Skip to content

The worst teams to ever win a World Series

Oct 25, 2011, 2:46 PM EDT

1945 Tigers

The Cardinals could still win this thing. Indeed, as Buster Olney pointed out today, Cardinals teams have faced a 3-2 deficit in World Series play five times before this one and on four of those occasions they came back to win games 6 and 7.  So, sure, it could happen.

If they do, however, where will they rate all time? Yes, every World Series winner is the undisputed champion of the baseball world — just like the guy who graduates last in his medical school class is still called “doctor” — but the teams are obviously of varying quality.  The short series trumps what the long season tests and all of that. Today at the Platoon Advantage, Bill looks at the worst World Series champions of all time.  I’d have to say the 2011 Cards would crack that list.

And it’s a neat list. Lots of transitional teams such as the 1959 Dodgers who were just their lovable Brooklyn days but not quite fully into their sleek, professional Los Angeles Dodgers days. We consider all of the Derek Jeter Yankees teams to be part of the same general dynasty, but the 2000 Yankees were definitely at the end of one phase of that existence and the beginning of another. There’s a wartime team on the list. A couple of flukes. These sorts of champs just happen when you meet up with them at an unusual time in baseball’s life.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    I mostly agree with Bill’s list. However, I would switch the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals (83-78), which he has as #2 on his list, with the 1987 Twins, which he places as #1. I thought it really was a disgrace that that Cards team won a World Series with that pitiful record. It made me really hate the idea of a wildcard, castrating the meaning of a 162 game season.

    • halladaysbiceps - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:54 PM

      ***MAJOR CORRECTION: I just remembered that the Cards won the Central that year, not the wildcard. That division was really bad that year.

    • Bill - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:40 PM

      The thing is, though: the Twins actually got outscored for the season. For the whole regular season, they gave up 20 more runs than they scored (the 2006 Cardinals were almost 40 runs better than that). I just don’t think there’s any competing with that.

  2. Gardenhire's Cat - Oct 25, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    I cannot stand when people use what really are irrevelant historical stats to try to bolster an argument or create a storyline. Honestly Buster, tell me how the f*ck the 1946 Cardinals give the 2011 Cardinals a better or worse chance. Last I checked, no players on those previous teams are playing on this one. Just stop citing to them.

    Sorry for the rant, but am I alone in this feeling?

    • bigxrob - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:04 PM

      No, you aren’t.

  3. Brian Donohue - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    To the point of the metaphor about low-scoring doctors: there was a fellow in the previous century who was an obvious under-performer academically, and wasn’t that good a mathematician (though it is false that he ever failed a course or class) — his name was Albert Pujols Einstein.

  4. thefalcon123 - Oct 25, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    “I have no memory of that NLCS against the Mets, which is sad to me”–Bill’s comment about the 2006 NLCS.

    Game 1: 96 year old Tom Glavine tosses 7 shutout innings, Mets win 2-0
    Game 2: So f**king Taguchi breaks a 9th inning tie by homering of Billy Wagner, which was, improbably enough, the 2nd unlikeliest 9th inning, game tying homer in the series.
    Game 3: Jeff Suppan shuts out a Mets team with Delgado, Wright and Beltran. Yeah, Jef Suppan.
    Game 4: Mets win a lot. Next
    Game 5: 4-2 Cards
    Game 6: 4-2 Mets
    Game 7: 1 to 1 game. Then, Chavez robs Rolen of a home run, Suppan gets out of a bases loaded, 1 out jam, Molina hits a 2 run 9th inning home run off Heilmann to break the 1 to 1 tie and Adam Wainwright strikes out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to end the game.

    Seriously, how can you not remember that series?

    • Bill - Oct 25, 2011 at 4:05 PM

      My only excuse is that I was in law school. :)
      I remember many of the individual events you mention, but didn’t put it together just looking at the BBREF boxscores.

      • thefalcon123 - Oct 25, 2011 at 4:19 PM

        pfffffffffffffffft. Like law school is more important than millionaires hitting balls with sticks. Priorities dude!

  5. quizguy66 - Oct 25, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    As I recall, the ’87 Twins won all 8 games at home and lost all 6 on the road, right? That was back when the home field rotated between leagues and divisions.


    • Bill - Oct 25, 2011 at 6:00 PM

      No, they actually won two of the three games in Detroit and took the series (over probably the best team in the majors that year) in five games. The home team did win all seven games of the World Series.

      • wlschneider09 - Oct 25, 2011 at 7:12 PM

        The world series went seven games, Twins won all four in the dome, St. Louis won all three in Busch. You are correct about the LCS with the Tigers though.

        Fun fact, the 1987 world series featured the first indoor WS games ever.

      • wlschneider09 - Oct 25, 2011 at 7:13 PM

        Ah, I see that’s exactly what you said. I read not so good, thumbs up for you, down for me.

  6. woodenulykteneau - Oct 25, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    The 2006 N.L. Central was 65 games below .500 against the rest of the N.L. and the A.L. and the Cardinals were 39-42 against the rest of that putridity.

  7. spudchukar - Oct 25, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Or you can be a “so-called” great team like the Braves in the 90’s, and only win one WS.

  8. zman801 - Oct 25, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    OK so the 2011 Cardinals could win the series as a wild card with only 90 wins. But isn’t baseball a team sport? Some players individually perform great and some make game costing errors. The primary job is to field the best team between the end of the previous season and opening day. The Cardinals did just that only to learn that their pitching ace would not throw a single pitch for the season and their star closer would go from 27 saves to 1. Coincidentally they had the second most blown save opportunities at 26. While that was not the fault of just one guy it was the primary failure of one position. The average of blown saves for the seven other playoff teams was 13 collectively. Just suppose that only half of the difference, 6 games rounding down, go their way and, hey, they have the same record as Texas. Only the Yankees and the Phillies had a better record. I don’t think the won loss metric aptly qualifies this team as “one of” the worst teams to win the series should they do so.

    Nonetheless, I have followed them since 1964 and have never seen anything like bullpen-gate this year. Should they win this year they should be given special recognition as a team able to win despite a bad bullpen AND TLR!!!

    Craig, performing the same exercise for your beloved Braves still leaves them one game behind the Cardinals and had the Braves been in the same situation would you have even made this post????

  9. spudchukar - Oct 25, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    My hope is the Cardinals continue to be the worst team to win the World Series for many years to come.

  10. nicosamuelson2 - Oct 25, 2011 at 10:45 PM

    I gotta say, as a Twins fan, I take a lot of pride in the fact that the ’87 Twins are considered the worst of the World Series winners. Lots of Magic, as they say.

  11. shea801 - Oct 26, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    These list are always written and reposted by butt-hurt fans whose team didn’t make the World Series, and who are still bitter about their team not performing when they needed to.

    Yes, Craig, I’m writing this about you. Enough with the Cards hate already. I’d ask why there aren’t any Braves stories, but then you’d have no page views.

  12. hcf95688 - Oct 26, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    WHAT??? A story on the worst world series champs of all time and no mention of the 2010 Giants???

    • Gamera the Brave - Oct 27, 2011 at 5:55 PM

      The 2010 Giants? Really?
      That’s some gratuitous hating. I am sure that no one (even a 43-year Giants fan like me) would be stupid enough to think of the ’10 Gigantes as one of the best WS teams ever, or really even the best overall team in baseball in ’10 (probably the – ‘gulp’… – Phillies), but they DID win 92 games, including being 5 games over .500 on the road. Dominant pitching, moderate-to-weak hitting, but teams are rarely perfectly balanced between pitching and hitting.

      An 83-88-win team winning the WS is pretty poor – but at worst the Giants are in the middle of the pack on this list…

  13. ezwriter69 - Oct 26, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Back when the long season meant everything, when you had to win your league to make the series, when there were no divisions and no wild cards and no playoffs, there were no bad teams in the series… to play 154 games and only have one team make the series from each league, you had to be good to make it. Also, while there weren’t as many talented players, what with segregation and no foreign players etc., the talent was concentrated onto just 16 teams.
    The war years were the exception, obviously, when you had a one-armed outfielder playing regularly for example… but in general, no team from the pre-divisional era should be on that list.
    Just indefensible for the ’59 Dodgers to be on that list… they might not have all had their best years, but they had HOF’ers galore, with truly great pitching with Koufax, Drysdale, Podres, Labine, Craig, and the original closer, at least in the series, in Sherry; the best catcher in the game with Roseboro; great infield defense with Wills, Gilliam, Zimmer and Hodges, and some power with Furillo, Snider, Fairly and Frank Howard and Tommy Davis … great pitching, great defense. You’d be hard pressed to find a roster in the last 30 years with that kind of talent. For them to be on the list is just another example of a stat geek exposing his ignorance for the game, as it was played at the time.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Wright (2965)
  2. M. Teixeira (2435)
  3. G. Stanton (2399)
  4. H. Olivera (2359)
  5. Y. Cespedes (2325)