Picking the 12 Teams That Would Represent MLB's Version of a Super League

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterApril 21, 2021

Of course the Dodgers would be in. But who else?
Of course the Dodgers would be in. But who else?Gregory Bull/Associated Press

Hey, baseball fans. Did you hear about the big news in international soccer?

There was quite the hubbub on Monday when word of 12 famed franchises from England, Spain and Italy forming a "Super League" came down the pipeline. Then came the backlash, prompting the exit of the six English clubs on Tuesday. Accordingly, the whole venture is now being reconsidered.

Nonetheless, the idea got us to thinking about what a Super League of a dozen Major League Baseball franchises might look like.

We could have simply tabbed the 12 most successful clubs from, say, the last five seasons or even just 2021. But since that would have been too easy, we instead handpicked a dozen franchises that we think best represent the legacy and history of Major League Baseball, as well as its foremost markets.

Will such a league ever actually come to fruition? Well, no. But it's a fun thought experiment, and who doesn't love one of those?


Legacy Division: Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox and Cardinals

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

If there's ever going to be an MLB Super League, it would have the start with the most storied teams from the league's two biggest media markets: the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers

By way of their .569 winning percentage and 27 World Series championships, the Yankees are by far the most successful franchise out of the 30 that comprise MLB today. The Dodgers have won the second-most pennants (25) of any team, the most recent of which in 2020 resulted in their seventh World Series championship. At least for now, that's the peak of their nine-year run as MLB's top team.

Elsewhere on the topic of major-market teams with rich histories, there's also the Boston Red Sox.

Even though the Red Sox themselves originated as the "Americans" in 1901, at that point the city of Boston had been playing host to affiliated clubs for a quarter-century. The franchise has also won nine World Series, including four since 2004.

The St. Louis Cardinals were, of course, on the losing end of Boston's World Series triumphs in 2004 and 2013. But they had previously beaten Boston in the Fall Classic in 1946 and 1967, and those wins account for just two of the franchise's National League-high 11 championships.

That alone is enough to qualify the Cardinals as a founding member of a Super League. Yet it's also worth considering that they lead the National League in both regular season (1,850) and postseason wins (69) for the 21st century.


History Division: Reds, Atlanta, Cubs and Giants

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Though there's actually room for debate over which of MLB's 30 clubs is the oldest, the Cincinnati Reds have perhaps the strongest claim. 

It was in 1869 that the "Red Stockings" formed in Cincinnati as America's first professional baseball club. But the "Reds" squad that was a charter member of the National League in 1876 was technically a different club, and that particular version of the franchise only lasted four seasons.

So if it's a question of which modern franchise is the oldest continuous member of Major League Baseball, it's actually a tie between two other original National League teams: Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs.

Granted, it wasn't until 1966 that the former took root in Atlanta after originally coming to life in Boston in 1876 and later moving to Milwaukee in 1953. And while the latter played as the "White Stockings" between 1876 and 1889, trust us, they eventually became the Cubs.

Regardless, there's a lot of history between Cincinnati, Atlanta and Chicago. The Reds' five World Series titles include the back-to-back championships that the "Big Red Machine" won in 1975 and 1976. For its part, it wasn't that long ago that Atlanta won 60 percent of its games and five National League pennants during a 15-year stretch between 1991 and 2005. 

As for the Cubs, well...let's just say 2016 was worth the wait.

Lest anyone think we're finished with the Trivia Night section of our MLB Super League, we're also roping in the winningest team in the league's history: the San Francisco Giants.

They indeed boast an all-time total of 11,204 wins, with 6,067 in New York through 1957 and the other 5,137 in San Francisco since 1958. That obviously doesn't cover the franchise's ample success in October, up to and including its recent World Series wins in 2010, 2012 and 2014.


Market Division: Phillies, Astros, Twins and Blue Jays

Laurence Kesterson/Associated Press

Beyond just being pillars of Major League Baseball, the eight clubs we've chosen so far also fit in key markets. Not only the big ones in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston,but also swaths of the American Midwest and, crucially, the South.

What's missing is a team from Pennsylvania, which has hosted not one but two affiliated clubs continuously ever since the early 1880s. Since they play in a much larger media market than the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Phillies are the easy pick to represent the Keystone State.

Plus, it's a way to pay homage to what Connie Mack's Athletics did in Philadelphia before they bolted to Kansas City in 1955 and later settled in Oakland in 1968. Whereas the Phillies have made the playoffs just 14 times and won only two World Series in 138 seasons, the Philadelphia A's won eight pennants and five championships just between 1905 and 1931.

Now on to Texas, where the Houston Astros ought to represent America's second-most populous state for one very simple reason: Even if it was ill-begotten, their successful championship run in 2017 accounts for the only World Series win for either Texas' two clubs.

Either the Seattle Mariners or Colorado Rockies could join the Super League on account of being the only MLB gig in town for the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains, respectively. There are also the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins as candidates to represent Florida, the third-most populous state in the union.

But since there isn't a whole lot to say about any of those four clubs, our interest was instead drawn to the Detroit Tigers and even more so to the Minnesota Twins.

Both play in fairly large Midwestern markets, and each has roots as a charter member of the American League in 1901. Yet the Twins notably have a Washington, D.C., connection from their time there through 1960. They likewise have 17 all-time playoff appearances to Detroit's 16, plus a sphere of influence that reaches into Wisconsin and the Dakotas.

Of course, there's also a whole 'nother country within MLB's borders. And since the Montreal Expos are no longer a thing, it's up to the Toronto Blue Jays to rep Canada. And what a rep they are, as only the  Yankees and Red Sox have reached the American League Championship Series more often since 1985.

So, there you have it. The long history and indeed the very essence of Major League Baseball distilled down to a 12-team Super League. 

It'll still never happen. But just in case, at least there's something on the drawing board now.


Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.