James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.
1998 New York Yankees
There is no end to the statistical comparisons that could be made to select the best baseball teams in history. I set out to review the data and this led to me to discover that since 1907, twelve baseball teams (only two in the NL) not only won the World Series in a four game sweep, but also won the most games of any team in either league during the regular season. Six teams have accomplished this feat after World War Two, when baseball began to integrate.
1998 New York Yankees—This team won 125 games against only 50 losses (including the postseason), which set the all time best record among baseball teams. The 1998 Yankees would score 965 runs to lead MLB; post an AL best 4.04 pitching ERA; and play the best defense.
Randy Wells led the AL in winning percentage among pitchers (.818) with a record of 18-4, while issuing the fewest walks per nine innings, and tossing 5 shutouts including a perfect game. David Cone won 20 games and Mariano Rivera was a stalwart Closer.
Bernie Williams would lead the league in hitting (.339) for the 1998 New York Yankees, while Derek Jeter would score the most Runs (127). Paul O'Neill, Chuck Knoblauch and Tino Martinez played key roles in the offense.
Joe Torre won the Manager of the Year Award.
1976 Cincinnati Reds
1976 Cincinnati Reds—This team was led by the NL Most Valuable Player, Joe Morgan. George Foster drove in 121 Runs, while Rawly Eastwick Saved 26 Games—both leading the Major Leagues. The 1976 Reds scored the most Runs in MLB (857) and were the best defensive team. Morgan would lead the majors in both OBP (.444) and Slugging (.576).
Pete Rose would lead the majors in Runs Scored (130), Hits (215) and Doubles (42). Ken Griffey and Johnny Bench also played key roles in the offense. The pitching staff was led by Gary Nolan (fewest walks among all starters MLB per nine innings), Fred Norman, and Rookie of the Year Pat Zachry.
The 1976 Cincinnati Reds, managed by Sparky Anderson, had a regular season record of 102-60; and became the first team with a perfect postseason of more than four games (7-0).
1989 Oakland Athletics
1989 Oakland Athletics — This was the year of "Earthquake Series." The 1989 Athletics were managed by Tony LaRussa to records of 99-63 in the regular season; and 8-1 in the postseason.
The 1989 Oakland Athletics featured the best pitching in the AL with an ERA of 3.56 as a team. Their great starting rotation included Dave Stewart, Mike Moore, Bob Welch and Storm Davis—who went a combined 76-35. Closer Dennis Eckersley led an incredible bullpen with help especially from Rick Honeycutt.
The key offensive players were Dave Parker, Mark McGuire, Carney Lansford (hardest batter in the AL to strike out) and Rickey Henderson—who topped the majors with 113 Runs Scored and 77 stolen bases, while he drew the most walks in the AL (126).
1950 New York Yankees
1950 New York Yankees—The 1950 Yankees went 98-56, and were managed by Casey Stengel. Joe DiMaggio topped the NL for slugging percentage (.585), while Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto also had outstanding offensive statistics.
The starting rotation of the 1950 New York Yankees featured four 15 game winners, including Vic Raschi (21-8), who led the league in winning percentage (.724); Ed Lopat, Allie Reynolds and Tommy Byrne. Rookie pitcher Whitey Ford won 9 out of 10 decisions.
1966 Baltimore Orioles
1966 Baltimore Orioles—Frank Robinson, MVP, had one of the finest offensive seasons for a hitter as he won the elusive Triple Crown—leading the AL in batting (.316), RBI (122), and the major leagues with 49 Home Runs. He also led majors in slugging, OPS, Total Bases and Runs.
The 1966 Orioles would lead the league with 755 Runs Scored, and have the best defensive team. Frank had help as Brooks Robinson (no relation), Boog Powell, Curt Blefary and Luis Aparicio also had big offensive years.
The pitching staff was led by Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, and an excellent bullpen. Hank Bauer managed the 1966 Baltimore Orioles to a regular season record of 97-93.
2007 Boston Red Sox
2007 Boston Red Sox—Terry Francona managed the 2007 Red Sox to a 96-66 record; followed by an 11-3 run in the postseason.
The 2007 Boston Red Sox would post the best ERA in the American League (3.87). Josh Beckett led the pitchers 20 wins; Jon Lester and Tim Wakefield had outstanding seasons as well. Jonathan Papelbon had an excellent year as the Closer, and the entire relief corps was tremendous. The offense firepower was provided by David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia.
1927 New York Yankees
Before Baseball Teams were integrated, five of the only six teams to post the best record in regular season and then sweep the World Series were the Yankees of New York.
1927 Yankees—Record: 110-44; Manager: Miller Huggins. Best Pitching (3.20) and hitting (976 Runs) in MLB; best defense in AL.
Top Hitters: Lou Gehrig (447 TB, 175 RBI, 52 Doubles—all major league highs); Babe Ruth (.486 OBP, .772 SLG, 158 Runs, 137 Walks, 60 HR—all tops in MLB); Earle Combs (231 Hits topped AL, 23 triples best in MLB); Bob Meusel; and Tony Lazzeri.
Top Pitchers: Wilcy Moore 19-7 and 13 saves (led MLB) with 2.28 ERA (MLB best)—also lowest Hits allowed per nine in AL; Waite Hoyt 22-7 (best WPCT MLB .759); Urban Shocker 18-6; and Herb Pinnock 19-8.
1907 Chicago Cubs
1907 Chicago Cubs—Frank Chance, Manager. Record: 107-45. 5 pitchers with at least 14 wins led by Ed Reulbach 17-4 (.810 WPCT NL best); Orval Overall 23-7; Mordecai Brown 20-6 (lowest base runners per nine MLB); Carl Lundgren 18-7; and Jack Pfiester— 1.15 ERA (best in MLB). The team ERA of 1.73 was lowest in MLB. Best fielding team MLB.
1939 New York Yankees
1939 Yankees—(106-45) managed by Joe McCarthy. Led majors with 966 Runs and had best defense; lowest team ERA in AL (3.31).
Offensive leaders: Joe DiMaggio hit .381 (MLB best), Red Rolfe 139 Runs and 213 Hits (both MLB highs), George Selkirk, Joe Gordon, Frankie Crosetti, and Bill Dickey.
Top pitchers: 7 10-game winners led by Red Ruffing 21 wins (AL best) versus 7 losses; Atley Donald 13-3 (best WPCT MLB .813); Johnny Murphy 19 saves (tops in MLB).
1932 New York Yankees
1932 Yankees—(107-47) managed by Joe McCarthy.
Best MLB offense scored 1002 Runs featuring: Lou Gehrig; Babe Ruth (MLB best .489 OBP & 130 walks); Ben Chapman (38 SB were MLB high); Earle Combs; and Tony Lazzeri.
Best ERA in AL of 3.98 and starters went 75-26: Johnny Allen 17-4 (MLB best WPCT of .810 & fewest hits allowed per nine); Lefty Gomez 24-7; Red Ruffing 18-7 (AL best 190 Strikeouts); George Pipgras 16-9