The Best Teams In The MLB From 1980 – Now: SF Cements Their Place From 2010 – 2014 With WS Birth
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.
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.
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.
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.
This all culminated in the Mets winning the World Series in 1986 over the Boston Red Sox.
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.
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.
The aging slugger Winfield, provided the missing piece of leadership needed to win the World Series.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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. .
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Posted on October 17, 2014, in Playoffs 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 – Now: SF Cements Their Place From 2010 – 2014 With WS Birth.