Ranking the 15 Best MLB Franchises

Best MLB Franchises

15. Chicago Whitesox

Franchise since: before 1903

Number of years in playoffs: nine

Number of years winning World Series: three

Number of Hall of Fame players: thirty-six

 

 

 

The White Sox have the second-lowest rate of appearances in the playoffs, having averaged a postseason berth just once for every 12.2 years since 1903. They’ve been in the playoffs as many times as the Houston Astros, who have been in existence since 1962.

The White Sox are a profitable franchise, and one of the teams (the other being Cleveland) that has sent more players to the Hall of Fame than teams to the playoffs. To me, that says they’ve had the necessary players to be great, but have failed to produce.

14. Philadelphia Phillies

Franchise since: before 1903

Number of years in playoffs: fourteen

Number of years winning World Series: two

Number of Hall of Fame players: thirty-seven

 

 

Their poor operating income is probably directly related to some of the ridiculous salaries on their roster, but they also aren’t too concerned about it considering the windfall of a TV contract that should be in their near future.

All told, the current financial situation is pretty solid, but the team’s playoff record is rather disappointing. The Phils won their two World Series titles much more recently than the Cubs or the Indians, but that’s still not good for a team with such a long history.

13. Houston Astros

Franchise since: 1962 (includes Houston Colt .45’s)

Number of years in playoffs: eleven

Number of years winning World Series: one

Number of Hall of Fame players: ten

 

 

There’s an even bigger surprise coming eight slides from now, but this one will certainly be an eye-opener.

The Astros have no World Series titles and no players in the Hall of Fame, but they still rank 15th? What gives?

Well, for starters, they have made the playoffs almost 18 percent of their existence, which is the 10th-best rate. That might seem crazy if you’ve only been following baseball for the past five years, but they had a pretty good stretch from 1994-2005, which should eventually yield some Hall of Famers such as Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.

They also ranked seventh in 2012 operating income and fourth in the farm system rankings. So even though they scored a zero in multiple categories, they did well enough in the other four to land in the top half overall.

10. Baltimore Orioles

Franchise since: before 1903 (includes St. Louis Browns from 1903-1953)

Number of years in playoffs: 12

Number of years winning World Series: three

Number of Hall of Fame players: six

 

 

The Orioles are just slightly below average in five of the six categories and place second in operating income from last season.

They don’t have a particularly well-decorated past. Yes, they’ve won three World Series titles, but every team with roots dating back to 1903 has won at least two. Half of their 12 playoff appearances took place during a nine-year span from 1966-1974, with only three playoff appearances occurring in the past 29 years.

They also have the fewest number of Hall of Famers among the 16 teams that have been in existence for at least 60 years.

Nevertheless, the business side of the franchise is flourishing and was strong enough to boost them into 12th place.

10. Cincinnati Reds

Franchise since: before 1903

Number of years in playoffs: 14

Number of years winning World Series: five

Number of Hall of Fame players: eight

 

 

Now we’re finally getting into the meat and potatoes. The final 11 teams, including the Reds have won 83 of MLB’s 108 World Series dating back to 1903.

The Big Red Machine is largely to “blame” for much of their success. Led by eventual Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez—as well as Hall snub Pete Rose—six of their 14 playoff appearances and two of their five World Series titles came during the 1970s.

 

9. Atlanta Braves

Franchise since: before 1903 (includes Milwaukee Braves, Boston Braves and several other teams in Boston)

Number of years in playoffs: 22

Number of years winning World Series: three

Number of Hall of Fame players: 10

 

 

For their first 90 or so years of existence, the Braves were nothing special. They won a World Series in Boston and one in Milwaukee, but playoff appearances were few and far between.

Then the 1990s happened, and they made the playoffs in 14 consecutive years.

Unfortunately, that string of regular-season success only resulted in one World Series ring; otherwise, they’d be much higher on the list.

They’ve put 10 players into the Hall of Fame, but it shouldn’t be long before they have at least another four in the form of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Chipper Jones.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates

Franchise since: before 1903

Number of years in playoffs: 14

Number of years winning World Series: five

Number of Hall of Fame players: 12

 

 

A long, long time ago, people actually expected the Pirates to be good.

While playing in the NL East from 1969-1993, the Pirates won their division nine times and placed in the top three in 17 of those 25 years.

But then MLB split the leagues into three divisions and sent them to the NL Central. Since then, they have only had three top-three finishes in 19 chances—none of which have occurred since 1999.

It would be extremely difficult for them to finish outside the top three in their division this year, but you would think the Pirates have never had a winning season before in their franchise history based on some of the narratives about their surprise success in 2013.

7. LA Dodgers

Franchise since: before 1903 (includes all Brooklyn teams)

Number of years in playoffs: 26

Number of years winning World Series: six

Number of Hall of Fame players: 10

 

A poor operating income in 2012—fallout from the midseason acquisition of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto—kept the Dodgers a little lower on this list than I feel they deserve to be.

Their six World Series championships put them in sole possession of sixth place all time, and their 26 playoff trips rank second only to the Yankees.

However, their 2012 profits and a so-so farm system are keeping them from reaching the 200-point plateau reserved for the upper-echelon franchises. Tons of history here, but the total package falls just a little short.

6. Oakland Athletics

Franchise since: before 1903 (includes Kansas City A’s and Philadelphia A’s)

Number of years in playoffs: 24

Number of years winning World Series: nine

Number of Hall of Fame players: 12

 

I’ll be honest, I had no idea there was this much playoff history in Oakland’s blood line.

To be fair, eight of their 24 playoff appearances and five of their nine World Series titles occurred prior to 1932 while they were still the Philadelphia Athletics—and why would anyone under the age of 80 living nowhere near Oakland have committed that knowledge to memory?

Still, they’ve made the playoffs 16 times since 1971, which is more than I was anticipating to find.

I was fully expecting the great operating income, though, because the A’s have done more with less budget than any team over the past 15 or so years.

5. Chicago Cubs

Franchise since: before 1903

Number of years in playoffs: 16

Number of years winning World Series: two

Number of Hall of Fame players: 14

 

 

Despite the lack of World Series titles, the Cubs have one of the most loyal fanbases of any sports team.

Their 14 players in the Hall of Fame rank third all time, as does their farm system. If they could just make the playoffs more regularly and perhaps win a World Series every 100 years or so, they would be in second place overall.

4. Boston Red Sox

Franchise since: before 1903 (includes Boston Americans)

Number of years in playoffs: 20

Number of years winning World Series: seven

Number of Hall of Fame players: nine

 

 

Each of the top six teams has at least 13 players in the Hall of Fame except for the Red Sox.

They ended up ranked in fourth place because of a quintet of World Series titles by 1918 and the legacy of the Sox, but it’s crazy to think that they became so beloved throughout the years without Hall of Fame players or championship teams.

Geographically, it makes sense. If you grew up in the northeast, you either rooted for the Yankees or the Red Sox. Then, after ESPN became popular, you were almost forced to favor one side of the rivalry or the other regardless of where you grew up.

At least in the past decade, they finally started to repay that loyalty with some championships.

3. St. Louis Cardinals

Franchise since: before 1903

Number of years in playoffs: 25

Number of years winning World Series: 11

Number of Hall of Fame players: 14

 

 

I was a little amazed that the Cardinals didn’t finish in second place.

They have the second-most World Series titles of any franchise, make a lot of money, have a great farm system and always seem to be in the playoffs. However, they have 10 fewer Hall of Famers than the team that actually came in second place, which more than accounts for the slim margin between them.

Nevertheless, third place isn’t half bad. St. Louis has one of the most storied franchises in the history of the game.

From the looks of things, it’ll be adding to that story over the next decade.

2. San Francisco Giants

Franchise since: before 1903 (includes New York Giants)

Number of years in playoffs: 24

Number of years winning World Series: seven

Number of Hall of Fame players: 24

 

 

It would appear that the Giants’ two World Series titles in the past three years have propelled them to the top of the heap of teams not named the Yankees.

Their 24 players in the Hall of Fame were a pretty huge factor as well. Even the Yankees only have 19 such players in their history.

In the end, they were at or near the top of every category—except for the marginally important farm system, where they’re nearly in last place.

However, they could win 10 straight World Series and still be behind the Yankees. In this case, second place truly is the best loser.

 

1. New York Yankees

Franchise since: before 1903 (includes New York Highlanders)

Number of years in playoffs: 51

Number of years winning World Series: 27

Number of Hall of Fame players: 18

 

 

It’s ridiculous, really.

It may be lost in translation since the Yankees have only won one World Series in the past 12 years, but as far as history is concerned, they are Major League Baseball.

Despite making just five trips to the playoffs during a 30-year stretch from 1965-1994, the Yankees have been involved in the postseason over 40 percent of the time since 1903 and have won 25 percent of all of the World Series.

In terms of total score, they’re 58 percent ahead of the Giants. Even if we combine the scores of the second-place Giants and the 18th-place Padres and called it one franchise, the Yankees would still be in first place.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.