We’re Number 101! Every World Series Champion Ranked 1-108.

In honor of his beloved  (but stunningly average) Giants’ surprising World Series win, Jim Jividen ranks all of the Fall Classic winners from 1 to 108.

 

I didn’t pick my San Francisco Giants to win the World Series this season.

Not before the season, not entering the playoffs, not entering the NLCS, not entering the World Series.

Why?

The Giants weren’t that good; by Pythagorean record, the best snapshot of how a team performs during the regular season, the Giants were an 88 win team in 2012. This Giants team was only the 18th best in San Francisco history.

Billy Beane once said “my shit doesn’t work in the playoffs” – meaning that the best team doesn’t necessarily come through a short series, and if there’s one thing you should really understand about baseball in the 21st century it’s that we grow further and further away from the idea that the best team should win the World Series.

There have been 108 years of World Series Champions, that’s a helluva good sample size; 96 of those Champions had at least 90 pythagorean wins (and 50 had 100+ wins). So, if you’re forecasting a postseason and see a 88 win Giants team and know that (at that point) only 11 of 107 World Series teams had sub-90 win Pythagorean records, it makes sense to cast your lot with a different club. 96 of 107 WS winners were 90+ Pythagorean win teams. Therefore –an 88 win team is not a great bet.

But here’s the thing.

Of those 11 World Champions who didn’t crack 90 wins, 6 were since 1995.

Because that’s when the Wild Card was added.

We’ve gone from 2 teams making the postseason to 4 to 8 to 10, and just in this century alone 4 sub 90 pythagorean win teams have won the World Series.

Well, now it’s five.

With each added short series, the possibility that the best team makes its way through to the end diminishes. Baseball was a marathon; a 6 month daily race that then culminated in a heavyweight fight in October. It’s now a marathon that culminates in penalty kicks. Your goaltender leans the wrong way and you go home.

I’m not complaining about the result; my Giants have won two of these shootouts. But we should recognize that the system has changed. It could be that change if for the better; that would not be my view (despite how it’s benefited me) but one could say that in the 21st century making the regular season a feeder for a baseball tournament is what is needed to keep the sport viable. Baseball is entertainment and the World Series is no longer designed to acknowledge the best team over a full season but the team best constructed/most fortunate in a short series.

Here, is every World Series winner in MLB history ranked by regular season pythagorean record, normalized for a 162 game season. Every player from each team with a WAR (Baseball Reference version) over 5 is listed. The team each beat in the WS, with its Pythagorean win total, is also listed.

1. 1939 Yankees 119
-Gehrig’s last year, but it was DiMaggio’s team, he was a 9+ WAR (I combine the B-Ref and Davenport numbers, it’s the WAR value I prefer and the number I’ll be referencing in text; when it comes to the list of the 5 win players at the end of each team’s recap I’m just referencing B-Ref, as previously mentioned) player. Yanks were 23 pythag wins ahead of the next best team in the AL and swept a 99 pythag win Reds team in the Series. The best team in baseball history? The ’39 Yankees. 5 WAR players= Dimaggio, Dickey, Gordon, Keller, Rolfe, Selkirk, Ruffing (d. Reds 99 pythag wins)

2. 1927 Yankees 114 -Maybe the most famous team ever; Gehrig’s WAR was 11+; his best season ever. Ruth also went over 11. There might be a better 1-2 combo someplace in sports history than Ruth/Gehrig in ’27, but it wouldn’t be by much. They swept the Series and finished 22 pythag wins ahead of the next best AL team. WAR Above 5.0: Combs, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Ruth, Hoyt, Moore (d. Pirates 96)

3. 1942 Cardinals 113
-Two Cardinals teams battle for the title of best NL team of all time; note both are in the WWII era; Enos Slaughter (WAR 8+) had his best season in ’42 and was the best player on the club; just outdistancing 21 year old rookie Musial (6+). The Dodgers were also over a hundred pythag wins in ’42, so the distance between they and the Cards was just four games. The Yanks had a monster pythag also (the Cards beat them in 5) and that makes the ’42 Series the best matchup ever. Musial, Slaughter, Cooper (d. Yankees 112)

4. 1944 Cardinals 113
-’44 was Musial (9+) and everyone else; the Cards took advantage of the WW2 downturn in MLB talent to hold a 23 pythag win advantage in the NL and beat an overmatched Browns in a 6 game WS. Hopp, Musial (d. Browns 92)

5. 1909 Pirates 111
-35 year old Honus Wagner was easily the pacesetter for the ’09 Pirates with his 9+ WAR. This is the first team on the list which wasn’t the best in its league during the regular season (the Cubs had 109 pythag wins, same as the ’27 Yanks, but finished 6 and a half games out). Also the first team on the list who had to go to a seventh game to win the WS. Clarke, Wagner, Camnitz, Willis (d. Tigers 102, the second series so far on the list where both clubs were 100 win teams)

6. 1905 NYGiants 111
-The Giants refused to play the AL Champ in ’04, but gave in here to crack the top 10; this is the first team whose best player was a pitcher (Mathewson, obviously 9+). New York was only 1 pythag game better than the Cubs, who were extra unlucky, as they finished in 3rd overall 13 games out. The Giants beat the A’s in the Series; imagine being able to show the fans of each club in 1905 that 84 years later there would be a rematch with both clubs residing in Northern California. What would I have to tell you about two current teams playing in 2096 to equal that? Donlin, McGann, Mathewson (d. Athletics 98)

7. 1910 Athletics 111
-Eddie Collins (9+) and Jack Coombs (9+) gave the A’s the first position player/pitcher combo to have MVP quality years for the same club on this list; they had a 14 game pythag advantage in the AL and beat a 101 pythag win Cub team in 5 in the WS. Collins, Bender, Coombs (d. Cubs 106)

8. 1998 Yankees 108 (Best team since ’61.)
-The best team in modern baseball history, you ask? The best regular season post WWII WS champion was the ’98 Yankees. This is the first team on the list without an MVP caliber season (Jeter was highest at 7+ WAR, you really want to hit 8 WAR to be called an MVP); the Yanks finished 12 pythag wins up in the AL and swept the Padres in the WS. Brosius, Jeter, O’Neill, Williams, (d. Padres 93)

9. 1948 Indians 108
-Lou Boudreau’s 11+ WAR was his career season and the best season by anyone on the list so far not named Ruth or Gehrig; they were 7 pythag wins best in the AL and won the WS in 6. Boudreau, Gordon, Keltner, Bearden, Lemon (d. Braves 98)

10. 1937 Yankees 108
DiMaggio (8+), Gehrig (8+), and Gomez (8+) become the first team on the list with 3 MVPQuality seasons. Gehrig played on 3 of the ten best teams in baseball history. Dickey, Dimaggio, Gehrig, Gomez, Ruffing (d. Giants 94)

11. 1912 Red Sox 108
Speaker becomes just the fourth player on the list so far to hit a 10 WAR. Gardner, Speaker, Collins, O’Brien, Wood (d. Giants 107)

12. 1907 Cubs 108 (102)
It’s Tinker to Evers to Chance – but none had an MVPQuality season in fact, there wasn’t a Cub even in the vicinity of an MVPQ season (Orvall Overall 5+ was their best player). Brown, Lungren, Overall (d. Tigers 101)

13. 1936 Yankees 108
Gehrig again with a 8+ season; that’s 4 Gehrigs out of the top 13 teams. Dickey, Gehrig, Rolfe (d. Giants 93)

14. 1953 Yankees 108
-A half dozen Yankee teams in the top 14 of all time. Mantle, (d. Dodgers 110 – the first upset, at 110 pythagorean wins that Dodger team is their best team ever and one of the great WS losers ever)

15. 1917 White Sox 108
Eddie Cicotte (10+ WAR) had the best pitching season on the list thusfar, disgrace still a couple years away. Collins, Felsch, Jackson, Cicotte (d. Giants 105)

16. 1929 Athletics 108
Foxx, Grove, Walberg (d. Cubs 100)

17. 1975 Reds 107
-The best season by any player on the list so far – Joe Morgan’s 12+ WAR in 1975. Bench, Morgan, Rose (d. Red Sox 90)

18. 1911 Athletics 106
-3 A’s teams make the top 20. Baker, Collins, Bender, Plank (d. Giants 104)

19. 1903 Red Sox 105
-the first ever WS winner cracks the top 20 of all time. Collins, Dougherty,Parent, Dineen, Young (d. Pirates 92)

20. 1970 Orioles 104
-Blair, Powell, Palmer (d. Reds 91)

21. 1947 Yankees 104
-DiMaggio, Henrich, (d. Dodgers 98)

22. 1932 Yankees 104
Ruth (8+) is the only MVPQ for the ’32 club; the 8th Yankee team on the list and the fifth Gehrig. Combs, Gehrig, Lazzeri, Ruth, Ruffing (d. Cubs 90)

23. 1976 Reds 103
Morgan (10 WAR) becomes the first player on the list to hit 10 twice. He was the engine of the big red machine and its best player by a solid margin. Foster, Morgan, Rose (d. Yankees 98)

24. 1968 Tigers 103
Freehan, Horton, McAuliffe, Northrup, McLain (d. Cards 96)

25. 1986 Mets 103
The top 25 ends with the ’86 Mets. Hernandez, (d. Red Sox 90)

26. 1961 Yankees 103
Mantle (22.3) leads the way. Howard, Mantle, Maris, (d. Reds 87 – the first sub 90 WS team on the list)

27. 1956 Yankees 103
-10 Yankee teams make the Top 30. Mantle again (11+ WAR). Berra, Mantle, McDougald, Ford (d. Dodgers 94)

28. 1908 Cubs 103
-Three Finger Brown’s (9+) best season. Evers, Tinker, Brown, (d. Tigers 92)

29. 1935 Tigers 102
Cochrane, Gehringer, Greenberg, Rogell, (d. Cubs 106 – the second upset on the list and the tenth WS on the list so far where each team had a hundred pythag wins)

30. 1954 NYGiants 102
-The last ever Giants team to win the World Series. Hah! Totally untrue! Totally untrue! (d. Indians 109, a good sized upset for not quite my Giants) 9+ for Mays. Antonelli

31. 1931 Cardinals 102
Hafey (d. Athletics 103)

32. 1913 Athletics 102
10+ WAR for Collins; 9+ for Home Run Baker. McInnis, (d. Giants 101)

33. 1920 Indians 102
-8+ WAR for Speaker, not as good as 8 years previous, but still a MVPQ season and joined an 8+ for Jim Bagby. Coveleski (d. Dodgers 97)

34. 1938 Yankees 102
Dickey, DiMaggio, Ruffing (d. Cubs 93)

35. 1915 Red Sox 102
Speaker, (d. Phillies 98)

36. 1971 Pirates 101
-They beat SFG in the NLDS. Clemente, Stargell, (d. Orioles 105)

37. 2002 Angels 101 ( Booooo. Boooooo)
-And they beat SFG in 7 games in the WS. Perhaps you recall. Anderson, Eckstein, Erstad, (d. SFG 98)

38. 2007 Red Sox 101
-Lowell, Ortiz, (d. Rockies 90)

39. 1941 Yankees 101
-DiMaggio’s best season (10+ WAR) Gordon, Keller, (d. Dodgers 104)

40. 1958 Yankees 101
-9+ for Mantle. Siebern (d. Braves 96)

41. 1950 Yankees 101
-3 straight Yankee teams gives them 13 overall thusfar. Berra, DiMaggio, Rizzuto, (d. Phillies 91)

42. 1940 Reds 101
-Frey, McCormick, Werber, Walters (d. Tigers 96)

43. 1921 NYGiants 101
Bancroft, Frisch, (d. Yankees 101 – the first dead even matchup on the list, the 16thmatchup of 100 win teams)

44. 1923 Yankees 101
Ruth’s best year, a 15 WAR, nearly a double MVP season. Pennock (d. Giants 97)

45. 1946 Cardinals 100
9+ for Musial. Breechen, Kurowski, Slaughter (d. Red Sox 102)

46. 1949 Yankees 100
DiMaggio, (d. Dodgers 103)

47. 1955 Dodgers 100
Campanella, Furillo, Snider, (d. Yankees 102, that’s 19 double 100 matchups, can we get one more?)

48. 1928 Yankees 100
9+ for Ruth; 9+ for Gehrig. Pennock (d. Cardinals 98)

49. 1952 Yankees 100
17 of the top 50 of all time – Yankees. Berra, Mantle, Reynolds (d. Dodgers 99)

50. 1922 NYGiants 100
Bancroft (d. Yankees 95, that’s it for the 100 win champs; not quite half of all WS winners were 100 pythagorean win teams)

51. 1977 Yankees 99
None (d. Dodgers 101)

52. 1978 Yankees 99
Randolph, Guidry – check out the Yankees, going back-to-back on this all time list. (d. Dodgers 98)

53. 1984 Tigers 99
Gibson, Lemon, (d. Padres 87 – so, how’s this, through these first 53 WS, only two teams have sub 90 win pythags – both losing Padres teams.)

54. 1951 Yankees 99
Berra, (d. NYG 96)

55. 1919 Reds 99
Groh, Roush, (d. White Sox 90)

56. 1981 Dodgers 98
Valenzuela (d. Yankees 95)

57. 1974 A’s 97
Bando, Campaneris, Jackson, Rudi, Hunter (d. Dodgers 106 – that’s a pretty good sized upset)

58. 1972 A’s 97
Epstein, Jackson, Rudi, Hunter (d. Reds 98)

59. 1967 Cards 97
Brock, Cepeda, Flood, McCarver, (d. Red Sox 93)

60. 1989 A’s 97
The Earthquake A’s. The first SFG WS of my lifetime. It could have gone better. Henderson, Moore (d. SFG 92)

61. 1925 Pirates 97
Cuyler, (d. Senators 96)

62. 1957 Braves 97
Aaron, Mathews, (d. Yankees 103)

63. 1930 A’s 97
Cochrane, Foxx, Simmons, Grove, (d. Cardinals 98)

64. 1918 Red Sox 97
Hooper, Ruth, (d. Cubs 104)

65. 2004 Red Sox 96
Schilling – two Red Sox teams go back to back on the list. How about that? (d. Cards 100)

66. 1999 NYY 96
Jeter, Williams, (d. Braves 98)

67. 1966 Orioles 96
FRobinson (d. Dodgers 97)

68. 1983 Orioles 96
Murray, Ripken, McGregor (d. Phillies 88)

69. 1973 A’s 96 (MLB took them at #18)
Bando, Jackson, North, Tenace, (d. Mets 83 – the worst WS team yet on the list)

70. 1943 NYY 96
Gordon, Keller, Chandler (d. Cardinals 106 – a sizeable upset)

71. 1924 Senators 96
Goslin, Johnson (d. Giants 101)

72. 1960 Pirates 96
Groat, Hoak, Friend (d. Yankees 93)

73. 1906 White Sox 96 (90, they beat the Cubs – who had a translated pythag of 122 wins; that Cub team is the best team who didn’t win and this is the biggest upset in WS history)
Davis, White

74. 1933 NYG 96
Ott, Hubbell, Schumacher (d. Senators 99)

75. 1979 Pirates 95
Parker, (d. Orioles 99)

76. 2009 NYY 95
Cano, Jeter, Teixeira, (d. Phillies 92)

77. 2001 Arizona 95
Gonzalez, Johnson, Schilling (d. Yankees 90)

78. 1934 Cardinals 95
Collins, Dean (d. Tigers 103)

79. 1926 Cardinals 95
None (d. Yankees 94)

80. 1962 NYY 94
Mantle (d. SFG 100 – the greatest SFG team ever; we should have won this one)

81. 1991 Minn 94
Tapani (d. Braves 92)

82. 2010 SFG 94
-We’re Number 82!! Huff (d. Rangers 91)

83. 1914 Braves 94
Evers, James, Rudolph (d. Athletics 105, super big upset)

84. 1995 Atlanta 94 (84)
Maddux, Glavine (d. Indians 104)

85. 2008 Phils 93
Utley (d. Rays 92)

86. 1990 Reds 92
Rijo (d. A’s 99)

87. 1965 Dodgers 92
Koufax (d. Twins 100)

88. 1963 Dodgers 92
Gilliam, Drysdale, Koufax (d. NYY 100)

89. 1969 Mets 92
Agee, Jones, Koosman, Seaver (d. Orioles 110, just a startling upset )

90. 1988 Dodgers 91
Gibson, Hershiser (d. A’s 100)

91. 1992 Toronto 91
Alomar, White, Guzman (d. Braves 94)

92. 1980 Phils 91
Schmidt, Carlton (d. Royals 92)

93. 1993 Toronto 91
Alomar, Molitor, Olerud, White (d. Phillies 93)

94. 2005 CWW 91
Buehrle, Garland (d. Astros 91)

95. 1916 Red Sox 91
Ruth (d. Dodgers 96)

96. 1982 Cards 90
Smith, Andujar (d. Brewers 97)

97. 1945 Tigers 89
Newhouser (d. Cubs 103 – the first sub 90 win WS winner – and they beat a 100+ winner)

98. 1964 Cards 88
Boyer, Brock, Gibson (d. NYY 98)

99. 2011 Cards 88
Berkman, Pujols (d. Texas 98)

100. 1996 NYY 88
Pettitte, Rivera (d. Atlanta 94)

101. 2012 SFG88
We Win Again! Posey (d. Detroit 87, note, both teams are sub 90 wins)

102. 1997 Marlins 88
Brown – the Fish are back to back near at the bottom of the list (d. Indians 85, another WC era sub 90 WS)

103. 2003 Marlins 87
Castillo (d. NYY 96)

104. 1985 Royals 86
Brett, Leibrandt, Saberhagen (d. Cardinals 100, look at the size of that upset)

105. 1959 Dodgers 86
Moon, Drysdale (d. White Sox 90)

106. 2000 NYY 85
Posada, Williams (d. Mets 88, the third WS on the list with two sub 90 win teams, all in the WC era)

107. 2006 StL 82
Pujols, Carpenter (d. Tigers 95)

108. 1987 Minn 79
Viola The only sub .500 winner – of a WS, a SB, or an NBA Title. The worst champion in the history of major US team sports. (d. Cardinals 91)

Here’s my Awards Ballots for 2012:
NL MVP:
1.       Buster Posey
2.       Ryan Braun
3.       Yadier Molina
4.       Joey Votto
5.       Chase Headley
AL MVP:
1.       Mike Trout
2.       Robinson Cano
3.       Miguel Cabrera
4.       Justin Verlander
5.       Ben Zobrist
NL Cy:
1.       Clayton Kershaw
2.       RA Dickey
3.       Johnny Cueto
4.       Cole Hamels
5.       Kris Medlen
AL Cy
1.       Justin Verlander
2.       David Price
3.       Chris Sale
4.       Matt Harrison
5.       Hiroki Kuroda
 Best Players at Each Position – 2012 MLB
C Posey, Molina, Ruiz, Montero, Weiters
1B Votto, Pujols, LaRoche, Fielder, Teixeira
2B Cano, Hill, Uggla, Pedroia, Barney
SS Castro, Aybar, Hardy, Andrus, Desmond
3B Headley, Cabrera, Wright, Beltre, Ramirez
LF Braun, Gordon, Cabrera, Prado, Holliday
CF Trout, McCutcheon, Jackson, Harper, Pagan
RF Zobrist, Stanton, Heyward, Rios, Swisher
DH Encarnacion Butler
SP Verlander, Kershaw, Price, Dickey, Cueto
RP Rodney, Chapman, Kimbrel

 

Here are this week’s picks.
I’m 73-68-1.

Northwestern +11 Mich
Iowa -5 Purdue
Kent -6.5 Miami
Ok St -7 WVU
UAB +3 Marshall
Memphis +3 Tulane
KSt -7 TCU

Oak +7.5 Balt
Hou +1 Chi

 

Photo–Flickr/abbasj812

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About Jim Jividen

Jim Jividen (@JimJividen) is a lawyer, a professionally produced playwright, a game show winner, and the owner of a 2009 Honda Accord on which he diligently makes payments. He can distinguish among dozens of different suplex variants and may be occasionally read at his two non-revenue producing blogs, Basically Gherkins and What if Steamboat Beat Hogan? Jim’s been a college instructor since the top of 2004 and is currently working in the mist as a Course Mentor for Western Governors University.

Comments

  1. steve jaeger says:

    Excellent piece!

  2. Paul Schneider says:

    Clearly written by a Giants fan.

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