.369 BA/99 RBI), Veach (.313/112) and Crawford (.299/112) putting up uncharacteristic numbers across the board. It's even more impressive when you consider the league batting average in 1915 was .248.
Harry Covelski and Hooks Dauss anchored the Tigers rotation, combining to win 46 games with a 2.47 ERA.
23. 2002 Oakland Athletics
Season Record: 103-59
Notable Players: Tim Hudson, Miguel Tejada, Barry Zito
The Oakland Athletics had some great teams during the early part of the last decade. Looking back, it's even more shocking that they weren't able to make any noise in the postseason.
Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder led the best one-two-three punch out of any rotation in baseball in 2002, while Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez each hit 34 home runs. The A's also had David Justice and Jermaine Dye in their lineup.
Typical of the A's teams of the early 2000s, they were swept right out of the playoffs before they could even get their feet wet.
22. 1929 Chicago Cubs
Season Record: 98-54
Notable Players: Rogers Hornsby, Riggs Stephenson, Hack Wilson
The 1929 Chicago Cubs finished 10.5 games up on the Pittsburgh Pirates to easily capture the NL pennant before they were outplayed in the World Series by the Philadelphia Athletics.
Rogers Hornsby—who had been acquired in an offseason deal with the Boston Braves—led the charge for the Cubbies, and he surely didn't disappoint during his first season in Wrigleyville.
With 39 home runs and a .380 batting average, Hornsby set the MLB-record for runs scored in a season by a second baseman with 156 en route to the NL MVP award.
Although they lost the World Series, it wasn't for a lack of hitting as Hall of Famers Kiki Cuyler and Gabby Hartnett rounded out the powerful Cubbies squad.
21. 1942 New York Yankees
Season Record: 103-51
Notable Players: Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Keller, Phil Rizzuto
Joe DiMaggio had led the Yankees to World Series titles from 1936-39 and 1941, but 1942 was special to him for different reasons as he would soon leave the team to serve during wartime for four years.
Winning five of the past six World Series' is proof enough of a great team. To win their sixth they'd have to get past Stan Musial and the Cardinals, who were coming off of a 106-48 season of their own.
The Yanks came out firing in Game 1 of the series before losing the next four, although they would go on to beat the Cards in the 1943 World Series without DiMaggio.
20. 1990 Oakland Athletics
Season Record: 103-59
Notable Players: Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson
The 1990 Oakland Athletics were coming off of back-to-back World Series appearances, winning the championship in 1989.
They were just as good in 1990, as Canseco and McGwire combined for 76 home runs while Henderson added 28 of his own en route to the AL MVP. Pitcher's Bob Welch and Dave Stewart combined to win 49 games, with Welch bringing home the AL Cy Young award.
After breezing past the Red Sox in the ALCS, the heavy-underdog Cincinnati Reds outscored the A's 22-8 during a four-game sweep in the World Series.
19. 1977 Philadelphia Phillies
Season Record: 101-61
Notable Players: Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski
The Philadelphia Phillies won their second straight NL East title in 1977 and appeared destined for great things heading into the playoffs.
Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski combined for 77 home runs and 231 RBI to lead the offense, while Steve Carlton went 23-10 with 17 complete games to anchor the rotation.
The Phillies entered the NLCS as the clear favorites but were ousted by the Dodgers in four games.
18. 1935 Chicago Cubs
Season Record: 100-54
Notable Players: Gabby Hartnett, Chuck Klein, Billy Herman
The National League was loaded in 1935, with the Cardinals, Giants, Pirates and Cubs all locked in a tight pennant race through most of the season. A 21-game winning streak in September vaulted the Cubs into first place, and they went on to win the pennant.
The Cubbies came out on top, as Gaby Hartnett became the first catcher to win the NL MVP award, and teammate Billy Herman set a record with 57 doubles in a season by a second baseman.
After winning Game 1 of the World Series, the Cubs lost four of the next five games as the Detroit Tigers took home the championship.
17. 1975 Boston Red Sox
Season Record: 95-65
Notable Players: Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn, Carlton Fisk
The Boston Red Sox were on a magical run during the 1975 season, outlasting the Baltimore Orioles to win the AL East before sweeping the powerful Oakland Athletics in the ALCS.
Yastrzemski was the true veteran on a team full of youthful talent, with their outfield trio of Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans all 23 years old or younger.
They would face the Cincinnati Reds in one of the greatest World Series in history, where in Game 6 Carlton Fisk hit a walk-off home run to force a Game 7. The Sox would lose the game 4-3 on a bloop single in the ninth inning.
16. 1954 Cleveland Indians
Season Record: 111-43
Notable Players: Bob Feller, Early Wynn, Bob Lemon
While the Yankees won five straight World Series titles from 1949-53, the Indians were building a soon-to-be dominant pitching staff that would be able to subdue their AL foe.
The plan finally came into fruition in 1954, as dominant pitching led the Indians to an AL pennant, finishing eight games above the Yankees. The five Indians' starters combined to go 93-35.
Unfortunately, their pitching didn't show up against a much less talented Giants squad in the World Series, and they were quickly defeated in four games.
15. 1979 Baltimore Orioles
Season Record: 102-57
Notable Players: Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton, Mike Flanagan
The Earl Weaver-led Baltimore Orioles of 1979 used a combination of power-hitting and consistent pitching to climb atop the AL East.
Ken Singleton had a career-year—hitting 35 home runs with 111 RBI while finishing second in AL MVP voting—and Mike Flanagan shouldered the load on the pitching staff with 16 complete games and an AL Cy Young award.
Their firepower led to a quick destruction of the California Angels in the ALCS as well as helping them jump out to a 3-1 series lead against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. They would score a total of two runs while losing the last three games.
14. 2001 Seattle Mariners
Season Record: 116-46
Notable Players: Ichiro Suzuki, Bret Boone, Edgar Martinez
When you look at the roster of the 2001 Seattle Mariners—who set the AL record for most victories in a season—you can't help but wonder how they accomplished the feat.
Bret Boone led the way on offense with 37 HR and 141 RBI while Ichiro won the Rookie of the Year and AL MVP awards.
Freddy Garcia, Aaron Sele, Jamie Moyer and Paul Abbot combined to go 70-21 in a season which, in hindsight, appears that every player on the team (aside from Ichiro) had the best seasons of their careers.
After defeating the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, the Mariners were beat in five games in the ALCS versus the Yankees.
13. 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers
Season Record: 102-63
Notable Players: Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Tommie Davis
With both great pitching and hitting, the Los Angeles Dodgers were looking to make some noise during the inaugural season of Dodger Stadium in 1962.
Don Drysdale took home the Cy Young Award and Sandy Koufax finally broke through, ending the season with the lowest ERA in the league. Maury Willis won the NL MVP and outfielder Tommie Davis set two Dodgers' records that still stand to this day with 230 hits and 153 RBI.
The Dodgers and Giants ended the season tied atop the NL, and the Giants won a three-game playoff to head to the World Series.
12. 1946 Boston Red Sox
Season Record: 104-50
Notable Players: Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky
The "Curse of the Bambino" almost became a thing of the past 65 years ago when Ted Williams led the Red Sox to the AL pennant by a 12-game margin.
It was Williams' first season back with the Red Sox after a serving as a pilot in World War II, and he made it count by winning his first AL MVP award along with the only pennant of his career.
Up against an equally daunting opponent in the St. Louis Cardinals, the two teams traded victories until they were tied 3-3 in the series and headed for a Game 7.
Tied 3-3 in the eighth inning, the Cardinals' Enos Slaughter made his famous "Mad Dash" to score what proved to be the winning run.
11. 2001 New York Yankees
Season Record: 95-65
Notable Players: Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Tino Martinez
The 2001 New York Yankees, in my opinion, were a much more talented squad than the Seattle Mariners. The two teams met in the ALCS, where the Yankees cruised in five games.
The World Series would prove more difficult, however, as the Arizona Diamondbacks were riding a two-man rotation of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to the promised land.
The D-Backs took the first two games before some late-game heroics by Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius led to three straight victories for the Bronx Bombers. After Arizona laid a 15-2 beating on Andy Pettitte in Game 6, Mariano Rivera blew a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning to lose the series.
10. 1921 New York Yankees
Season Record: 98-55
Notable Players: Babe Ruth, Waite Hoyt, Bob Meusel
The 1921 New York Yankees did something no Yanks team had ever done before—they won the AL Pennant after finally dethroning the Cleveland Indians.
Babe Ruth slugged 59 home runs to break the record for the third-consecutive season, but he would get injured after the Yankees took a 3-1 World Series lead against the New York Giants.
Ruth made only one pinch-hitting appearance during the remainder of the series while the Yankees lost the next four games.
9. 1970 Cincinnati Reds
Season Record: 102-60
Notable Players: Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez
This was the beginning of an era for the Cincinnati Reds, who would go to four World Series' from 1970-76 on the back of the "Big Red Machine."
A 20-year-old Johnny Bench slugged 45 home runs and 148 RBI to become the youngest player in MLB history to win the NL MVP award, while Tony Perez added 40 long balls and 129 RBI of his own.
The Reds swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLCS before losing the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles in five games, three of which saw the Reds give up three-run leads.
8. 1988 New York Mets
Season Record: 100-60
Notable Players: Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez
Two years after coming from behind to beat the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, the New York Mets were back in the hunt for a championship.
Darryl Strawberry, Kevin McReynolds and Howard Johnson were a dynamic one-two-three punch in the heart of the Mets order, while Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez and Lenny Dykstra tied it all together.
The Mets also had a solid trio in their rotation with Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and David Cone.
The NLCS featured Kirk Gibson's iconic Game 3 home run, preventing the Mets from taking a 3-1 series lead. The Dodgers won the series in seven games.
7. 2010 Philadelphia Phillies
Season Record: 97-65
Notable Players: Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels
Even though it was just last season, the Philadelphia Phillies squad had so much talent that there was no way I could exclude them from this list.
With Halladay, Hamels and Roy Oswalt as your three-man rotation in the playoffs, one would think you're sitting pretty good.
Add to it two former NL MVP's in Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, plus Chase Utley and Jayson Werth, and I'm still shocked the Phillies didn't bring home the title last season.
Jeffrey Beckmann is a MLB Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Jeffrey on his new Twitter account for all of his latest work. You can also hear him each Friday at 1 p.m. EST on B/R Baseball Roundtable.
6. 1986 Boston Red Sox
Season Record: 95-66
Notable Players: Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Bill "E-3" Buckner
I was roasted by Red Sox fans' the last time I said this, but I truly believe the 1986 Red Sox were the most talented team in franchise history. Yes, even better than the 2004 and 2007 teams.
Roger Clemens won the AL Cy Young after one of the best single-season pitching performances of all time, going 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA and 238 strikeouts.
Wade Boggs hit .357 as the AL Batting Champion while Jim Rice, Dwight Evans and Don Baylor averaged 25-plus home runs and 100-plus RBI. Even Bill Buckner hit 18 long balls and had 102 RBI.
It's too bad they will always be remembered for Buckner's error during Game 6 of the World Series, letting the Mets back in the game before eventually losing the game and the series because this was a very, very talented Red Sox team.
5. 1995 Cleveland Indians
Season Record: 100-44
Notable Players: Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Orel Hershiser
On paper, the 1995 Cleveland Indians were one of the best offensive teams in MLB history. They were truly dominant.
Five Indians players hit 20-plus home runs that season while six batted over .300. Hershiser, Charles Nagy and Dennis Martinez carried the pitching staff, combining to go 44-17.
Other notable players on the roster were Carlos Baerga, Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel.
The 1995 Indians—who had six All-Stars—won their division by 30 games and ran through the playoffs before falling to the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.
4. 1962 San Francisco Giants
Season Record: 103-62
Notable Players: Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey
The 1962 San Francisco Giants were the greatest team that Willie Mays ever played for. Mays slugged a typical 49-HR that season to go with superb defense in center field.
The Giants and Dodgers tied for the NL pennant to force a three-game playoff. The Giants ultimately won to earn the right to face the Yankees in the World Series.
After forcing a seventh game in the World Series, the Giants lost 1-0 thanks to a gem pitched by Ralph Terry and the Yanks.
3. 1996 Atlanta Braves
Season Record: 96-66
Notable Players: John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones
The 1996 Atlanta Braves were arguably their most talented squad during their 15-year run of AL East dominance.
John Smoltz won the NL Cy Young as the neither he, Glavine or Maddux had an ERA above 2.98. Chipper Jones and Ryan Klesko each put up 30-plus home runs, while Fred McGriff, Javy Lopez and Marquis Grissom each put up more than 20.
The Braves came back from a 3-2 series deficit in the NLCS to clinch a berth in the World Series against the Yankees.
They took a 2-0 series lead after outscoring the Yanks 16-1 during the two games, but then they scored only 10 runs while losing the next four games.
2. 1906 Chicago Cubs
Season Record: 116-36
Notable Players: Jimmy Scheckard, Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance
The Chicago Cubs ran away with the NL pennant in 1906, with the second place New York Giants being a full 20 games behind.
The Cubs' .763 winning percentage is the highest mark in MLB history, and the team led the majors with a team ERA of just 1.76. Mordecai Brown was the star, going 26-6 with a 1.04 ERA in nearly 280 innings pitched.
With the World Series knotted at 2-2, the Chicago White Sox blitzed Cubs' pitchers for 16 runs during the next two games to win the title.
1. 1931 Philadelphia Athletics
Season Record: 107-45
Notable Players: Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons
The 1931 Philadelphia Athletics were coming off back-to-back World Series titles and may have been the most talented squad of the three, with players like George Earnshaw, Waite Hoyt, Mickey Cochrane and Mule Haas rounding out this team from top to bottom.
Lefty Grove enjoyed the finest season of his career, going 31-4 with a 2.06 ERA while easily winning the Triple Crown of pitching along with the AL MVP.
They left Ruth's Yankees in the dust, winning the AL pennant by 13.5 games to set a date in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals—where they shockingly lost in seven games.
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