Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Last Time Each Team Has Led the Majors in Wins

Below I've listed each MLB team and the most recent season that they've led the majors in wins. The four newest teams (Rockies, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Rays) as well as the Astros, Padres, Rangers and Blue Jays, have never topped the bigs in victories. For those teams I've listed the year of their highest win total.

Team Year Wins Wins Behind Top Team
Baltimore Orioles 1979 102
Boston Red Sox 2007 96
New York Yankees 2009 103
Tampa Bay Rays Never 97 2010 (1 behind PHI)
Toronto Blue Jays Never 99 1985 (2 behind STL)
Chicago White Sox 1983 99
Cleveland Indians 2007 96
Detroit Tigers 1987 98
Kansas City Royals 1977 102
Minnesota Twins 1965 102
Houston Astros Never 102 1998 (12 behind NYY)
Los Angeles Angels 2008 100
Oakland Athletics 2002 103
Seattle Mariners 2001 116
Texas Rangers Never 96 2011 (6 behind PHI)
Atlanta Braves 1999 103
Miami Marlins Never 92 1997 (9 behind ATL)
New York Mets 2006 97
Philadelphia Phillies 2011 102
Washington Nationals 2012 98
Chicago Cubs 1945 98
Cincinnati Reds 1981 66
Milwaukee Brewers 1982 95
Pittsburgh Pirates 1991 98
St. Louis Cardinals 2005 100
Arizona Diamondbacks Never 100 1999 (3 behind ATL)
Colorado Rockies Never 92 2009 (11 behind NYY)
Los Angeles Dodgers 1974 102
San Diego Padres Never 98 1998 (16 behind NYY)
San Francisco Giants 2000 97

Of the 22 teams that have finished with the best record in baseball, only the 2007 Red Sox and 2009 Yankees won the World Series in their most recent season.

Six of these teams won the pennant but lost in the Fall Classic (1945 CHN, 1965 MIN, 1974 LAD, 1979 BAL, 1982 MIL, 1999 ATL).

Nine fell in the League Championship Series (1977 KC, 1983 CWS, 1987 DET, 1991 PIT, 2001 SEA, 2002 OAK, 2005 STL, 2006 NYM, 2007 CLE). For the first four teams listed, it was their only playoff series. The other five clubs at least won their opening series.

That can't be said for the 2000 Giants, 2008 Angels, 2011 Phillies and 2012 Nationals. They all dropped their Division Series matchup. The Giants and Angels lost in four games to the Mets and Red Sox. Philly and Washington were both stunned by the Cardinals in five.

The 1981 Reds are an odd case. Because of the strike the season was cut into two halves, with each division's first-half champ and second-half champ meeting in the playoffs. Cincy went 66-42, but finished in second place in both halves only to watch the Dodgers and Astros meet in the postseason.

For five of the eight teams that have never led MLB, their winningest season is also the year in which they came closest to the top team (Rays, Blue Jays, Rangers, Marlins, Diamondbacks). But it's a different story for the Astros, Rockies and Padres. 

Houston won 93 in 1980, ten games behind the Yankees. In the strike-shortened 1981 and 1994 seasons, they were within five and eight games, respectively, of the Reds and Expos.

During Colorado's miracle 2007 season, they won 90 games, six fewer than the Indians and the Red Sox team that defeated them in the World Series.

The Padres were within seven games of the best team on two occasions. Their 89 wins were seven back of Boston and Cleveland in 2007 and in 2010 their 90 wins trailed Philadelphia.

It's worth noting that there were two other seasons in addition to 1985 that saw the Blue Jays finish two behind the majors' top team. They won 96 games in 1987 and 1992, but the Tigers and Braves finished with 98 in those seasons.

Check out the yearly wins grid for every team here.

If the Nationals can repeat as the regular season's best team (and they look loaded), they would be the fourth team of the wild card era to top the majors in back-to-back seasons. The others are the 1995-96 Indians, 2002-03 Yankees, 2004-05 Cardinals and 2010-11 Phillies.

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