Breitbart readers who apparently shared my fond memories of baseball board games now can pit Boston Red Sox’ Carl Yastrzemski from the ultimate deadball season of 1968 on a level playing field with the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio’s Statis-Pro card from the liveball 1939 season when he hit .381.
In response to our baseball reviews of all 30 current baseball teams going into the July 17 All-Star break, some readers started using the free Statis-Pro game we reference to play off the greatest teams of all time using all-time great player cards.
Think of DiMaggio when you watch Mike Trout in Tuesday’s all star game. He walks as much as he strikes out in our current era when ratio is 3-to-1 the other way, while pounding homers and stealing bases makes him the strongest all-around challenge to DiMaggio in 1939.
To compare the greatest players and teams of all-time heading into the All-Star game, we picked the best team each city has yielded for each franchise (e.g. the best Boston Red Sox team but also the best Boston Braves team, as well as the best Brooklyn Dodgers and best Los Angeles Dodgers). We played off all 40 teams within 10-team South, Central, East and West Divisions to help us rank them. This gives each team one representative just as next week’s All-Star game will give each team one player representative for all 30 current teams.
To dive deep into our analysis, you can click on the headings for each division, or click here for the grid breaking down each team’s record, World Series success (10 = swept World Series down to 0 = did not make League Championship series), run differential and the typical winning percentage that predicts and the team MVP, as well as the average MLB runs each season so you can compare Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in the year with the lowest runs per game (3.4) to the Atlanta Braves incredible staff that won the World Series in 1995 season tied for the highest runs per game (4.9).
However, we offer the quick summary of each region here:
Central Division – the 10 Greatest (click for full breakdown of every team)
We pick the 1984 Detroit Tigers as the best from the “Central” Division on the strength of how dominant they showed they were with a 35-5 start to the season that let them cruise the rest of the year. By the time K. Gibson blasted Goose Gossage’s pitch into the upper level to clinch a 4-1 World Series win it was clear this team was an all-time great. The question is if our runner-up – Honus Wagner’s 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates, might have ranked higher if they could play in the World Series that was invented the next year. However, when we actually played the teams in Statis-Pro, the 1948 Cleveland Indians won the division before losing to the overall champion 1927 Yankees.
Click for our breakdowns of the 1907 Chicago Cubs, 1917 Chicago White Sox, 1965 Minnesota Twins, 1977 Kansas City Royals, Hank Aaron’s 1957 Milwaukee Braves, 1982 Milwaukee Brewers and finally 1958 Kansas City Athletics.
The only team we had to give multiple entries was the New York Yankees, with Babe Ruth’s 1927 team, Joe DiMaggio’s 1939 and Derek Jeter’s 1998. As usual, the Boston Red Sox are the team on their heels with the 2007 team followed by the 1905 New York Giants, 1910 Philadelphia Athletics and 1986 New York Mets that broke through with 108 wins – tied with the 1975 Cincinnati Reds for the best NL record in the past century.
Other teams we review include the 1976 Philadelphia Phillies, 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, 1994 Montreal Expos who might have won it all without a strike, 1948 Boston Braves, and 1992 Toronto Blue Jays.
I do in fact rank the Big Red Machine – the Cincinnati Reds 1975 – as the greatest NL team of the past century and the greatest team to come out of our “South” Division. This team clinched the playoffs sooner than any other team in history – September 7, 1975 – and not only took the title that year but proceeding to sweep the Yankees the next. Still, it is a close call between them and another team close to the Mason Dixon line in Jim Palmer’s 1970 Baltimore Orioles. While those are clearly the top two in the “South” Division, the 1968 St. Louis Cardinals and 2017 Houston Astros are clearly the 3rd and 4th best teams from this division. Other teams we review are the 1924 Washington Senators, 1995 Atlanta Braves, 2016 Washington Nationals, 1922 St. Louis Browns, 1997 Florida Marlins, and 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.
The easiest call is for the Oakland Athletics of the early 1970s as the greatest team ever in our West Division as who knows many they would have won after 1972, 1973 and 1974 if not for losing the whole team to free agency. My argument is that the next two best teams from the west actually played off in 2002 when the Anaheim Angels defeated Barry Bonds’ San Francisco Giants, even though later Giants teams won three titles. We look at the very close battle for the best Los Angeles Dodgers teams – featuring three of the best left-handed pitchers of all time in Fernando Valenzuela (1981), Sandy Koufax (1965) and Clayton Kershaw (2017 despite the narrow World Series loss).
The other teams we rank are the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, 2011 Texas Rangers, 1995 Seattle Mariners, 1984 San Diego Padres, 2007 Colorado Rockies and to round out the 40 teams – admittedly the worst team in the one-year Seattle Pilots of 1969.
Plenty of other teams from many of these franchises might be considered, or you can play them off like we did by getting all-time great player cards for these or other teams of your choices to use with our free Statis-Pro game.