Century

Best MLB Franchises of the 21st century

Methodology

In order to figure out who truly deserves to be one of the best MLB teams of the century, I factored in several aspects to evaluate each team. I am including every game during the regular and postseason from the beginning of the 2000 season up until the 2017 All-Star break. I created a point system that is calculated as follows:

Win-Loss Differential- 1 point per game

Playoff Appearances- 10 points

Division Title- 10 points

League Champions- 30 points

World Series Champions- 50 points

Consistency- 20 points for every three consecutive playoff appearances + 10 bonus points for each consecutive year after that

Teams should get credit for being able to sustain success for an extended period of time, rather than having one year where they played exceptional followed by several bad years. It’s also important to distinguish playoff appearances from division titles.

For example, the Phillies should get more credit for winning their division with 102 wins in 2011 than the Cardinals winning the wild card with 90 wins. It’s also important to reward playoff success, therefore teams received a lot of credit for being able to win their league and/or winning the World Series.

It’s also pivotal to give teams credit for being successful during the regular season even if they have struggled in postseason play.

With the point system out of the way, here are the 10 best MLB teams of the 21st century thus far.

10. Texas Rangers

best mlb teams 21st century

Beltre, Hamilton and Young were at the heart of the Rangers lineup when they made their runs to the World Series (Zimbio)

Win-Loss: 1,439-1,404 (.506) = 35 wins/points

Playoff Appearances: 5= 50 points

Division Titles: 4= 40 points

League Champions: 2= 60 points

World Series Champions: 0= 0 points

Consistency: 2010-2012 = 20 points

Total= 205 points

The Rangers did not start to show up until about a decade into the century. They might have had a World Series championship under their belt if they did not run into hot playoff teams like the Giants and Cardinals. If Nelson Cruz would have been a few steps back and didn’t let a ball go over his head then they would definitely have a championship.

It is somewhat surprising to find the Rangers this high on the list. They did not crack 90 wins or make the playoffs in the 21st century until 2010. They did have playoff success starting that year and that is what gets them to No. 10.

9. Philadelphia Phillies

Win-Loss: 1,439-1,401 (.506) = 38 wins/points

Playoff Appearances: 5= 50 points

Division Titles: 5= 50 points

League Champions: 2= 60 points

World Series Champions: 1= 50 points

Consistency: 2007-2011= 40 points

Total= 288 points

best mlb teams 21st century

The Phillies rotation was advertised to be unstoppable in 2011 (USA Today)

The Phillies seemed to be a juggernaut around the same time the Rangers were taking off. They have had some of the most talented players in the past 20 years like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. On top of that, they had what was thought to be the best pitching rotation in a generation.

When Philadelphia signed Cliff Lee in 2011, they were described as the best rotation in baseball hands down. This was after they had been to two consecutive World Series in 2008 and 2009.

The Lee signing made the top four in their rotation Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. Especially with their core hitters still intact, it was hard to imagine anyone stopping them given they had an ace pitching almost every game.

Even with 102 wins in 2011, the Phillies were expecting to win more games in that season.

They ended up getting knocked out by St. Louis in the divisional round of the playoffs in 2011. They have yet to reach the playoffs again since that year largely because of their aging core. Philadelphia appeared to be close to having an uptick with some of their young prospects recently, but they have backslid as they are the worst team in baseball in 2017.

8. Oakland Athletics

Win-Loss: 1,499-1,342 (.542) = 157 wins/points

Playoff Appearances: 8= 80 points

Division Titles: 6= 60 points

League Champions= 0= 0 points

World Series Champions: 0= 0 points

Consistency: 2000-2003, 2012-2014= 50 points

Total= 347 points

Thanks to Billy Beane, the Athletics were dominating baseball for the first few years of the 21st century. He found a way to revolutionize the game using “moneyball”. Through his sabermetrics and smaller salary cap, he built a rotation that rivals the Phillies one I mentioned earlier.

Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito made up a powerful rotation that led the team to 392 wins in the four-year stretch that they made the playoffs from 2000-03. They have been a great regular season team most seasons since 2000, but they have yet to translate that to playoff success. They have not made it to the World Series since 1990.

While they showed promise of possibly making a run a few years ago, they have regressed once again. It looks like it may be a while before the Athletics return to the postseason especially considering the juggernaut that is rising in Houston.

7. Atlanta Braves

Win-Loss: 1,518-1,320 (.534) = 198 wins/points

Playoff Appearances: 9= 90 points

Division Titles: 7= 70 points

League Champions: 0= 0 points

World Series Champions: 0= 0 points

Consistency: 2000-2005= 50 points

Total= 408 points

best mlb teams 21st century

Freeman has taken the reigns from Jones in Atlanta (MLB)

If we included the 1990s, the Braves would shoot up this list in a hurry. Atlanta went to the playoffs 10 consecutive years that included three National League championships and one World Series championship. However, half of those seasons are not going to count towards this list. Despite that, many of their successful players carried over into the 21st century and still dominated.

While the Braves have yet to make a World Series since 2000, they still have had a good run of making the postseason and doing well in the East. Their nine playoff appearances are second most in the National League behind the Cardinals.

Bobby Cox led the club until 2010 with the likes of Chipper Jones, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Andruw Jones and John Smoltz. These players made up a Braves core that rivaled the best.

Their lack of postseason success is what keeps them from moving up the rankings. However, they are showing signs of improving as they have proven to be a team that will fight with the best of them.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers

Win-Loss: 1,540-1,303 (.541)= 237 wins/points

Playoff Appearances: 8= 80 points

Division Titles: 8= 80 points

League Champions: 0= 0 points

World Series Champions: 0= 0 points

Consistency: 2013-2016= 30 points

Total= 427 points

best mlb teams 21st century

Kershaw is making a case to be one of the greatest pitchers of all-time (Baseball Essential)

The Dodgers have had a similar story to the Braves. They have managed to have regular season success and have been reaching the playoffs, however they have trouble getting past the league championship. It is still surprising to see them this high on the list, but that goes to show just how good they have been in the regular season as opposed to the postseason.

Clayton Kershaw already seems to be able to get into the Hall-of-Fame before reaching the age of 30. However, he has been part of the problem in the postseason. Kershaw is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in 14 starts in postseason play.

Especially with how much the Dodgers rely on him to be the ace that he is known to be, it is difficult for them to be able to make it very far in the playoffs.

This year may rewrite the script in terms of the Dodgers postseason woes. Their young lineup mixed with a spectacular pitching staff makes the Dodgers a force to be feared. If the article was to be written a year or two from now, the Dodgers may be moved up a couple spots on this list.

5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Win-Loss: 1,535-1,311 (.539)= 224 wins/points

Playoff Appearances: 7= 70 points

Division Titles: 6= 60 points

League Champions: 1= 30 points

World Series Champions: 1= 50 points

Consistency: 2007-2009= 20 points

Total= 454 points

Since 2009 the Angels have only made the playoffs once. They were successful in the regular season leading up to that, but have not been able to reach the World Series since winning it in 2002.

Anaheim currently may have the best baseball player since Willie Mays in Mike Trout. However, they have not been able to do much with him on the team despite also signing Albert Pujols. The Pujols contract may be what is keeping them back though. The amount of money they have invested in him may prevent them from being able to resign Mike Trout when that time comes. These big contracts are showing why they don’t work since it is difficult to build a good team around these mega deals.

Even with some of the legendary players on the Angels it seems that their future is at an interesting juncture. I expect them to move down this list in a few years while others rise.

4. San Francisco Giants

Win-Loss: 1,496-1,345 (.526)= 151 wins/points

Playoff Appearances: 7= 70 points

Division Titles: 4= 40 points

League Champions: 4= 120 points

World Series Champions: 3= 150 points

Consistency: No consecutive playoff appearances three years in a row= 0 points

Total= 531 points

The Giants managed to gain the reputation of winning the World Series only in even years, as they won in 2010, 2012 and 2014. They have not been as good of regualr season teams as others on this list. San Francisco has only one four division titles since 2000 which is low compared to others on this list. However, there may not be much debate in saying they have had the most playoff success out of all these teams.

One of the biggest names for San Francisco since the turn of the century is Barry Bonds, who even though is tainted by the steroid era could still be one of the best hitters of all time. Much of their success has come from their pitching staff though. Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, and at one time Tim Lincecum have all been big contributes to the Giants success in the playoffs. Overall though, during their stretch of winning championships they were able to work well as a team. There were not a whole lot of big names outside of Bumgarner or Posey, but they had a supporting cast that did what they had to do and took them all the way.

Things are different this year. The Giants are currently in the midst of one of their worst years in the history of their franchise. Which is really saying a lot seeing as they are one of the oldest organizations in baseball. It is hard to see what is in store in the future for the Giants, but knowing them they will find away to make it back to the playoffs soon.

3. Boston Red Sox

Win-Loss: 1,557-1,285 (.547)= 272 wins/points

Playoff Appearances: 8= 80 points

Division Titles: 3= 30 points

League Champions: 3= 90 points

World Series Champions: 3= 150 points

Consistency: 2003-2005, 2007-2009= 40 points

best mlb teams 21st century

Boston broke their World Series drought by sweeping St. Louis in 2004 (Boston Globe)

Total: 662 points

In 2004 the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. Since then, they have won another two championships. They also had perhaps the greatest comeback in playoff history, coming back from 3-0 against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.

The Red Sox have also been playing in the toughest division in baseball since 2000. If you look at their division titles they only have three, which is as many World Series wins they have. This is largely because of who they have been competing with, rather than their lack of ability to perform in the regular season. It is odd to see the third place team on this list only with three AL East titles but it is the way the game goes.

Boston has had some stellar hitters including David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. They also have had some of the greatest pitchers of all-time in Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. Their success can also be largely attributed to the supporting cast of their team. Players like Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury are the less well known players on these teams that are able to have a significant impact.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

Win-Loss: 1,593-1,248 (.560)= 345 wins/points

Playoff Appearances: 12= 120 points

Division Titles: 9= 90 points

League Champions: 4= 40 points

World Series Champions: 2= 100 points

Consistency: 2000-2002, 2004-2006, 2011-2015= 80 points

Total= 775 points

The Cardinals have been called the Yankees of the National League. Since 2000, they have been one of the most consistently great organizations in baseball. This is because they have had a great mix of star performers and supporting players.

best mlb teams 21st century

Known as “MV3”, this legendary trio led the Cardinals to be one of the best teams of the 21st century (InsideSTL)

Albert Pujols came from the Cardinals system and had the best 10 year start to career in the history of the game. After he left the Cardinals in 2011, they have yet to figure out a way to fill the void that Pujols left in 2013. Despite the fact that they made it to the World Series in 2013, they have still been missing that spark in the lineup. Yadier Molina has been the best catcher since Ivan Rodriguez and is also a product of the Cardinals’ farm system, however he was never entrenched at the three spot in the lineup quite like Pujols was. Pujols provided the intimidation factor that has been missing and may contribute to why the Cardinals are struggling in 2017.

The 2004 Cardinals won a monstrous 105 games. This is largely thanks to the stellar middle of their lineup in Pujols, Edmonds, and Rolen. There hasn’t quite been a trio as good as them for a long time. Each one of them was the full package with offense as well as defense. They are a big reason why the Cardinals were so successful from 2004-2006.

With the combination of Hall of Fame managing in Tony La Russa as well as great upper management, the Cardinals have some of the best sustained success since the turn of the century.

1. New York Yankees

Win-Loss: 1,637-1,199 (.577)= 438 wins/points

Playoff Appearances: 13= 130 points

Division Titles: 10= 100 points

League Champions: 4= 120 points

World Series Champions: 2= 100 points

Consistency: 2000-2007, 2009-2012 = 100 points

Total= 988 points

best mlb teams 21st century

Not many would debate Derek Jeter being the face of the Yankees success (MLB)

The Yankees had a reputation for a long time for spending big money to get the best players in baseball. They did this with Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texiera, and C.C Sabathia. However, that culture has been starting to get phased out and New York has been growing their own players in their farm system. The best example of this is Aaron Judge who is busting onto the scene and may be one of the greatest rookies ever. Other homegrown players such as Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Bernie Williams made a big impact this century as well. I haven’t even mentioned that the best closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera, racked up more saves than anyone during this time and came from the Yankees system.

Just by naming all of these players who have played in New York tells the story of how successful they have been. They have won 2 World Series titles since the turn of the century, which is low for them considering they have won 27 all together. Their heated rivals, the Red Sox, have won more championships since 2000. However, the Yankees continued success coupled with their excellent ability to get top-notch players in a variety of ways, makes them the best franchise of the 21st century…so far.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Why the Marlins will win 90 Games

Stanton and Fernandez

Photo Courtesy of the Miami Herald

Giancarlo Stanton will hit 50 home runs, Jose Fernandez will strike out 200 batters, and most importantly, the Miami Marlins will win 90 games.

Fernandez, who has averaged 10.5 strike outs per 9 innings throughout his young career, and Stanton, who was on pace to surpass 50 HR’s last season before he got hurt, form the most talented duo in all of baseball, and that’s not all that the Marlins have working in their favor.

They will have speedster Dee Gordon atop the lineup and at second base, who swiped 64 bags in 2014 then followed that up with 58 bags and a .333 BA in 2015. Gordon also won the Gold Glove at second base in 2015.

Covering left field for the fish will be underappreciated Christian Yelich. Yelich, who is only 24 years old, won a Gold Glove for his defense in left field during the 2014 season and boasts an impressive .365 career OBP.

With Gordon and Yelich atop the lineup, Stanton will have plenty of runners on base to drive in with his behemoth home runs.

Meanwhile, occupying center field will be the polarizing Marcell Ozuna. After being optioned to AAA in the middle of the season, Ozuna rebounded to hit .304 with 3 HR’s and 14 RBI’s in September. Ozuna has plenty of talent and a strong September should act as a spring board to a productive 2016.

New Marlins hitting coach, and MLB home run champion, Barry Bonds also believes Ozuna has the makings of a 30 HR/30 SB caliber player.

Up the middle of the diamond, forming the double play duo with Gordon, is the slick fielding Cuban Adeiny Hechavarria. Hechavarria posted a 15.8 ultimate zone rating at SS in 2015 in only 130 games according to Fangraphs.

Hechavaria is also a valuable bat to have at the bottom of the lineup. In 2015 he hit a respectable .281, albeit with little power and poor on base skills.

The rest of the lineup is composed of formidable major leaguers Justin Bour at first, Martin Prado at third, and J.T. Realmuto behind the dish.

Bour is the guy to look out for. In his first full season in 2015 he sent 23 balls over the fence and posted a notable .262/.321/.800 slash line.

If the 27 year old Bour can repeat, or even build upon, his 2015 performance he provides much needed protection for MLB’s most imposing slugger Stanton.

The starting rotation boasts one of the most exciting young arms in all of baseball in Fernandez. The Marlins also brought in Wei-Yin Chen on a 5 year $80 million dollar deal to form a nice 1-2 punch atop the rotation.

Fernandez is now further removed from Tommy John surgery, and should only improve upon his 2015 season in which he showed he is still one of the most electric arms in all of baseball even post-surgery.

Chen meanwhile stands to benefit from a move from the AL East to the pitcher friendly NL East. For the Orioles last season he posted a 3.34 ERA across 191.1 innings. Expecting an improvement upon those numbers with the move from the NL East is reasonable.

Behind Fernandez and Chen the Marlins have formidable middle of the rotation guys in Tom Koehler and Jared Cosart.

The 5th spot in the rotation is a soft spot, but, the Marlins have plenty of options and at least one of them should emerge.

The candidates for the 5th spot are Adam Conley, Edwin Jackson, David Phelps, and Justin Nicolino. Of these 4 someone will step up and take ahold on the 5th spot and be a formidable back of the rotation starter in 2016.

The other 3, along with prospect Kendry Flores, provide plenty of depth should anyone in the rotation go down or prove ineffective.

Looming in the bullpen is a potential juggernaut of a bullpen. The bullpen was subject to a piece recently written by ESPN’s David Schoenfield.

Schoenfield noted that the Marlins bullpen logged 1,917 pitches over 95 miles per hour in 2015, more than any other team.

Kyle Barraclough. Carter Capps, Mike Dunn, Brian Ellington, and Jose Urena all average more than 94.5 MPH on their fastballs giving the Marlins plenty of heat coming out of the bullpen.

The soft-tosser of the bunch, and potential closer, AJ Ramos can brag about his 2.21 ERA over the course of the past 2 seasons.

Young superstars Fernandez and Stanton are just the starting point for the Marlins. They have a formidable lineup, a defense that boasts two former gold glovers, a rotation that’s good enough to get the job done, and bullpen that can potentially be lights out.

All of this sums up to a 90 win season for the Marlins in 2016, and a chance to supplant the dysfunction Washington Nationals and Pennant winning New York Mets atop the NL East.

My 2016 MLB HOF Votes

My HOF Votes

The MLB Hall of Fame will release their picks for this year’s class. The headliner for the new players in this years class is Ken Griffey Jr., whom some believe might be the first player to receive 100% of the vote. Then there are the known steroid users like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds who have been on the ballot for four years but, have never been close to the 75% of the vote needed to get in.

My votes may not count but, I still think it is interesting to look at and comment on this year’s class. I will be looking for a few things with my votes. To start statistics. This is the bottom line for me. If a player is in the top ten in any category or has substantial overall numbers for his position then they are automatically in consideration. Also I look at their career with the team or teams they played with. If they were the best player of the time on their respective team or they are in the team’s Hall of Fame then they are also in consideration for me. Lastly steroids will have an effect on my ballet to a certain degree. I will comment on each player and say why I believe they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

Here are my picks:

  1. Ken Griffey Jr.
  2. Mike Piazza
  3. Jeff Bagwell
  4. Tim Raines
  5. Trevor Hoffman
  6. Roger Clemens
  7. Barry Bonds

 

  1. Ken Griffey Jr. or also know as “The Kid” is by far the easiest vote in this entire class. While people have their reasons for him not getting 100% of the vote I think that all of them are stupid. Every year there is an automatic candidate and some writer will say because no one else has had 100% of the vote that they had to be the one who didn’t vote for them. Honestly I think that is ridiculous. Especially when you don’t even use all 10 of your votes anyways. Junior deserves to be first ballot and he deserves 100% of the vote. He is number 6 all-time in Homeruns, he saved a struggling franchise (Mariners) and he will be in the Reds and Mariners team Hall of Fame. He was the player of a generation and he did all of it during the steroid era without using steroids.
  2. Mike Piazza will be voted on for the 5th time and I think he gets in this time. Many people believe that he had used PED’s because of his power and the fact that he played during the steroid era.  While I do consider steroids in my assessment I have looked up whether he used steroids and there are no confirmed reports that he did. So while it may sound bad I will have to vote for him based on what has been confirmed. Enough of that though, lets get to the stats. The man was a hitting machine. He batted .308, with 427 homeruns, 1335 rbi, with a career ops of .922. These numbers are fantastic and make him one of the best hitting catchers of all-time. Also he has gone down as one of the best Mets of all-time. This means a lot considering the history of the franchise. While I hope that he did not use steroids just the numbers and how historic he was with his team I believe he deserves a vote.
  3. Jeff Bagwell was one of my favorite players to watch as a kid. I had to see him hit the ball all over the field against the Reds for too many years. His swing was great and he was one of the defining players for a very good Houston Astros team. His numbers are similar to Mike Piazza’s and he has never been connected to steroids for any other reason than the fact that he played during the steroid era. Truthfully it has been a shame that he has not been all that close to getting in but, maybe this will be his year.
  4. Before writing this article I honestly did not know much about Tim Raines. I knew he had been on the ballot before and that he had been close a few times. After looking him up and his numbers I think that he absolutely deserves to be in. To start he was one of the best Expos players ever. Yes, if you forgot Montreal had a team called the Expos. He was a fantastic leadoff hitter for them. He was a 7 time all-star and most importantly is 5th all-time in steals with 808. I think being top ten in any major stat is automatically a qualifier for me and hopefully that will swing some votes his way this year.
  5. Trevor Hoffman was the man. Besides Mariano Rivera he was my favorite closer to watch when I was a kid. While he threw 95 at the beginning of his career he got injured and that made him have to change the way he pitched. Man could he pitch. His game revolved around one of the filthiest changeups in the game and it helped him become the 2nd best closer of all-time. He had 601 saves in his career and he was a guy who started off in the Reds farm system as a shortstop. With Rivera he was one of the first truly great 9th inning saves guys in the game. This is Hoffman’s first time on the ballot so he may not get in right away but, he will eventually.
  6. If you have read this far or just skipped to this part I know why. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are some of the most notorious steroid users ever. I have always thought that I would not want to vote for them because of their usage. This was especially true for Clemens. I loved watching him pitch as a kid and when I found out that he was using steroids and had lied about it before I was very disappointed. I have since looked at it from a more objective view. The man won 354 games and started 707 while striking out 4,672 batters. He won 7 Cy Young awards and 1 MVP award. These numbers are incredible. He is one of the best pitchers ever and while he did use steroids I think he deserves to get in for two reasons. One because of his numbers and two because he was the best pitcher of this era.  I doubt he will get in this year or maybe ever but, he was a fantastic pitcher with or without the steroids.
  7. Unlike Clemons I was never a huge fan of Barry Bonds. Before the allegations I respected how good he was but once they came out and he denied them I started to question how good he was. Then I looked up his stats and I remembered that with or without steroids the guy was special. He was the most feared batter ever, 2558 walks tells that story and why would people walk him? The man hit 762 homeruns and drove in 1996 runs. He was also the MVP 7 different times. Sadly because of numbers and the fact that he was the best player of this era he gets my vote. I do not see him getting in this year but, I think eventually unless they take away his homeruns that Bonds will be a Hall of Fame player.

These seven players have my vote. I can’t wait to see one of my favorite players ever, Ken Griffey Jr. get in and I think it will be interesting to see if any of the other six do.

Do you agree with my picks or do you hate them? Comment below, tweet at me @roberthaness, or comment on our forum where we can have a lengthy discussion!

 

Stats courtesy of, baseballreference.com