The 25 Greatest MLB Teams of All-Time, Ranked
Step onto the diamond and join us for an exciting journey through the captivating history of Major League Baseball. We’re going to count down the 25 greatest teams in MLB history, but here’s the twist – not all of them even won the World Series that season! From unforgettable plays to remarkable underdog stories, these teams have left an enduring mark on baseball (even if they came up short in the postseason).
25. 1931 Philadelphia Athletics
These 1931 Athletics still hold the franchise record for most wins in a season (107-45). With the legendary Connie Mack running the dugout, and stars Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane and Jimmie Foxx in full force, the A’s batted .287 as a team during a regular season in which they posted winning streaks of 13 and 17 games. However, when it came to concluding this historic season with a World Series triumph, the A’s fell short. They hit just .220 and clubbed only three homers while losing in seven games to St. Louis.
24. 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers
The most recent team to make our list. Granted, this was the COVID-shortened 2020 season. But, the Dodgers were a Major-League best 43-17 and had a massive +136 run differential. These Dodgers could certainly bop the baseball, hitting 118 home runs in 60 games. Meanwhile, Los Angeles posted a stellar 3.02 team ERA, paced by Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16 ERA). Things were a little tougher for the Dodgers during the postseason, where they needed seven games to top Atlanta in the National League Championship Series. They then beat Tampa Bay in six to win their first World Series since 1988.
23. 1911 Philadelphia Athletics
The second of the Athletics’ back-to-back World Series champions. The club was known for its “$100,000 Infield.” Consisting of first baseman John “Stuffy” McInnis, Eddie Collins at second, shortstop Jack Berry and Frank “Home Run” Baker at third base. The A’s went 101-50-1 and won the American League by 13 ½ games over second-place Detroit. In the World Series, Philadelphia had to work a bit, needing six games to beat the New York Giants.
22. 1995 Atlanta Braves
It’s still hard to believe that with all those great Braves teams of the 1990s, this was the only World Series winner. Now, these Braves only went 90-54, but won the National League East by a whopping 21 games and had the best record within the Senior Circuit. Of course, Atlanta was all about pitching — with Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux (19-2, 1.63 ERA), Tom Glavine (16-7, 3.08 ERA) and John Smoltz (12-7, 3.18 ERA). The Braves also showed their mettle during the World Series against Cleveland, which saw five of the six games decided by one run.
21. 1954 Cleveland Indians
Led by a pitching staff that included legends Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Bob Feller and Hal Newhouser, the ’54 Cleveland squad posted a 2.78 ERA. This group still owns the American League record with a .721 winning percentage (111-43). However, Cleveland’s remarkable regular-season success did not carry over into the playoffs. The Tribe were swept in four World Series games by the New York Giants, who owned a 21-9 scoring advantage and hit .254 against that vaunted staff during the Fall Classic.
20. 1969 Baltimore Orioles
Simply put, the ’69 Orioles were a dominant group during the regular season when they went 109-53. Managed by Earl Weaver and featuring stars Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, Davey Johnson, Cy Young Award winner Mike Cuellar and a young Jim Palmer, Baltimore won the AL East by 19 games. After they swept Minnesota in the first-ever American League Championship Series, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Orioles would claim their second World Series crown in four seasons. However, New York’s “Miracle Mets” (more on them in a bit) had other ideas, and stunned Baltimore in five games.
19. 1989 Oakland Athletics
The Athletics’ World Series success was not limited to their time in Philadelphia. The franchise won three-straight titles in Oakland from 1972-74. In 1989, the A’s put together a special season that featured an MLB-best 99-63 record and a World Series sweep of the San Francisco Giants in the memorable Bay Area showdown. Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were still bashing baseballs, while Dave Stewart (21 wins), Mike Moore (19), Storm Davis (19), Bob Welch (17) and Dennis Eckersley (33 saves) led one of the great pitching staffs of all-time. All together, they helped Oakland bounce back from losing the 1988 World Series to Kirk Gibson and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
18. 1944 St. Louis Cardinals
The first of two Cardinals’ teams from the 1940s that we will highlight. St. Louis won 105 games for the second-straight season, and shortstop Marty Marion hit .267 and had 63 RBIs en route to winning the Most Valuable Player Award. Of course, these Cardinals were all about pitching, — posting a 2.67 team ERA and a 22-game winner in Mort Cooper. Perhaps the sweetest part of the Cardinals’ season was beating the rival St. Louis Browns in six games to win the World Series.
17. 1986 New York Mets
Sure, these Mets had to pull off one of the greatest World Series rallies and comebacks in Major League Baseball history to win their first title since 1969. But, the Mets had the Majors’ best record at 108-54 and ran away with the NL East by 21 ½ games. Guided by Keith Hernandez, Ray Knight, Wally Backman, Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson, New York led the NL in batting (.263), on-base percentage (.339) and slugging percentage (.401). There was also a pitching staff featuring Bobby Ojeda, Dwight Gooden and Roger McDowell that posted a 3.11 ERA and boasted five hurlers with at least 14 wins.
16. 1969 New York Mets
By now, the story is well told. The Mets were in third-place, 10 GB, in the first year of the NL East’s existence, on Aug. 14. However, those “Amazin’ Mets” went 38-11 down the stretch while the first-place Chicago Cubs faltered. New York ended up 100-62 and won the division by eight games to make the franchise’s first postseason appearance. Behind the likes of Clean Jones, Tommie Agee and 25-game winner Tom Seaver, New York went 7-1 in the playoffs, and stunned heavily-favored Baltimore to win the World Series in five games.
15. 1942 St. Louis Cardinals
The 106 victories recorded by the ’42 Cardinals remain a franchise record. More importantly, it ended a seven-year postseason drought for St. Louis thanks to the performances of legends Enos Slaughter (.318 batting average, 13 home runs, 98 RBI) and Stan Musial (.315, 10 HR, 72 RBI). Much like the aforementioned 1944 Cardinals’ club, this group was paced by some of the best pitching in MLB history. The staff posted a 2.55 ERA, led by Mort Cooper (22 wins) and Johnny Beazley (21). After losing Game 1 of the World Series to the New York Yankees, the Cardinals won the next four to claim the crown.
14. 2001 Seattle Mariners
Another for the category of ‘best team never to win the World Series’. Led by Ichiro Suzuki, the venerable Edgar Martinez and four starters with at least 15 wins, the Mariners posted 116 victories in 2001 — still tied for the most in MLB history. However, the postseason proved much tougher for Seattle than any time during the regular season run. The Mariners needed five games to eliminate Cleveland, then suffered two defeats by two runs and another by one in falling to the New York Yankees in the ALCS.
13. 1932 New York Yankees
When you have Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig combining for 75 home runs and 288 RBIs, 107 wins seem easy. Yeah, the 1932 Yankees really did make things seem easy. They hit .286 as a team and had a 24-game winner in Lefty Gomez. New York never lost more than three-straight games during the regular season. It scored 37 runs while sweeping the Chicago Cubs during a World Series remembered for Ruth’s alleged called home run.
12. 1976 Cincinnati Reds
The second of Cincinnati’s back-to-back World Series champions. Yes, the Reds’ 1975 team is more well known to the casual baseball fan, but there are plenty of pundits, historians and die-hard Cincinnati fans who believe the ’76 squad was better. That makes for a fun argument. In the case of the ’76 group, the Reds went 102-60 and boasted five every-day players – Ken Griffey, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo and George Foster — that hit better than .300. On the mound, seven Reds won 11 or more games. And, Cincinnati had a much easier time in the postseason, sweeping Philadelphia in the NLCS and the New York Yankees in the World Series.
11. 1984 Detroit Tigers
Talk about dominance. From the onset of the ’84 season, the Tigers were the best team in the Majors. They opened 9-0 and won the AL East by 15 games while setting club records for victories (104) and winning percentage (.642). Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson and Chet Lemon combined for 80 of the Tigers’ 187 home runs. Meanwhile, reliever Willie Hernandez recorded 32 saves and had a 1.92 ERA to win both the AL Cy Young Award and MVP. Detroit went 7-1 in the postseason, losing only to San Diego in Game 2 of the World Series.
10. 1906 Chicago Cubs
At 116-36, this Cubs squad that featured the famed double-play trio of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and player-manager Frank Chance, plus fellow Hall of Fame hurler Mordecai Brown. Their .763 winning percentage is still the highest in MLB history, and that win total is tied for the most ever. This may be the greatest team never to win a World Series. And, in truly adding salt to an open cut, it was the crosstown White Sox who beat in the Cubs in six games in the ’06 World Series.
9. 1961 New York Yankees
The Yankees were already 18-time World Series champions before they did it again in 1961. New York went 109-53 during a season that was best remembered for Roger Maris’ 61 home runs that broke Babe Ruth’s season record. Don’t forget, Mickey Mantle clubbed a career-best 54 home runs in 1961. Meanwhile, Whitey Ford dealt his way to a 25-4 mark and the Cy Young Award. New York capped another memorable campaign by beating Cincinnati in five to win the World Series.
8. 1970 Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles failed to claim a World Series title at the end of their 109-win 1969 campaign, but they wouldn’t be denied in ’70. Baltimore was again the gold standard in the AL, winning 108 games. The Robinson duo of Brooks and Frank, plus Boog Powell, were linchpins of an offense that hit 179 home runs. Meanwhile, Dave McNally (24 wins), Mike Cuellar (24) and Jim Palmer (20) were the stars of a pitching staff that posted a 3.15 ERA. In the World Series, the Orioles toppled Cincinnati in five games.
7. 1937 New York Yankees
With a 102-52 record, the Yankees won the AL pennant by 13 games over the Detroit Tigers. The trio of Lou Gehrig (.351 batting average, 37 home runs, 159 RBI), Joe DiMaggio (.346, 46 HR, 167 RBIs) and Bill Dickey (.332, 29 HR, 133 RBI) seemed practically unstoppable. When it came to the Yankees’ arms, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing won 21 and 20 games, respectively. Capping the season in style, the Yankees beat the rival New York Giants in five games to win the World Series.
6. 1939 New York Yankees
Perhaps the most bittersweet season not only in Yankees history, but in the annals of Major League Baseball. Ironman Lou Gehrig played his final game on April 30, 1939. Then, in July of that year, gave his famed retirement speech. Even without Gehrig for all but eight games, the Yankees remained on top of their collective game. They went 106-45, and Joe DiMaggio batted a stellar .381 with 30 homers and 126 RBI. New York won its fourth-straight World Series with a sweep of Cincinnati.
5. 1907 Chicago Cubs
We touched on the 1906 Cubs’ team that won 116 games, but lost the World Series. Well, Chicago finished that business one year later, when the Cubs went 107-45 and were again the class of the regular season. However, the true dominant factor of this club was its pitching staff. Led by the aforementioned Mordecai Brown and Orval Overall, who combined to win 43 games, Chicago produced a 1.73 staff ERA that remains a modern-era, MLB record. The Cubs swept Detroit in four games to win their first World Series.
4. 1975 Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati’s seven-game World Series triumph over Boston might be the greatest Fall Classic of all-time. Yet, during the regular season, the “Big Red Machine” went 108-54 and won the NL West by 20 games. So, we’re talking pretty dominant. The usual suspects of Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez paced an offense that batted .271 and hit 124 homers. Cincinnati also had three pitchers – Don Gullett, Gary Nolan and Jack Billingham – win 15 games that season.
3. 1927 New York Yankees
Known for its “Murderers’ Row” of offensive talent, this legendary club went 110-44. Of course, led by Babe Ruth — who hit 60 homers that season — and 24-year-old MVP Lou Gehrig (.373 BA with 47 home runs). Oh yeah, these Yankees could also hurl the baseball pretty well. Hall of Famers Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Wilcy Moore and Urban Shocker combined to win 78 games. During its four-game World Series sweep of Pittsburgh, New York posted a 23-10 run advantage.
2. 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates lost the first recognized World Series to Boston in 1903. It took six years for Pittsburgh to return to the Fall Classic. And, while the Pirates needed seven games to take down Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers, this was one special ballclub. At age 35, the great Honus Wagner hit an NL-leading .339 with 100 RBI for the Pirates. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh boasted a pair of 20-plus win starters in Howie Camnitz (25-6) and Vic Willis (22-11).
1. 1998 New York Yankees
Picking the greatest single-season team in Major League Baseball history was obviously not easy. But, when talking about dominance from start to the finish, these 1998 Yankees take the crown. The first of New York’s three-straight World Series-winning clubs (1998-2000), the ’98 Yankees went 114-48 (third-highest win total in MLB history). Led by Derek Jeter, Paul O’Neill and Mariano Rivera, New York went 11-2 during the postseason. After losing both Game 2 and 3 to Cleveland in the ALCS, the Yankees reeled off seven-straight victories and capped their title run with a sweep of San Diego in the World Series.