In light of the Yankees winning their 27th World Series and closing the last season of Major League Baseball this decade, we’ll use a pretty simple system to determine the most successful baseball team of the decade. Like in our previous Best NBA teams of the decade, we’re handing out points only for playoff appearances. Here’s how the scoring goes –
5 points for winning the World Series
3 points for losing in the World Series
2 points for losing in the championship series
1 point for reaching the playoff and losing in the divisional series
30-24 – The Teams who never made it to the playoffs
Seven teams in the Majors didn’t make it once to the post season between 2000-2009 – The Baltimore Orioles, who haven’t seen a post season since 1997, The Toronto Blue Jays, who since their back to back World Series wins in 1992-1993 have been out of the playoffs, The Kansas City Royals, who like the Blue Jays, won a World Series on their last playoff trip, back in 1985. The Texas Rangers also are playoff-less this decade, not seeing one since 1999. The Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos), with the franchise visiting the post season last time in 1981, and haven’t finished above .500 since moving to the capital. The Cincinnati Reds, not seeing the playoffs since the mid-90’s and the Pittsburgh Pirates, last appearing in the post season back in 1992 and their 75 win season in 2003 being their decades best finish.
23 – Milwaukee Brewers, 1 point
In 2008, after getting their best winning record (90-72) since 1992, the Milwaukee Brewers broke a 26 year playoff drought, only to the eventual champions, the Phillies, in the NLDS, 3-1.
22 – San Diego Padres, 2 points
After their 1998 visit to the World Series (losing to the Yankees), the Padres posted five straight under .500 season, bottoming out in 2003, with only 64 wins. Then came the successful 2004-2007 stretch, which saw the Padres win 80+ for four straight seasons, including two NLDS visits in 2005 and 2006, losing twice to the St Louis Cardinals.
21-19 – Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers – 3 points
The Rays and the Tigers both made it only once into the playoffs since 2000, and both made it all the way to the World Series. The Rays in 2008, losing to the Phillies, and the Tigers in 2006, losing to the Cardinals. For the Rays it was the franchise’s first ever post season visit. For the Tigers it was their first since 1987. The Indians, after a very successful late 90’s spell, have found less success since 2000, with only two playoff appearances, the best of them coming in 2007, dragging the eventual World Series winners the Boston Red Sox to seven games in the ALCS.
18-16 – Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs and the Colorado Rockies – 4 points
The Seattle Mariners have had two appearances in the playoffs this past decade, but both of them in 2000-2001, in that amazing 2001 season when the Mariners won 116 regular season games. In both seasons they met they Yankees in the ALCS and lost. The Colorado Rockies have also been twice to the post season in the 2000’s, with their first trip, in 2007, taking them to the World Series where they lost to the Boston Red Sox. The Cubs have been three times to the playoffs since 2000, with their longest and most notorious run coming in 2003, with the Steve Bartman incident.
15-12 – Florida Marlins, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants – 5 points
The Marlins have been in the MLB since 1993, and have made the playoffs twice – both times they won the World Series, and after the Bartman incident we mentioned earlier, they went on to win against the Yankees (2003), their only visit to the post season this decade. Another NL East team the Mets, also visited the World Series once this decade, back in 2000, losing to the Yankees in the “Subway Series”. They made the playoffs again in 2006 losing in the NLCS to the Cardinals and have had two famous meltdowns in 2007 and 2008. The LA Dodgers have made the playoffs four times since 2004, but their only time in the NLCS was in 2008, losing to the Phillies. Their biggest rivals, the SF Giants also have three playoff visits, all between 2000-2003, including a World Series trip in 2002.
11-9 – Oakland A’s, Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros – 6 points
The A’s made it into the playoffs five times since 2000, four straight between 2000-2003 and another, their most successful playoff this decade, in 2006 (ALCS loss to the Tigers). The Astros made it into the playoffs three times during this decade, with their best effort and last appearance in 2005, when they reached the World Series and lost to the Chicago White Sox. The Twins, like Oakland, have made it five times beyond the regular season, and only once made it into the ALCS, in 2002, losing to the Angels.
8-7 – Chicago White Sox and the Atlanta Braves – 7 points
The White Sox made it into the playoffs three times since 2000, but the highlight of the decade and probably for the last 80-90 years for the franchise was their 2005 World Series win over the Houston Astros, their first since 1917. The Braves carried their NL East champions streak into the 2000’s, winning their division 11 straight times between 1995-2005. They made the playoffs six times, 2000-2005, only once getting through the NLDS, in 2001, before losing to Arizona in the NLCS.
6-5 – Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks
Two World Series Winners, with the Diamondback’s the “older” champions. Arizona won their title back in 2001, beating the Yankees in seven games. They’ve made two other trips to the playoffs since, in 2002 and 2007. The Phillies reached the playoffs in 2007 for the first time since their World Series defeat in 1993, and in 2008-2009 have made the World Series twice, winning in ’08 against the Rays, their first title since 1980 and lost just a couple of days ago in the 2009 World Series to the Yankees.
4th – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – 12 points
Mike Scioscia has been the Angels manager since 2000 and has lead them to six playoff appearances, including their 2002 World Series victory over the Giants in seven games. It was the first and only on to date in the LA/California/Anaheim Angels’ history.
3-2 – Boston Red Sox and the St Louis Cardinals – 16 points
When the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, it seemed to change the fate of the franchise, from cursed losers, to an AL powerhouse and pretty much the best team in the majors. They won the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007, one of only two teams (guess who is the second) to win it twice this decade. The Cardinals have been the pride of the NL central and the NL as well during the 2000’s, winning the NL central seven times, and making the World Series twice – once in 2004, losing to the Red hot Red Sox, and once in 2006, beating the Detroit Tigers, winning the WS for the first time since 1982.
Number 1 – New York Yankees – 22 points
27 titles now, more than any other professional franchise in North America. The Yankees, fresh after winning their first World Series since 2000, a lifetime for the franchise, are the team of the decade. The Red Sox also won two titles, but the Yankees, what can you do, love or hate him, have been better overall. They’ve been to the WS four times this decade, 2 wins (2000,2009) and 2 losses (2001,2003). They’ve made the playoffs nine times, more than any other team in the majors, missing out only last year, Joe Girardi’s first as manager, and won their division eight times. The Red Sox and the Cardinals had a great decade, but the Yankees top them both, and everyone else.