Any team that wins a championship needs the right mix of coaching, talent, and toughness. But while sports fans laud teams like the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls or 1972 Miami Dolphins that have gone down as some of the greatest teams of all time, there are plenty more teams that shocked the world by winning titles.
The 2019 Washington Nationals had slim hopes of winning the World Series — as the Wild Card team, they had no home field advantage in any full postseason round, and they had to square off against division champions like the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Houston Astros, who seemed to be better, at least based on their regular season performance. This is the year each team won their first championship.
But any team in the playoffs has hope, and the Nats fought their way to win their first World Series. With a 93-69 regular season record, Washington is just a bit too good to make the list of the worst teams to win a championship.
To determine the worst teams to win a championship, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the Sports Reference family of sites on the regular season records and point differentials of modern era champions of the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB. We considered each league’s modern period to have begun when it merged with its rival league. For the NFL, this was 1966, the NBA 1976, the NHL 1979. We considered the World Series era, which began in 1903, the start of the MLB’s modern era.
Many of these teams benefitted from playing in weaker divisions, where it took fewer wins to earn a playoff berth. But these teams still had to fight through tough opponents who seemed to be title favorites en route to their championships. The 2007 New York Giants went 10-6, but they made a postseason run that culminated in facing off against the previously undefeated New England Patriots. It seemed to be a mismatch, but the Giants pulled off the improbable upset, spoiling a would-be perfect season for the Patriots. These are the greatest teams that did not with a championship.