In this blog over the past few months I have written about the New England Patriots having the best record of all NFL teams since 2000, thus leading the unofficial “NFL Team of the Century” race. Well, here’s a look at the major league baseball “Team of the Century” race.
The New York Yankees hold the top spot with the best record of all MLB teams since 2000. The Yankees are 1421-1005 (a .586 winning percentage) in games this century. They have a 58.5 game lead over the second place St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards have the best record since 2000 in the National League over the Atlanta Braves. (Note: Only 11 of the 30 MLB teams have a winning record this century.)
Following is a look at the record of each MLB team this century.
New York Yankees 1421-1005 .586
St. Louis 1364-1065 .562
Atlanta 1341-1087 .552
Boston 1336-1093 .550
Anaheim 1331-1099 .548
Oakland 1323-1105 .545
Los Angeles Dodgers 1296-1133 .534
San Francisco 1291-1136 .532
Philadelphia 1276-1153 .525
Chicago White Sox 1245-1186 .512
Minnesota 1222-1209 .503
Texas 1213-1218 .499
Cleveland 1210-1220 .498
Toronto 1201-1228 .494
Seattle 1198-1232 .493
New York Mets 1198-1230 .493
Arizona 1190-1240 .490
Cincinnati 1184-1246 .487
Detroit 1176-1254 .484
Florida 1171-1257 .482
San Diego 1159-1272 .477
Chicago Cubs 1153-1275 .475
Milwaukee 1153-1276 .475
Montreal 1140-1288 .470
Tampa Bay 1140-1288 .470
Houston 1140-1289 .469
Colorado 1129-1302 .464
Baltimore 1107-1321 .456
Pittsburgh 1071-1356 .441
Kansas City 1057-1373 .435
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Over the past several years, we have heard the word “parity” thrown around quite a bit, especially in the world of sports. Professional teams like the Montreal Canadians, the New York Yankees, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakes, and at various times in the NFL, the Cowboys, Steelers, Packers and 49ers, have all enjoyed long success in their respective league.
While the fans in those towns may enjoy the dynasties that were built, other cities and executives within each of the four major sports leagues would rather see the wealth spread around a bit to other teams.
Back-to-back titles have happened in each of the four major sports in the last two decades. The Yankees won three straight titles in the late ’90’s; the Patriots won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2004 and 2005 (there has not, however, been a team that has won three straight Super Bowls); the Lakers won three consecutive NBA titles earlier this century (and the Miami Heat are hoping for a third straight title this year); and, the Detroit Red Wings won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998. But those days when a franchise won five or more straight championships are very much a distant past.
So which of the four major sports in the last 20 years has seen the “most” parity? Let’s start the discussion with a few numbers.
Different champions: Of the four sports, the NHL has had 13 different franchises win the Stanley Cup in the last 20 years. The NFL is close behind with 12 teams winning at least one Super Bowl in the past two decades. The World Series has been won by 11 different teams since 1993, while the NBA Championship has seen only eight franchises hoist the title trophy since 1993. Slight advantage to the NHL.
Repeat champions: Of the four sports, the NFL has had the most repeat champions (teams that won more than one title) in the last 20 years with seven (Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Green Bay, New England, New York Giants and Pittsburgh). The other three sports have each had five repeat champs in the past 20 seasons. No advantage.
Back-to-Back titles: In the past 20 years, the NHL has had the fewest consecutive titles by a team, one. That happened in 1997 and 1998 when the Red Wings won back-to-back titles. It has happened only twice in major league baseball in the last 20 years; it has occurred three times in the last 2o Super Bowls. In the NBA, there have been seven times when a team won back-to-back titles (on two occasions, those teams won a three-peat). Advantage NHL.
So based on these three factors, the NHL, in my opinion, has had the most parity over the past 20 years.
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Earlier this week the New York Yankees signed Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year contract worth $153 million. Several media outlets and baseball pundits questioned whether or not it was a good move on the part of the Yankees. Many questioned either the length or value of the contract, while others opined that Ellsbury was just not the type of player that deserved that type of free-agent contract.
In defense of Ellsbury, he played a major role in the Red Sox winning the championship last year. He led the majors with 52 stolen bases and batted .298 while playing a solid center field. He has stolen 50 or more base in three of his seven seasons. But his speed on the basepaths was a bone of contention for some people who see Ellsbury as too one-dimensional of a player.
Maybe, however, the Yankees decision was a simple response to a need that has plagued the team for almost 25 years.
As mentioned above, Ellsbury led the majors last season with 52 stolen bases. He was the only player to steal 50 or more last season. Do you know the last Yankees player to steal 50 or more bases in a season? It happened in 1988. Rickey Henderson stole 93 in that season, the last time the Yanks had a player reach the 50-steal mark in a season.
Here’s a look at the last time each of the major league teams had a player who stole 50 or more bases in a season.
American League teams
1988: New York Yankees (Rickey Henderson, 93)
1995: Texas (Otis Nixon, 50)
1996: Kansas City (Tom Goodwin, 66)
1997: Minnesota (Chuck Knoblauch, 62)
1998: Cleveland (Kenny Lofton, 54)
1998: Toronto (Shannon Stewart, 51)
2001: Detroit (Roger Cedeno, 55)
2001: Seattle (Ichiro Suzuki, 56)
2006: L.A. Angels (Chone Figgins, 52)
2007: Baltimore (Brian Roberts, 50)
2009: Tampa Bay (Carl Crawford, 60)
2010: Chicago White Sox (Juan Pierre, 68)
2010: Houston (Michael Bourne, 52)
2010: Oakland (Rajai Davis, 50)
2013: Boston (Jacoby Ellsbury, 52)
National League teams
1985: Philadelphia (Juan Samuel, 53)
1987: San Diego (Tony Gwynn, 56)
1990: San Francisco (Brett Butler, 51)
1991: Atlanta (Otis Nixon, 72)
1993: Washington (Marquis Grissom, 53)
1997: Cincinnati (Deion Sanders, 56)
1997: St. Louis (Delino DeShields, 55)
1998: Pittsburgh (Tony Womack, 58)
2004: Milwaukee (Scott Podsednik, 70)
2006: Chicago Cubs (Juan Pierre, 58)
2007: Arizona (Eric Byrnes, 50)
2007: Los Angeles Dodgers (Juan Pierre, 64)
2007: Miami (Hanley Ramirez, 51)
2008: Colorado (Willy Taveras, 68)
2008: New York Mets (Jose Reyes, 56)
* Note: Did you notice that one player, Juan Pierre, is the last player to steal 50 or more bases for three different teams (Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and L.A. Dodgers), and Otis Nixon is the last player to steal 50-plus bases for two teams (Texas and Atlanta).
Will a full season of Ellsbury stealing bases lead the Yankees to a World Championship? We’ll have a few months to see how well this free agent signing plays out. No doubt the Bronx Bombers are hoping Ellsbury’s stolen base skill will be a catalyst in that journey back to the World Series.
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Seeing a Game One blowout in the World Series is a fairly rare site. In fact, prior to last night’s 8-1 win by the Red Sox over the Cardinals, there had been only 10 World Series Game Ones that were decided by seven runs or more.
Here’s a look at those 10 seven runs or more blowouts in previous World Series Game Ones.
2007: Boston over Colorado 13-1 (largest margin of victory in Game One of a World Series)
2001: Arizona over NY Yankees 9-1
1996: Atlanta over NY Yankees 12-1
1980: Cincinnati over Oakland 7-0
1987: Minnesota over St. Louis 10-1
1982: Milwaukee over St. Louis 10-0
1959: Chicago White Sox over LA Dodgers 10-0
1945: Chicago Cubs over Detroit 9-0
1937: NY Yankees over NY Giants 8-1
1919: Cincinnati over Chicago White Sox 9-1
Notice that getting blown out in Game One has happened before to the Cards; they have now lost three Game Ones in the World Series by seven runs or more (most in World Series history).
In the 109-year history of the Fall Classic, Game One has traditionally been a close game. Thirty-eight times (34.9%) the first game of the World Series ended in a one-run game. In just over 51% of the World Series Game Ones, the margin of victory was either one of two runs.
Finally, how will the Cardinals rebound from last night’s drubbing? If the past is any indication, it might not be very well. In the previous 10 blowouts in Game One, the team that won Game One also won Game Two seven times. The 1937 NY Yankees were the only World Series team to win both the first and second games of the World Series by seven runs or more. We can probably expect a closer game in Game Two, but you have to go back to 1982 to see a team rebound from a Game One blowout and win Game Two… in ’82 the Milwaukee Brewers won Game One 10-0. Their opponents, the Cardinals, took Game Two with a 5-4 victory.
Can the Cardinals of 2013 repeat what happened in the 1982 World Series?
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With the World Series getting started tonight in Boston, here are a couple of interesting stats to ponder before the first pitch. Depending on your team allegiance in the series, you may be happy (or sad) to read these facts.
Same record. The World Series this year features two teams that had the same regular season record, 97-65. This is the first World Series in over a half-century where the opposing teams had the same regular season record. Last time it happened was in 1958 when the 92-62 New York Yankees faced the 92-62 Milwaukee Braves. This is also only the fifth time it has happened in the 108-year history of the Fall Classic. It also happened in 1951, 1949 and 1903. Think about this: In the previous four times it occurred, the American League won the World Series. Good omen for the Red Sox?
Question: Does it really matter which World Series team had a better record in the regular season? The World Series team with the better record has won 24 of the 52 World Series dating back to 1960.
Best record in league. Back in 1995 MLB went to the current format of three divisions in each league. Since 1995, this is only the third time that the team with the best record in the American League will face the team with the best record in the National League in the World Series. Both St. Louis and Boston had the best regular season records in their respective league. The other times it happened: 1999 World Series (Atlanta versus the New York Yankees) and 1995 (Cleveland versus Atlanta). In 2007, World Series foes Boston and Colorado tied for the best record in their leagues.
From last to the World Series: The Red Sox this year become the sixth team in MLB history to go from last place to the World Series in the following season. In 2012, Boston finished fifth in the five-team A.L. East, 26 games out of first place. Here’s a look at the teams that went from last place to the World Series in consecutive years.
Atlanta, 1990: Finished sixth in six-team division, 26 games out of first. Lost the World Series in 1991.
Minnesota, 1990: Finished fifth in five-team division, 29 games out of first. Won the World Series in 1991.
Philadelphia, 1992: Finished sixth in six-team division, 26 games out of first. Lost the World Series in 1993.
San Diego, 1997: Finished fourth in four-team division, 14 games out of first. Lost World Series in 1998.
Tampa Bay, 2007: Finished fifth in five-team division, 30 games out of first. Lost World Series in 2008.
Boston, 2012: Finished fifth in five-team division, 26 games out of first. ????????????????????????
You noticed that only one team (of the five) above won the World Series after being in last place the previous year, right? Bad omen for the Red Sox?
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