Where Do the Dodgers Rank Among Greatest World Series Winners in Recent History?

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2020

Where Do the Dodgers Rank Among Greatest World Series Winners in Recent History?

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Dodgers won the 2020 World Series on Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Field. It was the end of a strange, singular MLB season. But it was also the crowning moment for L.A., which hadn't hoisted a Commissioner's Trophy since 1988.

    Now, the inevitable question: Where do the '20 Dodgers rank among recent World Series winners?

    For our purposes, we'll define "recent" candidates as clubs that have brought home a trophy in the past decade (2011 and onward). And we'll rank them according to the following criteria:

    Single-season performance and dominance: How many games did a team win in the regular season? How dominant was it during its postseason run?

    Historical significance: Every championship is meaningful. But some are extra meaningful because they were the first in franchise history, ended a prolonged drought or occurred against the backdrop of extraordinary circumstances.

No. 10: 2014 San Francisco Giants

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Regular-season record: 88-74

    Postseason record: 12-5

    Previous title (franchise history): 2012

    The San Francisco Giants completed their even-year title trilogy in 2014 thanks largely to ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

    From a complete-game shutout in the National League Wild Card Game to a gutsy, scoreless five-inning relief effort in Game 7 of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, Bumgarner almost single-handedly carried his club over the finish line.

    It was a postseason performance for the ages. But this 88-win Giants squad barely slipped into the playoffs and was far from the deepest of San Francisco's three championship winners.

No. 9: 2011 St. Louis Cardinals

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Regular-season record: 90-72

    Postseason record: 11-7

    Previous title (franchise history): 2006

    The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals made the playoffs as a 90-win wild-card team in 2011 before going on a memorable championship run.

    First, there was the epic pitchers' duel between the Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Halladay and the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter in Game 5 of the division series.

    Then came Game 6 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers, when David Freese hit a game-tying triple in the bottom of the ninth inning and a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th to set up a Game 7 victory.

    These Cards weren't the decade's deepest or most talented MLB champion. And they'd won it all in 2006, which means the '11 title didn't snap a notable drought. But if you're looking for the best single World Series contest of recent vintage, Game 6 is on the short list.

No. 8: 2012 San Francisco Giants

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Regular-season record: 94-68

    Postseason record: 11-5

    Previous title (franchise history): 2010

    The 2012 Giants were probably the most complete of San Francisco's three even-year winners. They were also the last team other than the rival Dodgers to win the NL West.

    They get a bit lost as the second act of a trilogy and needed surprise performances from the likes of overpaid left-hander Barry Zito. Stars such as Tim Lincecum were already on the downslopes of their careers.

    But they defeated worthy opponents in the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals to reach the Fall Classic. And once there, they swept a Detroit Tigers team that featured ace Justin Verlander and AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, who struck out looking to end the series.

No. 7: 2017 Houston Astros

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Regular-season record: 101-61

    Postseason record: 11-7

    Previous title (franchise history): None

    The 2017 Houston Astros had a lot going for them.

    They featured an array of star-caliber players, including Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Dallas Keuchel. They won 101 games and knocked off the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in the division series and American League Championship Series, respectively.

    The 'Stros then won a hard-fought seven-game series against the Dodgers to snag the first title in franchise history.

    The bloom was soon off the rose when MLB penalized them for stealing signs. Houston wasn't stripped of its trophy. But the franchise was stained, and its '17 victory carries an asterisk in the minds of many.

No. 6: 2018 Boston Red Sox

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Regular-season record: 108-54

    Postseason record: 11-3

    Previous title (franchise history): 2013

    Including the iconic 2004 run that busted the Curse of the Bambino, the Boston Red Sox have won four championships in the 2000s.

    The 2018 team was arguably the most dominant of the bunch. It won 108 regular-season games and then rolled past the 100-win New York Yankees and 103-win Houston Astros to reach the World Series.

    Once there, the Sox dispatched the defending NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers in five games.

    Now, the caveat: Like the '17 'Stros, the '18 Red Sox were penalized by MLB for stealing signs, though their misdeeds were "far more limited in scope and impact," according to the league's official report.

    Regardless, impressive though it was, Boston's fourth and most recent title is irreparably tarnished.

No. 5: 2015 Kansas City Royals

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Regular-season record: 95-67

    Postseason record: 11-5

    Previous title (franchise history): 1985

    After Madison Bumgarner dashed their title hopes in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, the Royals finished with the best record in the Junior Circuit and won a second consecutive AL pennant in 2015.

    They didn't miss this time around.

    K.C. rode a core headlined by Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and a shutdown bullpen to a five-game win over the New York Mets despite the presence of young aces Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.

    It was Kansas City's first championship in 30 years, and it stands as a high-water mark for the franchise considering it hasn't enjoyed a winning season since.

No. 4: 2019 Washington Nationals

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Regular-season record: 93-69

    Postseason record: 12-5

    Previous title (franchise history): None

    The 2019 Washington Nationals limped to a 22-32 start and had less than a 0.1 percent chance to win it all, according to MLB Stats.

    A strong finish sparked by aces Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and offensive standouts Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto helped the Nats finish 93-69 and earn a wild-card berth.

    After a tight 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card Game, Washington upset the Los Angeles Dodgers over five games in the division series and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.

    Finally, the Nationals won a thrilling World Series over the Houston Astros that culminated in a come-from-behind Game 7 victory and the first title in franchise history, dating back to their days as the Montreal Expos.

No. 3: 2013 Boston Red Sox

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Regular-season record: 97-65

    Postseason record: 11-5

    Previous title (franchise history): 2007

    Unlike the tainted 2018 title, the Red Sox's '13 World Series owns a pure place in Fall Classic lore.

    Boston's third championship since 2004 came in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing when a city rocked by tragedy turned to its baseball club for solace.

    The Sox delivered. Franchise anchor David Ortiz rallied his teammates, the fans and Boston as a whole with a rousing speech in April and helped them hoist a Commissioner's Trophy in six games against the St. Louis Cardinals.

    In what would turn out to be his final World Series, Ortiz hit .688, won MVP honors and cemented his status as a Beantown legend.

No. 2: 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Regular-season record: 43-17

    Postseason record: 13-5

    Previous title (franchise history): 1988

    We'll never know what the Dodgers would (or wouldn't) have done over a full 162-game season. But every team played the 2020 campaign under the same unusual circumstances.

    And it's not as if Los Angeles' success was a fluke. This club came into the season with a potent lineup augmented by the arrival of superstar Mookie Betts and a deep, talented pitching staff.

    Their .717 winning percentage translates to a 116-win season under normal conditions, which would have tied them with the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners for the most victories all-time. 

    They opened the playoffs on a 5-0 run before surviving a tough seven-game test in the NLCS against Atlanta and besting the AL champion Tampa Bay Rays in six games in the World Series.

    After winning eight straight division crowns and two pennants in the past three years, the Dodgers finally got over the hump. Ace Clayton Kershaw got his ring. Sometimes-maligned manager Dave Roberts earned redemption. 

    Short season notwithstanding, the Dodgers were dominant. And they earned this one.

No. 1: 2016 Chicago Cubs

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Regular-season record: 103-58

    Postseason record: 11-6

    Previous title (franchise history): 1908

    The 2016 Chicago Cubs will always be remembered as the club that broke the most infamous title drought in baseball history. But they were also a pretty dang great team from start to finish, billy goats and Bartman aside.

    The '16 Cubbies won 103 games with an MLB-leading plus-252 run differential. Their starting rotation featured 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and playoff-tested southpaw Jon Lester, plus flamethrowing closer Aroldis Chapman. And they had a potent offense topped by NL MVP Kris Bryant.

    These weren't your typical lovable North Side losers, and they proved it by winning the NL pennant and outlasting Cleveland in a seven-game Fall Classic for the ages that ended in a 10-inning thriller.

    Great team? Check. Historically significant finish? Double check.


    All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.