Ranking The List of World Series Champions, From Best to Worst
Over 100 years of history, and we have thoughts on all of it.
World Series Champions Rankings, #105: 1982 St. Louis Cardinals
Win Percentage (Pythagorean): .568 (.556)
Team WAA (Rank): 8.6 (98th)
The 1982 Cards rank ahead of the 1964 Cardinals because they ranked a little more consistently. They didn’t need to have a big second half just to catch up to the league. In another feat of remarkable consistency, they were 46-35 both home and on the road. Yet, the ‘82 Cardinals was a lousy power-hitting team that depended on pitching.
World Series Champions Rankings, #104: 1997 Florida Marlins
Win Percentage (Pythagorean): .568 (.543)
Team WAA (Rank): 8.9 (96th)
The Florida Marlins won their first title in 1997 after Edgar Renteria walked them off with a championship. As fate would have it, both of Florida/Miami’s victories in the Fall Classic came as Wild Card contenders. At 92-70, this was the franchise’s best season, and please note they’ve never won a division crown. This Marlins team was on the low end of World Champion pitching staffs, and below average offensively against other winners.
World Series Champions Rankings, #103: 1945 Detroit Tigers
Win Percentage (Pythagorean): .575 (.549)
Team WAA (Rank): 7.9 (T-100th)
This was an 88-win team that won the pennant in a blah year for the American League. In the end, only the Tigers and Senators had a shot. Detroit owned a solid 51-36 record against teams with a record of .500 or better. They did happen to be one of the best teams in baseball that year, but compared to other World Series teams, they were no offensive juggernaut. That staff ERA under 3, however, looks fine.
World Series Champions Rankings, #102: 1980 Philadelphia Phillies
Win Percentage (Pythagorean): .562 (.562)
Team WAA (Rank): 10.9 (88th)
Charlie Hustle helped get the Phils to a World Series in 1980 (okay, he wasn’t the best player on the team that year). Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw were indispensable to the Phillies, who beat the Royals in six games. Of the four playoff teams, however, Philly was probably the weakest. The Yankees washed out despite winning 103 games; the Orioles, the AL East’s second-best team, won 100 compared to the Phillies’ 91. Philadelphia was in the right place at the right time.
World Series Champions Rankings, #101: 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers
Win Percentage (Pythagorean): .584 (.565)
Team WAA (Rank): 6.8 (108th)
Even by 1988 standards, the Dodgers offense lacked, averaging about 3.9 runs per game. That team was middle or lower-half in the National League in OPS, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. They didn’t hit for a lick of power, but don’t tell that to Kirk Gibson with his two bad legs. Their pitching was the real show, with such names as Orel Hershiser and El Presidente. It is because of their offensive incompetence that they didn’t rank higher.
World Series Champions Rankings, #100: 2015 Kansas City Royals
Win Percentage (Pythagorean): .586 (.556)
Team WAA (Rank): 7.2 (T-104th)
The Royals won 95 games, the AL Central, and the World Series. Kansas City had a number of good hitters but no great ones; the highest average on the team was Lorenzo Cain at .307, and Mike Moustakas and Kendrys Morales each led the team with just 22 homers. They were a classic hit-for-average team that manufactured runs with hits and steals (not walks). Royals pitching was good enough, featuring a decent rotation and an excellent bullpen. The standard on this list is damn high.
World Series Champions Rankings, #99: 1926 St. Louis Cardinals
Win Percentage (Pythagorean): .578 (.584)
Team WAA (Rank): 9.3 (92nd)
Rogers Hornsby was the household name on the ‘26 World Champion Cardinals. This was the best offensive team in the NL that year, with reasonably good pitching. So, why are they only 97th on the list? For one thing, 89-65 is okay, not amazing. Another metric we took into consideration was the team’s consistency over the course of the season. We’re going to rank more highly a team that kills it all year rather than one that makes a late push after average play. This team didn’t wake up until August.
World Series Champions Rankings, #98: 1916 Boston Red Sox
Win Percentage (Pythagorean): .591 (.565)
Team WAA (Rank): 8.8 (97th)
Before he was a renowned slugger, Babe Ruth was a tremendous young pitcher. He went 23-12 with a 1.75 ERA this season to help the Sox to a title. Ruth was part of one of the best pitching staffs among all World Series winning teams. It was a different ERA, we get that, but this was a mediocre offense back then. 550 runs just isn’t a lot.
World Series Champions Rankings, #97: 1996 New York Yankees
Win Percentage (Pythagorean): .568 (.543)
Team WAA (Rank): 9.9 (91st)
The 1996 Yankees were a great story, as long as you’re not Tony Tarasco looking up at Jeffrey Maier. It was the first of five titles for Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte. Their pitching, however, stuck to a 4.65 ERA, which was second-worst out of all the World Champions. Offense powered them through to the playoffs.
World Series Champions Rankings, #96: 1992 Toronto Blue Jays
Win Percentage (Pythagorean): .593 (.562)
Team WAA (Rank): 10.7 (89th)
Back in the day of John Olerud and Roberto Alomar, a Canadian team won the World Series. The ‘92 Jays were a decent hitting team with those guys leading the charge. They are not higher on this list because their pitching staff was surprisingly weak for a champion. At 3.91, they had the 9th-best ERA in the American League that season and were a middle-of-the-road club in giving up the longball. Juan Guzman had the flashiest stats with a 2.64 ERA, but Jack Morris went 21-6 despite an ERA over four.