Our nation’s pastime, the great game of baseball provides the masses with the luxury of having a sport played throughout the hot months of June and July and serve as a warm up to what is to come in October. With teams soon to make moves at the trade deadline in hopes to build a contender, we shall look back at the teams that became victim to the game of baseball. Often times being the best team in the MLB does not result in your team holding up the Commissioner’s Trophy when its all said and done.
7. 2004 New York Yankees (101-61)
This one hurts… but I would not being doing this list justice if I did not include this Yankees squad. Disclaimer: This is not the only Yankees team on this list. It is hard to understand how a team with superstar talents like Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, the newly acquired Alex Rodriguez and the solid veteran play from Miguel Cairo, Jorge Posada was not enough to close out a 3-0 series lead to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. Clutch performances from the great David Ortiz and Curt Schilling led the Red Sox passed the Yankees and ultimately to their first World Series title since 1918 putting an end to the Curse of the Bambino.
6. 2001 Seattle Mariners (116-46)
Admittedly not the scariest roster to look at, the 2001 Mariners somehow found a way to win 116 games. With the likes of a newcomer Ichiro Suzuki, who would win Rookie of the Year and MVP honors, Bret Boone’s 141 RBIs, a solid rotation led by a young Freddy Garcia, this Mariners team shocked the world and had many of the Mariners faithful dreaming of a World Series berth. The Mariners going into the postseason with momentum beat the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS in 5 games but ultimately lost to the next entry on this list, the New York Yankees.
5. 2001 New York Yankees (95-65)
Fresh off three straight World Series wins, the Bronx Bombers looked make it four straight and further the legacy of their dynasty. Led by one of, if not the best shortstop in baseball, Derek Jeter, the reliable bats of Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and a rotation with arms like Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens made this Yankees team one of the most deadliest squads put together. The Yankees matched up against the Athletics in the ALDS, a series that would be won in the decisive game 5. Advancing to the ALCS, the Yankees would beat the Mariners via the gentlemen’s sweep. After losing the first two games of the World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks, led by one of the greatest pitching duos, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the Yankees responded with three straight victories via late game heroics that had the Bronx in a frenzy. However, they are on this list for a reason. The Diamondbacks responded with a dominating game 6 win which led to a game 7 that came down to the wire and resulted in the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, allowing a walk off World Series winning hit to Luis Gonzalez.
4. 1988 New York Mets (100-60)
After convincingly winning the NL East by 15 games, the New York Mets had World Series hype. 2 years after beating the Red Sox in the World Series, the Mets had put together one of the most strongest rotations in the history of baseball. Leading the way was 23 year old star Dwight Gooden, who had posted a respectable 3.17 ERA. Worth mentioning One of the more plesant surprises of the season was 25 year old David Cone. Cone ended the season with 20-3 record and a 2.22 ERA, good enough to finish 3rd in CY Young voting. A rotation that would combine for a 77 wins, 44 losses and 31 complete games, the Mets had put together a rotation with of young pitchers, the oldest being Bob Ojeda who was 30, that could compete with any team. Not to mention the impactful bats of Darryl Strawberry, Kevin McReynolds, the defense of Keith Hernandez that helped him win his 11th consecutive Gold Glove. Sadly, the Mets would lose a competitive seven game NLCS to the eventual champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
3. 1954 Cleveland Indians (111-43)
Much like our last entry, this Cleveland Indians rotation was stacked. Bob Feller, legendary Hall of Fame pitcher, had the least number of complete games in this rotation, with 9. Their rotation combined for 74 complete games and pitched over 1,000 innings, a feat that will certainly not be topped for the next century or even ever. A respectable offense with players like Bobby Avila, batted .341 and had an OBP north of .400, Larry Doby, who led the league in RBI with 126. This regular season success would not translate into the postseason. Facing off against the New York Giants led by WIllie Mays in the World Series, the Indians struggled in their matchup against the Giants and lost the World Series in four games.
2. 1986 Boston Red Sox (95-66)
This team was sadly defined by an error made by one of its most important players, Bill Buckner who was playing through injury. The Red Sox had constructed a lineup with hit machines and power hitters. Hit machines came in the form of Bill Buckner, who had 102 RBIs and had managed to only strikeout 25 times in 153 games played, Wade Boggs, who had 207 hits and a OBP of .453 and Glen Rice, who also got the 200 hit mark for the season. The Red Sox power came from the services of Don Baylor and Dwight Evans who hit a combined 57 home runs between the two. Like most pennant winning teams the Red Sox had an ace to lead the pitching staff. Enter 23 year old stud Roger Clemens. Clemens finished the season with a 24-4 record and a 2.48 ERA with 254 innings pitched. Clemens dominance was rewarded by bringing home both Cy Young and MVP trophies at seasons end. Unfortunately, the ending to their game six loss led to the Mets gaining momentum for the decisive game seven of the series which resulted in the Mets winning their second World Series title and extended the Boston World Series drought for the time being.
1. 1996 Atlanta Braves (96-66)
Pitching wins championships and when you have the three headed dragon that is John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine you are almost guaranteeing a win every single time they are on the mound. Having won the World Series the year prior, this Braves team looked destined to repeat as world champions. Not only was this team blessed by the one of the greatest pitching trios but had a hitting trio to compliment it. The trio of Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff and Ryan Klesko who had a combined average of 31 home runs. We also cannot forget the efforts of Javy Lopez and Marquis Grissom who put up spectacular 1996 campaigns. A team with a perfect blend of hitting and pitching made their way to the World Series after winning the last two games of the NLCS. Their matchup the New York Yankees. Facing a team who had lost in the year prior to the Mariners, the Braves were the clear favorite and they proved it. The Braves made quick work of the Yankees through the first two games giving them a 2-0 series lead. This was followed up by a complete meltdown leading to the Yankees winning four straight games and ending the Braves dreams of repeating as champions and led to the beginning of a dynasty in the Bronx.