In the current era of Major League Baseball, teams can finish second or even third and make the playoffs. It wasn't always that way, of course. Before the wild card format was introduced when leagues went to three divisions prior to the 1994 season, second place teams were out of luck. Over the course of MLB history, that made for some very good, though unlucky, teams who were left out of the postseason.
Here are the top five teams who never made it out of the regular season:
1977 Pittsburgh Pirates, 96 wins - The Pirates of 1977 made a valiant attempt to win the NL East. The team went 9-1 over their last ten games, including winning their last five games. They still could not catch the 101 win Philadelphia Phillies. The Bucs featured a potent offense led by Dave Parker. Parker topped the NL with 215 hits and 44 doubles. He won the batting title with a .338 average, edging out his teammate Rennie Stennett's .336 mark. Two years later, in 1979, many of the same players would help the Pirates win the World Series championship.
1985 New York Mets, 98 wins - The 1985 Mets were loaded with talent, led by a couple of dazzling young players. Darryl Strawberry hit 29 home runs and Dwight Gooden turned in one of the best pitching seasons ever. At the age of 20, Gooden led the league in complete games and in innings pitched and went 24-4 with an ERA of 1.53. He won the only Cy Young Award of his career that season. After a captivating September pennant race, the Cardinals prevailed in the NL East with 101 wins. The next year, though, the Mets would win 108 games and beat the Red Sox for the franchise's second World Series title.
1961 Detroit Tigers, 101 wins - In today's baseball it is unthinkable for a team to win 100 games and miss out on the postseason. But there are a handful of teams in MLB history that pulled off that feat. The Tigers, led by Norm Cash and Rocky Colavito, topped the century mark in 1961 but still fell well short of the 109-win New York Yankees. Of course, the Yanks of '61 were helped along by Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. The pair combined for 115 home runs and a staggering 269 RBIs.
1954 Yankees, 103 wins - For a change it was the Yanks looking up in 1954. That year Cleveland blew away the league with 111 wins, fourth best of all time. The Tribe took the AL pennant but was swept by the Giants in the World Series. Cleveland featured Al Rosen and Larry Doby, and its starting rotation in '54 combined for 93 wins, led by 23 wins each from Early Wynn and Bob Lemon. Sadly for Cleveland, the Indians would not make the postseason again until 1995.
1942 Dodgers, 104 wins - The 1942 Dodgers take the prize for the unluckiest 2nd place MLB team. The team won 104 games but finished two games behind the Cardinals for the National League pennant. Brooklyn gave it a great try, winning its last eight games and nine of its last ten. The Dodgers had four pitchers who won at least 15 games, but it wasn't enough to catch the Cards. St. Louis featured a promising young player in his first full season in the major leagues. Stan Musial hit .315 that season and helped his team win the World Series over the New York Yankees.Brad Boeker is a fan of Major League Baseball in general and the St. Louis Cardinals in particular.
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