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The Best Teams In The MLB From 1980 – Now: SF Cements Their Place From 2010 – 2014 With WS Birth

The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, if they make a World Series Appearance in 2013, they could break up the best teams for the years to include the Red Sox from 2004 - 2007, the Phillies from 2008 - 2009, and then you would have to place the Giants as the best overall team from 2010 - 2014.  Can they keep up the format of winning a World Series every 2 years again next campaign?

The Giants won the World Series in 2010 and 2012, and now are in the 2014 World Series – with a great chance to win 3 titles in 5 years against Kansas City.   The best teams for the last several years include the Red Sox from 2004 – 2007, the Phillies from 2008 – 2009, and then you would have to place the Giants as the best overall team from 2010 – 2014. Can they keep up the format of winning a World Series every 2 years again this year? The Red Sox (3 Titles), plus the Giants and Cards each having 2 Fall Classics, are the only 3 teams to have multiple World Series Trophies since the 2004 year.

By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner):

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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. 

If you gave me enough time as a reader, I promise to backdate this topic with another article featuring the best teams dating back further in years. 

Eventually, all of the years may be dissected and we can have a healthy debate on some of my selections.  I really started watching baseball in the early 1980’s. 

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.

The Cardinals are the model NL Franchise, and have made it 6 NLCS matchups and 4 World Series over the last 10 years.  This accolades are better than any other franchise in this time span.  However, losing their only 2 World Series to the Boston Red Sox puts a little dampen on the club.  Should it be the deciding factor on the best team in baseball from 2004 - 2013?

The Cardinals are the model NL Franchise, and have made it to 7 NLCS matchups and 4 World Series over the last 11 years (also 9 NLCS Appearances since 200). These accolades are better than any other franchise in this time span. However, losing their only 2 World Series to the Boston Red Sox puts a little damper on the club.  The Cards are also now just 4 – 5 in their NLCS Appearances – including 3 straight years of losing their last 3 games of the playoffs.  (2012, lost a 3 – 1 NLCS lead), (2013, lost last 3 games of the World Series despite taking a 2 — 1 advantage early) and (2014, losing their last 3 games in the NLCS to the Giants), in which they held leads in all of them.

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 WardJimmy 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 and Indians in the 1996 and 1997 Fall Classics respectively. 

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 (Previously 2004 – 2013, until SF won the NLCS in 2014)

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.

In 2013, the team came all the way back from worst to first.  But with only 1 trip to the Fall Classic, and the Giants now having made 3 since 2010, and winning at least 2 of them (and possibly three), this reverts back to the Sox (2004 – 2007), The Phillies in 2008 and 2009, before the Giants take over as the new reigning dynasty.

2013 came from 5 years of battling failures, chicken benders and a harsh 7 ALCS game loss to the Rays, when they were vying for their second straight title in 2008.

The Red Sox were always in the hunt, except for the brutal 2012 season, in which they went 69 – 93.  It was their only losing season out of the ten years. 

They sandwiched another last place finish in the AL East, to strip them from their throne with another reason.

Aided by a community becoming more solidified than ever during the “Boston Strong”, plus a renaissance from John Lackey, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, the team brought in their 3rd Fall Classic since 2004 this past campaign.

With John Farrell coming back to rescue the attitude from departing Bobby Valentine, the club made such a drastic turnaround for the better from the previous year.

David Ortiz turned back the clock to 2004, and 2007, and Boston not only took home the Title in 2013, they had claimed the best team of the last decade, before the Giants ripped it back for the last 5 years.  .

A close second runner up for last 11 years

Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals 2004 – 2014

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 7 NLCS appearances (4 – 3 record), 4 World Series Appearances (2 – 2), and they have brought home 7 Division Titles.

The squad is also kicking around the bend with 8 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 Giants could make it 3 – 0 in the World Series for the last 5 years, and I have to go with the Phillies in the 2008 and 2009 years, being the last NL club to make it to back to back Fall Classics.

The Texas Rangers are the last team in the MLB to make it to 2 consecutive World Series in 2010 and 2011, with losing both of the series to the Giants and Cards. 

The problem would be for the Boston team (had they not owned a 2 – 0 WS record vs STL since 2004) – that they 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 14 years – and Boston in the AL for the last 11, even with a poor 2014 effort. .

Boston could still revert this whole thing to a 2004 - 2015 if they can nail down the series next year, and if the Giants are to lose the World Series this year, however I highly doubt both of those scenarios will come down the pike like that.  Of course those pesky Cardinals could come back into the fold with another World Series Appearance too.  It has to be a win for the St. Louis though.  The Cards, for what it is worth, have made 4 straight NLCS Appearances.  if this article was based on consistent and best run franchises, well they would take the cake.

Boston could still revert this whole thing to a 2004 – 2015 if they can nail down the series next year, and if the Giants are to lose the World Series this year, however I highly doubt both of those scenarios will come down the pike like that. Of course those pesky Cardinals could come back into the fold with another World Series Appearance too. It has to be a win for the St. Louis though. The Cards, for what it is worth, have made 4 straight NLCS Appearances. if this article was based on consistent and best run franchises, well they would take the cake.

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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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About chuckbooth3023

I played competitive baseball until 18 years old and had offers to play NCAA Division 1 University Baseball at Liberty University. Post-concussion symptoms from previous football and baseball head injuries forced me to retire by age 19. After two nearly made World Record Attempts in 2008, I set a New World Record by visiting all 30 MLB Parks (from 1st to last pitch) in only 24 Calendar Days in the summer 0f 2009. In April of 2012, I established yet another new GWR by visiting all 30 Parks in only 23 Calendar Days! You can see the full schedule at the page of the www.mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker . In 2015, I watched 224 MLB Games, spanning all 30 MLB Parks in 183 Days. Read about that World Record Journey at https://mlbreports.com/183in2015/229sked2015/

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