Baseball’s Greatest Teams

The best indicators of truly great baseball teams, of course, are the number of games they’ve won. Nearly forty clubs have won over 100 games in a season since 1900, but only nine of them managed to win 108. Those nine teams are automatically included in our survey of baseball’s best teams.

There are, however, a number of great teams that didn’t reach the 108-win plateau — namely, those that played fewer than the 154- or 162-game standard seasons. For those clubs, we’ve set a .700 winning percentage as the benchmark: the 1909 Pirates, 1931 Athletics, and 1939 Yankees all fall into this category. (The 1907 Cubs and 1970 Orioles would also, but we’ve chosen the superior 1906 and 1969 editions to represent their respective dynasties.)

These twelve clubs, as demonstrated by their season-long dominance and remarkable records, have earned the right to be considered “the best of the best.”

1998 New York Yankees

The ’98 Yankees had no superstars, but consistent excellence from their entire roster helped them win an AL-record 114 regular-season games.

1987 Minnesota Twins

The 1987 Minnesota Twins were no juggernaut, but rode an unprecedented home-field advantage to garner the first championship in franchise history.

1984 Detroit Tigers

After a 35-5 start, it was smooth sailing for Sparky Anderson‘s veteran club — only the third team ever to spend an entire season at the top of the standings.

1975 Cincinnati Reds

The first “Big Red Machine” team to win it all, with a combination of power and speed rarely seen before or since.

1970 Baltimore Orioles

The centerpiece of a dominant three-year run, the 1970 version staked its claim as the best of the bunch by accomplishing what the other two couldn’t manage — winning the World Series.

1969 Baltimore Orioles

The ’69 Orioles represented the pinnacle of Baltimore’s defense-oriented and pitching-rich baseball tradition.

1961 New York Yankees

Mantle and Maris weren’t the only outstanding individual performers on the ’61 Yankees; they also had a fine pitching staff and stellar defense.

1954 Cleveland Indians

Bill Veeck‘s willingness to sign black players was criticized by some, but his ’54 Indians, well-stocked with black stars, set an AL record with 111 wins.

1942 St. Louis Cardinals

The first of three consecutive pennants for the Cardinals, the first team to develop raw, unproven ballplayers in a farm system.

1939 New York Yankees

Few teams have been able to totally demoralize their competition like the ’27 Yankees; their “Murderer’s Row” included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

1931 Philadelphia A’s

“Connie’s Bull Elephants” featured six future Hall of Famers, three 20-game winners, and a pair of great streaks; 17 consecutive wins in May and 13 in July.

1929 Philadelphia A’s

After a valiant but unsuccessful run at the powerful Yankees in 1928, Mack’s “White Elephants” finally took the pennant in 1929.

1927 New York Yankees

Few teams have been able to totally demoralize their competition like the ’27 Yankees; their “Murderer’s Row” included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

1909 Pittsburg Pirates

Led by Honus Wagner, the ’09 Pirates had the highest winning percentage (regular season and post-season) of any modern World Series champ.

1906 Chicago Cubs

The ’06 Cubs finished twenty games ahead of the second-place Giants with the most wins of any team in baseball history.

1902 Pittsburg Pirates

The ’02 Pirates romped through the season with the second-best winning percentage of the twentieth century, but never faced the AL champs.