2011 World Series: Ranking 15 Biggest Stunners in Fall Classic History
It can be argued that the underdog has a better chance to win a World Series matchup because the pressure is on the other team to take care of business.
This statement holds especially true for a certain 15 teams who pulled off spectacular upsets in their route to becoming world champions.
Here's a list of 15 World Series teams who pulled off the upset against the superior team.
2006: Cardinals over Tigers (4-1)
The St. Louis Cardinals crept into the postseason in 2006 with a record of 83-78.
On the other hand, the Detroit Tigers steamrolled into the postseason with a 95-win season and ALDS and ALCS victories over the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics respectively.
The Tigers had eight players with double-digit home runs and a duo of excellent starting pitchers in Kenny Rogers and rookie sensation Justin Verlander.
The Cardinals were a solid team led by Albert Pujols, but no one expected them to stand a chance against the Tigers who were anticipated to win the series quite handily.
But that's why they play the game.
The Tigers proceeded to commit six errors in the series and eventually lost to the Cardinals in five games.
2002: Angels over Giants (4-3)
The 2002 San Francisco Giants roster contained some of the best players to ever play the game at their respective positions.
Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, a one-two punch in the middle of the order that no team could physically match, were well on their way to bringing the Giants their first World Series Championship since they came out west.
Even though the Giants were the wild card team out of the NL—the Arizona Diamondbacks took the NL West—no team wanted to face the Giants in the playoffs due to their offensive firepower.
The Giants' opponent, the Anaheim Angels, were also the wild card team out of the AL, but weren't considered to be as good as the Giants.
But with timely hitting from Scott Spiezio and the rest of the Angels offense, the Angels were able to come back and win the final two games of the series at home.
Who knows how the series would've turned out if it weren't for the Angels' Rally Monkey and its ability to turn a sold out crowd into a frenzy.
1958: Yankees over Braves (4-3)
The 1958 World Series was a rematch of the 1957 Fall Classic between the New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Braves.
The Braves beat the Yankees the previous year, but the tables turned when the Yankees had the chance to avenge their loss the following postseason.
The Braves were led by Hank Aaron and two 20-game winners in Lew Burdette and Warren Spahn.
On the flip side, the Yankees roster was a tad more star-studded with all-time greats like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Bob Turley.
The Yankees team of 1958 was not the same Yankees team of the past. It was still a solid team, but they had no business winning it all that season.
2003: Marlins over Yankees (4-2)
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Money can't buy you a ring.
This was the theme of the 2003 World Series with the Florida Marlins—a $54 million payroll—versus the New York Yankees—a $164 million payroll.
Absolutely no one outside of Florida believed that the Marlins could beat the Yankees in the Fall Classic.
The Yankees won over 100 games in the regular season and had a roster flooded with talented players. Jorge Posada and Jason Giambi both had over 30 home runs and 100 RBI. Alfonso Soriano had himself a 35/35 season, and Hideki Matsui drove in 106 runs.
Don't forget about the pitching either. Mike Mussina, David Wells, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte combined for 70 wins, and closer Mariano Rivera had another 40-save season.
And then there were the Marlins, a wild card team who had an exciting road to the World Series in 2003. They upset the defending NL champion Giants in the NLDS, and came from behind to beat the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, thanks in part to Steve Bartman.
But the magical postseason didn't stop there for the Marlins as they beat the Yankees in six games.
1987: Twins over the Cardinals (4-3)
No one gave the Minnesota Twins much of a chance against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1987 World Series.
The Cardinals were one of the teams of the '80s, as they were making their third trip to the Fall Classic in the past six seasons. They were coming off of a 95-win regular season and were heavily favored to win it all again in 1987.
However, home field advantage played a pivotal role in the series. It was the first time in World Series history that the home team won every game, which played right into the hands of the Twins.
2001: Diamondbacks over Yankees (4-3)
In 1998, the Arizona Diamondbacks were established as an expansion team in the National League. Only four years later, they found themselves in the World Series against the most storied franchise in MLB history: the New York Yankees.
Despite having two of the most dominant starters in baseball, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, no one really gave the Diamondbacks a chance against the heavily favored "Evil Empire." The Yankees had the high-profile players, they had the swagger. Most importantly, the amount of postseason experience was incomparable to any other team in baseball.
But what the Yankees didn't have was Luis Gonzalez, who had one of the best offensive seasons ever seen for the Diamondbacks in 2001. His .325 batting average with 57 home runs and 142 RBI led the team in each category.
Since the first six games of the series were won by the home team, things were looking up for the Diamondbacks in Game 7. With Curt Schilling on the mound and playing in the friendly confines of Bank One Ball Park, the game inevitably came down to the very last at bat.
With the bases loaded and only one out, Luis Gonzalez stepped to the plate to face the best postseason closer to ever toe the rubber: Mariano Rivera. He lofted a single to center field that barely got past the drawn in Derek Jeter at shortstop, which resulted in the hit that won the World Series for the Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks prevented the Yankees from winning their fourth consecutive title and won the World Series for themselves in just their fourth year of existence.
1906: White Sox over Cubs (4-2)
If you think the 2010 San Francisco Giants had the worst offense out of all the World Series champions, think again.
The Chicago White Sox of 1906 had a team batting average of .230, which was low enough to deem them the worst offense in the American League.
Beating their crosstown rivals, the Chicago Cubs, in the 1906 World Series while batting only .198 in the series was also enough to brand them the name the "Hitless Wonders." However, the White Sox's lowly batting average was enough to top the Cubs who hit only .196 in the series.
Two years later in 1908, the Cubs would win the World Series, but it would also be the last time they won a championship, even to this day.
1914: Braves over A's (4-0)
The Boston Braves' improbable journey to win the World Series in 1914 started all the way back in July of the regular season.
The Braves were in last place a couple of months into the season, but then roared back to win the division by 10.5 games, which warranted the nickname the "Miracle Braves."
Led by starting pitchers Dick Rudolph and Bill James, the Braves went on to sweep the Philadelphia A's in the World Series, which was the first sweep in Fall Classic history.
1966: Orioles over Dodgers (4-0)
The general consensus surrounding the 1966 World Series was that the Baltimore Orioles did not have the pitching to match that of the Los Angeles Dodgers' with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.
Koufax was on the top of his game at the time, and his 27-9 record with a 1.73 ERA truly backs that statement up.
However, what eventually happened was quite the opposite of what people expected. The Orioles' less-than-star-studded cast of starting pitchers shut down its opposition by allowing only two runs the entire series. Both of those runs came in the first three innings of the entire series.
The Orioles team ERA at the end of the series was an astonishing 0.50.
1985: Royals over Cardinals (4-3)
It was the battle of the Missouri teams, or better known as the "Show-Me Series," or the "I-70 Series," since both teams were connected by Interstate 70.
The St. Louis Cardinals of 1985 were a team that largely relied on their superb pitching and speed to carry them to the World Series. They had five position players who had at least 30 stolen bases—Vince Coleman had 110—and three starting pitchers with at least 18 wins.
This strategy was quite effective since they were the only team in baseball to win at least 100 games during the regular season (101-61.)
The Cardinals' counterpart in the 1985 World Series was the Kansas City Royals, who were led by future Hall of Famer George Brett. The Royals were a solid team, but they were definitely the inferior opponent when matched up head-to-head against the Cardinals.
The Royals were also looking to become the first American League expansion team to win the World Series. They accomplished that feat by defeating the Cardinals after being down in the series 3-1.
1954: Giants over Indians (4-0)
The 1954 Cleveland Indians set an AL record with 111 wins during the regular season, and were heavily favored to beat the New York Giants in the World Series.
The Indians had three of the best pitchers in baseball—Bob Lemon, Mike Garcia and Early Wynn—and also had eight position players with double-digit home run totals.
Nonetheless, the Giants had Willie Mays, who single-handily preserved the victory for the Giants in Game 1 of the series with his well-renowned over the shoulder catch in center field. Not only did Mays make the marvelous catch, but he had the wherewithal to get the ball in as quickly as possible in order to prevent the runner from advancing.
Along with some clutch hitting from Dusty Rhodes, the Giants went on to sweep the heavily favored Indians and won the World Series for the last time as the New York Giants.
1960: Pirates over Yankees (4-3)
This World Series was best known for Pittsburgh Pirates Bill Mazeroski's walk-off home run in Game 7 against the heavily favored New York Yankees.
New York was a team comprised of all-time greats such as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra. They won 97 games in 1960, and were undoubtedly the best team in the American League.
The Yankees dominated the entire series for the most part, as they scored 28 more runs than the Pirates in the seven game series. However, the Pirates were able to steal a few close games here and there and forced a Game 7 to be played at home.
That's where Mazeroski made his name.
After the Yankees tied the game at nine in the top of the ninth, Mazeroski, a small second baseman who hit only 11 home runs for the Pirates in the regular season, hit a walk-off home run over the left field fence to crown the Pirates as champions of the baseball world.
Mantle was later quoted saying that this was the worst moment in his baseball career. It was probably just the opposite for Mazeroski.
1990: Reds over A's (4-0)
It was the classic tale of David versus Goliath.
The Oakland Athletics were the best team in baseball after their World Series victory over the San Francisco Giants only one year ago.
They also fielded some of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen in Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Rickey Henderson. The trio combined for over 100 home runs, 270 RBI, and don't forget about Henderson's 65 stolen bases.
Pitchers Dave Stewart and Bob Welch also combined for 49 wins and just 17 loses.
Then in came the Cincinnati Reds, a team that no one expected to even be able to compete with the "Bash Brothers" and the rest of the A's team. The Reds didn't have one hitter who eclipsed the 30 home run mark. They didn't have a hitter who drove in at least 90 runs. Their pitching wasn't anything to write home about either.
But one thing the Reds had was speed, and they had plenty of it. With six position players in the starting lineup who had at least 10 steals, the Reds used speed to their advantage and handily beat the A's in a 4-0 game sweep.
1969: Mets over Orioles (4-1)
Some call the New York Mets victory over the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series the biggest upset in Fall Classic history.
The Orioles were the overwhelming favorites in the series after their 109 win season. Frank Robinson had Boog Powell combined for 69 home runs and 221 RBI, and starting pitchers Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally both had 20-win seasons.
The only other team in baseball to eclipse the 100-win mark was the New York Mets who had just that (100-62.)
But the Orioles were no match for the "Miracle Mets," who were given that nickname after beating the Orioles in five games and winning their first World Series in franchise history.
Even to this day, some baseball pundits believe that the 1969 Orioles was one of the finest teams to ever play, which makes the Mets' series victory even more impressive.
1988: Dodgers over Athletics (4-1)
This World Series was best known for Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run in Game 1 of the series.
Gibson, who was dealing with two battered knees and a stomach flu at the time, wasn't even supposed to play in the series opener. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda needed to give his best player a chance to win the game.
With two outs and a runner on in the bottom of the ninth inning, Gibson hobbled up to the plate looking like an old man who should've been using the baseball bat as a walking stick. Gibson then defied all odds and hit a two-run walk-off home run off of Oakland Athletic's star closer Dennis Eckersley in his only at bat of the entire series.
The Dodgers didn't slow down after Gibson's home run as they only needed four more games to upset the heavily favored A's.
The fact that Gibson only stepped in the batter's box once all series makes the Dodgers' rout over the A's even more astounding since Gibson was far and away the team's best hitter.