Since 1900, there have only been four such dynasties. Connie Mack‘s Philadelphia Athletics won 313 games from 1929-31. With a lineup featuring Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Cochrane, and a rotation led by Lefty Grove (considered by some the best pitcher of all time), the A’s won the World Series in ’29 and ’30, but lost in seven games to the Cardinals in ’31.
The St. Louis Cardinals, managed by Billy Southworth, won 106, 105, and 105, in 1942, ’43, and ’44, respectively. Not coincidentally, these were Stan Musial’s first three seasons in the majors. His team won it all two of the three years, but surprisingly the year they lost was Stan the Man’s MVP year in 1943. Perhaps the bigger key to their success, however, was the disheveled state of most other teams. After the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, several star players volunteered for military service. While most clubs were scrambling to replace their main attractions, St. Louis had comparatively little turnover. The Cardinal run ended when the other players returned from overseas in 1945.
Along with the 1960 Yankees, the 1969 Orioles may be the most famous World Series losers of all time. Despite winning 109 games, the heavily favored O’s lost the Series to the upstart Miracle Mets. Still, even with the new League Championship Series to play, they managed to make it back the next two years, winning it in ’70. Over the ’69-’71 period, Baltimore excelled in all areas of the game. Frank Robinson and Boog Powell gave them power, Brooks Robinson and Mark Belanger anchored the defense, and Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally, and Jim Palmer headed one of the greatest pitching staffs in history. Their impressive three-year run was not an anomaly, as manager Earl Weaver never presided over a losing team in his 15 years as their manager.
At least the underachieving Orioles can boast of one championship during their span of regular-season dominance. The 1997-99 Atlanta Braves, the last team to win 100 games for three straight seasons, not only didn’t win a World Series, they only made it to one. After collapsing against the Yankees in 1996, Atlanta lost to Florida and San Diego before making it back to the Series in 1999 in a rematch with New York. They were promptly dispatched in four games. Still, Bobby Cox‘s crew must be given some credit for being the greatest regular-season team of the 1990s. Their lineup was first-rate at times, but the real strength of the team was always its starting rotation. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz, with contributions from Denny Neagle and Kevin Millwood, formed the most consistently excellent staff of the decade.