The 1927 Yankees are still a Murderers' Row, now they're our 'Best Team Ever'

Yahoo Sports

Sometimes you just live up to your nickname.

In the case of the 1927 New York Yankees — famously dubbed “Murderers’ Row” — they’re still racking up victims almost 100 years later. These Yankees, which gave us 110 wins, a World Series sweep and two of the best seasons on record from Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, are largely considered the best baseball team ever.

That sentiment is shared by Yahoo Sports readers, who voted them the winners of our “Best Team Ever” bracket, a 16-team, reader-voted tournament that’s been going for the past week. The Murderers’ Row Yankees did in our bracket what they did on the field — dominate.

In the final round against the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, the Yankees won easily, getting 67 percent of the vote. It was in line what their performance in the whole tournament. No one came close to knocking them off.

It goes to show, can’t mess with Murderers’ Row.

Members of the famous 1927 Yankees: (L-R) Waite Hoyt, Babe Ruth, Miller Huggins, Bob Meusel, and Bob Shawkey. (Photo Reproduction by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
Members of the famous 1927 Yankees: (L-R) Waite Hoyt, Babe Ruth, Miller Huggins, Bob Meusel, and Bob Shawkey. (Photo Reproduction by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

Why the ’27 Yankees were so good

Before there were the Core Four and other famous Yankees teams, there was Murderers’ Row. The nickname actually pre-dated the 1927 team, but that 1927 team was so good that history has stuck them with the moniker.

The name specifically referred to the first six hitters in their order: Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri — four of whom would eventually be Hall of Famers.

That year, the Yankees were hungry, having lost the World Series the year before in seven games to the Cardinals. That 91-win 1926 team turned into a 110-win goliath the following year. They won the AL pennant by 19 games and swept the Pirates in the World Series.

The drama came, instead, on the stat sheets. Babe Ruth set a record with 60 homers that year, beating his own mark of 59 that he set in 1921. In total, Ruth hit .356 with 165 RBIs and a 1.258 OPS, which ranks ninth all-time. It’s one of the best offensive seasons ever, but Gehrig was quite good too.

Gehrig hit 47 homers with 173 RBIs and a .373 batting average. He won the MVP that year, partially because of his stellar season, partially because Ruth wasn’t eligible, having won it the year before. Rules at the time prohibited the same player from winning it in back-to-back years.

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth had two of the best seasons ever in 1927. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth had two of the best seasons ever in 1927. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

How the ‘27 Yankees compare historically

Even by modern metrics, those two seasons were historic. Ruth’s WAR in 1927 was 12.5, the third-highest ever, according to Baseball-Reference. (He owns the three best seasons by WAR of all-time, with 1923 and 1921 season being No. 1 and No. 2). Gehrig’s mark of 11.8 WAR ranks seventh all-time, tied with 2002 Barry Bonds and 1920 Babe Ruth.

Having two of the best individual seasons of all-time on one team? Seems like a winning strategy.

In the wide view of great baseball teams, the Yankees also hold up quite well. Their 110 wins aren’t the most ever, a few teams have had more, but when you consider the total package, their season seems the most impressive.

The 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners each won 116 games, but those Cubs lost in the World Series and those Mariners didn’t even make the World Series, losing to — you guessed it — the Yankees in the ALCS. The 1954 Indians won 111 games but were swept in the World Series. The 1998 Yankees won 114 games and won the World Series, but they played 162 games compared to the 154-game schedule in 1927.

How they dominated our Best Team Ever bracket

The 1927 Yankees were our easy No. 1 seed in the bracket, the first team we named when making a list of who would participate and they were the easy winner in each of their rounds. Our bracket was full of history’s most famous teams plus some modern wild cards to create inter-generational arguments.

En route to being named the Best Team Ever by Yahoo Sports readers, the Yankees beat:

• The 1994 Montreal Expos, the ultimate “what if?” team whose season ended because of the strike. The Yankees earned 85 percent of the vote.

• The 1963 Dodgers, with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale who swept the World Series. The Yankees got 79 percent of the vote.

• The 1970 Orioles, with Jim Palmer leading a spectacular pitching staff and MVP Boog Powell at first base. The Yankees still got 79 percent of the vote.

The 1927 Yankees made it look easy, which is what the greats do.

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