Monday, July 9, 2018

Eastern Division – the 10 Greatest

When I last played off these 40 teams in Statis-pro baseball, the 1927 Yankees win it all. However, in my first game with the advanced Statis-Pro cards yield an upset by Bob Ojeda and the 1986 Mets. Anyone can win one baseball game, but it was interesting to see that in addition to Ojeda being one of the hardest pitchers ever for lefties to hit, the 1927 Yankees did drop off a bit against lefties. Honus Wagner led the 1902 Pirates to an upset of Joe DiMaggio's 1939 Yankees - but this was also the case of one great ace pitcher - the 1939 and 1927 Yankees will tee off on most pitchers.
  1. (3-way tie), New York Yankees, 1927, One of three teams is the greatest in the history of baseball - Babe Ruth's 1927-32 Yankees, Joe DiMaggio's 1938-39 Yankees, or Derek Jeter's 1998-2000 Yankees. For that reason, while the other 39 teams all get only one entry in my Statis-Pro all-time championships, I am letting the 1927, 1939 and 1998 Yankees all compete to expand the Eastern Division to 12 teams while the Central, West, and South will all have 10 teams. The first all-time season I played, I did allow all 30 current teams to have only one entry for each city in which they played (40 total teams), and Ruth's 1927 Yankees backed up their reputation as the best team in history by winning the 40-team league. However, I believe the closest call is whether or not this or J.DiMaggio's 1939 squad was better, and Jeter's 1998 squad is right there. You could put M.Mantle's 1953 Yankees and many of the Yankees 27 World Series champs not far behind, BUT DiMaggio's 1939 squad edges out Ruth's 1927 for the best average score with a 6.4 to 3.7 margin that projects a 75% winning percentage even though Ruth's squad had a slightly better record - and to see DiMaggio's Statis-Pro card that is not only one of the greatest home run cards ever but also one of the best defensive cards ever and NEVER strikes out. (tie) New York Yankees, 1939, The second of two dominant years led by Joe DiMaggio - rivaling Ruth's 1927-32 Yankees and Jeter's 1998-2000 teams as not only the greatest Yankees teams of all time but the three greatest teams of all time. (tie) New York Yankees, 1998, D.Jeter's dominant run started here and continued through 2000 to form one of the best three teams in history - all New York Yankees squads. One reader asked my the 1961 Yankees were not also included - and they are not close to these three for best Yankees team ever. Worse record and their run differential was just over a run at 5.1-3.8 as and average score - and these three won by a solid 2 runs a game. Maris and Mantle rank ahead of many other teams among the 42 I rank, but not on the level of these three for greatest Yankees team ever.
  2. Boston Red Sox, 2007, Three years after breaking the curse with the 2004 World Series, the Red Sox  J.Beckett's Red Sox 5.4 to 4.1 average score was dominant, and their playoff blitz showed they were much better than their 96 wins in the regular season showed. Consider that they won the NL Divisional Series and World Series 7 games to 0 and 48 runs to 14. The great Cleveland Indians team gave them a classic series in between, 12-2 and 11-2. Certainly, you could opt instead for the 1912 Red Sox of J. Sain, but they were just a bit behind the great Giants and Athletics teams from a few years earlier and did barely win their World Series, so I give the 2007 version the edge. The sentimental pick, however, could be Ted Williams' 1941 season just to see the card of the last person to hit over .400, or his one World Series team when he came back from the war in 1946 - or even the Red Sox great 1953 team on which Williams' actual card is even better than his 1941 card because he hit home runs on 12 percent of his plate appearances and hit over .400 again - if you ignore the fact that he came up just more than 100 times that year.
  3. New York Giants, 1905, C.Mathewson's New York Giant easily won the World Series after one of the greatest average scores (5.0 to 3.3 for a projected 70 percent winning percentage) to give the East a title in between the dominant Central duo of the Cubs and Pirates.
  4. Philadelphia Athletics, 1910, E.Collins led the first of many great Philadelphia A's teams to an easy World Series, and this team was almost exactly as dominant as the 1905 Giants before them with a 4.3 to 2.9 average score projecting the same 70 percent winning percentage, and both teams winning the World Series 4 games to 1. The only thing that puts them just behind the Giants is three more tie games, which left them 102-48 to the 1905 Giants 105-48. If you prefer offense, you can take the 1929 Philadelphia A's who averaged almost as many runs as the 1927 Yankees (6.3 to 6.0 runs per game). However, I do point out to those who say this was an even better line-up that in fact, the average runs in MLB had increased from 4.8 to 5.2 those two years, so the team doesn't quite match-up to Ruth's Yankees from two years earlier.
  5. New York Mets, 1986, K.Hernandez finally brought the Mets' back to the title, albeit in a Series more remembered for Billy Buckner than the great Mets team that put up a 4.8 to 3.6 average score. Some will argue this team should be considered alongside the 1975-76 Reds as the best NL team of the past 100 years because they were the only other team to win 108 games. As great as that record is, I just do not believe they were quite and they did more games than their 4.8-3.6 average score.. The appeared ready to lose the World Series four games to two before John McNamara decided to pinch hit Roger Clemens, who led the league with a 24-4 record, 2.48 ERA and 0.69 WHIP, and then left left the defensively challenged Billy Buckner at first base so he could be on the field to celebrate the championship only to have the most famous grounder through the legs play in history. While it's true, the Reds also were taken to seven games by the Red Sox after their 108-win season, but that was based on Carlton Fisk's clutch home run. The Reds then proved their superiority by following up with another World Series title the next year in a sweep over the Yankees. Two great teams with interesting similarities, so this is not to degrade the great 1986 Yankees, only to say I believe the 1975 Reds earned their reputation as the best NL team of the last 100 years.Yye can opt for the 1969 Miracle Mets and Tom Seaver, who followed up Joe Namath's stunning upset of another Baltimore team (the Colts) for the biggest upset in NFL history by shocking the equally heavily favored Baltimore Orioles for the World Series. For good measure, the New York Knicks then defeated the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA playoffs en route to Willis Reed delivering the third major title in the three most prominent American sports in just over a year.
  6. Philadelphia Phillies, 1976, M.Schmidt's Phillies had the best-run differential of any non-Yankees team out of the East since 1910 (4.8 to 3.4 for a projected 66% winning percentage), and so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt despite being swept in the NL playoffs by the only team to ever sweep their league playoffs and the Series - the Reds. While I do weigh the playoffs as well, in this case the Phillies may have just hit the best team in the history of the NL as the Reds clinched the pennant the year before the earliest of any team in history (September 7, 1975) before sweeping the Phillies and Yankees. I believe they hit the wrong team, but this was a great team - albeit not as good as many, many other Yankees teams. If you don't buy this squad being that good, the 1915 NL champ Phillies are another great option.
  7. Brooklyn Dodgers, 1955, D.Snider's Brooklyn Dodgers finally followed up a great season with a World Series a few years after Jackie Robinson arrived, and in time to give New York a title before the team took the lure of Los Angeles.
  8. Montreal Expos, 1994, OF a lot of excellent Montreal Expos' teams, M.Alou's squad looked like the best chance at a World Series with a .649 winning percentage and 5.1 to 4.0 average score - only to have the players go on strike and the playoffs cancelled.
  9. Boston Braves, 1948, While it is true B.James Braves of 1914 gave the franchise a World Series in Boston, to be followed by a title in Milwaukee in 1957 and then in Atlanta in 1995, I opted for the NL champs who fell short only to my Statis-Pro best "non-Yankees" team the Cleveland Indians. It is just hard to turn down one of the greatest one-two pitching duos of all time that led to the battle cry, "Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain!" In fact, it was Johnny Sain who went 24-15 with 28 complete games a 2.60 ERA for a team with a barely average offense (4.8 runs per game to a 4.6 league average). Warren Spahn gave the team another solid 257 innings pitched but was not as dominant in the run to the NL title (15-12, 3.71) to help the team have an NL best 3.38 team ERA, 70 complete games, 43 walks and give up the second best 93 homers for a 91-62 mark. It was Spahn's worst year of his 18 years after returning from World War II and the year before he led the league with both a 2.33 ERA and 289.2 innings pitched and 1.14 WHIP, and he was in the top 20 in MVP voting his first eight years back from the War. Both pitchers beat Bob Feller during the Series, including Spahn winning in front of a record 86,288 fans who saw Satchel Paige relieve as the first black player to appear in a World Series game - but the Braves averaged less than three runs a game to lose the Series 4-2.
  10. Toronto Blue Jays, 1992, The incredible J.Donaldson's 2015 Blue Jays look even better than the World Series champions from the early 1990s, but R. Alomar just seemed to be able to pull out the title despite fairly average seasons with weak defense and decent hitting. But the fact that they repeated in 1993 with another team that hardly looked dominant, is a great credit, and it is ironic that the great Expos team of 1994 might have made it three straight Canadian titles to make it a truly "World" Series if not for the players strike. Neither this team or the 1993 champion that one few games (96 in 2002 and 95 in 2003) looked dominant, but back-to-back titles is quite an accomplishment.

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