The top 20 Major League Baseball teams of all-time is not an easy list to formulate. Going back over 100 years into MLB history means many great teams will be left out but the list only holds 20.
20. 2002 Oakland Athletics (103-59, Lost ALDS to Twins 2-3)
The A’s in 2002 won 103 games but the season ended in disappointment. Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada each belted 34 homers, but the pitching staff was the bright spot on the team. Jermaine Dye was an unsung hero with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs.
Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder all finished with excellent seasons during the prime for each of the three. Zito finished 23-5 with an ERA of 2.75, while Mulder was 19-7 with a 3.47 ERA. Billy Koch was the closer finishing with 44 saves.
The team is best known for winning 20 straight games during August and September. However, the season ended early as the A’s lost in the American League Division Series in five games to the Minnesota Twins.
19. 2001 Seattle Mariners (116-46, Lost ALCS to Yankees 1-4)
Seattle failed to close out what would have been one of the best MLB seasons of all time in 2001. Seattle won a record 116 regular season games, but failed to take home the World Series title.
Ichiro Suzuki was baseball’s best hitter that season finishing with 242 hits for a .350 batting averages, while also stealing 56 bases. Bret Boone smacked 37 home runs and finished with a .331 batting average, while Edgar Martinez batted .306 and knocked in 106 runs at 38 years of age
Seattle’s run differential was plus-300 and the pitching staff finished with a team ERA of 3.54. That season the top pitchers were Aaron Sele, Freddy Garcia, Paul Abbot and veteran Jamie Moyer. Each one of the four won 15 or more games, but the Mariners were knocked out of the postseason by the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
18. 2016 Chicago Cubs (103-58, Won World Series over Indians 4-3)
Breaking the century-long curse makes this club one to remember. The Cubs in 2016 reeked of talent. Chicago won 103 games and finished with a plus-298 run differential.
The core of the team was very young with Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell all less than 27 years of age. Bryant finished with 32 home runs and 102 RBIs, while Rizzo was not to be out done with 32 home runs and 109 RBIs.
On the hill, the Cubs relied on Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks with the three finishing the season with ERA of less than 3.25 and each won 15 games or more. Before the trade deadline, the Cubs added Aroldis Chapman as their closer in a trade with the Yankees which turned out to be an instrumental move during the postseason.
17. 1972 Oakland Athletics (93-62, Won World Series over Reds 4-3)
Oakland won another World Series in 1972 after winning 93 games during the regular season under manager Dick Williams. The A’s defeated the Reds in seven games in the Fall Classic. During the season, Oakland was first in home runs in the AL and that power is what the A’s used to win their games.
However, it was the pitching staff that separated this team from others. Each of the five starters was under 3.00 in ERA led by Catfish Hunter with an ERA of 2.04. The other notables in the starting rotation included Blue Moon Odom and Ken Holtzman.
Rollie Fingers with his handle-bar mustache was the closer helping the pitching staff finish in the top three or better for the AL in each of the pitching categories.
16. 2018 Boston Red Sox (108-54, Won World Series over Dodgers 4-1)
While this team just won the World Series last October, they are deserving of being on this list of top 20 teams of all-time. The Red Sox won 108 games during the regular season and ran through the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers in the postseason to win the Fall Classic.
Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi were the offensive leaders but the team defense around the infield, behind the plate and roaming the outfield were sights to behind. David Price returned to form for Boston, while Chris Sale continued to be a dominating force on the hill.
Betts won the MVP in 2018 but it was the signing of Martinez just prior to the start of the regular season that was the difference for Boston as Martinez and Betts battled all season for the best batting average and Martinez lead the team in home runs and RBIs.
15. 1989 Oakland Athletics (99-63, Won World Series over Giants 4-0)
The Oakland Athletics in 1989 were loaded with stars from Rickey Henderson to Dave Parker and Mark McGwire to Jose Conseco. On the mound the A’s relied on Dave Stewart, Bob Welch and Dennis Eckersley.
The A’s won 99 games and owned an ERA of just 3.09 as a team. While other A’s teams were great, the 1989 team was the best of the group and swept the Giants in the World Series.
McGwire belted 33 home runs, while Henderson swiped 52 bases and the team as a whole stole 157 bases. The pitching staff finished 4th in strikeouts and allowed the fewest earned runs in the league.
14. 1969 New York Mets (100-62, Won World Series over the Orioles 4-1)
In 1969, the Mets won 100 games with the team built around a strong pitching staff. That season, the Mets featured 24-year old Tom Seaver who was 25-7 with an ERA of 2.21 and 200 Ks. Gary Gentry and Jerry Koosman finished with career seasons.
New York owned the NL’s second lowest ERA and its bullpen was dominating. If Seaver, Koosman and Gentry were not enough, the Mets had youngster Nolan Ryan at 22 on the team.
13. 1995 Atlanta Braves (90-54, Won World Series over Indians 4-2)
From 1995 to 2000, the Atlanta Braves were special. The pitching rotation during those years was one every manager dreamed of. The Braves had Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine with all at the peaks of their careers.
Maddux in 1995 was 19-2 with an ERA of 1.63 with 181 strikeouts. Both Smoltz and Glavine finished with ERAs of less than 3.50 and double-digit victories.
If the Braves did not beat you through pitching, the batting order would with Javy Lopez and Ryan Klesko who finished the season with an OPS of 1.004. Add future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones and power hitting Fred McGriff and the Braves hitters were lethal weapons. The Braves were 11-3 during the postseason that year with a World Series win.
12. 2004 Boston Red Sox (98-64, Won World Series over Cardinals 4-0)
This group of players in 2004 was a special one for the Red Sox nation. With 98 wins, the Red Sox finished second to the Yankees in the American League East, but the Red Sox would not say quit. Not only did the Red Sox set a MLB record overcoming a 3-0 series deficit to the Yankees but they went on to break the curse of the Bambino by winning the Fall Classic.
Manny Ramirez and DH David Ortiz were the best 3-4 hitters in all of baseball during that season and beyond. The Red Sox as a team averaged .282 at the plate and scored 949 runs, with both being the top in the AL.
On the hill, the Red Sox were paced by future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez and likely soon-to-be Hall of Famer Curt Schilling. Both Martinez and Schilling finished with more than 200 Ks and things did not get any easier further down the rotation with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and sinker baller Derek Lowe.
11. 1968 Detroit Tigers (103-59, Won World Series over Cardinals 4-3)
The 1968 Detroit Tigers were led by Denny McLain who finished the season 31-6 with an ERA of 1.96 winning both AL Cy Young and MVP awards. In all likelihood, McLain’s 30-win season will be the last in MLB history.
In 1968, the Tigers won 103 games and the team’s pitching staff was the key starting with McLain, but Mickey Lolich and Earl Wilson both pitched more than 220 innings and each finished with ERAs of less than 3.50. As a team, the Tigers combined for a 2.71 ERA and were second in the AL in strikeouts.
Offensively, the Tigers belted 185 home runs ranking No. 1 in the AL, with Willie Horton at the top of the list with 36 home runs, while three other players hit more than 20 dingers apiece.
10. 1967 St. Louis Cardinals (101-60, Won World Series over Red Sox 4-3)
The St. Louis Cardinals of 1967 were special. On the club were living Cardinals legends such as Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, while Orlando Cepeda won the National League MVP with 25 home runs and an OPS of .923. Brock had 21 home runs and 52 stolen bases.
On the hill, Dick Hughes finished first on the team in wins at 16 and finished the season with an ERA of 2.67, Steve Carlton and Bob Gibson each finished with identical ERAs of 2.98. The Cardinals won the World Series in 1967 in seven games against a very tough opponent in the Boston Red Sox.
9. 1927 New York Yankees (110-44, Won World Series over Pirates 4-0)
The ’27 Yankees were known for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, but players such as Tony Lazzeri and Earle Combs completed one of the best lineups ever to play baseball. This was Murderers’ Row at its best with Ruth belting 60 homers and knocking in 164 runs. Gehrig finished the season with 47 home runs and 175 RBIs.
On the mound, the Yankees featured Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt who both would later be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The pitching staff finished the season with a 3.20 ERA.
The Yankees run differential was a plus-376, while the team slugging percentage was .488.
8. 1976 Cincinnati Reds (102-60, Won World Series over Yankees 4-0)
Winning just one World Series is a big accomplishment but back-to-back titles are very difficult yet the 1976 Cincinnati did just that. The Reds easily handled the Phillies to win the NL pennant and followed that up with a sweep of the New York Yankees in the Fall Classic finishing the post season a perfect 8-0.
Joe Morgan once against led the Reds in batting with a .320 average and in stolen bases with 60. George Foster was the home run leader for the Reds with 29. Although Johnny Bench hit just .234 for the season, it did not matter. Pat Zachary pitched his first season in the Reds rotation and finished with a 14-7 record and an ERA of 2.74.
7. 1984 Detroit Tigers (104-58, Won World Series over Padres 4-1)
Offense was the focal point of the 1984 Tigers with 104 wins. Lance Parrish led the attack with 33 home runs while shortstop Alan Trammell led the Tigers in hitting at .314. Kirk Gibson blasted 27 home runs and finished with 91 RBIs.
The pitching staff was led by ace Jack Morris with support from Milt Wilcox and Dan Petry. All three starters won 15 games or more and the team finished the regular season with a 3.49 ERA, which topped the American League. The bullpen was led by closer Willie Hernandez, who finished with 32 saves and an ERA of 1.92.
6. 1986 New York Mets (108-54, Won World Series over Mets 4-3)
The 1986 Mets won 108 games during the regular with an incredibly talented lineup. As a team, the Mets hit .263 during the regular season to finish first in the National League. New York also led the league in both hits and runs.
Keith Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry led the offense, while the Mets pitching staff was led by 21-year Dwight Gooden who finished 17-6 with an ERA of 2.84. Bob Ojeda and Ron Darling both finished the season with ERAs of less than 3.00. The Mets went on to beat Boston in the World Series that year.
5. 1970 Baltimore Orioles (108-54, Won World Series over Reds 4-1)
The 1970 Baltimore Orioles waltzed through the regular season winning 108 games. The pitching staff was very strong with a team ERA of 3.15. Frank and Brooks Robinson were the leaders for the Orioles that season.
Frank Robinson finished the season with 25 home runs and an OPS of .918 and Brooks Robinson finished with an OPS of .764 and was baseball’s best third baseman. Boog Powell’s .962 OPS and 35 home runs led the team. The Orioles beat the Reds in five games to win the World Series.
4. 1975 Cincinnati Reds (108-54, Won World Series over Red Sox 4-3)
The era of the Big Red Machine was a great one for Cincinnati and baseball and the Reds of 1975 were one of the best of that run. The Reds won six National League West Division titles, with four NL pennants and a pair of World Series titles. In 1975, Cincinnati pushed 840 runs across the plate, and defeated the Boston Red Sox in seven games in the World Series.
Several All-Star and Hall of Fame names were on that team including Joe Morgan who batted .327 with 67 stolen bases, while Pete Rose once against had over 200 hits, and Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Ken Griffey made the batting order one of baseball’s most feared. On the mound, the Reds boasted Jack Billingham and Gary Nolan.
3. 1961 New York Yankees (109-53, Won World Series over Reds 4-1)
Several of the years the Yankees ruled baseball with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra on the ream could be considered the greatest teams of all all-time, but the 1961 Yankees won 109 games and defeated the Reds in the World Series 4-1.
In 1961, Maris set his single season home run mark of 61 and Mantle batted .317 with 54 homers of his own. The team was No. 1 in the AL in home runs and second in runs scored.
On the hill, Whitey Ford finished 25-4 with an ERA of 3.21 and 209 strikeouts. Ralph Terry, Rollie Sheldon and Bill Stafford finished the season with ERAs of less than 4.00 and earned double-digit wins.
2. 1939 New York Yankees (106-45, Won World Series over Reds 4-0)
The 1939 New York Yankees finished the regular season with 106 wins and won the World Series with a four-game sweep over the Cincinnati Reds. The run differential for the ’39 Yankees was even better than the 1998 Yankees ending the season at plus-411 with a team ERA of 3.31.
Offensively, the Yankees batted .287 as a team. The players that stood out on that team included Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon and Bill Dickey, with DiMaggio batting .381 for the season, with 30 home runs and 126 RBIs. Not to be out done, Dickey hit 24 home runs and knocked in 105 runs, while Gordon ended the season with an OPS of .876.
1. 1998 New York Yankees (114-48, Won World Series over Padres 4-0)
The New York Yankees franchise has had plenty of great teams through the years, but the 1998 team was simply special. The players that made up the core of that team dominated for several years. In 1988, the Yankees batted .288 as a team, and were first in runs scored in the American League.
The team ERA was a solid 3.82, which may not have been the best compared to other years, but was also No. 1 in 1998 in the AL. New York also possessed one of the game’s dominant closers ever to play in Mariano Rivera who finished the regular season with 36 saves. What was likely most impressive was the astronomical run differential of plus-309. The Yankees went on to win the series that season going 11-2 in the playoffs.