The New York Yankees are the best team in baseball—for the 2009 season (as we predicted in our World Series Preview ). But is this one of the best teams in baseball history? Is it even one of the best teams in Yankees history? What about this decade?
This is where WhatIfSports steps in with the answers. As the 2009 MLB season comes to its end, we set out to rank all 27 previous Yankees World Series winners, as well as to order the 10 champions of the 2000s. To do this in as fair a manner as possible, in separate studies, we "played" all 27 Yankees teams against all of the other Yankees championship teams, and each of the most recent 10 champions against all of the other most recent champions in neutral ballparks 30 times each so that the Top-Three starting pitchers get 10 chances in every series. Teams are then ranked by winning percentage from those games.
Ranking the 27 Yankees World Series Champions
|Rank||Season||Win %||WS MVP|
*MVP was not awarded at the time. It was chosen by WhatIfSports.com based on performance in that year's World Series.
The 2009 version is just better than the average Yankees World Series champion (winning just 50.2 percent of the time against the others). The team can be characterized by overall balance, yet lacking of dominating players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Whitey Ford. It's probably not a surprise to many to see the 1927 "Murderers' Row" Yankees with career years out of Ruth, Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Earle Combs, Bob Meusel, Waite Hoyt, and Urban Shocker, atop this list, but it may be notable that the 1977 team ranks last. Reggie Jackson's World Series performance from 1977 is memorable, but the team's regular season was not exceptional. Among everyday players, just Reggie Jackson eclipsed an .850 OPS, and a pitching staff prone to giving up homeruns.
Ranking the World Series Champions of the 2000s
|Rank||Team||Win %||WS MVP|
|1.||2004 Boston Red Sox||59.7%||Manny Ramirez|
|2.||2009 New York Yankees||58.2%||Hideki Matsui|
|3.||2008 Philadelphia Phillies||54.8%||Cole Hamels|
|4.||2000 New York Yankees||52.3%||Derek Jeter|
|5.||2007 Boston Red Sox||50.8%||Mike Lowell|
|6.||2003 Florida Marlins||48.6%||Josh Beckett|
|7.||2001 Arizona Diamondbacks||48.3%||Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson|
|8.||2002 Anaheim Angels||43.9%||Troy Glaus|
|9.||2005 Chicago White Sox||41.9%||Jermaine Dye|
|10.||2006 St. Louis Cardinals||41.6%||David Eckstein|
The 2009 Yankees may only be the 12th best champion in franchise history, but they are the second-best since the turn of the millennium. This probably speaks more to the parity (or mediocrity) of the top teams in recent history, than to the dominance of this season's champion, or the 2004 Red Sox that rank first. In fact, the best world champion of the decade was a wild card team that had to battle back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS just to make the World Series.
And lastly, this Yankees team would rank 51st among the 105 World Series winners in Major League history. The 1975 Cincinnati Reds just edge the 1927 Yankees as the best champion all-time, while the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals are barely better the 1987 Minnesota Twins, who come in as the worst World Series winner ever.
Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in free mlb matchup analysis, and baseball sim leagues . With any comments, questions, or topic suggestions, Paul can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com . Thanks!