Breaking News

Ranking the 25 greatest teams in MLB history

Ranking the 25 greatest teams in MLB history

Old Yankee Stadium
JCruzTheTruth, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

No matter what, there will always be debates about the best MLB teams ever. Unfortunately, the greatest MLB teams of all time all played in different years and different generations, making it impossible for them to settle such a debate on the field.

But that shouldn’t stop fans and pundits from being able to debate the best baseball teams of all time and throw in their two cents.

Best MLB teams ever

Naturally, we wanted to be part of the conversation by ranking MLB teams’ all-time records, accomplishments, and talent. Our hope is that none of the most prestigious MLB teams in more than a century of baseball would be left off our list, so we extended it to the 25 greatest MLB teams of all time.

Even then, it was no easy task, but we had to draw a line in the sand somewhere. With that said, here is our list of the 25 best MLB teams ever.

25. 2002 Athletics

How about some love for the famous Moneyball A’s? They might have lost in the ALDS, but they did win 20 straight games at some point and then win 103 games during the regular season. Keep in mind they did all of that with such a tiny payroll.

But their budget-conscious lineup churned out enough runs to support the pitching trio of Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder, creating the most unlikely candidate on our list of the best MLB teams of all time.

24. 2004 Red Sox

The first MLB team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series deserves to be on this list. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez both hit 40 home runs this year, so this wasn’t a bad team. There were also players like Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar making contributions.

Then there was the pitching staff led by Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. Of course, after the comeback over the Yankees, Boston swept the Cardinals in the World Series to officially end the curse.


23. 1902 Pirates

This was in the era before the World Series, but the 1902 Pirates still deserve some recognition. Three different Pirates led the league in average, home runs, and RBIs.

Meanwhile, pitcher Jack Chesbro collected 28 wins. They finished the season 103-36 and led the National League in every major statistical category, utterly dominating their competition.

22. 1907 Cubs

Before their epic championship drought, the Cubs won back-to-back World Series, starting with the historically good 1907 team. With a record of 107-45, they crushed the competition in the National League thanks to five starting pitchers who made at least 27 starts and posted an ERA under 1.70.

While Game 1 of the World Series ended in a tie, the Cubs won the next four games to sweep the Tigers.

21. 1942 Cardinals

This won’t be the first time the Cardinals are mentioned on this list of the best MLB teams of all time, but this list wouldn’t be complete without the 1942 Red Birds.

St. Louis finished 106-48 on the season, needing every one of those wins, as the Cards beat out the Dodgers by just two games. The pitching tandem of Mort Cooper and Johnny Beazley dominated enough to get the Cards to the World Series, where they toppled the Yankees in five games.

20. 1955 Dodgers

The Dodgers have had some great teams, but the 1955 team deserves special recognition. They captured the first World Series win in franchise history, finally beating the Yankees after losing five World Series to their crosstown rivals dating back to 1941. Roy Campanella took home MVP honors that year while Duke Snider finished second. Gil Hodges had a big year while Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson were also productive players, so this team was loaded.

The team’s pitching was good but not great, as Sandy Koufax was only a rookie at the time. But the Dodgers had a lineup that was deep and able to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the World Series to beat the Yankees in seven games.

19. 1905 Giants

Back when they were in New York, the 1905 Giants became something special. They won 105 games during the regular season, needing to keep up a high level of play with two other teams winning over 90 games.

Hall of Fame manager John McGraw led the team with Hall of Famers Joe McGinnity, Christy Mathewson, and Roger Bresnahan leading the way with help from Mike Donlin, who batted .356.

Matthewson was brilliant, winning 31 games with a 1.28 ERA. The Giants then cruised to a World Series title, beating the Athletics in five games in a New York-Philadelphia World Series.

18. 1929 Athletics

Back when they were located in Philadelphia, the A’s had one of the best MLB teams of all time. The legendary Connie Mack was the manager, leading the A’s to 104 wins during the regular season and their first of back-to-back championships.

Hall of Famers Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, and Jimmie Foxx highlighted an epic lineup that ran away with the American League pennant by 18 games and crushed the Cubs in the World Series, winning in five games.

17. 1984 Tigers

This team was one of the few to have a pitcher win both the Cy Young and MVP, a feat accomplished by Willie Hernández. Of course, Hernández was a reliever, pitching in support of three starters who won at least 17 games.

The lineup with Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson, and Chet Lemon was good too. After winning 104 games during the regular season, the Tigers were 7-1 in the postseason, beating a strong San Diego team in the World Series in five games.

16. 2001 Mariners

Despite losing in the ALCS, the 2001 Mariners have to be included on our list of the best baseball teams of all time after winning a record 116 games during the regular season. Of those 116 wins, 59 came by at least four runs, so they weren’t just beating teams, they were dominating them.

Outside of Ichiro and Edgar Martinez, the lineup wasn’t exactly filled with stars. However, Bret Boone had 37 homers and 141 RBIs. He might have been MVP if not for Ichiro, who won the batting title and led the American League in stolen bases, winning MVP and Rookie of the Year. The playoff loss aside, Boone, Ichiro, and six other all-stars led what should be considered among the best teams in MLB history.

15. 1932 Yankees

Get used to seeing the Yankees on our list of the best MLB teams ever because they are going to be frequent participants. One of the best Yankees teams of yesteryear came in 1932, which was the first of five World Series wins that decade.

They finished the year with 107 wins thanks to five of their regulars hitting .300 or better. That team also included nine Hall of Famers, including the great Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The Bronx Bombers won the American League comfortably and then dominated the Cubs in the World Series, outscoring them 37-19 during a four-game sweep.

14. 1989 Athletics

While they only won 99 games during the regular season, this team had all of the ingredients of one of the all-time greats. Keep in mind this was the second of three-straight trips to the World Series for Oakland, but the A’s only championship. Mark McGwire and Dave Parker provided power.

Rickey Henderson provided the speed and was absolutely electric in the postseason. On the mound, Dave Stewart won 21 games while both Mike Moore and Storm Davis had 19 wins apiece with Dennis Eckersley amassing 33 saves. This was a complete team and that was obvious in the postseason, as Oakland won the ALCS in five games and swept the Giants in the World Series.

13. 1968 Tigers

This was the year of Denny McLain, who won 31 games while posting a 1.96 ERA in 1968, earning him Cy Young and MVP honors. The rest of the Detroit rotation was outstanding this year as well, leading the way on a team that won 103 games during the regular season.

Offensively, the 1968 Tigers weren’t anything special, although they did have three players with at least 25 home runs and had Hall of Famer Al Kaline coming off the bench. The Tigers also overcame a 3-1 deficit in the World Series against a St. Louis team that won the World Series the previous year.

That includes road wins in Game 6 and Game 7, putting the 1968 Tigers in the conversation for the best MLB team ever.

12. 1995 Braves

If only the Braves could have won more championships during their amazing run during the 90s, they’d likely have more teams listed among the best MLB teams ever. But the 1995 Braves were the ones that won it all. While they only won 90 games during the regular season, they were on pace for 101 if the season hadn’t been shortened by the strike.

Naturally, Atlanta’s rotation led the way with Greg Maddux having an amazing season, going 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA and 10 complete games. Tom Glavine and John Smoltz also had good seasons to help support a balanced and deep lineup. This team also went 11-3 in the postseason, making it look easy in October.

11. 1969 Mets

While this team was known as the Miracle Mets, there was nothing miraculous about this season. Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman combined for 42 wins and both had an ERA under 2.30 while a young Nolan Ryan was also a part of this team.

Behind such amazing pitching, the Mets swept the Braves in the NLCS and then took care of the Orioles in five games to win the World Series. Keep in mind that the Orioles won 109 games during the regular season and looked unstoppable, making the 1969 Mets something special.

10. 1967 Cardinals

With Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Lou Brock, and Orlando Cepeda on this team, the 1967 Cardinals had it all.

In addition to Brock and Cepeda, Tim McCarver, Curt Flood, and others also had standout seasons, although it was Cepeda who took home MVP honors this year. On the mound, Dick Hughes out-pitched both Carlton and Gibson this year. Ultimately, the Cards won 101 games and while they needed seven games, they beat the Red Sox to win the World Series.

9. 2018 Red Sox

Compared to Boston’s other championship teams, the 2018 Red Sox were the best, winning 108 games during the regular season. Mookie Betts won MVP and the batting title with J.D. Martinez finishing second behind him in batting average.

The team’s pitching was good too, especially Chris Sale, but it was Boston’s lineup that gave opposing teams so much trouble. After dominating during the regular season, the Red Sox were 11-3 in the playoffs, beating three quality teams, including two other teams that won at least 100 games that season.

8. 1939 Yankees

This was one of the greatest Yankees teams of all time and a memorable season because it was the last in Lou Gehrig’s great career. Even though the Yankees played most of the season without Gehrig, the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Charlie Keller both had outstanding seasons with DiMaggio batting .381 with 30 home runs.

They won 106 games during the regular season, winning the pennant with a 17-game cushion before sweeping the Reds in the World Series, outscoring them 20-8.

7. 1976 Reds

Everyone agrees that Cincinnati was better the following year, although the back-half of Cincinnati’s back-to-back titles was also one of the best MLB teams ever.

Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Ken Griffey, and others all had great seasons. After winning 102 games during the regular season, the 1976 Reds became the first and only team to go undefeated in the playoffs since the start of divisional play, sweeping both the Phillies and Yankees.

6. 1927 Yankees

The 1927 Yankees won only the second World Series in franchise history but also put together one of the best seasons in franchise history. This was the team that first team whose lineup earned the nickname of Murderers’ Row.

Babe Ruth hit .356 with 60 home runs while Lou Gehrig hit .373 with 47 home runs. On top of those two, there were four other players who batted over .300 for the Yankees that season.

With Waite Hoyt and Urban Shocker, the team’s pitching was better than most people realize. With that balance of hitting and pitching, the 1927 Yankees won 110 games and despite some competitive games in the World Series, swept the Pirates in four games.

5. 1998 Yankees

This was the first of three straight Yankee teams to win the World Series and was arguably the best of the bunch and arguably the best team of all time. The lineup was as deep and as balanced as they get with four everyday players hitting .300 or better and six players hitting at least 19 home runs.

Pitching-wise, there were five starters with at least 12 wins, including David Cone, who won 20 games. From start to finish, this team was dominant, winning 114 games during the regular season. They were just as dominant during the playoffs, going 11-2, including a four-game sweep of the Padres in the World Series, scoring twice as many runs.

4. 1986 Mets

Most people remember 1986 for the crazy ending to Game 6 in which the Mets were one out away from losing. But they forged that comeback to win the series, helping to solidify their standing as one of the best MLB teams ever. The NL East was more or less won by June, as the Mets ended up winning the division by 21.5 games.

The lineup wasn’t filled with a lot of superstars, but they were deep and got plenty of help from the bench. They also had four starters win at least 15 games with Bob Ojeda, Ron Darling, and Dwight Gooden posting an ERA under 3.00.

Of course, the 1986 Mets had to win two competitive and memorable postseason series and had to overcome a 2-0 deficit in the World Series. The 1986 Mets surely toed the line between winning a championship and not, but they were also one of the most complete teams in big league history. 

3. 1970 Orioles

The 1969 Orioles had come up short in the World Series, but in 1970, Baltimore came back on a mission. Three members of the pitching staff won at least 20 games while Frank Robinson and Boog Powell led a strong lineup.

No other team had a chance, as the Orioles won 108 games and ran away with the AL East with a 15-game cushion. After that, the postseason was a cakewalk, as Baltimore outscored the Twins 27-10 over three games and then took care of the Reds in five games.

2. 1975 Reds

This was the first of Cincinnati’s back-to-back World Series wins and easily better than they were the following year. They put together the second-best home record in big league history, making them one of the best MLB teams ever.

For the season, the Reds won 108 games behind Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, and three 15-game winners on the pitching staff. They finished the season with a 20-game cushion in the NL West, although they were pushed to seven games in the World Series by the Red Sox but ultimately won a championship.

1. 1961 Yankees

Out of all of the championship teams in Yankees history, the 1961 team stands out as one of the best MLB teams ever. Most fans remember that this is the year that Roger Maris broke the single-season home run record with 61 long balls. Maris also had 142 RBIs while Mickey Mantle had 54 home runs and 128 RBIs, which shows just how dangerous New York’s lineup was this year.

They weren’t great out of the gate but the Yankees ended up with 109 wins this year, winning at least 20 games in June, July, August, and September.

They also had to hold off another 100-win team in the American League before taking care of business against the Reds, winning the World Series in five games.