Every Baseball Team’s Best Season

October 19, 2018 by Steven M. Peters

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The baseball season — a 162 game marathon over six months — can be a grind. But all that hard work pays off when teams put together winning seasons and reach the playoffs, earning a shot to compete for the World Series.

Some teams have a rich history of dominant seasons, while others only have a few glorious seasons to recall fondly. The San Diego Padres have just five postseason appearances to show for their 50 seasons and zero World Series rings. The Seattle Mariners have won a total of just 15 playoff games in their entire 42 season history and have never even been to the World Series.

Storied and successful franchises that have existed for over a century have had many more chances to rack up wins and championships. The New York Yankees are the best example, with 20 seasons of 100 or more wins and 27 World Series trophies.

But longevity is not a guarantee of success. The Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Boston Red Sox all had championship droughts that stretched from the early 1900s into the 2000s. But some teams have never had any World Series titles at all.

Of the 30 active MLB franchises, 23 have won the World Series since the Fall Classic became an annual tradition in 1903. Only two current teams, the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals, have never made it to the World Series. Still, all seven of the teams without titles have at least reached the playoffs.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the history of each MLB franchise using data from Baseball Reference to determine each team’s best season.

To determine each Major League Baseball team’s best season, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the histories of all 30 current MLB franchises based on data from Baseball Reference. Seasons were ranked based on postseason success and regular season win totals. Only the current iteration of each franchise was considered. For instance, the Brooklyn Dodgers were not considered for the Dodgers franchise, as only the Dodgers teams in Los Angeles were considered. Teams that played before the World Series era, which began in 1903, were not considered. Top players were determined by wins above replacement. Data was collected during the 2018 postseason, so 2018 teams were not considered.

Click here to see each baseball team’s best season.

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1. Arizona Diamondbacks
> Best season: 2001
> Record: 92-70
> Result: Won World Series (4-3)
> Best player: Randy Johnson
> Manager: Bob Brenly

In just their fourth season, the Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in a dramatic seven-game World Series to become the fastest expansion franchise in MLB history to win the title. The Yankees won three of the first five games, then Arizona came back with a 15-2 win in Game 6 and a 3-2 victory in Game 7 with pitcher Randy Johnson picking up both wins. They won 92 games with the MLB’s best pair of starting pitchers — Curt Schilling and Johnson, who combined for 43 wins in the regular seasons.


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2. Atlanta Braves
> Best season: 1995
> Record: 90-54
> Result: Won World Series (4-2)
> Best player: Greg Maddux
> Manager: Bobby Cox

The Braves franchise has the rare distinction of winning the World Series at least once while playing for three cities (Boston and Milwaukee were the other two). But 1995 in Atlanta was clearly the team’s best year. Paced by a trio of Hall of Fame pitchers — Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz — Atlanta won 90 games in a strike-shortened season and cruised to a World Series title.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

3. Baltimore Orioles
> Best season: 1970
> Record: 108-54
> Result: Won World Series (4-1)
> Best player: Jim Palmer
> Manager: Earl Weaver

After the Mets upset them in the 1969 World Series, the Orioles bounced back the next season to capture manager Earl Weaver’s only World series title. With three pitchers winning 20 or more games — Mike Cuellar (24), Dave McNally (24) and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer (20) — the Orioles won the AL East, winning 19 of their final 22 games. Third baseman Brooks Robinson’s glove helped him win World Series MVP, but the Hall of Famer also batted .429 and had nine hits in the 5-game series. First baseman Boog Powell was named AL MVP.

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4. Boston Red Sox
> Best season: 1912
> Record: 105-47-2
> Result: Won World Series (4-3-1)
> Best player: Smoky Joe Wood
> Manager: Jake Stahl

In the first season at Fenway Park, the Red Sox set a franchise record for wins (105), which stood until the 2018 season. Centerfielder Tris Speaker, the AL MVP, and pitcher Smoky Joe Wood, who won 34 games, were the backbone of the bunch that beat the New York Giants in eight games — this was an era before ballparks had lights, so the second game ended in a tie after 11 innings due to darkness. Giants outfielder Fred Snodgrass dropped an easy pop-up in the 10th inning of the tie-breaking eighth game in the series to give the Red Sox the title. It was their second of eight World Series championships.


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5. Chicago Cubs
> Best season: 1907
> Record: 107-45-3
> Result: Won World Series (4-0-1)
> Best player: Orval Overall
> Manager: Frank Chance

The Chicago Cubs won the first of two straight World Series titles in 1907. Pitcher Orval Overall (23 wins in regular season) started two games in the World Series, winning Game 4 and settling for a 12-inning tie in Game 1 over the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers were held to three runs in the four games won by the Cubs. Infielders Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance (who was also the manager) earned fame for their double-play combination. The Cubs won another World Series the next season, then Cubs fans had to wait until 2016 for the next title.

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6. Chicago White Sox
> Best season: 1917
> Record: 100-54-2
> Result: Won World Series (4-2)
> Best player: Eddie Cicotte
> Manager: Pants Rowland

The 1917 Chicago White Sox won 100 games — a franchise record that still stands over a century later. That team also won their second World Series title, topping the New York Giants. Their offense was first in the AL in runs scored (4.2 per game) and the pitching staff owned a league-best 2.16 ERA. The pitching duo of Eddie Cicotte and Red Faber started five of the six World Series games. Faber picked up three of the four wins in the series, which was played against the backdrop of World War I. It was the White Sox first title since 1906 — and last championship until 2005.


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7. Cincinnati Reds
> Best season: 1919
> Record: 96-44
> Result: Won World Series (5-3)
> Best player: Heinie Groh
> Manager: Pat Moran

The Reds built on a 7-0 start to the 1919 season and won the NL pennant and their first World Series title. The offense was propelled by third baseman Heinie Groh (team-high five home runs, 63 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases) and outfielder Edd Roush, who led the NL in batting average (.321) and contributed four home runs, a team-high 71 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. Pitcher Hod Eller won both of his starts in the World Series, which was overshadowed by the Black Sox scandal in which eight of the White Sox were accused of intentionally losing the series for money.

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8. Cleveland Indians
> Best season: 1920
> Record: 98-56
> Result: Won World Series (5-2)
> Best player: Jim Bagby
> Manager: Tris Speaker

Pitchers Jim Bagby (31), Stan Coveleski (24), and Ray Caldwell (20) combined to win 75 games to help the Cleveland Indians secure their first AL championship, which led to the franchise’s first World Series title. The Indians lost two of the first three World Series games to the Brooklyn Robins and came back with four straight wins. They won Game 5, 8-1, when Bill Wambsganss had an unassisted triple play, Elmer Smith had the first grand slam in World Series history, and Bagby became first pitcher to hit a homerun in World Series history.

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9. Colorado Rockies
> Best season: 2007
> Record: 90-73
> Result: Lost World Series (4-0)
> Best player: Troy Tulowitzki
> Manager: Clint Hurdle

In 2007, the Colorado Rockies seemed to be getting hot at the right time. They won 14 of their last 15 regular season games, ending with a 9-8, 13-inning win over the San Diego Padres in a one-game playoff for the wild-card berth. Then they swept their first two playoff series — 3-0 over the Phillies and 4-0 over the Diamondbacks. The magic ended when they were swept by the Red Sox in the World Series. Despite recent regular season success, the Rockies have never made it back to the World Series, and are one of just three teams that have never won a World Series game.


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10. Detroit Tigers
> Best season: 1984
> Record: 104-58
> Result: Won World Series (4-1)
> Best player: Alan Trammell
> Manager: Sparky Anderson

Kirk Gibson with his arms raised high after slamming a three-run home run to win the World Series remains the symbol of the 1984 season in which Detroit led the AL East from wire to wire. The Tigers started 9-0 and never relinquished the AL East lead. Relief pitcher Willie Hernandez won the Cy Young Award and was the AL MVP, while shortstop Alan Trammell won the World Series MVP title, hitting .450 with two home runs and six RBIs. Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson helped bring Detroit its fourth World Series title, its first since 1968.

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11. Houston Astros
> Best season: 2017
> Record: 101-61
> Result: Won World Series (4-3)
> Best player: Jose Altuve
> Manager: AJ Hinch

It was their first 100-plus win season since 1998, and the Astros were just getting started. Behind the highest scoring offense in the major leagues (896 runs scored), they beat the Red Sox in the AL Division Series, then beat the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series in seven games. Pitcher Justin Verlander won the ALCS MVP award. Centerfielder George Springer homered and doubled in the Game 7 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. In fact, he homered in the series’ final four games, earning him the World Series MVP title. Second baseman Jose Altuve, the AL batting champion, blasted two homers and had a half-dozen RBIs in the World Series.


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12. Kansas City Royals
> Best season: 2015
> Record: 95-67
> Result: Won World Series (4-1)
> Best player: Lorenzo Cain
> Manager: Ned Yost

The Royals had something to prove after losing the 2014 World Series in seven games to the San Francisco Giants. They did just that when they defeated the New York Mets in five games, winning their first World Series win since 1985. Catcher Salvador Perez emerged as the World Series MVP. Centerfielder Lorenzo Cain’s bases clearing three-run double in the 12th inning of Game 5 of the World Series helped the Royals clinch the championship with a 7-2 win. They were the first team since the 1989 Oakland Athletics to win the World Series after losing the previous year.

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13. Los Angeles Angels (as the Anaheim Angels)
> Best season: 2002
> Record: 99-63
> Result: Won World Series (4-3)
> Best player: Darin Erstad
> Manager: Mike Scioscia

The 2002 season was a season of firsts for the Angels — first wild-card playoff berth, first AL pennant, and first World Series championship. The offense was powered by Garret Anderson with a team-high 123 RBIs and 29 home runs. The pitching staff was led by Jarrod Washburn (18-6) and relief pitcher Troy Percival finished with 40 saves. The Giants’ Barry Bonds was almost elected World Series MVP before the Angels began their Game 6 comeback. Troy Glaus won it for his 10 hits and eight RBIs.

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14. Los Angeles Dodgers
> Best season: 1963
> Record: 99-63-1
> Result: Won World Series (4-0)
> Best player: Sandy Koufax
> Manager: Walter Alston

Since moving to Los Angeles, the 1963 incarnation of the Dodgers were the most dominant. Sandy Koufax went 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA, and the team swept their former rivals, the New York Yankees, in the World Series. The best year for any Dodgers team was 1955, when the team still played in Brooklyn. The team went 98-55 and beat the Yankees to win the World series.


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15. Miami Marlins (as the Florida Marlins)
> Best season: 1997
> Record: 92-70
> Result: Won World Series (4-3)
> Best player: Kevin Brown
> Manager: Jim Leyland

Owner Wayne Huizenga went for broke, signing several key free agents, including Bobby Bonilla and Moises Alou, to win the World Series in just the fifth year of the Marlins’ existence. After upsetting the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS in six games, pitcher Livan Hernandez won two games, and Alou hit three home runs and had nine RBIs in the seven-game World Series win over the Cleveland Indians. It was short-lived joy in Miami, with a firesale taking place after the title win. However, the Marlins won another surprise World Series in 2003.

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16. Milwaukee Brewers
> Best season: 1982
> Record: 95-67-1
> Result: Lost World Series (4-3)
> Best player: Robin Yount
> Manager: Harvey Kuenn

Paul Molitor and Robin Yount provided much of the offense as the Brewers won their first and only AL Championship Series before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in what was known as the Suds Series (Anheuser Busch vs. Miller Brewing). Yount was named AL MVP and became the first player in World Series history to have two four-hit games in one series. Molitor, whose 136 runs led the AL, set a record with his fifth hit in the ninth inning of Game 1. After losing the 1982 World Series, the Brewers missed the playoffs for the next 25 seasons.


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17. Minnesota Twins
> Best season: 1991
> Record: 95-67
> Result: Won World Series (4-3)
> Best player: Kevin Tapani
> Manager: Tom Kelly

After a 15-game win streak, the Twins moved from sixth place to first and hung on to win the AL West. They became first team to go from last-place finish the previous year to World Series champions, beating the Braves in seven games. Pitcher Jack Morris, the World Series MVP, pitched all 10 innings in Game 7, which the Twins won 1-0. Kirby Puckett was the ALCS MVP, while second baseman Chuck Knoblauch was the AL rookie of the year.

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18. New York Mets
> Best season: 1986
> Record: 108-54
> Result: Won World Series (4-3)
> Best player: Keith Hernandez
> Manager: Davey Johnson

The Mets set a club record with 108 wins before defeating the Houston Astros in the NLCS in six games. First baseman Keith Hernandez batted .310 with 83 RBIs in the season. Hall of Famer Gary Carter contributed 105 RBIs. The Boston Red Sox were one win away from the World Series title in Game 6 when first baseman Bill Buckner let a Mookie Wilson slow-rolling ball go through his legs and into right field, giving the Mets the win. They came back in Game 7 with three RBIs from Hernandez to win the World Series title.

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19. New York Yankees
> Best season: 1927
> Record: 110-44-1
> Result: Won World Series (4-0)
> Best player: Babe Ruth
> Manager: Miller Huggins

The Yankees have had a lot of terrific lineups in franchise history, but none can top the 1927 team. Considered one of the best teams in MLB history with 110 wins and six future Hall of Famers, the Yankees won their second World Series in five seasons. The first six in the Yankees’ batting order, which included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, were known as Murderers Row. Ruth hit 60 home runs, had a .356 average, and 164 RBIs that season. They swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series when Ruth had a team-high seven RBIs. The Yankees were just getting started — today they have 27 World Series championships.


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20. Oakland Athletics
> Best season: 1989
> Record: 99-63
> Result: Won World Series (4-0)
> Best player: Mike Moore
> Manager: Tony La Russa

In Athletics franchise history, there have been a number of teams that won over 100 games and captured the World Series title. But all of those teams played in Philadelphia, and therefore were not considered. The best A’s team in Oakland played in the late 1980s. Oakland won 104 games, but lost in the Fall Classic to the Dodgers in 1988. The A’s rebounded the next season, winning the World Series — which was delayed by a destructive earthquake — thanks in large part to midseason acquisition Rickey Henderson.

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21. Philadelphia Phillies
> Best season: 2008
> Record: 92-70
> Result: Won World Series (4-1)
> Best player: Chase Utley
> Manager: Charlie Manuel

After years of struggling, the Phillies won their second World Series title, beating the Tampa Bay Rays in five games. The previous season, the Phillies were swept by the Rockies in the NL Division Series, so they had something to prove in 2008. Starting pitcher Cole Hamels was the MVP of the NLCS and World Series. Closer Brad Lidge was the MLB Comeback Player of the Year for his perfect 48-for-48 performance throughout the 2008 regular season and postseason. It was the first major sports championship in Philadelphia since 1983.


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22. Pittsburgh Pirates
> Best season: 1909
> Record: 110-42-2
> Result: Won World Series (4-3)
> Best player: Honus Wagner
> Manager: Fred Clarke

In their 28th season, the Pirates won their first World Series in seven games, beating the Detroit Tigers. Pittsburgh’s Honus Wagner outplayed Detroit’s Ty Cobb in the series, with pitcher Babe Adams winning all three of his games. Those 110 wins are still a franchise record for the Pirates, who have won four more World Series titles since 1909, the most recent in 1979.

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23. San Diego Padres
> Best season: 1998
> Record: 98-64
> Result: Lost World Series (4-0)
> Best player: Kevin Brown
> Manager: Bruce Bochy

The Padres made it to their second World Series in 1998, propelled by the bat of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who blasted 50 home runs. But the team was overmatched in the Fall Classic and was swept by the Yankees. In 1984, the Padres lost in their first World Series trip, losing in five games to the Detroit Tigers. Along with Gwynn, the Padres featured All-Star pitchers Andy Ashby, Kevin Brown, and Trevor Hoffman, as well as Greg Vaughn who had the best season of his career.

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24. San Francisco Giants
> Best season: 2012
> Record: 94-68
> Result: Won World Series (4-0)
> Best player: Buster Posey
> Manager: Bruce Bochy

In New York, the Giants were a perennial postseason team. But after moving to San Francisco in 1958, they struggled to find any postseason success — at least until 2010, when the franchise won three titles in five seasons. Of those championship teams, the best version was in 2012. Those Giants won 94 games and swept the Tigers in the World Series.


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25. Seattle Mariners
> Best season: 2001
> Record: 116-46
> Result: Lost ALCS (4-1)
> Best player: Bret Boone
> Manager: Lou Piniella

All was good for the Mariners in 2001: they finished the season with 116 wins, won the AL West, hosted the 2001 All-Star game, and watched the debut of right fielder Ichiro Suzuki who was the AL MVP and AL rookie of the year. Then they fell in five games during the ALCS to the Yankees. The Mariners haven’t been back to the postseason since, owning the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports.

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26. St. Louis Cardinals
> Best season: 1942
> Record: 106-48-2
> Result: Won World Series (4-1)
> Best player: Mort Cooper
> Manager: Billy Southworth

Not only did the Cardinals win their fourth World Series, but they did it by beating the Yankees in five games. The Yankees had won the World Series in 1941 and would win it again in 1943. It was the 61st season for the Cardinals, who finished first in the NL with 106 wins. Pitcher Mort Cooper was the NL MVP with a 22-7 record and a 1.78 ERA. The Cardinals have since upped their World Series championship total to 11.


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27. Tampa Bay Rays
> Best season: 2008
> Record: 97-65
> Result: Lost World Series (4-1)
> Best player: Carlos Pena
> Manager: Joe Maddon

In their 11th season, the Rays had their first winning record (97-65), earned their first playoff berth, and won their first AL pennant, defeating the Red Sox in seven games. Pitcher Matt Garza won two games and was named ALCS MVP. It was a World Series to remember because it was their only one in franchise history, but they were no match for the Phillies, who beat them in five games.

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28. Texas Rangers
> Best season: 2011
> Record: 96-66
> Result: Lost World Series (4-3)
> Best player: Ian Kinsler
> Manager: Ron Washington

It was the second straight trip to the World Series for the Rangers with an offense led by home run hitters Ian Kinsler (32), Andre Beltre (32), and Mike Napoli (30). The Rangers couldn’t cross the finish line in either series. In 2011, they defeated the Tigers in the ALCS to make it to the World Series. Then they faced the Cardinals, who won in seven games. In Game 6, the Rangers came within one strike in each the ninth and 10th innings of winning the title, but the Cardinals fought back to even the series, which the Rangers lost in Game 7.

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29. Toronto Blue Jays
> Best season: 1992
> Record: 96-66
> Result: Won World Series (4-2)
> Best player: Roberto Alomar
> Manager: Cito Gaston

It was the first of two straight World Series championships for the Blue Jays, the first non U.S.-based team to win a World Series. Behind the offense of Roberto Alomar (177 hits, .310 average) and Joe Carter (34 home runs, 119 RBI), the Jays won 96 games. Pitcher Jack Morris had 21 wins, and reliever Tom Henke finished with 34 saves. The Jays defeated the Oakland Athletics in six games in the ALCS. They took down the Atlanta Braves in six games in the World Series.


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30. Washington Nationals
> Best season: 2012
> Record: 98-64
> Result: Lost NLDS (3-2)
> Best player: Jordan Zimmermann
> Manager: Davey Johnson

This team’s best season ever was when it advanced to the NL Division Series six years ago — and lost. In fairness, the Nationals have only existed since 2005, taking over for the folded Montreal Expos. In 2012, they were 98-64, and Davey Johnson was NL manager of the year with Bryce Harper winning NL rookie of the year honors. Still, they lost in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. The Nationals also won division titles in 2014, 2016, and 2017, but they have never advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs.