The Best Teams In The MLB From 1980 – 2017: The Biggest Question Is, Who Owns 2015 – 2017 Mark? Early Favorite Lends 2 Cubs With 3 Straight LCS Appearances, 1 World Series
By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
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There is only so much one can read in an article, otherwise I would make these lists up from the turn of the 20th century.
As I became older and discovered ways to research the history of the game, my knowledge and curious mind grew for more information.
I have studied and read baseball stat books and breezed through the odd Bill James novel.
If I ever take a break from writing or baseball park chasing, I may find some time down the road to watch the 9 part PBS documentary that Ken Burns did on baseball’s history.
Baseball lends itself more to the history than any other sport because of how it has been chronicled throughout their past.
Writers, announcers, former players, parents etc.. have always carried on with the stories of America’s favorite pastime.
I will never be sold that NFL is the greatest pastime in sports right now. NFL is the greatest gambling sport presently.
It is my firm belief that the only reason why the NFL draws in more cash from its sport is because of the gambling factor. If you took that aspect out of it, I believe baseball is the #1 sport.
Can you imagine how much attention we would pay to baseball if there were only a 16 game schedule?
Enough with that rant, let’s get down to the list. Who were the best teams at any specific time period for the last 33 years? We will start with the Philadelphia Phillies from 1980-1983.
Philadelphia Phillies 1980 – 1983
The team was pretty good from 1976 – 1978 in winning a couple of division crowns, but the Dodgers and the Yankees were obviously better for those given years.
In 1979, the club signed Pete Rose who would turn 38 the next year. At that time, Rose’s 3.2 Million/4 year contract was the richest player salary in team sports.
The team also had perennial HR champ Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, perhaps the premier Left – Handed pitcher in the National League during this era.
For these 4 years, the Phillies earned three division titles (one in the first half of the strike shortened season,) and two World Series appearances.
In 1980, the club went 91 – 71 and then ousted the Houston Astos in the NLCS for their first NL Pennant in 30 years.
The team went onto beat the Kansas City Royals for their World Series Title.
In 1981, they won the first half of the season with a 34 – 23 and ended with a 59 – 50 record for the year, before being bested in the 1st ever NLDS playoffs by the Montreal Expos.
In 1982, they went 89-73, but fell just short of the playoffs.
In 1983, they went 90-72 and made it to the World Series before the Baltimore Orioles and a young Cal Ripken beat them out.
This 4 year span could have gone to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Baltimore Orioles or even the St. Louis Cardinals.
In the end, I gave it to the Phillies for their 2 World Series births and one victory.
New York Mets 1984 – 1987
There was a lot of parity in the league during the 1980’s.
The Cardinals made the World Series in both 1985 and 1987.
The Tigers won 2 pennants from 84 – 87, including the 1984 World Series (the year they started 35-5), yet no team other than the Mets won 90 games for those 4 years in a row.
In 1985, the Mets won 98 games, which was 3rd overall in MLB wins, but the Cardinals sported an MLB best 101 – 61 W-L record in the NL East to prevent the club from the post season.
I also omitted the Twins from a time period of 1987 – 1991, because other than those two title years, they weren’t that dominant. Even their World Series win in ’87 – was perhaps the worst winner of ALL – Time in the Fall Classic.
Dwight Gooden came bursting on the scene as a teenager and dominated for 5 years as a starting pitcher.
Darryl Strawberry was establishing himself as a top 5 offensive player. Gary Carter was the best catcher in the game.
This all culminated in the Mets winning the World Series in 1986 over the Boston Red Sox.
Other steady contributing players were: Ron Darling, Jesse Orosco, Sid Fernandez, Kevin McReynolds and Keith Hernandez.
The team did also win the division pennant in 1988, before losing to the Dodgers in the NLCS.
Oakland Athletics 1988 – 1990
The Oakland Athletics were the best team in the Major Leagues for these three years.
They made the World Series from 1988 – 1990, however they were upset in 1988 and 1990 by the Dodgers and Reds respectively, even though the A’s had been heavy favorites – and did win a title in the Bay Area series vs SF in 1989.
They had Bash Brothers: Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, batting champion Carney Lansford, and 4 time-20 game winner Dave Stewart, (maybe the best money pitcher of all-time in the post season.)
We also can’t forget Dennis Eckersley and Rickey Henderson.
The A’s would go onto head back to for to the playoffs with one more division pennant win in 1992, unfortunately they ran into the powerhouse Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto Blue Jays 1991 – 1993
The Toronto Blue Jays won the pennant in 1985, won 86 games in 1986, lost the 1987 division (in one of the biggest collapses ever) to the Tigers by one game, won 87 games in 1988, won the division in 1989, won 86 games in 1990 before winning the 1991 pennant again with a 91-71 record.
The Twins did defeat the Canadian club that year of 1991, yet the Jays were not discouraged.
The team was drawing 4 Million fans to SkyDome every year, which could afford them the highest payroll in the Majors.
Pat Gillick brought in Dave Winfield and Jack Morris for the 1992 season.
The aging slugger Winfield, provided the missing piece of leadership needed to win the World Series.
The team also had perennial ALL-Stars Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter.
Devon White, John Olerud, Tom Henke, Duane Ward, Jimmy Key and Juan Guzman all played key roles in bringing home the first World Series north of the border.
In 1993, the Jays saw Paul Molitor sign as a free agent. Olerud, Molitor and Alomar finished 1, 2 and 3 in the AL Batting Race that year.
‘Trader Pat’ Gillick also stocked the team with Rickey Henderson and Dave Stewart, to help compete for a second straight World Series Title.
The emergence of Pat Hentgen provided enough pitching to aid the awesome offense.
The Blue Jays beat out the ‘Biker Gang’ Philadelphia Phillies on the famous Joe Carter three run homer off of Mitch “Wildthing” Williams in the bottom of the ninth, for a walk off 6 game World Series victory (8 – 6) and back to back titles.
Montreal Expos 1994
The Expos were one of the best teams in the MLB between 1979-1994, posting 12 winning seasons and averaging 87 wins a season. The team had to keep trading away their best talent for young prospects.
In 1994, they had seen their young prospects mature towards a (Major League Best) 74 – 40 record at the break.
Ken Hill and Pedro Martinez were the greatest 1 -2 starting pitcher combo in the game and John Wetteland was quickly becoming a big game closer.
Moises Alou, Larry Walker and Marquis Grissom were the most spectacular outfield threesome in the world.
The team had 30 of its last 48 games remaining at home and a 6 game division lead over the Atlanta Braves.
The season was lost to the player strike and the Expos never recovered from it ever.
Atlanta Braves 1995-1997
The Atlanta Braves won the World Series in 1995, before losing to the Yankees in the 1996 Fall Classic.
The Braves had the best record in baseball during the 1997 season with 101 wins.
That team was upset by Gary Sheffield and the Florida Marlins in the playoffs.
The Braves also has made it to back to back World Series in 1991 and 1992 before losing to the Twins and Blue Jays.
The Braves were in the middle of their 14 straight division titles. Team GM John Schuerholz had been part of a front office that drafted John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Dave Justice.
They had acquired veteran leadership to put them over the top in Fred McGriff and Greg Maddux .
The team was managed by Bobby Cox. It is truly one of the more remarkable streaks in pro sports from 1991-2005.
It was only being able to cash in one World Series out of 6 attempts that stymied the fans elation for such a successful franchise run.
The New York Yankees 1998 – 2003
The Bronx Bombers are the last dynasty of the MLB as of right now. After they won the World Series in 1996, (breaking an 18 year drought) George Steinbrenner started flexing his muscles with spending.
It was still the ‘Core Four’ of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada that were the organizational lynchpins.
The team had drafted them and brought them to the Majors all at the same time. The club won 3 straight World Series from 1998 – 2000.
Losses to the Diamondbacks and Marlins, sandwiched by a loss to the Angels from 2001-2003 started the end of the dynasty, yet still proved the dominance of the Yankees.
6 World Series births and 4 Rings from 1996-2003 says it all.
Other key players to the ‘Core Four’ were: Roger Clemens, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Mike Stanton, Bernie Williams and of course the skipper Joe Torre.
George Steinbrenner spared no expense in bringing in veteran sluggers like: Darryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco, Cecil Fielder, Chili Davis, Ruben Sierra and Dave Justice to help DH with the team.
The Yankees were back on top as the kings of the MLB.
Boston Red Sox 2004 – 2007
The Boston Red Sox were staring down a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS after a 19-8 loss at Fenway Park to the New York Yankees.
Their arch-nemesis had recently acquired Alex Rodriguez and signed Jason Giambi as a free agent to beef up their offesnive lineup.
David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez and newly acquired Curt Schilling had seen enough.
The Beantowners erased an 86 year drought by winning four straight versus the Yankees and absolutely pulverizing the St. Louis Cardinals in a sweep to win the World Series Title.
The Red Sox won 95 games in 2005 but were swept in the ALDS by the White Sox.
The 2006 Red Sox had an off-year only winning 86 games.
In 2007, the Red Sox trailed the Indians in the ALCS by a 3-1 deficit, before making another remarkable comeback to win the next 3 games en route to the Fall Classic.
Boston destroyed the underdog Rockies in the World Series to take home their 2nd World Series title in 4 years.
The 3 – 4 hitting combination of Ramirez and Ortiz might have been the strongest 3-4 punch since Mantle and Maris.
Curt Schilling won his 3rd World Series(2nd with Boston) and seemed to be the elixir the club needed when playoff time came.
Timely closing by Keith Foulke in 2004 and the emergence of Jonathan Papelbon in 2007 proved to help the bullpen.
Jason Varitek was a great team captain. Other key contributions came from Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Millar, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jon Lester during their playoff runs.
David Ortiz turned back the clock to 2004, and 2007, and Boston not only took home the Title in 2013, they claimed the best team of the last decade. However by the Giants taking down their 3rd title in 5 years during 2014, the Red Sox plummeted down the standings again – and had to pass over the torch for a 4 year dominance instead of a decade.
Philadelphia Phillies 2008 – 2009
Philadelphia won 5 straight NL East titles from 2007 – 2011, but they were the best team in the Major Leagues for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Only the Yankees winning the 2009 World Series stopped them from a bigger step in the history of the game.,
At the peak of the 2008 season, perennial ALL -Stars and MVP candidates Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins led the “Phightins” to be one of the most feared clubs in the Majors.
They would go on to add the ‘late’ Roy Halladay – and sport the best record in the bigs during the 2010 – 2011 seasons, however they just couldn’t get it done in the playoffs those years, being ousted before making it to the big dance again,
The franchise hasn’t recovered from Howard blowing out his ankle in the 2011 Playoffs.
San Francisco Giants 2010 – 2014
With three titles in 5 seasons the Giants have been the team of the decade so far, but it is really just a 5 year spell.
Madison Bumgarner has gone legend so many times in the Fall Classic, that he doesn’t ever have to buy another drink in the ‘BAY AREA’ ever again.
The Giants have not always had the best teams in the regular season – however the clutch players they have had have come up big when it has mattered the most.
How quickly we forget how good they were in the even years to start this decade – based largely on their last year and a half struggles.
Can Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy get this club back to the Post Season ever again this decade?
Chicago Cubs 2015 – 2016 (Possibly adding on)
The art of tanking has been on display like no tomorrow the last 24 months. 1st the Cubs won the World Series and then the Houston Astros. Both clubs were wallowing around the bottom of the standings for several years, acquiring 1st – 5th overall picks to expedite their resurgences.
Theo Epstein was the architect behind the Cubs rebound, and as soon as Joe Maddon took over as coach, the LCS Apperances have been 3 years straight.
Houston, New Tork Mets, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland and the Dodgers could make sure the Cubs get knocked out of any dominate performances for multiple years should they win a World Series this year, however Chicago may still lay claim to 2015 – 2016 if the Royals don’t close the deal (which is highly unlikely).
With Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo under several more years of Team Control left, the Cubs should be a force to be reckoned with for some time to come.
A close second
St. Louis Cardinals 2004 – 2013 Runner Ups
The Cardinals have been the leaders in the NL since the start of the millennium, however it was their 1st World Series visit in 17 years during 2004 – that kicked off the festivities.
Their argument for team of the last decade – is they have been to 6 NLCS appearances (4 – 2 record), 4 World Series Appearances (2 – 2), and they have brought home 5 Division Titles.
The squad is also kicking around the bend with 7 playoff appearances.
In contrast, the Red Sox have 3 World Series Titles (3 – 0), and have made it to 4 ALCS matchups ( 3 – 1).
The problem would be for the Boston team (had they not owned a 2 – 0 WS record vs STL since 2004) – that hey only have 2 Division Titles – because the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays have been their thorns to the that crown.
The Cardinals had the undisputed best player in the game when they employed Albert Pujols for the 1st 8 years of this time frame.
You also have to factor that the path of resistance to the Fall Classic, was so much easier for St. Louis than the Boston Red Sox.
Their is no doubt about, the Cardinals have been the class of the National League for the last 13 years. 8 NLCS Appearances would verify that.
The Royals 2014 – 2015
Despite going to back to back World Series KC will have a tough time holding any real estate for a dominant all time team. The loss to the Giants hurts big time as it added to San Fran’s years. Beating the Mets was awesome, but backing that up will be a problem before any other of the last pennant winner’s can duplicate another appearance like the Dodgers, Indians, Astros and Cubs may win s World Series to add for the resume.
Chuck Booth – Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner and author of the Fastest 30 Ballgames: To learn more about my “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book” and how to purchase it, click here .
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Posted on November 30, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged adrian beltre, albert pujols, alcs, alesx rodriguez, andruw jones, andy pettitte, Atlanta Braves, bernie williams, Bill James, boston red sox, brad lidge, cal ripken, cecil fielder, chili davis, chipper jones, Chuck Booth. fastest 30 ballgames, cliff lee, darryl strawberry, dave justice, dave stewart, dave winfield, david ortiz, Dennis Exckersley, derek jeter, Devon White, Doc Gooden, Duane Ward, dustin pedroia, elvis andrus, fenway park, florida marlins, fred mcGriff, gary carter, gary sheffield, george steinbrenner, Greg Maddux, houston astros, jack morris, jamie moyer, jason giambi, jason varitek, jayson werth, jd drew, Jesse Orosco, JImmy Key, Joe Carter, Joe Torre, john olerud, john smoltz, john wetteland, jon lester, jonathan papelbon, jose canseco, josh hamilton, juan guzman, kansas city royals, ken burns, ken hill, Keth Hernandez, kevin millar, kevin youkilis, Larry Walker, los angeles dodgers, lowell, manny ramirez, mariano rivera, mark trumbo, marquis grissom, Matt Harrison, mike, mike schmidt, mike stanton, Mike Trout, Mitch Williams, mlb, moises alou, montreal expos, new York, new york mets, new york yankees, nfl, nlcs, oakland athletics, pat gillick, Pat Hentgen, paul molitor, Paul o neill, pedro martinez, pete rose, Philadephia Phillies, raul ibanez, rickey henderson, roberto alomar, roger clemens, ron darling, ruben sierra, ryan howard, scott brosius, shane victorino, Sid Fernandez, skydome, st louis cardinals, tino martinez, tom glavine, tom henke, toronto blue jays, twitter, world series, yu darvish. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Best Teams In The MLB From 1980 – 2017: The Biggest Question Is, Who Owns 2015 – 2017 Mark? Early Favorite Lends 2 Cubs With 3 Straight LCS Appearances, 1 World Series.
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