Making cross-era comparisons in sports is difficult, particularly when it comes to MLB teams. Not only are you dealing with different play styles, lineup builds, and even rules, but you're also parsing through one of the largest sample sizes in all of professional sports, dating back to before the 1900s.
How on earth are you possibly supposed to put together a list of the best baseball teams ever while dealing with such an inordinate number of candidates? Well, it's not easy. But we've tried to do it.
Criteria for making the cut is subjective. Mostly, though, teams need to be historically great in their record and other metrics. While winning the World Series certainly helps a squad's chance of earning a nod, it is not mandatory.
Agree with our selections? Disagree? Why? Let us know after you go through our list and take a gander at our justifications.
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Top 10 Baseball Teams
1. 1939 New York Yankees
Named by the book "Baseball Dynasties" and the website FiveThirtyEight as the best team of all time, according to ELO, the 1939 Yankees were a force of nature. Their sweep of the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series marked the first time in history that a team would win four championships in a row.
Slugger Joe DiMaggio paced the squad with a ridiculous .381 average and 30 home runs. This team also had an absurd plus-411 run differential for the season.
2. 1906 Chicago Cubs
Though the Cubs were beaten by the Chicago White Sox in a huge World Series upset, the 1906 squad is generally considered to be one of the greatest groups ever. The Cubs' record of 116-36 stood for nearly 100 years, and their winning percentage of .763 is still the highest in MLB history.
Chicago's success propelled them to a full 20-game lead over the second-place New York Giants, which remains the largest first-to-second-place gap in MLB history.
3. 1998 New York Yankees
The Bronx Bombers set an American League record for most wins in a season in 1998 when they went 114-48. This would stand until the Mariners broke it in 2001.
Nonetheless, this squad found a way to notch the organization's 24th World Series title in the team's illustrious history. Counting the postseason, the 1998 Yankees won a total of 125 games vs. 50 losses, which is the all-time MLB record.
Many view them as the greatest team ever, which is not unfounded. They had a plus-311 run differential and only suffered two losses throughout the entire postseason."Basement of a true Yankee fan" by beedubz is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
4. 1975 Cincinnati Reds
Led by fiery first baseman Pete Rose, Cincinnati "Big Red Machine" Reds, fielded one of the most talented groups on record in 1975.
These Reds won 108 games and defeated the Boston Red Sox in seven games during the World Series. It would be the organization's first title since 1940 when Cincy's roster was populated with the likes of multiple Hall of Famers such as second baseman Joe Morgan, catcher Johnny Bench, and manager Sparky Anderson. This was, as you can tell, an offense not to be trifled with.
5. 1961 New York Yankees
A third New York Yankees team in the top five? You better believe it.
This particular edition of the Bronx Bombers featured the likes of Yogi Bera, Mickey Mantle, and Roger Maris. Really, any of the rosters that included these three legends have a shot to make the cut, but this was the year of Maris' then-record 61-home-run season. There was no pitching around this group's lineup in general, as the 1961 Yankees belted more homers than any other team.
6. 1970 Baltimore Orioles
Go ahead and call the 1970 Baltimore Orioles the Kings of Fundamentals, because that's what they were. They cobbled together a mind-melting 108-54 record by leaning heavily on their pitching and a capacity to get on base at a high percentage.
Even their heavyweights were committed to doing the smaller things right. Case in point: Power hitters Frank Robinson (.918) and Boog Powell (.962) both had on-base-plus-slugging-percentage marks that cleared 0.910.
7. 1986 New York Mets
Many remember the 1986 Mets for their groundbreaking World Series victory, but this team was actually so much more than anyone moment.
For starters, they won a ridiculous 108 games while scoring 783 runs. Impressive still, they also flirted with the highly sought-after statistical trifecta: tallying at least 1,000 strikes, 1,500 runs, and 150 homers as a team. They ended up finishing just 38 hits and two homers shy of eclipsing all three marks.
8. 1984 Detroit Tigers
The 1984 Tigers totaled more than 1,500 hits and nearly 200 home runs en route to posting a plus-186 run differential. Their brand of firepower proved not only potent during the regular season, where they piled up 104 victories, but during the playoffs as well. These Tigers continue to represent the last World Series banner in franchise history.
"Alan Trammell" by James Phelps from USA is licensed under CC BY 2.0
9. 1967 St. Louis Cardinals
As one of MLB's flagship franchises, you had to know the Cardinals would sneak in here at some point.
Led by Lou Brock and Bob Gibson, the 1967 St. Louis squad notched a stellar plus-138 run differential on the back of dependable pitching, an ability to get on base, and a willingness to chase steals that put runners in scoring position once they did.
Not to be forgotten is their World Series victory in seven games. They needed to go through the 1967 Boston Red Sox, who have their own case as a top 20 or 25 MLB team of all time. Whenever one all-time squad beats another, it's a big deal.
10. 2001 Seattle Mariners
Although the Mariners came up short in their bid to win their first World Series crown for the franchise, this group was one of the league's best ever, having tied the MLB record for most wins in a season by achieving a mark of 116-46 on the year.
Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki was named AL MVP and led the league in batting average, a feat accomplished by few others throughout MLB history. On top of that, four of their five main rotation pitchers all won more than 16 games, and the team as a whole posted a run differential north of 300.
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