Best Teams Ever bracket: MLB edition, Round 1

Best Teams Ever bracket series: MLB edition, Round 1. (Yahoo Sports illustration)
Best Teams Ever bracket series: MLB edition, Round 1. (Yahoo Sports illustration)

Welcome to the Best Team Ever bracket series, where the greatest of all time have their most dominant seasons stacked up against each other until we ultimately crown a champion in each sport. The tournament will be decided by fan vote, so be sure to submit yours below! The first round of polling closes at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT on Tuesday, March 31.

Our baseball bracket spans generations — from the famed 1927 New York Yankees to the now-infamous 2017 Houston Astros. To spread things out a bit, we didn’t let every great Yankees team in. We limited the Bronx Bombers to a modern team and a historic team.

The rest of the bracket? As you’ll see, it spans some of the game’s most successful teams and most famous teams. Part of what makes baseball great is the 83-win team that can go on a run and capture the World Series title. It’s a great underdog story, but how does that compare to the end of the most famous title drought in sports?

These are the types of questions we’re looking for answers to. And we’re about to find out.

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1927 Yankees vs. 1994 Expos

No. 1: 1927 New York Yankees
Finished with 110 wins, new AL record
Swept Pirates in the World Series
Babe Ruth hit 60 homers

The famed “Murderer’s Row” Yankees are the easy No. 1 seed here. When Babe Ruth can hit 60 homers and lose out on the MVP to a teammate — Lou Gehrig — you know they’re great. Gehrig had 175 RBIs that year.

No. 16: 1994 Montreal Expos
Finished with 74-40 record before strike
34 games over .500
Five All-Stars

The 1994 Expos are the ultimate “What If?” team. They were the best team in baseball before the 1994 strike halted the season. People have long wondered whether they’d have won the World Series in a full season. The roster featured a number of young stars, Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Moisés Alou and Cliff Floyd.

1995 Braves vs. 1963 Dodgers

No. 8: 1995 Atlanta Braves
Finished 90-54 record; won NL East by 21 games
11-3 in postseason, including World Series win over Indians
First of 11 straight division titles for Atlanta

You want a pitching matchup? THIS is a pitching matchup. These Braves feature the famous Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz rotation. For all the ’90s gusto they carried, this was the only Braves team that won a World Series, but what a team it was, with Chipper Jones, David Justice, Fred McGriff and Marquis Grissom.

No. 9: 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers
99-63 record
Swept Yankees in the World Series
Sandy Koufax won Cy Young and MVP

It’s the famous Braves rotation vs. one of the finest pitching seasons ever. Koufax won the Cy Young and MVP in 1963 for the Dodgers after going 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA and throwing 11 shutouts. He was paired with Don Drysdale (who threw 315 innings) for a duo so dominant the Yankees never even had a lead in the World Series.

1986 Mets. vs 2001 Mariners

No. 5: 1986 New York Mets
Finished 108-54
Won NL East by 21.5 games
Beat the Red Sox in 7 games in World Series

You know the ’86 Mets story. Those were wild times but, boy, were they good. This is peak Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Lenny Dykstra, Keith Hernandez, Ray Knight, Wally Backman — they were all there. Without a doubt, one of the famous and fascinating teams in MLB history.

No. 12: 2001 Seattle Mariners
Finished 116-46
Tied all-time record for wins
Ichiro was Rookie of the Year and MVP

The Mariners are perhaps the most infamous team on this list, because they tied a 1906 record for regular-season wins but didn’t make the World Series. They were knocked out by the Yankees in the ALCS. Still, it was Ichiro’s famous MLB rookie season and Bret Boone’s monster 47-homer year.

1970 Orioles vs. 2011 Phillies

No. 4: 1970 Baltimore Orioles
Finished 108-54
Won AL East by 15 games
Went 7-1 in World Series run

These Orioles are considered one of the most dominant postseason teams ever. They scored 60 runs in eight games to beat the Twins and Reds in the ALCS and World Series. They were armed with three 20-games winners in Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally, plus first baseman Boog Powell won the AL MVP.

No. 13: 2011 Philadelphia Phillies

Finished 102-60
Won NL East by 13 games
Upset in the NLDS by Cardinals

When you think back to the great Phillies teams of the late ’00s and early ’10s, the 2011 team wasn’t the one that won it all, but it was the team of dreams. The rotation was stacked with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. The lineup wasn’t bad either, with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raúl Ibañez and Jimmy Rollins.

2016 Cubs vs. 2006 Cardinals

No. 2: 2016 Chicago Cubs
Finished 103-58
Beat Indians in 7 games in World Series
First Cubs World Series win since 1908

The most famous World Series most of us will ever see came in 2016 when the Cubs finally broke their infamous drought. It took seven games (and what a finish) but the Curse of the Billy Goat was finally broken.

No. 15: 2006 St. Louis Cardinals
Finished 83-78
Made playoffs on the final day
Beat heavily favored Tigers in 5 games in World Series

The Cardinals are one baseball’s most storied franchises, but nothing sums up their never-say-die, October magic persona like the 2006 team, which didn’t seem all that great when it slipped into the playoffs on the final day. These Cardinals upset everybody all October (including famously, Carlos Beltran and the Mets in the NLCS) on their way to St. Louis’ most unlikely World Series win.

1984 Tigers vs. 2004 Red Sox

No. 7: 1984 Detroit Tigers
Finished 104-58
Wire-to-wire AL East leaders
Beat Padres in 5 games in World Series

The Tigers were an early ’80s powerhouse with Jack Morris, Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. All those names, and it was actually screwballer Willie Hernández who won the AL Cy Young and MVP that year as Tigers closer.

No. 10: 2004 Boston Red Sox
Finished 98-64
Swept the Cardinals in World Series
Famous beat Yankees in 7 games in ALCS

We’ve reached the curse-breaking portion of the bracket. The 2004 Red Sox were the first Red Sox World Series winner since 1918. To get there, they came back from an 0-3 deficit to the rival Yankees in the ALCS, becoming the first team in history to do that.

1975 Reds vs. 1989 A’s

No. 3: 1975 Cincinnati Reds
Finished 108-54
Beat Red Sox in 7 games in World Series
Joe Morgan won NL MVP

Enter the Big Red Machine. The Reds teams of the 1970s are regarded as some of the best, and none might be better than the 1975 incarnation. Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan (who won the MVP that year), Tony Perez, George Foster and Dave Concepción were among their core.

No. 14: Oakland A’s
Finished 99-63
Won AL West by 7 games
Swept the Giants in the World Series

The Bash Brothers A’s had their peak in 1989, sweeping the Giants in the earthquake-delayed Bay Bridge World Series. But these A’s were so much more. This was Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley, Bob Welch and Dave Parker forming a great roster around José Canseco and Mark McGwire.

1998 Yankees vs. 2017 Astros

No. 6: 1998 New York Yankees
Finished 114-48
Swept Padres in World Series
Went 11-2 in postseason

The ’98 Yankees were stacked. They set a record for wins in the AL (before the 2001 Mariners broke it) and made easy work of their postseason opponents. This was peak Core Four — Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada. Plus this team had David Wells, David Cone, Tino Martinez and Paul O’Neill.

No. 11: 2017 Houston Astros
Finished 101-61
Won World Series in 7 games over Dodgers
Part of the biggest team cheating scandal in MLB history

Do cheaters prosper? Let’s find out. The 2017 Astros already have a World Series. They’re also part of the ongoing cheating scandal that took over baseball. Until then, the Astros were regarded as a powerhouse. They had Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Alex Bregman, and beat the Dodgers in a seven-game thriller.

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